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Review: Cut & Run Series #1-5 by Abigail Roux

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Cut & Run
A Series by Abigail Roux and Madeline Urban
The Cut & Run series is one of the best I’ve ever had the privilege to read, regardless of genre. The main characters are smartly written, the suspense is never overplayed, and each subsequent challenge faced has left me determined, if not desperate, to stay with them through to the end. It is a rare thing for a story’s characters to feel so alive on the page as well as in my mind, but this series neatly succeeds at both. With a delicate intimacy between the two men that is kept to being a facet of their relationship, rather than its sole focus, the series avoids any gratuitous lessening of the novels themselves. Ty and Zane have a permanent place in my heart, and I’m looking forward to reading Stars & Stripes with an anticipation I have felt for very few stories in a long time.
Cut & Run
Book 1
Release Date: September 29, 2008
      Assigned to work together due to a combination of their unique skills as well as an inability to play well with others, Special Agents Zane Garrett and Ty Grady would almost rather shoot each other than the serial killer who continues to elude them. But when they become targets themselves, they must find a way to get ahead of a hunter who plays to the rules they know, even as the undeniable heat between them threatens everything they’re fighting for.
      This is the first novel in the excellent Cut & Run series. Ms. Roux and Ms. Urban have not only written an engaging, suspenseful story that cost me more than one night’s sleep, but Ty and Zane are utterly engrossing characters who won me over from the very beginning. They are smart, conflicted heroes who are so achingly perfect together that I couldn’t put their story down. A fascinating mystery as well as an enthralling romance, this story delivers solidly in both genres, and left me wanting more. Cut & Run is an exceptional beginning to a wonderful series, and I’m happy to be on board for as long as the series lasts.
5 stars: Personal favorite – a must read (A+)
Sticks & Stones
Book 2
Release Date: January 25, 2010
      They’ve survived a serial killer, secret missions, and undercover assignments among the dregs of Miami, but taking a vacation might just prove to be the most perilous undertaking of all for Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett. Hoping to help his unstable partner by bringing him home to West Virginia for some involuntary time off, Ty is faced with some harsh realizations of his own, both about himself and the family he loves. But when confronted by the cruelty of men and the wilds of the mountain, Ty and Zane prove that defying everyone’s expectations will help them beat the odds, and accepting what they have together may be the only thing that will keep them alive. 
      In Sticks & Stones, we are introduced to Ty’s family, who are the very best kind of insane, most of them easily as lovable and frustrating as Ty and Zane are themselves. They explain a lot about Ty, the unshakeable tenderness they have for one another not very well hidden beneath the tough demeanor of true survivors. Chester and Deuce, in particular, are new favorites, but I laughed openly at the entire family’s eccentricities and interactions, right along with Zane.
      And that continues to be one of the best things about this series: the feeling that there’s nothing contrived about Ty and Zane. What you see isn’t always pretty, but every struggle has an emotional veracity to it that makes their evolving relationship undeniably addictive. While Ty and Zane would fight and die for each other without a second thought, their partnership continues to be anything but easy. Still, they’re fighting for it with everything they’ve got; making the moments of peace and acceptance they share even more wonderful and rewarding.
5 stars: Personal favorite – a must read (A+)
Fish & Chips
Book 3
Release Date: November 1, 2010
      After the mind-numbing drudgery of desk duty that has filled their time since being reassigned to the Baltimore office, Ty and Zane’s new undercover assignment aboard a cruise ship in the Caribbean should have been a welcome change. Told only to observe, take names, and not get killed, they instead find themselves the targets of a deadly fencing ring takeover, as well as in the crosshairs of an international sting operation. Still, when presented with the singular opportunity to explore what life might be like if they didn’t have to hide from the rest of the world, Ty and Zane will take what they can get, and in the process take a leap of faith that will change them both forever. 
      Aside from the fact that it is possibly the sexiest story in the Cut & Run series thus far, Fish & Chips once again proves that an m/m romance can be a gripping, intelligent, edge-of-your-seat suspense as well. Zane and Ty have plenty of scars, both inside and out, but it is Zane’s weakness that puts their partnership to the test here. The authors don’t sugarcoat the repercussions of addiction, and Zane’s failures hit hard. But, Ty’s forgiveness, along with Zane’s determination to deserve it, makes these two characters ever more remarkable and worthy of real happiness.
      In Fish & Chips, Ty and Zane are assigned to impersonate an out and proud gay married couple, and I was thrilled to see them finally able to enjoy the heated glances and comforting touches that other couples indulge in while in public on a regular basis. Although the intimate scenes between Ty and Zane were beautiful, and, yes, completely scorching, it is these simple moments that added a new aspect to their relationship as a whole and made me love them even more.
5 stars: Personal favorite – a must read (A+)
Divide & Conquer
Book 4
Release Date: October 14, 2011
      When a bomber uses the mounting unrest in the city of Baltimore as a cover for his own personal war, Ty and Zane find themselves the poster boys of the effort to take him down. Already notorious for being high-strung and unstable, Ty begins to truly unravel as first his beloved Bronco, and then Zane, become victims of the murderer’s attempts at retaliation. Thrown into even more uncertainty as Ty impulsively comes out to his former Recon team and his partnership with Zane begins to self-destruct, it will take Zane facing some hard truths of his own to help his best friend and lover and win back the man he loves. 
      Although it is an excellent addition to the Cut & Run series, I didn’t feel that Divide & Conquer was quite as strong as the other stories to date. Aside from my impression that the villains didn’t have the depth and frightening intelligence of earlier antagonists, the tension between Ty and Zane felt somewhat more imbalanced in this story. While Ty is understandably fed up with Zane’s mistakes, I felt he’d have been justified in defending him more against the poor opinions of others when given the opportunity, as well.
Those issues are minor, though, when taking the story as a whole into account. Ty and Zane are often absolutely hilarious and Divide & Conquer is filled with amusingly edited personal anecdotes and inside jokes that leave just enough out to make filling in the blanks a lot of fun. Sexually, Ty and Zane are explosive, their growing familiarity and commitment to one another fueling their mutual desire beautifully. Likewise, the affection they share feels more comfortable and substantial with each novel, making Divide & Conquer an essential and enjoyable continuation of the series.
4.5 stars: Loved it – enthusiastically recommend (A)
Armed & Dangerous
Book 5
Release Date: May 18, 2012
      Assigned to bring in a hostile federal informant on a high priority secret mission, Ty and Zane learn quickly that blind trust can be deadly and innocence isn’t as certain as it seems. While racing halfway across the country with unfriendly operatives dogging their every move, they’ll have to trust each other more than ever, and question one of the strongest allegiances they’ve ever known. While they’ve always been willing to die for each other, it’s the determination to live for one another, along with the hope of a life together on their own terms, that helps them survive. 
      In Armed & Dangerous, Ty and Zane are back and better than ever. This is the first novel in the series Ms. Roux has written as the sole author, and she’s done so brilliantly. The entire story is snarkier, sweeter, and more enjoyable overall, and the partnership between Ty and Zane is delightfully solid. The two are irresistible here, their relationship having progressed to a level of familiarity and confidence that makes them as happy as it leaves others baffled, which is just fine. Perhaps most amusing is seeing others react with puzzlement, frustration, and even alarm to certain of Ty’s behaviors, which Zane treats with the nonchalance of long-lived acceptance. Ms. Roux has breathed new life into the series with Armed & Dangerous, and I feel certain that the rest of the series will be just as wonderful.
5 stars: Personal favorite – a must read (A+)
 
