Review: Cross & Crown (Sidewinder #2) by Abigail Roux


Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

Cross&Crown_500x750After a leave of absence, Nick O’Flaherty is back at his job as a detective for the Boston PD.  When he is called to the scene of a double homicide, Nick learns that there is a witness to the crime in custody which should make this an easy investigation.  Instead, Nick finds that the witness’ injuries have resulted in a case of amnesia.  The witness doesn’t know who he is and he is not carrying any identification.  That the witness happens to be extremely good looking and drawn to Nick both helps and hurts in Nick’s attempts to manage the case and provide protection for the nameless man.

Adding to the stress of the situation, Nick’s boyfriend and ex recon partner, Kelly Abbott is visiting him for some necessary “vacation” time together.  Living in two different states is harder on them then they had anticipated and their alone time is precious to them both. Kelly Abbott is in Boston to spend needed time with his lover, Nick.  Kelly was responsible for Nick returning to work but he never realized how much they would miss each other or how hard it would be to coordinate their schedules to visit each other.

When Kelly arrives in Boston, Nick’s investigation has already become far more complicated than anyone expected and soon Kelly finds himself pulled into the search for the mystery man’s identification and something more ominous. Because shadowing their operation is none other than Julian Cross, a retired CIA hitman on a desperate mission of his own. Julian too needs their help and intends to get it any way he can.

All the clues point into the past…the United States Revolutionary War, Boston’s history and their own.  As the situation threatens to ignite, all their lives are put in danger as various groups clash on the same mission.  The hunt is on for the crown jewels and more. With the situation precarious, their future in jeopardy, and alliances uncertain, Nick and Kelly must solve the mystery of the missing crown jewels quickly before more people are killed, including themselves.

Cross & Crown is the second in the Sidewinder series from Abigail Roux.  This series emerged from the popular Cut & Run series and Ty Grady’s band of brothers from his Recon unit.  Over the last several stories, Nick O’Flaherty and Kelly Abbott have gone from the closest of friends to lovers to committed partners.  It has been a wondrous journey for both the men and the readers who have been following the course of their relationship.  Now in Cross & Crown, we get to see the men in the first stages of their new committed relationship, juggling their different work and living situations while in the middle of a murder investigation that turns into more.

One of the joys of the combined series is the growth and change the reader is able to chart in all the characters involved in these stories.  Roux’s ability to maintain continuity between series and novels is amazing as her gift for characterization. While the details of the Sidewinders last mission is unknown, its long term effects upon the men we have gotten to know is not. The author builds upon the tragedies and personal implosions of Touch & Geaux (Cut & Run, #7) in New Orleans where Kelly almost died.  Then continuing on through Shock & Awe (Sidewinders #1) and  Ball & Chain (Cut & Run, #8), Abigail Roux has each story doubling the stress and strain upon these men and their lovers.

The first in the Sidewinder series, Shock & Awe focused on Kelly’s recuperation under Nick’s supervision and the beginnings of their love affair.  Then the remaining Sidewinders, with the exception of Kelly “Doc” Abbott, are pulled away for one last mission, one that changes them all permanently.  This thread of change flows through all the stories, no matter the series.  Interpersonal relationships are shattered, others are formed, and everyone is in a state of flux.  Some are those alterations in personality and behavior is revealed in Ball & Chain where PTSD and other issues start to reveal themselves.

Abigail Roux makes this time of  disillusion and unbearable strain feel authentic and painful.  Over time, the author has brought the reader into the intimacy and close knit ties of these men and it hurts to watch them flounder in the aftermath of a mission they can’t and won’t talk about. As Cross & Crown begins, O’Flaherty is still suffering from the effects of the team’s last mission (as is all the other team members).  With the reader already heavily invested in Nick and Kelly’s romance (yes, I am making that assumption), their early relationship struggles will resonate with many readers as they try to manager a long distance romance along with Kelly’s adjustment to Nick’s easy PDA’s.  Big issues and small, Nick and Kelly seem more and more like a permanent couple than men in the first stages of attraction and affection.  Their ease with each other, their balance and equality of their relationship is wonderful.  I love these two and here their partnership deepens as they work through their disagreements and insecurities that still remain.

