Cross & Crown (Sidewinder #2), Abigail Roux

Cross & CrownRating: 4 Stars

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Genre: Gay Romance

Tags: Mystery, Series, Contemporary 

Length: 225 Pages

Reviewer: Cindi

Purchase At: Riptide


Note that a couple of things mentioned in this review may be considered spoilerish. Also note that some of my review links are for reviews published on Goodreads, prior to my time with On Top Down Under Book Reviews.


If you are reading this review, it’s a good bet that you are either heavily involved in the Cut & Run/Sidewinder world, or you are familiar with it. I am not rehashing everything that has led up to the here and now with Nick and Kelly, though I do mention the last book, Ball & Chain. Sure, Ball & Chain is labeled as a Cut & Run book, but in my opinion it was more Sidewinder than Cut & Run. My thoughts on that book were made quite clear in my review of it, so I’ll leave it at that.

It’s no secret to anyone I’ve discussed this series with that I am not a Nick fan. I didn’t like him when he was introduced. I didn’t like him when he kissed Ty way back when. I just don’t like the guy. Ball & Chain added to that. However, I made a point in trying to take a step back when I started this book. I read every book with an open mind and this one was no different. That helped a bit, as I was able to remove him from Ty and Zane – slightly. I adore Kelly so that helped a great deal.

Cross & Crown takes place a few months after the events in Scotland (in Ball & Chain). Nick is back to being a homicide detective in Boston and Kelly is about to be visiting from Colorado. Nick is called out on a murder investigation right before Kelly flies in for two weeks. The first thing Nick discovers is that he has a witness to the crime. Great, right? Wrong. The witness can’t even remember his own name. The witness, JD, was injured during the crime and has amnesia as a result.


“Please,” Kelly said with a weak laugh. “If we weren’t a thing, you’d be all over him.” Nick opened his mouth to protest, then shut it with a snap of his teeth. “You’re probably right,” he admitted. A sly smile came over him and he hooked his finger through Kelly’s belt loop. “But we are a thing.”

The first thing that stood out with JD (for me anyway) was the fact that Nick was immediately drawn to him. This was kind of on and off throughout the book so it wasn’t just a one-time deal. No, he did not cheat on Kelly, but there was this constant need by Nick to comfort JD and to trust him. Odd, considering that Nick is not one to trust anyone. It also had this reader believing that maybe there’s more to the Kelly and Nick thing that will be brought out in future books. Don’t get me wrong, Nick made it quite clear (in every way you can imagine) that his heart is with Kelly and that it’s a forever thing. But yet, I couldn’t grasp where the author was going with the ‘comfort’ and ‘drawn to’ aspects of the story with JD.

Nick walked alongside him, his hand loose on JD’s elbow. Kelly knew himself well enough to know he was a little jealous of the chemistry Nick and JD seemed to have. But he also knew Nick well enough to know he didn’t need to be worried.

Nick smiled and patted JD’s arm, unable to quell the urge to continue trying to comfort the man.

Not long after Kelly arrives in Boston, he is brought on as a consultant on the case that Nick is working on. That was done rather quickly and did not make sense to this reader but it did make sense to the story later for the most part.

“I love you,” Nick whispered. “Has nothing to do with the circumstances, or our history, or how close to death we’ve come together. I would love you in any incarnation of yourself.”

And then we get to the main reason I wanted to read this book – Julian Cross. I wasn’t a fan of Julian and Cameron (his partner) in their own story, Warrior’s Cross (that I read long after Armed & Dangerous) but I loved them in Armed & Dangerous (my favorite book in the Cut & Run series). Julian and Ty – priceless! Unfortunately, our man Ty is nowhere to be found in Cross & Crown. Oh, there’s one phone call between him and Nick but that about sums it up (I’ll definitely be getting back to that).

Julian has been spotted by Nick more than once since the start of the investigation. If you are familiar with Julian Cross, you know that he’s not seen unless he wants to be seen. Julian has his own reasons for being there and they are big ones. I won’t give them away, but I will say that they involve Cam. Julian may be a bad-ass but when it comes to Cameron, he’s a softy… except of course when he’s trying to kill someone who dared harm his man.

Nick has to take custody of JD in order to keep him safe, as he is the lone survivor of a robbery gone bad at an antique store (re: the above-mentioned homicide investigation). This kind of puts a damper on the Nick/Kelly reunion, especially when Nick’s work partner and Julian have to tag along as well. The small group embark on a journey to discover why specific items were stolen and the secrets behind them. Those secrets involve a long-lost treasure that may or may not be buried somewhere in Boston. There are others trying to discover where the treasure is buried as well and those people will see Nick and the others dead before they allow them to find it first.  It is unknown if JD is a good guy or a bad guy until long into the book.

… the melancholy feeling of that phone call settled in his chest, the same feeling he’d always suffered back in the day when he’d said good-bye to Nick on leave, the same hollow sense of something missing when he’d watched Nick escort a woman out of a bar, the same ache he woke up with when he was in bed alone in Colorado and knew Nick was so many miles away in Boston. The same feeling that had rushed through his body when he’d thought Nick might be choosing his badge over Kelly.

