Crash & Burn (Cut & Run #9), Abigail Roux
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: Gay Mystery/Romance
Tags: Cops/FBI, Contemporary, Humor, Mystery/Suspense, Romance, Series Finale, Violence
This review is NSFW-ish. Also note that I tried hard to keep spoilers out, but some may have snuck in.
It’s been five years since Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett first worked together to solve the Tri-State murders, and time has been both harsh and kind. Engaged now, they face the challenge of planning a deeply uncertain future together. Zane is at the pinnacle of his career with one last mystery to solve, while Ty is at sea in a world where he’s no longer the tip of a spear.
There’s just one more hurdle in the way of their happy ever after: a traitor from their inner circle who threatens to burn their world to the ground.
Squeezed between the Vega cartel, an unknown mole, and too many alphabet agencies to count, Ty and Zane must gather all their strength and resources to beat the longest odds they’ve ever faced. To make it out alive, they’ll need help from every friend they’ve got. Even the friends who might betray their trust.
Thank you Abigail Roux for taking this series back where it belonged and for giving Ty and Zane the ending they deserved.
I’m going to start this with a disclaimer – I didn’t want to read this book. Sure, I wanted to see Ty and Zane finally get their true HEA, but come on! Ball & Chain anyone? You remember, the Cut & Run book that was all Nick, Nick, and oh yeah, even more Nick? Ty and Zane had been reduced to secondaries in their own series. While I liked that book okay, it was a Sidewinder book, not a Cut & Run book, regardless of how it was billed. So, I grudgingly pre-ordered Crash & Burn with a not great attitude. At least I admit it, right? I said I’d go into it with an open mind (I did) and hope for the best, but expect the worse. Boy, was I surprised.
Crash & Burn starts off in true Ty and Zane form – rough sex against a wall and on the stairs. Yes, that is the Ty and Zane of old. The same Ty and Zane who had most of their sexual encounters off-page in Ball & Chain.
Still bitter. Sorry.
I’m trying to figure out how to review this book without giving spoilers. There are quite a few things that come full circle that I seriously hope stay under wraps for those who haven’t read it yet. While I tried to keep spoilers out, my apologies if a couple sneak in.
In Crash & Burn everything comes to a head. Seriously, everything. It all started in the first book. We fell in love with a lot of characters along the way, didn’t we? Of course there are Ty and Zane. They go without saying. But there are also the Sidewinder guys, Ty’s family – who doesn’t love Chester and his shovel? – and others.
“Does Chester get to put a corsage on his shovel?”
Earl (Ty’s dad) was never a favorite of mine, but he somewhat redeemed himself here. Some characters weren’t liked that much. My lack of love for Nick is well-known I believe. There are Zane’s parents. We all adored Zane’s father, but his mother? Uh, no. There’s Liam Bell, who the readers will love or hate. There’s no middle ground with him. There was Richard Burns, who Ty loved as an uncle. If you read Ball & Chain, you know that Richard Burns had his own issues (that’s me keeping that big fat spoiler out in case you didn’t read that particular book). There are others, of course, who we didn’t like so much, but they all played critical parts in seeing Ty and Zane finally find their way. Ah, and we can’t forget Julian Cross. I adored him in Armed & Dangerous (#5 in the series). I read that before Warrior’s Cross, Julian and Cameron’s story, and I’m really glad I did. I wasn’t a fan of him in his own book. It was good to see him again, even if there wasn’t as much banter between him and Ty as I would’ve liked. But then again, he was only there to help end things once and for all so the lack of silly banter is understandable.
Crash & Burn takes place a little while after Ball & Chain. Ty and Zane know they are in danger after what happened at Deuce’s wedding, but they have so many people/organizations after them, it’s a toss up of who they should be the most afraid of. Zane is the head of a FBI field office and Ty has been retired for about a year and is driving his poor man crazy because he’s unable to get out and blow up things. It doesn’t take long (actually, it happens quickly) before the danger is basically knocking on the door of the row house the two share. There’s a mole in their group and they are no closer now to knowing who that mole is than they were before. It’s a hurry up and wait type thing.
Ty and Zane, even with the danger surrounding them, are happy. Very happy. They’ve been to hell and back but that doesn’t stop them from living happily – and openly – as a couple. These guys have been through a lot, so it was nice seeing them with nothing disrupting their hard-earned relationship. Their lives, yes, but not their relationship. This is Ty and Zane so you know a lot of stuff would be happening before they could finally relax.