Be sure to stop by next week when B reviews the sixth Cut & Run book, titled Stars & Stripes
 
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17181525468624689183 Marq

    I’ve heard so many great things about this series. I got book 1 yesterday. Can’t wait to dive in!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05164981880837468084 Mandi

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this series. My favorite!!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10367769567378677965 Samantha

    My favorite series ever! So glad you’re reading it. Hard to believe Ty and Zane have been in my life for almost 4 years. It’s been a rough ride in between books at times. :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05079864471189810961 B.

    Thank you! I love talking about this series! It’s definitely a keeper series and one of my all-time favorites. I found the series a bit later, so I only had to wait between two books, and that was absolute torture! I already can’t imagine how I’ll make it until the next release. Abigail Roux is also a very generous author to her fans, and following her blogs is a lot of fun.

    Glad you like the books!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11719035106396989796 Vanessa theJeepDiva

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11719035106396989796 Vanessa theJeepDiva

    I just got the 5th or 6th book in this series. (the tigger balloon cover) I had never heard of it prior to AAD. Between this post & Red Hot Jen’s & have got to read them!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09417165718948987609 Mama Kitty

    This is seriously one of my favorite series of all time! I LOVE TY AND ZANE!! I was *thisclose* to getting a Team Ty shirt at AAD, but I ran out of cash and didn’t want to set my credit card on fire. Sigh. Next time I get paid, I’m getting one!!!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05079864471189810961 B.

    The shirt I’m getting is the “Glock, Paper, Scissors–I Win” one. I love it!

    Thanks again!

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