Review of Stars & Stripes (Cut & Run #6) by Abigail Roux

Standard

Rating: 5 stars

Zane Garrett has moved in with Ty Grady, his lover and FBI partner and life is good.  There are no dangerous cases pending at the FBI,their workload consists of paperwork to be completed on back cases.Now they are enjoying the lull in action and adjusting to living together with all its perks, including their temporary pesky cats.  But a phone call from his sister in Texas interrupts Zane’s equilibrium and he stalls in answering Ty’s questions about the call.  In fact, Zane has never been very forthcoming with information about his family.  Ty can only guess from the tenseness in Zane’s body language and pained silences when the matter comes up that Zane’s relationship with his family is strained at best.  The only family member Zane occasionally talks about is his sister, Annie and his niece.  Ty’s family, on the other hand, is a known factor to Zane and both men travel to West Virginia after Mara, Ty’s mother calls them home.

While at the Grady homestead an acute observation brings out revelations about their current relationship as well as the Ty’s past and the Grady family dynamics may never be the same. And while Ty and Zane are dealing with the emotional aftermath of the Grady family visit, Annie calls Zane again, this time to say their father has been shot.

Family relations and responsibilities reach out to ensnare Ty and Zane from West Virginia to Texas even as they try to solve the mystery of  the shooting on the Garrett ranch.  Can their relationship withstand the pressure from their families as well as their own insecurities? Ty and Zane have to solve the mystery behind the attacks on the ranch and work for their families acceptance before they can go forward into a shared future.

I got the book at midnight before the server crashed, read through the morning and then started over again. So now I sit here, tired and yet throughly satisfied the story, with Abigail Roux, and the direction Ty and Zane’s relationship is headed.  Stars & Stripes (Cut & Run #6) is less action adventure then it is an exploration of both mens past, their present relationship, and the possibilities that their future might hold.  In each previous book, another layer gets pulled back and more of either Ty or Zane’s history is revealed.  Up until now, it has been mostly Ty.  In the last book (Armed & Dangerous), we learned of Ty’s ordeal, taken hostage and tortured, during a secret mission for the Marines.  We will hear more about that during the events here.

In Stars & Stripes, both men have to deal with family issues of past hurts, parental love, as well as family acceptance that have been lurking just under the surface since book one. Ty has always had a strained relationship with his father, wanting his approval while feeling that he never quite measured up to Earl’s standards.  Tense scenes between both Earl and Ty have played out throughout the series. As Ty and Zane’s relationship deepened, Zane’s opinion of Earl and his treatment of Ty colors Zane’s view of Ty’s family. And while Zane has had a front row seat for some of the Grady family altercations and squabbles, Ty has no knowledge of Zane’s background with his family, as Zane refuses to talk about them and his past.  Between them, it is both all and nothing, a status that is about to change for Ty and the reader when the setting changes to Texas.

Once upon the Garrett family ranch, Ty and the reader start to see a totally different Zane.  Here Zane’s past is laid out before us and part’s of Zane’s character development is clarified to all.  Once more, Abigail Roux, reveals additional depths and dimensions to the characters Ty and Zane that we thought we knew.  I love that even after five books, we are discovering new emotional territory with both men even as they discover it themselves.  I find this highly realistic as it is a true measure of a relationship’s growth that a person can shed more of their inner walls to become vulnerable to the person they love, just as Zane and Ty do here.  And if we are talking characterizations, and we are, then Roux grabbed my expectations of Earl’s behavior, shook them like a cat with a mouse, returned them to me in a completely different state.  Do not look for cardboard characters or a one trick pony here, you won’t find them.  The people you meet between these pages, whether they live in West Virginia or Texas, are as authentic a bunch as you will meet, complete character portraits.  I love Harrison Garrett, what a great creation. Same goes for all of Ty’s family,Earl, Mara, Deuce, including the irrepressible Chester and his shovel.I loved Annie and Sadie and hope we will see more of them too.

Let’s talk location, shall we?  It’s all about vivid descriptions and homework needed to make the places come as alive as the people in it.  Abigail Roux is great with the first one and does the second in abundance.  Her blog was full of her travels to Texas and her visit to the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Boyd, Texas, complete with photos.  And it shows.  As Ty and Zane visit the Animal Sanctuary next to the Garrett ranch we get a feel for the look and sounds of big cats rescued, both their appeal and the fear.  We feel the heat and the sounds, the smells that come with summer in Texas where the air is so dry the dust coats the skin, and manure is both pungent and pervasive. Roux made me want to get on the plane and experience it all myself, just as Ty and Zane do.  I wasn’t in my bed reading my Kindle, I was on horseback traversing uneven ground past cacti and heat baked plains.  Just marvelous.

Yes, there is action and adventure but the focal point here is Ty and Zane’s relationship and how it affects their families. That can be far more treacherous and scary than any spy or traitor.  Throw in an injured father and explosive family dynamics, and this newest addition to the Cut & Run series equals anything that has come before.  But Abigail Roux leaves us with a mystery and a hint about Zane’s past that may be returning to threaten them all.  I hope I am reading this right.  The anticipation is building again.  The author says we are getting nine books.  That’s 3 more to go.  I can feel explosions on the horizon.  So here I sit.  Waiting.  Is that a Shelby Mustang I hear coming?  Please don’t make us wait too long.

Cover.  Love the covers by LC Chase.  They were listed in my best series cover.  Find it here.

Ten percent of the sales of Stars & Stripes are going to IEAS per Abigail Roux’s website and author’s note.

How to support Big Cat and Exotic Animal Rescue:

International Exotic Animal Rescue (IEAS) link here.

Cut & Run Series:

Armed & Dangerous , #5 – read my review here  written by Abigail Roux

Divide & Conquer #4, Fish & Chips #3, Sticks & Stones #2, Cut & Run #1 – all of these written by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux

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