When I say everything comes to a head in this book, I mean everything does. From characters you thought were insignificant to those who took center, they were here in their glory. Some are good, a lot not. The reader will feel the same loss of betrayal the characters did when they discovered someone close wasn’t who they appeared to be for many years. You’ll be sad for those the betrayal hurt the most and you will eagerly be wishing you could go back and see things before they were too late. Everything is there, starting early in Cut & Run, so for me to be shocked? Well, I probably should’ve seen it coming. I didn’t. For Ty, the betrayal hits in ways I never would’ve expected. I wish I could say more in that regard, but I can’t. Suffice it to say that more than one person who Ty trusted cut him deep. I got a bit teary more than once because of it. Zane is also betrayed by some he trusted most. It broke my heart watching both of these guys mourn the loss of one thing they both held dear – loyalty.
If you read the other books, you know that a lot of people want Ty and Zane dead, most notably Zane. The cartel is still out there and they have a bullet with Zane’s name on it. The same applies to other organizations who want him (and Ty) out of the picture for good. The mole is feeding the wrong people information and the guys are no closer to finding out who that is. Then we have Liam, who (a couple of books back) made a threat and changed the dynamic of Nick and Kelly’s relationship. If you read that particular book, you’ll know what I’m referring to.
Then we get to Nick. Nick, as fans of the series know, is Ty’s best friend in the world. He’s kind of taken a step back since Deuce’s wedding and this hurts Ty. The reasoning behind Nick taking a step back is explained and I was eager to see which side he was really on. I have to say that with my prior lack of love for him, I was pretty pleased to despise him throughout a lot of this book. I suspected that things weren’t exactly as they appeared (because of the Sidewinder series). I kept thinking “Would he really hurt Ty? Kelly? By doing what it appears he’s doing?” I actually felt a bit of sympathy for him a few times. Nick may be one of my least favorite fictional characters, but he stepped up when it counted and it definitely worked for the story. He’s in Crash & Burn a lot, but I had no problem with him playing a big part in this book. It was needed and at no time did his part in the story take away from Ty and Zane.
As with the books before it, there are a lot of explosions and violence in Crash & Burn, but there is also the humor one expects from Ty, Zane and the others. Zane is one of my all-time favorite fictional characters and he definitely didn’t let me down this go ’round. But the tears were there as well. I shed quite a few while reading this book and I’m not ashamed of that fact. Those tears said the story was pulling out emotions that a Cut & Run book hasn’t done in quite some time. The sex is hot. The mystery of all things that led up to the finale was written extremely well. It was so much like the old days that I had that same feeling I had when I began this series way back when and got sucked into it.
The ending, while perfect, was bittersweet. I’ve devoted a long time to this series and as much as I felt that it went on way too long, I was still sad to see it end. But then again, is it really over? I have no doubt the Sidewinder books will continue for however long. Personally, I’m just happy to say that I saw Ty and Zane get the ending they deserve. I went in with a lot of doubts, but ended it feeling very good about how everything came together. Will I continue on with the Sidewinder books? I really can’t say at this point. There comes a time when I feel that characters and their stories can go on much too long. I believe that’s the case with these guys. If I were to see that Digger and Owen would be getting their own romance (s), I’d be all over it. There are also a couple of things that need to be resolved between the others (not Ty and Zane – I need to stress that) and I get that. But in all honesty, I feel that it’s time to move on from this particular world. That may change when another Sidewinder book is released.
I have to point something out that may be missed if you don’t look for it – don’t stop reading the book at “The End”. Keep going. Even if you don’t read the author notes or pay much attention to the author’s other books etc., keep reading until you get to the very end of the book on your Kindle. You’ll be glad you did. There’s a bit of an epilogue the author snuck in and you don’t want to miss it. Had I not seen something by accident on Goodreads, I might have missed it myself.
Overall, I’m very happy with the way Ty and Zane went out. When I started this series, I did it hesitantly. I’m not a fan of series that go on too long and I knew I’d get to the “Hurry up and finish it already” stage. I admit that I did get to that point a few books back. You can love characters and you can love the worlds they live in, but you get to a point when you want it over and done already. Thankfully the author took everything in the other books and made the wait worth it in Crash & Burn. Kudos to the author for giving us our guys back.
You can find my reviews of all the books in the series (including Sidewinder) at the links below –
Cut & Run – Cut & Run (#1) | Sticks & Stones (#2) | Fish & Chips (#3) | Divide & Conquer (#4) | Armed & Dangerous (#5) | Dine & Dash (#5.5) | Stars & Stripes (#6) | Touch & Geaux (#7) | Ball & Chain (#8) | Warrior’s Cross