Another marvelous element in Cross & Crown was the reappearance of Julian Cross.  I have obsessed over that character since his story, Warrior’s Cross.  Afterward Julian and his lover, Cameron, made other appearances in the Cut & Run series, always to marked explosions amidst tumultuous events.  To have Julian and Cameron back is something to be celebrated!  I can never get enough of these two and although this might be the last we  see of them, I love that we got them in one last story.

There is never a dearth of ingratiating or intriguing characters in an Abigail Roux stories and Cross & Crown is chock full of them.  This includes the dubious characters from O’Flaherty’s upbringing and those of the archaeological and pharmaceutical factions in Boston.  Each character was built with care and attention to detail with regard to their profession, nationality and background.  With layers upon layers for each person,they all came across as genuine and quite alive, from dialog to their backgrounds and even locale.  This author does this sort of thing so easily that you can take it for granted as you read through the stories.  Only through meticulous research and organization does the hard look behind a story depth and cohesion seem as easy as it does here.  If you don’t want to take my word for it, visit the author’s blog sometime for her visits to various story locations and background workups  to see what it takes to bring the whole picture to life.

Am I a fan of Abigail Roux?  Yes, I am and these two series are ample reasons why. So many pluses inherent in this story.  The historical workup and investigation is absorbing and terrific.  I loved the growth in the love and deepening relationship between Nick and Kelly as well as the painful loss of closeness between Ty and Nick.  It’s a neat development to see the Ty Grady/Nick O’Flaherty relationship from Nick’s viewpoint instead of Ty’s.  And yes, Zane makes a fleeting yet important appearance here, even if it is over the phone.  As with all the stories recently, there are big changes in store for all the characters at the end of the book.  Nothing is settled except their love for each other, that is the given and the constant.

I will admit it is hard for me as a reviewer to remain objective about this and it’s connected series, Cut & Run.  I have read and followed these men and their stories from the beginning and have invested so much emotion in their love and relationship growth.  How will someone new to the series and lacking any sense of context feel about the Sidewinders if they haven’t read the other stories?  That is a question much harder to answer.  I bring all the knowledge and background of Cut & Run with me unthinkingly to this story and the Sidewinder series.  But if you are new to Nick and Kelly, you are lacking a wealth of information and an almost collective group of affections built up over time and stories.

To you, the new reader, this might seem a little confusing in some of the character histories and lacking in the mens backstory.  How these men are connected, what their interpersonal relationships and backgrounds mean to the reader and each other might be hard to grasp here. I get that too. But it doesn’t need to be.  There is a whole shelf of books waiting for you to discover them and the men inside the covers.  Start with the first of the Cut & Run stories written, include Warrior’s Cross among them.  Then continue on to the Sidewinder books listed below.  I recommend them all along with Cross & Crown.  You will fall in love with these complicated sexy men and their stories.  Don’t miss out on a single one.

Happy Reading!

Cover artist for Cross & Crown is the amazing L.C. Chase

Buy Links here:    Riptide        ARe             Amazon 

Book Details: ebook, 225 pages

Published June 9th 2014 by Riptide Publishing (first published June 7th 2014)
original titleCross & Crown
edition languageEnglish
url seriesSidewinder #2
Books in the Sidewinder Series to date in the order they should be read:

Shock & Awe (Sidewinder, #1)

Cross & Crown (Sidewinder, #2)

Review: Shock & Awe (Sidewinder #1) by Abigail Roux


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Shock & Awe CoverAfter being shot in New Orleans, Sidewinder medic Kelly Abbott has returned home to his cabin in Colorado with fellow Sidewinder Nick O’Flaherty joining him to help him in his recovery.  Kelly and Nick, bonded through their years together as part of a Marine Force Recon team, have always loved each other like brothers but past confessions and the recent events in New Orleans has Kelly thinking past brotherly bonds into something far more intimate and sexual. During a quiet moment at the cabin Kelly asks Nick to kiss him and is surprised when Nick does.  But the kiss turns into something unexpected for each man…its deep, and warm and overwhelmingly sexual, and leaves Nick and Kelly wanting more.

That one kiss leads to others and only the reality of Kelly’s wounds keep the men from more.  Confused, Kelly and Nick try to examine their feelings not only towards each other but about a deeper commitment outside their band of brothers.  But the past has a way of intruding on the Sidewinders, pulling them towards danger and an uncertain future.  Can Nick and Kelly find their way through their confusion and doubts before they are called to duty once more?

