Rating: 5 stars out of 5
After 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