Ball & Chain
Author: Abigail Roux
As was certainly the case in the previous novel in the Cut & Run series, Ball & Chain is a very busy story. In addition to the murder mystery that serves as the backdrop for the other events that transpire, Ty and Zane have to deal with the after-effects of Team Sidewinder’s most recent and final deployment, the changes they’ve been going through as individuals, in addition to some very dark and unforgiving truths that Ty still needs to come to terms with. Nick and Kelly also play a significant role in Ball & Chain, offering a hint of what their own series might be like, as well as an alternate perception of Ty’s past actions, which I feel is an important factor in trying to understand Ty and Zane’s relationship and where it’s headed.
Beginning with Team Sidewinder’s return home, Ball & Chain reintroduces us to Zane & Ty as they navigate the changes they’ve undergone in both the previous story as well as their months apart during Ty’s deployment. Even though things continue to evolve in their lives after Ty comes back, their commitment to one another has deepened substantially. Zane is better and healthier than ever, and Ty’s devotion to what they have together is sweeter than just about anything I’ve seen from them so far. They are more open and honest with each other in everything, including their mutual desire, and watching them reclaim one another over the course of the novel has become one of my favorite things about the series yet. Additionally, Ms. Roux has written what is undoubtedly one of the best, and most determined, proposals I’ve ever read, and has thereby given her readers one of the warmest endings of the series.
While we’re not told exactly what happened to Team Sidewinder during their last deployment, whatever it was has left both Ty and Nick more scarred and haunted than before. As much alike as they’ve seemed to be up to now, Ball & Chain serves to underscore their many differences, as well, leading to a progression of confrontations that ultimately exposes the truth about their friendship, and threatens to destroy it. Ty has spent much of his life going from assignment to assignment, acting on someone else’s orders; ferociously keeping the past locked away in order to focus on the present. As a result, he hasn’t allowed himself to think too much about the future, beyond his fairly new determination to have one with Zane. But, reaching for what he wants means acknowledging that he isn’t the only one shouldering the consequences of his actions, and that being “under orders” in no way justifies every act, nor does it guarantee absolution.
Although it wasn’t my favorite part of Ball & Chain, I enjoyed the mystery that is the impetus for the events of the story a good deal. The strain placed on all the characters, especially Nick, by the murders happening all around them was tangible, and his reluctant authority during the beginning of the inquiry, and the subsequent toll it takes on his emotional and mental stability, made me worry for him tremendously. Though they are initially, and admittedly, somewhat detached from the case, Zane and Ty immerse themselves in it soon enough, combining their talents with Nick’s and Kelly’s to find much-needed answers. It was also highly satisfying to see Zane being relied on for more of his skills than what he can do with a knife and a gun. Kelly, especially, was a nice touch of good, demented fun during the course of the investigation, and watching him in these moments was particularly entertaining.
Ball & Chain continues the reckoning begun in Touch & Geaux, and, as much as it hurts, I think it’s necessary in order for Ty and Zane to have a lasting future together. It is a story of cost and consequence, and Ty, at least to this point, still has some paying up to do. Ty needs it, and Zane knows it, choosing to support and comfort Ty as he deals with the ramifications of his actions, rather than trying to excuse or defend him as he might otherwise have done. In contrast to the substantial amount of seriousness in the novel, Ball & Chain also has many moments of levity and profound tenderness, and Ms. Roux balances the two very well. Overall, I liked Ball & Chain very much, and, given all the changes in the Cut & Run universe in the last year, I found this story to be a fitting addition to the series. I love where Ty and Zane seem to be going, and want them to be happy with all my heart. As much as I’m looking forward to the upcoming Sidewinder novel, I’m very sad about the idea of saying goodbye to Ty and Zane and the Cut & Run series. But, with one more book to go, and more battles to fight before end, there’s still plenty to look forward to for the guys, and plenty of rereads to do until then.
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.
Release Date: March 17, 2014
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Series: Cut & Run #8
Genre: GBLT, m/m Romance, Military Suspense
Format(s): Paperback (370 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Publisher
Ball & Chain (Cut & Run #8)