Monday, March 10, 2014

Ball & Chain by Abigail Roux

Quick Rating: A

Purchase: Amazon

Blurb: Home from their unexpected deployment, the former members of Marine Force Recon team Sidewinder rejoin their loved ones and try to pick up the pieces of the lives they were forced to leave behind. Ty Grady comes home to Zane Garrett, only to find that everything around him has changed—even the men he went to war with. He barely has time to adjust before his brother, Deuce, asks Ty to be his best man. But that isn’t all Deuce asks Ty to do, and Ty must call for backup to deal with the business issues of Deuce’s future father-in-law.

Nick O’Flaherty and Kelly Abbott join Ty and Zane at the wedding on an island in Scotland, thinking they’re there to assuage Deuce’s paranoia. But when bodies start dropping and boats start sinking, the four men get more involved with the festivities than they’d ever planned to.

With the clock ticking and the killer just as stuck on the isolated island as they are, Ty and Zane must navigate a veritable minefield of family, friends, and foes to stop the whole island from being destroyed.

Review: Another C&R installment has come and gone. I didn't pay attention to the hype so much this time around on the author's social media sites, and the book was better for it.

There was a huge cast of characters in this book, stuck on an island in Scotland for Deuce's wedding. Spoiler: Did anyone notice that they didn't even get married on the flipping island? GEEZ. 

Zane and Ty's relationship remained solid this time around. Spoiler: Despite the fact that Zane repeatedly said no to Ty's marriage proposals. I cannot tell you how satisfying it was to see Ty get shot down so many times, it almost made up for that shit show in New Orleans. Almost.

Kelly and Nick revealed their relationship, which served a small comedic purpose as Ty struggled to accept the news. Funnily enough, Zane spotted Kelly and Nick's new intimacy first. Spoiler: Nick is struggling with a tremor he developed at some point after his initial discharge from the military, and after the most recent military stint knows he can no longer continue as a police officer either. As if handling that disillusionment isn't enough, his abusive alcoholic father appears and asks Nick for part of his liver. Nick struggles through most of the book between whether he will grant his father's request or not. 

As wedding guests and island staff alike drop dead, and Sidewinder struggles to find the killer, Nick and Ty's foundation of friendship crumbles. That was a majorly satisfying arc to the story, if I'm honest. For the first half of the C&R series we saw Ty portrayed as this wonderful dude who could do anything, was perceived to be honorable, and never wrong. But the compromises and lies by omission he made during his military and black-ops career have truly caught up with him. If you thought this arc was laid to rest in New Orleans, you are mistaken. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. It'd be interesting if there were even more repercussions of his past actions, as the series draws to its close. Spoiler: Nick and Ty do fine solid ground once again, but it's clear that Ty has a lot to make up for.

Big shocking spoilers: Drum roll please... Richard Burns is murdered! The reemergence of De la Vega and Liam Bell portend some serious shit in the next C&R book, for sure. In fact, I'm surprised that Zane didn't get all emo at the revelation that Vega was still going after him, and try to disappear at the end of the book. Zane finally accepts Ty's proposal, and it's such a nice tie in to previous books. I cannot wait to see them get hitched!

So far as Kelly and Nick taking over the C&R franchise through spin-off, I cannot wait. It's clear they have great stories to share. Ball & Chain was a great mix of Ty and Zane, Ty and Nick, and Kelly and Nick. There's a good balance of those relationships and there was never a point in the book where I thought Kelly and Nick had overrun the story. The changing dynamics between all of the relationships are great character and plot arcs.

Ty and Zane had satisfying interactions in this book. Zane has made some big changes while Ty's been gone and he wants to make sure Ty notices them. As always, they are incredibly romantic and that, along with their passion, are big reasons why you should be reading this book.

My negatives mainly have to do with spoilers, so I think I will carry those over into a review of the next volume when it comes out. Well done!

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