I’m not going to give the entire story away, as I’d be angry had someone done that to me. I admit to liking Nick a little better in this story but I still found myself shaking my head more than once. I mentioned the JD thing. Then there was something with Ty. I am completely confused over the deal with Ty. Ty is, as I mentioned above, only in the story in one phone call. The same applies to Zane. In Ball & Chain we read how Ty and Nick’s ‘issues’ came to a head. There is also a scene in that book where I was under the impression that those issues had been resolved. In Cross & Crown, that takes place a few months later, that does not seem to be the case at all.  It’s like nothing had been resolved at all. I am used to seeing the banter between Ty and Nick and the close friendship they have shared since they were much younger. To see Nick so openly rude to Ty surprised me. Did they or did they not get things settled in Ball & Chain? I’m guessing not (obviously) as Nick went out of his way to be short with Ty in Cross & Crown.

Nick and Kelly are good together, even if I’ll never love Nick as other readers seem to. Kelly is his grounding force when things get to be too much. The sex between the two of them is hot as hell (Ms. Roux does know how to write sex scenes).

The story is quite good. I enjoyed the mystery and the history involved in it. I enjoyed catching up with Julian Cross again, even if his random snark wasn’t as prevalent in this story. He and Nick don’t quite have the same ‘chemistry’ that he and Ty have. JD was interesting, even if I wasn’t too keen on his obvious attraction to Nick, nor was I too keen on Nick’s need to comfort the other man.  I will forever adore Kelly, as I have from the first time he was introduced way back when.

The way everything comes together in this story is rather nice, if a bit incomplete. This is understandable as there will be others in the series. I enjoyed all of the characters and the history behind the treasure. The ‘mystery’ wasn’t quite what I expected and that’s always a good thing.

There is a bit of humor scattered throughout, which I love and have come to expect from anything written by Abigail Roux. She’s excellent at adding humor while keeping the story serious at the same time.

Kelly was groaning when he rolled out of the bed. He had to hold his head to make sure it stayed attached. “Let me shower and throw up,” he muttered. He wobbled toward the bathroom, not even self-conscious about being bare-assed naked. Especially odd since he was pretty sure there was a bite mark on his ass. If they didn’t want to see him post-fuck, though, they shouldn’t have been in his room at six in the morning.

There are a couple of other things I feel the need to point out that I was not too big on. Ball & Chain centered almost solely on Nick. A lot of things happened in that book that should have (in my opinion) been resolved in Cross & Crown. They weren’t. Not only were they not resolved, they were not even mentioned (other than his issues with Ty). So, this of course, leads me to believe that the next (and supposedly final) Cut & Run book will once again be focused on Nick instead of Ty and Zane. In the past I would have been eagerly counting down the days until the next Cut & Run book, but after the Nick-fest of Ball & Chain, I have to wonder whose book I will be reading when I do read the last one. I know that the author will do right by Ty and Zane eventually, as they have been to hell and back and deserve their happily-ever-after. However, how much of Nick do the readers have to see in order for that to happen? I get series crossing over and throwing in characters from one to another, but I am not thrilled about possibly reading another 300 page book to only see the characters I love – Ty and Zane – pushed to the side again in their own book.  While I’m not one to go too long with a series, I understand the Sidewinder series in a sense. It’s giving the readers what they want with some of the secondary characters from Cut & Run. But when I started reading the Cut & Run series, I fell in love with the two main characters in it and want to see them more than the secondaries. I admit (while I was reading Cross & Crown) asking “Where is Ty? Where is Zane? Shouldn’t they be in this book when they weren’t much in their own? Nick was all over their book, shouldn’t they be in his???” There was practically zero Ty and Zane time, and what was there was reduced to two awkward phone calls. I thought that was unfair considering how Nick basically owned their last book.


I am a huge fan of the Cut & Run series. I admit to even liking the Sidewinder series because of Kelly. The two series were kept separate in Cross & Crown (for the most part). I only wish that could also be said about Cut & Run. I ended Cross & Crown knowing that in order to see anything resolved (in regards to Nick) it will be in the final Cut & Run book. That does not bode well for me in regards to eagerly awaiting it as I have in the past.

I noted in my Shock & Awe review that Kelly and Nick’s relationship might have seemed like a GFY thing (with Kelly) but in reality, I felt it to be OFY. This was confirmed by a couple of quotes in this book. I admit to getting a bit misty eyed a few times when it came to Kelly and Nick, with those quotes included. Definite “aww” moments.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, even with the things I stated in my review that bugged me. The final Cut & Run book will determine if I will continue with the Sidewinder series.


This book was provided by Riptide Publishing in exchange for a fair and honest review. 



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Kazza K

I know you have enjoyed the Cut & Run Series and I know how you feel about Nick, and your worries re: this series. But it looked like you enjoyed this book irrespective, – lots of Kelly love helped I’m thinking.

Nice, in depth review, Cindi. Loving the pull quotes


Jamie Lake

Really enjoyed the in depth review of the book without giving too much away. Sometimes we just dislike characters the way we just dislike real life people, for no apparent reason. As a m/m author I find it’s good to write people you don’t necessarily like but can relate to or at least sympathize with in some way or another, it keeps the book colorful the same way our world is colorful. Loved your expanded opinions, very clear and to the point.