Title: Sticks & Stones
Series: Cut & Run, #2
Author: Madeleine Urban & Abigail Roux
Genre: Romantic Suspense, M/M Romance
Sensuality Rating: Erotic
Source: review copy from publisher
Published: January 2010 by Dreamspinner Press
Cut & Run Series Book Two - Sequel to Cut & Run Six months after nearly losing their lives to a serial killer in New York City, FBI Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett are suffering through something almost as frightening: the monotony of desk duty. When they're ordered to take a vacation for the good of everyone's sanity, Ty bites the bullet and takes Zane home with him to West Virginia, hoping the peace and quiet of the mountains will give them the chance to explore the explosive attraction they've so far been unable to reconcile with their professional partnership. Ty and Zane, along with Ty's father and brother, head up into the Appalachian mountains for a nice, relaxing hike deep into the woods... where no one will hear them scream. They find themselves facing danger from all directions: unpredictable weather, the unrelenting mountains, wild animals, fellow hikers with nothing to lose, and the most terrifying challenge of all. Each other.
Reviewed By: J9
In a Nutshell: The romance and characters are still as awesome as in book one but the plot was so over the top I rolled my eyes a few times.
The Set Up: Ty and Zane are in a relationship funk after surviving a serial killer’s attack. Their boss forces them to go on a vacation and Ty decides to take Zane to visit his family in West Virginia. Zane and Ty are both still battling their demons. Throw in Ty’s complicated family dynamics and a mystery on their West Virginia mountain and the men aren’t getting the relaxing vacation they hoped for.
Why I Read this Book: Book one in this series BLEW MY MIND so it was a no-brainer to continue the series.
What I Liked: I love these characters. Ty and Zane aren’t fixed by love; they can’t even call what they have love. They’re drawn to each other and quiet each other’s demons a bit but not in a conventional way. Ty’s brother best sums up their relationship when he says, “partners, friends, adversaries… none of the pegs fit anywhere”.
It’s funny that Ty and Zane are two men of action in their FBI lives, which up to now has been their only life, but now they’re considering having personal lives and they’re nearly paralyzed with indecision and fear. Given their characters, this romance fits them in a way I can’t imagine working for other characters. I like that their sexual interactions matches their emotional intimacy and both are further developed in book two.
What I Also Liked: Ty uses his wit, humor and sarcasm to keep everyone at arms’ length, Zane included. So it was super enlightening to see him in the bosom of his family. It explains a lot about his character and I really like that. His family consists of absolutely stellar characters, like his shrink brother and crazy grandpa who carries a sharpened shovel around. It was a joy to meet his family and see Ty humanized a bit. I also like that Ty’s relationships with his family are realistic with good and bad and that nothing is fixed just because he visits home. This all fits in with the complicated nature of the characters and series in general.
What I Didn’t Like: As much as I continue to enjoy the characters and romance, the plot felt contrived. The first 150 pages is devoted to Ty and Zane’s relationship and Ty brining Zane to meet his family (as his FBI partner, not life partner!). This paced beautifully and was just what I needed after reading the frantic pacing of book one as the men were in constant mortal danger. But then Ty and Zane, along with Ty’s father and brother, go on an extended hike into the mountains. Of course, they run into absolutely danger at every turn, from crazed hikers, the weather and yes, even wild animals. One or two of those dangers would have been fine but they just kept rolling in. It felt contrived to keep the FBI agents showing their skills. I enjoyed the slower pacing of the first half of the book and it made the second half seem even more out of control.
IMO: Don’t let the slightly contrived danger plot prevent you from reading this wonderful installment in a stellar MM romance series. The compelling characters and unusual romance make this book and series a must read.