Abigail Roux is killing me here.  I am still trying to recover from the events of Touch & Geaux (Cut & Run #7) when Roux starts a new series about the Sidewinders, the Marine Recon group that Ty Grady is a part of, and has me in tears all over again.  But I am getting ahead of myself and this review.

Shock & Awe, the titles continuing in the tradition the author started in the Cut & Run series, is an expansion series into the tight band of brothers Abigail Roux introduced in the Cut & Run series.  We met the various members of the Sidewinders as they came to visit Ty Grady in Baltimore and through appearances made in several of the Cut & Run stories.  Nick, especially, was an important character in helping to understand Ty’s past and the close  bonds of the Sidewinder Marine Force Recon Unit.  Going too much into Nick O’Flaherty’s background would offer up spoilers for past stories but suffice it to say he and Ty have an unusual past history that is referenced here in Shock & Awe acting as an impetus for Kelly’s musings and startling request.  And while the others members of the unit (Digger, Owen, and yes Ty) make an appearance, Shock & Awe is focused on Kelly and Nick. It starts shortly after the events of Touch & Geaux (Cut & Run #7) where Kelly was shot in New Orleans when all the Sidewinders gathered to celebrate a birthday.

The smaller, more intimate setting of Kelly’s cabin is perfect for the introspection and actions that follow an unusual request from Kelly for a less than brotherly kiss from Nick.  Normally, Roux has a much larger canvas on which to place her characters and storyline but having one location lets the author (and readers) concentrate on the developing relationship and emerging emotions of Nick and Kelly.  I loved this aspect of the story.  The author had previously given the readers only a cursory introduction to Kelly while past stories made Nick an unwelcome intrusion into Ty and Zane’s relationship.  Now both characters get to stand on their own and this story turns them into the remarkable men that Roux had always intended us to see them as.  I had no trouble at all falling in love with both of them.  Here is a little window into their close relationship. They have just arrived at Kelly’s cabin and are getting settled:

Kelly made a derogatory sound and closed his eyes again. Nick pulled away, then gently covered him with the sheet.

Kelly may have been the corpsman, but Nick had always been the caretaker of the group. He’d been a wingman, fall guy, sounding board, and alibi. He’d been mother, father, big brother, and crazy uncle. Whatever they’d needed. He’d always been the one who’d made sure all the Sidewinder ducks were in a row, and he was probably the sole reason the house they’d all shared in Jacksonville hadn’t burned down.

It was so odd to think back on all those years and know that Nick had been hiding part of himself he thought he couldn’t share. It almost broke Kelly’s heart to think of all the secrets he’d spilled to Nick, all the things he’d gotten off his chest, but Nick had never been able to do the same.

And when Kelly’s heart breaks so does ours.

There is so much emotion, so many feelings packed into this story that I found it hard to believe it was only 92 pages long.  It was just long enough for me to fall completely in love with these two and time enough for Abigail Roux to break my heart not once but twice before the story ends.

Abigail Roux has proven over and over in each of her stories that she has the ability to make us believe in her characters, their passions and relationships.  She is also a proven master of the hidden agenda, cliffhangers and heartbreak.  You will find all of those here too.  Grab this book up and fall in love with Nick and Kelly.  The second story in the series, Bait & Switch (A Sidewinder story) is located after this one and will have you gnashing your teeth as well as crying quite a few tears, especially as it features Zane and Ty as well as Nick and Kelly.  This is a 2 tissue box affair from start to well…..just pick it up and starting reading.

If you are new to Abigail Roux and her connected series (Cut & Run and Sidewinder), it would be best to start at the beginning to understand all the relationships of the men mentioned.  Plus you will find yourself with two new addictions.  One is winding down.  There are only two more stories to go in the Cut & Run series.  I hope that Sidewinder enjoys just as long a run.   Don’t miss out on these remarkable men and this terrific author.

Cover by LC Chase.  I loved this.  The green cover sets it apart from the Cut & Run series while the shamrock continues the tradition of a single object helping to tie the series together.  Perfection.

