Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “Eternity rings and manly soldiers. You Irish really know how to seduce a guy.”
When Nick O’Flaherty arrives at the scene of a double homicide to find he has a witness to the crime, he thinks it’s his lucky day. But when he realizes his witness is suffering from amnesia and can’t even remember his own name, Nick wishes he’d gone with his gut and put in for vacation time.
Then Nick’s boyfriend and former Recon teammate, Kelly Abbott, joins him in Boston, and Nick finds his hands a little too full as the case and his personal life collide. The witness he’s dubbed “JD” is being tailed by Julian Cross, a retired CIA hitman. To complicate matters further, JD forms an attachment to Nick that Nick struggles not to respond to as they search for the key to JD’s identity.
Trying to determine whether JD is friend or foe as they investigate the crime puts them on the trail of a much older mystery. When multiple attempts are made on their lives, Nick is forced to turn to old enemies and new allies to solve a centuries-old crime before he and Kelly get added to the history books. (Goodreads)
Cross & Crown is the second novella in the Sidewinders series and picks up after the events in Ball & Chain (Cut & Run, #7). Nick O’Flaherty and Kelly Abbott are now an established couple whose relationship has developed into something much deeper then either could predict. Nick is a detective with the Boston police force and Kelly works full time with disadvantaged children in Colorado. He and Kelly are managing to maintain their long distance love relationship; seeing one another whenever possible.
Kelly takes some vacation time and arrives in Boston to spend some much needed downtime with Nick only to find him embroiled in a homicide/robbery dating back to the Civil War. Open to almost anything as long as he gets to spend time with his man, Kelly jumps in to the pandemonium with both feet. Things get even more interesting when he learns Nick’s only witness has amnesia and he wants to be more than just a witness to Nick. When Nick and Kelly keep catching sight of Julian Cross, they know that this is far more complicated than they had imagined. Soon the boys are waist deep in history; surrounded by the Irish mob, a rogue ex CIA agent, and some for hire treasure hunters.
“I think we needed this,” Kelly admitted.
“I think we’re based off murder and mayhem.” Kelly pushed up, sitting cross-legged and facing Nick. “We’ve never known each other in times of peace.”
Action, danger, romance, and suspense are a potent combination this series thrives on and Roux intertwines them together in a flawless manner; engaging the reader to the very end. Kelly and Nick on the same page in their relationship despite some events from the past. I liked seeing a more serene and happy Nick in this story. Previous events have left him uneasy concerning certain details concerning his last TOD and his situation with Ty. Nick has become more open in his lifestyle and in his love for Kelly. He doesn’t hide it and takes every available opportunity to show the world that Kelly is his friend, his lover, his partner…his boyfriend.
“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.”
Nick’s and Kelly’s dynamics make for a believable couple because of their long-standing friendship. Brothers in arms for years, when they came together romantically, they didn’t have the unknown baggage or drama to contend with. They already knew each others secrets and that knowledge passed effortlessly with them when they changed the parameters of their relationship.
Kelly flashed back to all the many mornings he’d seen Nick stalking across whatever camp, base, or ship they’d been stationed on, barking orders. He wondered sometimes how he’d gone five years in Recon without molesting his friend. He’d either been absolutely blind to the attraction or he was rewriting the memories in his head…
Kelly is on a roll in here. I adore him to pieces. Roux’s characterization of him is tip-top. His enthusiasm is infectious. His love of life balances well against Nick’s deeper still waters. Nick’s seriousness was bred into him as a child and continued to develop well into adulthood. He is a natural protector. He is often serious but with Kelly, Nick can loosen his stranglehold on his control, knowing his lover will always be there for him if and when he falls. Their passion for one another is a powerful combustible force that envelopes the book and a potent combination of love and laughter.
Nick leaned forward, his hand squeezing Kelly’s knee. “He’s out there for a reason, showing himself; we just need to bring him in. How do you feel about a little bait and switch?”
Kelly licked his lips, then grinned slowly. “Sounds about as fun as you bending me over one of those interrogation desks.”
Nick groaned and pushed his chair back so they were no longer in contact. “Don’t fucking tempt me, okay? Those rooms have video feeds.”
“Really? Do they record?”
The mystery intertwines well with the romance and various subplots as Nick and Kelly are pulled into a dangerous game of cat & mouse in order to ferret out the criminals. I’ve always enjoyed the Civil War era and Roux does well with her historical inputs and knowledge of Boston. The ending gives us some insight on the path Nick and Kelly are headed down. We are left feeling assured that no matter what happens in their lives from here, these two will be standing together to take it on.
EDIT: The mystery revolves around the Revolutionary War not the Civil War. My mistake.