Review: Touch & Geaux (Cut & Run #7) by Abigail Roux

Standard

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

???????????????????????????????????????FBI Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett have been relegated to desk and PR duties after their last case made them too high profile for undercover work.  With 20 years on the job, Zane is considering retiring and other major  life changing decisions when Ty gets a call from one of his old friends who is in jail in New Orleans. His friend  needs Ty’s help and fast.  New Orleans is the last place Ty should be considering going because of the time he spent there undercover as well as all the memories it holds and not just for him.  For Zane, New Orleans is a city rife with echos from their past.  But for Ty, loyalty is everything and both men set out to rescue Ty’s friend.

From the moment Ty and Zane land in New Orleans, the bodies start to pile up and danger hunts them at every street corner.  Once more Ty’s past has come back to haunt him and now it threatens to kill not just him but all he cares for, including Zane.  But the threat Ty and Zane face in New Orleans is not just physical, but an emotional threat to the heart of their relationship and the trust they hold for each other.

With criminals and the law closing in on Ty and Zane, all the last secrets that had been deeply buried come out. Will both men be able to withstand the resulting emotional and physical explosions or will they see everything they have worked so hard for destroyed.

I fell in love with this series in 2008 with the first release of Cut & Run (Cut & Run #1), then written by Madeline Urban and Abigail Roux.  From the moment we are introduced to Ty Grady and Zane Garrett, the reader knows that here are two characters so complicated, so weighed down with their past and inability to trust anyone other than themselves that if they were ever to get together the resulting fireworks would be memorable and glorious.   It would also take loads of work, painful work to make it happen which is how it occurred over the course of the next several books.  And for every step forward, the authors had our heros take two steps back.  And this intricate ballet happens while Ty and Zane are engaged in various cases that often threaten not just national security but their lives as well.

After the last book, Stars & Stripes, in which we found the pair mostly happy with their relationship and coming out to their families, I knew that such a happy time would be short lived.  There was just too much still happening around them, too many unresolved issues that had been glossed over and now we know why.  Abigail Roux has always struck me as a meticulous planner and researcher.  When her characters go on location, you can bet  Abigail Roux has spent some time there visiting the various locales, jotting down names of bars, streets, and other places her characters have spent time.  Now if she does that for just one book, what sort of planning would she do for a series?  For me, the answer is that the series would see the same attention to detail but on a much larger scale and with the end of the series already in place. In Touch & Geaux, I see elements that demonstrate, at least to me, that some of the events here have been in motion for some time.

It is hard to go into details without giving anything away, but the revelations that explode in this book caught me totally by surprise.  I never would have guessed them in a million years but now that I am thinking about them, the basis for these surprising disclosures start back in Cut & Run and pop up through every subsequent book in the series.  Things I maybe gave less attention to than I should have are now imbued with a deeper, darker meaning, their true purpose clear.  And it all points to some masterful planning by Abigail Roux.

If you are a true fan of Ty and Zane as I am, than just be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster, worthy of at least several boxes of tissues and then some.  If you are truthful with yourself, than you have to admit you knew this was coming.  Ty Grady and Zane Garrett are complicated men with dark, secretive pasts.  Both are very good at keeping secrets, even from each other and the ones Ty has been keeping from Zane will go right to the heart of each others issues.  Issues of trust, truth and self knowledge – it doesn’t get any more powerful than that.  All those things have haunted both men from the very first time they met each other, and have continued to do so for all the two years they have been partnered.  Actually their relationship in all its gritty,slow, painful, and  complex glory has always struck me as one of the most realistic things about this series.  I liked that the slow climb to a romantic partnership was equal in complexity to the men themselves and that a HEA is always in question.

There are things here that might make one scoff or at least pull back in disbelief.  LIke a motor bike ride from hell or a magazine shoot that seems unlikely for the FBI in Washington, DC or Baltimore even, but again we have seen Zane ride like that before, think back to another  wild  Zane ride to the National Aquarium.  And maybe even the FBI can loosen up enough to put out a calendar.  Who knows in these times?  But the real meat and bones of this story are Ty and Zane and their relationship, everything else is almost superfluous. Or enough it seems for me to overlook it on my way to the heart of these men and the status of their lives at any given point.

One of the things I often hear mentioned about the Cut & Run series is the switching POV that happens repeatedly throughout the books.  I know that each author wrote one character, right up until Abigail Roux took over writing the series by herself.  That fact most likely explains the POV changes in the series.  And once that pattern was set for the series it made perfect sense to me that Roux continued to write the books in the same manner in which they were started.  I actually love hearing the thoughts of each man and it has contributed to the  intimate connection I feel with both Ty and Zane that I might not otherwise have achieved.  And that connection is a strong one, attained through outstanding characterization, snappy, memorable dialog, and scenes that have me howling in laughter or in tears, sometimes both at the same time.

This is perhaps the finest book of the series yet, it was certainly a return to the darker, tumultuous times when Ty and Zane were on unstable ground in almost every way.  This book is necessary because it brings back home to us that so much still had to come out, that there was still so much that Ty and Zane had to work through for a real partnership to succeed.  As it was for them, this path is a painful one for us too. But what a journey we are all on together.  I can’t wait for the next book to arrive.

I believe I read somewhere that Abigail Roux has 9 books planned for the series, perhaps 10.  You can go and preorder Cut & Run #8 right now as I  have already done.  Considering how I felt, still feel,  about the end of Touch & Geaux, I needed that promise of a resolution hopefully to come for all involved, including the readers.  So I think I will pass the time by going back to the beginning and rereading the books in order.  I think that with the knowledge I now possess many events will take on an entirely new look and context.  I can’t wait to see what I will find.  In the meantime, here is the buy link for Cut & Run #8.  It is available at a discounted price until April 14, 2013.

The cover by LC Chase is another is a great branding style, the voodoo doll figures prominently in the story. Great job.

Here are the books in the order they were written and should be read:

Touch & Geaux (Cut & Run #7)

Stars & Stripes (Cut & Run #6)

Armed & Dangerous , #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

And a big congratulations to Stars & Stripes and Abigail Roux. DABWAHA Champions.  Stars & Stripes just became the first ever M/M romance to win the DABWAHA tournament!

 

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