“Colonel Mustard: ‘This is war, Peacock. Casualties are inevitable. You cannot make an omelet without breaking eggs, every cook will tell you that.’
Mrs. Peacock: ‘But look what happened to the cook!’” – Clue
Author: Abigail Roux
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Pages/Word Count: 370 Pages
Rating: 4.25 Stars
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: Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Mr. Green, Colonel Mustard, and Professor Plum walk into a book…
No? Me neither, but when you’re reading a story and all you can do is wait for someone to snuff it in the conservatory after being clobbered on the noggin with a lead pipe, that’s what you get.
After eight novels into a series, what more can possibly be said that hasn’t been said already about Ty Grady and Zane Garrett, about Abigail Roux’s writing: her penchant for puns, the way she has affixed these characters so inexorably into the lexicon of M/M romance-dom? We’ve watched them do battle, dance around their feelings for each other, dance literally with each other, fall in love, do more battle when shit got way too real. It’s been as much of a roller coaster ride for the readers as it has been for Ty and Zane, but one thing is for sure, whether you love them or would sometimes rather take a whack at them with a shovel, there’s no denying these are men whose stories have made us feel, and Abigail Roux is an author who doesn’t always make it easy on us but does make the journey worth it.
The murder and mystery in Ball & Chain was a fun whodunit set in an aged mansion on a rugged and barren Scottish island (possibly offering a little wink and nudge to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None?), and the Clue-ish funny business left me grinning madly a lot of the way through this installment in the series. There are secret passageways and stormy nights, and the body count begins to rise as the lights go out, leaving the guests of Deacon and Livi’s wedding stranded without any means of communicating with the outside world. It’s the perfect set up for death and mayhem to ensue, and Abigal Roux partook gleefully of it. There were plenty of suspects to choose from when the wedding plans started going tits up, and a sinister plot with very few solid clues led directly to the one person no one would’ve suspected.
The murders and the ensuing investigation all played out well as a backdrop to the frayed knots and the unresolved feelings between Ty and Nick, not to mention all the psychological flotsam that keeps them one toe over the edge at any given point in time. These two guys have some intense and very touching moments together in Ball & Chain, which was a great sidestory to Nick and Kelly’s own big reveal…that was sort of not, and shows what love looks like between brothers-in-arms when there’s one who sometimes can’t stand the single person who has earned that love unconditionally.
Ball & Chain is a link in the Cut & Run series that further connects it to its new Sidewinder spinoff, giving plenty of page time and legroom for Nick and Kelly to run with the action and romance this time around, giving Ty and Zane’s relationship what at times felt like a secondary role but rebounding big time at the end. We all know this series is going to come to a close sooner or later, whether we want it to or not. Whether Abigail Roux is setting the scene for that, leading us there to nudge us ever so gently over the emotional cliff, or will drag us there kicking and screaming with a sucker-punch to our already breaking hearts as we plummet remains to be seen. One thing is for sure, though, there’s still danger and destruction looming on the horizon for one of their own, so I vote for the kicky-screamy bits. “Do not go gentle into that good night,” guys. Bring it to its knees and make it cry like a little girl.
In the meantime, bring on Cross & Crown. Any book with Julian Cross in it is going straight to the top of my reading list.