Reviewed by Mandi and Helyce
Note: Ball & Chain releases on Monday but those that pre-ordered it from Riptide received the book last weekend.
This post contains spoilers!!
Blurb: 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
Helyce and Mandi are huge fans of this series. Mandi can’t picture her reading world without Ty and Zane present. So it was a disappoinment to us the way Ball & Chain played out. Our thoughts.
When did this become Nick and Kelly’s series?
Mandi: Odd that we are leading with two characters who are not the protagonists of the story, right? Nick and Kelly are both from Ty’s marine team, and last year Roux gave us a brief novella that shows Nick and Kelly falling in love. Apparently Roux has bigger plans for them (a longer book due out this fall) and has used Ball & Chain to set-up that book, to the detriment of Ty and Zane. I love Ty’s sidewinder team – they are fun to read about. But when they completely overshadow Ty and Zane, I get very frustrated. Ty and Zane got cheated in this book.
Helyce: I wasn’t surprised that this book started with the men coming home from that secret mission. Since both Kelly and Zane were not a part of it, I didn’t expect that we’d be “in” it at all. I loved Ty and Zane’s homecoming scene a lot. I liked that all their barriers are down and the fear of their public relationship is no more. I’ve also enjoyed the inclusion of the Sidewinder team in previous books. I agree with you that there seemed to be more focus on Kelly and Nick here. And I have to point out that I didn’t get that they were still a secret to the rest of the team until a bit later in the book-because of their novella, my brain already saw them as a couple.
Ty’s emotional health.
Mandi: At the end of the previous book, Ty is forced to leave for six months to go on one last mission. Apparently horrible things happened on this mission as Ty and Nick are both still reeling from it. It’s brought up a lot in the book – but I didn’t feel adequate amount of time was spent addressing this issue. I get that his mission was top secret but why keep bringing up these hints that horrible things happened and never fully playing out this storyline?
Helyce: I totally agree with you here. The constant hints were tiring-more so because it made me want to know what the hell happened? Where were they? Why are they all so shell shocked and determined never to serve again? Too much teasing for the reader. Definitely felt unfinished.
Zane? Are you there?
Mandi: Do you feel as though Zane was kind of ignored this book? He kind of gets pushed aside by Ty, Nick and Kelly. And bringing up back to my first point, this is HIS series. I was also put off by the entire convoluted plot just to bring us to the big twist at the end that involves Zane. I like how the bad guy is involved in the twist – but why spend an entire book with this murder mystery at some far off castle? The action and suspense in the past few books have been so damn good. This felt out of place. I also thought the amount of people who were murdered in this book was astounding next to the more nonchalant attitude of the guests.
Helyce: I don’t know if I’d say Zane was ignored-but I agree that the mystery/action/adventure part of this story was not really up to par with previous books. I also feel it was a bit out of place that the bad guys turned out to be part of Zane’s backstory. I get that when you’re dealing with revenge you go after the families of your enemies-but timing wise I don’t see how it all could have been set up? Ty and Zane get the call about the wedding and head over in short order. I admit to being a bit confused at the end and not truly clear on the whole set up of you know who.
And yes, the amount of dead people was a bit much. It felt like one of those whodunit dinner/murder games that people host for dinner parties–and everyone would be alive in a very elaborate scheme in the end. Not.
One more rant!
Mandi: I had a hard time getting into this book. I felt the dialogue was off at the beginning. There seemed to be forced “cackling” and “snickering” – it didn’t flow. (Okay I think I’m ready to move onto happier times.)
Helyce: I actually forced myself to read this one a bit slowly since we have to wait so very long between books. I agree that something was definitely missing from this installment. For now, I’m going with lack of focus on our beloved Ty and Zane.
The fun stuff
Mandi: OH TY. He proposes to Zane a gazillion times in this book and it’s so damn cute.
“Marry me, Zane,” he whispered.
Zane burst out laughing and sat up. These weren’t exactly the ideal conditions for a proposal they needed to be telling family about. “Nuh uh.”
“Oh, come on!” Ty called after him as he ducked into the bathroom. “Lying naked on a rug in front of a fireplace in a fucking castle?”
“Nope.” Zane caught himself grinning in the mirror…..
I love that Ty is the one to initiate the proposals and I enjoyed how Zane reacts. It was fun to hang out with Deuce (although I found his wife a little flat) and Mama Grady. I actually liked Nick and Kelly more in this book than I did in their novella – but I didn’t want them to take the lead in this book.
And the sex was HOT. Of course.
Ty put his lips to Zane’s ear. “Louder.”
Zane fought to swallow. His cock jumped against Ty’s hip.
“Louder, Zane,” Ty ordered, voice going sharper. It was an order, just like the one he gave in the field to Marines who hoped to obey his every command. Like he was finally declaring to the world, to anyone who would listen, that Zane was his.
Helyce: Oh yes, the proposals were a highlight of this story. I kept wondering what Ty would do next. I loved how he was persistent but that you still got that vulnerable feeling. It was nice to see Ty’s family as well. I didn’t remember Deuce’s wife coming from such a wealthy family and I agree that she seemed a little flat considered it was her wedding. Clearly the wedding part was secondary to everything else.
Agreed-Ty and Zane = HOT sex. Their connection and love for each other definitely comes through here.
Mandi: Look – Ty and Zane are probably my favorite couple so I get a bit dramatic when it comes to their books. In the past I’ve squeed so much I was due for more of a ranty review. It feels as though Roux is done with Ty and Zane and ready to move on with Nick and Kelly. Which is fine (totally not fine) but at least finish this series and give Ty and Zane the spotlight until you are completely done with them. The readers deserve that.
Helyce: This series is definitely up there for me and I highly anticipate each release with joy! In almost all cases, I am shattered at the end of a Ty and Zane book. I am emotionally drained and the fact that a whole year must pass before the next release kills me. But at the end of this book I waffled between indifference and sadness and I felt cheated. It very much felt like an end to Ty and Zane and I’m not ready for their journey to be over. Don’t get me wrong-the final scenes between Ty and Zane here are heartfelt and beautiful, BUT it screamed The End. And you’re right-it wasn’t good enough.
As far as Nick and Kelly? Well they will never be Ty and Zane; but yeah, I’ll read their books too.
Previous Cut & Run reviews