Joint Review: Ball & Chain by Abigail Roux

hBall & Chain by Abigail Roux (Cut & Run #8)
Releases: March 17, 2014
M/M Romantic Suspense
Riptide Publishing

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.

Rating: C

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.

Rating: C

Goodreads l Author Website l Series Guide

Previous Cut & Run reviews

Kindle l Nook l Riptide


  1. JEn says

    Ok, so I agree and disagree. I don’t think there was so much of Nick and Kelly’s relationship but there was a lot of Nick. Kelly and Zane were pretty similar in my mind. They were main characters but secondary main characters, if that makes any sense. To me, this book was about Nick and Ty with some Ty and Zane thrown in there. Kelly only came along for the ride and acted as comic relief.

    Def agree on the bad guy thing. How was that so brushed under the table?? Oh it was “blah blah”. Moving on now….

    I think Ty and Zane almost wrapped up in T&G. I hate it but all they kind of had left was the marriage proposal and sailing off into the sunset. I don’t want that to be how it is but I think that is how Abi is making it. The last book has a lot to wrap up for Ty and Zane so hopefully that will be one mostly about them.

    I liked the book. A lot. It didn’t leave me wrung out like T&G but the end was pretty darn sappy and perfect.

    • Mandi says

      Ok – I do agree it’s more about Nick and Ty then Zane and Kelly. That is true.

      And I do know that the series is wrapping up – so hopefully the final book will be all Z&T :)

      • JEn says

        I have to say I love how you always say Z&T. I am a Zane girl 100% but for some reason I always say T&Z. I should reverse that.

  2. Heather says

    It really did feel like she was wrapping up the story. I waffled between love and hate. The story arc of the wedding really overshadowed the romance — it felt like more than 2/3 of the story had nothing to do with either Ty & Zane or Nick & Kelly’s relationships. I also felt like Deuce’s fiancee (I can’t even remember her name) was not fleshed out well enough to be likeable. It seems like Ty had a lot of reckoning in this book, which I think was important — but so much mystery felt overdone. I’m hopeful that the next story will return to a more T&Z centric novel.

  3. says

    Mandi, Helyce: THANK YOU! This book hurt me in the way it didn’t hurt. The usual level of emotional angst and giddiness that’s totally inappropriate for fictional characters just wasn’t there. I felt so bloody cheated. Compared to the rest of the series, this book wasn’t even in the same stratosphere. It did not feel the same. And while I do like Nick and Kelly, I sort of hated them in this book for stealing the spotlight. I NEED the last book to be better than this.

  4. says

    So much of the plot in this book didn’t make any sense! I was left feeling bummed that my favorite characters in any book ever aren’t wrapping up their series with the attention I really feel they deserve. THERE IS SO MUCH not known between the two of them. I would have been more intrigued and satisified by the two of them sitting alone in a room together for 300 pages and just talking to each other.

    And the part with them smoking pot in front of Zane and then later Nick lecturing Ty about drinking in front of Zane? WTH? And why send all those Grady family members who are so rich on the page over to Scotland and give most of them one or two lines?

    • Mandi says

      “And the part with them smoking pot in front of Zane and then later Nick lecturing Ty about drinking in front of Zane? WTH? And why send all those Grady family members who are so rich on the page over to Scotland and give most of them one or two lines?”

      Great points. Disappointing all around

  5. Helyce says

    Exactly! Well said! And dammit-I need to know what happened on that mission. Can you believe that Ty would walk away so easily from his career?

    • Jen says

      These are things I never think about while I am reading the book. I am just so overwhelmed by having Ty and Zane in my hands that I don’t question.

      But yeah, he did give up that career quite easily didn’t he? A man that has always been a slave for duty…And remember in T&G when they thought Burns had deserted them and Liam commented that Ty was nothing without someone telling him what to do? I think this is why it is even more important for us to know what happened while they were gone.

      • Mandi says

        Great point here too!

        It feels like the other books were plotted so carefully and this one just wasn’t at the same caliber. And then the whole Burns thing in B&C was – rushed IMO.

  6. says

    Is the Nick and Kelly novella Sidewinder? I’m very behind on the series – the last book I read was Fish and Chips, though the others (except for this new one) are on my TBR).

    • Helyce says

      Hey Kaetrin-you’ve probably found your answer by now…Nick and Kelly are part of Ty’s Sidewinder special forces team, yes and her spin off is called Sidewinder.

  7. Caitlin says

    I 100% agree with these reviews. WTH? I LOVE this series, but this book was so out of left field. Did Roux not think that Ty coming home and adjusting to civilian life was a compelling enough story? So she serves up a convoluted Clue plot instead with 20 new characters taking up precious page space? **spoilers** Here’s what especially bothered me:

    The proposal at the end was anticlimactic and unsatisfactory. I blame this mainly on the fact that the two prior scenes were very dramatic and Nick-centric. I CANNOT BELIEVE that Kelly and Nick had a proposal scene before T&Z’s final proposal…in T&Z’s book??!!

    The snickering, chortling, and smirking were so out of place, especially since Nick and Ty are supposed to be suffering from PTSD. Ty’s PTSD was alluded to, but never really addressed.

    Why would the cartel not just attempt to kill Zane, especially while his partner/lover is out-of-country? Why this elaborate highly inefficient plot to discredit him? I can only suspend so much disbelief.

    Ok, end rant. Here’s hoping the last book of the series is amazing!

  8. Mandi says

    “I CANNOT BELIEVE that Kelly and Nick had a proposal scene before T&Z’s final proposal…in T&Z’s book??!!”

    First of all – THIS!

    And yes – it didn’t make a lot of sense. SO frustrating. I hope so much that the final book really gives these two a fab send off.

  9. wizard says

    I agree with the reviews!! Seriously?! Nick is the main character in this book!! What happened to Ty and especially to Zane?! This is their book but it feels like they are just supporting characters to nick. *sigh*

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