Sidewinder series to date:

Shock & Awe (Sidewinder #2)
Bait & Switch (A Sidewinder story)

Cut & Run Series:

Ball & Chain (Cut & Run #8) Expected publication: March 15th 2014 by Riptide Publishing
Touch & Geaux (Cut & Run #7)
Stars & Stripes (Cut & Run #6)
Dine and Dash(Cut & Run #5.5)
Armed & Dangerous (Cut & Run #5) – 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

Book Details:

ebook, 92 pages
Expected publication: November 11th 2013 by Riptide Publishing
original title Shock & Awe
ISBN13 9781626490567
edition language English
characters Ty GradyZane Garrett, Nick O’Flaherty, Kelly Abbott

Contest and Shock & Awe Blog Tour with Abigail Roux



Good morning all.  Today ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords is happy to play host to the Shock & Awe Virtual Book Tour featuring one of our favorite authors, Abigail Roux and her new Sidewinder series.  I am so excited about this book and the new couple of Nick and Kelly.  They won my heart immediately and they will win yours too.  Shock & Awe is one of Scattered Thoughts Best Novels of 2013.  You don’t want to miss this one.  And here is bunch more reasons to acquaint yourself with Nick, Kelly, and the rest of the Sidewinders:

Hello everyone! Welcome to the Shock & Awe blog tour! Thank you to ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords for hosting today. If you’re following along, you might find this handy dandy schedule of use, and you might be interested in keeping up with me each day, because I’ve got a couple goodies to give away. In celebration of Nick and Kelly’s coming out, so to speak, I’ve got three of their Heart and Clover T-shirts for three lucky commenters. And I’ve got five sets of trading cards with original artwork and character work-ups, something I intend to add new cards to every year, which makes this first year’s cards pretty important if you’re an obsessive collector like I am.

Author Bio: 

Abigail Roux was born and raised in North Carolina. A past volleyball star who specializes in sarcasm and painful historical accuracy, she currently spends her time coaching high school volleyball and investigating the mysteries of single motherhood. Any spare time is spent living and dying with every Atlanta Braves and Carolina Panthers game of the year.
Abigail has a daughter, Little Roux, who is the light of her life, a boxer, four rescued cats who play an ongoing live-action variation of Call of Duty throughout the house, a certifiable extended family down the road, and a cast of thousands in her head.
Connect with Abi:

Shock & Awe Blurb:

Shock & Awe CoverAfter barely surviving a shootout in New Orleans, Sidewinder medic Kelly Abbott has to suffer through a month of recovery before he can return home to Colorado. He’s not surprised when fellow Sidewinder Nick O’Flaherty stays with him in New Orleans. Nor is he surprised when Nick travels home with him to help him get back on his feet—after all, years on the same Marine Force Recon team bonded the men in ways that only bleeding for a brother can. He’s very surprised, though, when Nick humors his moment of curiosity and kisses him.

Nick knows all of Kelly’s quirks and caprices, so the kiss was a low-risk move on his part . . . or so he thought. But what should’ve been a simple moment unleashes a flood of confusing emotions and urges that neither man is prepared to address.

Now, Kelly and Nick must figure out what they mean to each other—friends and brothers in arms, or something even deeper?—before the past can come back to ruin their tenuous future.

You can read an excerpt and purchase Shock & Awe today from Riptide!

Contest Giveaway:
Abi is giving away some great goodies along the tour, including three of their Heart and Clover T-shirts for three lucky commenters and five sets of trading cards with original artwork and character work-ups. Just leave a comment at any of the stops along the tour to enter. The contest closes on November 25th.

Contest Rules:

  • By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
  • Please note that the contest is open worldwide, winners will be chosen tour-wide and comments left with an email address will be entered to win.
  • Winners will be selected by random number. No purchase necessary to win. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
  •  Winners may be announced on the blog following the contest. By entering the contest you are agreeing to allow your name to be posted and promoted as the contest winner by ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords.
  • Prizes will be distributed following the giveaway Riptide Publishing..
  • By entering you are agreeing to hold ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords harmless if the prize or giveaway in some way negatively impacts the winner.
  • Readers may only enter once for each contest. Duplicate entries for the same giveaway will be ignored. In the event of technical problems with the blog during the contest, every effort will be made to extend the contest deadline to allow for additional entries.
  • Void where prohibited by law.