Angela: Every time I open a new book in this world I get excited, like stupid excited, to be getting back to my beloved Ty and Zane. Then I have a minor freak out about finishing it too quickly and having to wait a whole year for the next one. So I try to pace myself and read slower, savor every word and really think about what is going on, what everything means and how it all fits with the previous books in the series. Then before I know it I’m done and realize I’ve spent several hours immersed without coming up for air. This happens every single time.
Ball & Chain is the eighth book in what I would consider the best romantic suspense series out there. Maybe my favorite series of any genre. After the emotional, rip your heart out and stomp on it seventh book, Touch & Geaux, I was a little anxious to see how my favorite couple had worked through all the issues between them. I was also desperate to find out how that kiss at the very end would affect their personal and working relationship.
Jen: How many times have I read Touch & Geaux in the past year? Each time I wondered why I would do that to myself, but the answer is pretty obvious. I love Ty and Zane and I will read them any way I can get them. Even at the their lowest point.
Touch & Geaux left off with the infamous kiss in front of their coworkers and Ty being deployed. We saw in Shock & Awe a little more of the deployment but essentially we have been waiting for Ty to get back right along with Zane. That first moment they saw each other was going to be awesome and I was very excited to read it. I loved it and grinned like a fool. What did you think?
Angela: After that final scene I was pumped for Ty to come home. I could not wait to see how their greeting would go. I will also admit that after falling in love with the idea of Nick and Kelly in Touch & Geaux, and then getting the beginning of their story in Shock & Awe, I was just a little bit excited to see their hellos to each other too. And it totally lived up to my expectations.
Ty and Zane’s reunion is so sweet:
“I missed you,” Ty whispered in his ear. His hands gripped at Zane’s hair, and he stood on the toes of his boots so they could cling to each other.
Nick and Kelly’s is sweet, aaaand a little enthusiastic:
A smile graced Nick’s tanned face, and he braced himself at the last minute as Kelly leapt at him and tackled him to the ground.
But after all they went through in the previous book, all the revelations, secrets and betrayals that came to light. All the shouting, yelling and crying and finally having time to work on themselves and have time apart while Ty was deployed…. where do they go to from there?
Apparently the answer is Scotland. And they take Nick & Kelly along for the ride.
I was ready for them to move forward in a positive way. Definitely ready to get back to the loving, crazy hot couple I have a crush on. And sexy times. I was more than ready for Ty and Zane sexy times.
Zane spread his legs farther apart as he jacked Ty. “Fuck me, baby,” he rasped. “I need it.”
Jen: Oh the sexy times. Ty and Zane can do the sexy better than just about any couple I have read. Well maybe that was before I met Nick and Kelly but we’ll come back to that. Ty and Zane and welcome home sex. Yes, please.
When their mouths parted, Zane whispered, “Let’s make some fucking noise.”
So yes, I knew Ty and Zane could do the sexy but with only one book left after this one, I needed to know they are solid. I needed to see they had moved past those devastating events in Touch & Geaux and they were going to be ok. No, not ok. They were going to be awesome. I think that is what I loved most about Ball & Chain, is that we finally see how happy they can really be together.
You’re the only person I’ve ever been with who made me want to try things like that.”
Zane grinned, and their dance slowed to a stop. “I make you want to roll around in the sand?”
Ty shook his head. “That came out wrong.”
“No, it didn’t,” Zane murmured, still grinning as he ran his hand up Ty’s arm.
“I just mean…” Ty held a pent-up breath as he met Zane’s eyes again. Zane’s face was so sincere, looking at Ty in that way that always made Ty feel warm and loved. “I mean all the experiences I’ve ever heard of in life….I want to have them with you.”
Is that not the most romantic thing you have ever read?? Both of the them have come so far and now that Zane has his head in the right place, THEY can be in the right place. I have never made it as secret that I am a Zane girl but this book made me love Ty just as much. He is so deeply in love with Zane and he finally made sense to me.
There was a weightlessness to him now as well that hadn’t been there before, like the burden of his past had finally been shed. Not lifted, no. No one had lifted Zane’s burden for him; he has shed it himself, like a caterpillar unfolding its wings to become a butterfly.
Angela: YES! Everything you said! With this installment they travel to Scotland to provide some security for Deuce’s wedding and Nick and Kelly agree to come along to help. Of course once they get there everything goes to shit. It always goes to shit when Ty and Zane even think about taking any kind of vacation. This time they are stranded on an island and must solve a murder before the entire wedding party turns up dead.
I’m picky about my romantic suspense, but this series always seems to hit it out of the ballpark with not only the way all the pieces and whodunits fit together, but how well written the action scenes are. These men are badass and it shows.
Nick cleared his throat. “Kelly, put him down.”
Kelly moved with shocking speed, wrapping Theo up and pinning his arm. Then he stepped between Theo’s legs, turned, and dropped to his knees, letting gravity hurl Theo over his shoulder and flatten him on the floor. Theo lay gasping for breath, shocked into immobility.
But at the same time they have vulnerabilities and lots and lots of issues that they must work through. Things like PTSD and trust and crappy childhoods. What surprised me the most in this installment was that, to me, this story is just as much about Nick and Ty working on repairing their friendship. It never occurred to me that Nick would be so hurt with Ty’s secrets from T&G. There is so much for these best friends to settle, it was emotional and very touching.
“Why didn’t you say something?”
“When?” Nick was barely controlling his temper, Ty could hear it in his voice. “Should I have raised my hand and said “me too” when you and Zane were throwing down in New Orleans? Should I have done it in the hospital with Kelly lying there with a hole in his chest because your past came back to bite us? Or maybe on the ship. In front of all those men who were calling you captain. Should I have done it then?”
There is A LOT of Nick in here. Not as much Kelly. But I can definitely see how Abigail Roux is allowing Nick to have more of the stage as the Cut & Run series starts to wrap up and Sidewinder begins. Nick and Kelly even come out to Ty. YAY!
“I love him, Ty.” Ty stared at him, then looked down at the bar top for a few seconds, then back up at Nick with narrowed eyes. “Are we talking with the heart love or with the dick love?”
Jen: That scene with Kelly was freaking HOT. Kelly is the laid back, medic of the group so we don’t always think of him as being dangerous. Boy how wrong we were.
Once again, I totally agree. I was shocked that Nick had issues with Ty and they boiled over in Ball & Chain. I was completely on Nick’s side too. Ty slavish devotion to his duty has been one of my main issues with him and I was happy to see Nick not let him off easy. I think Nick is suffering from hard-core PTSD and it shows with the way he is cracking. His relationship with Ty is one of those cracks and the scene where they have it out was gut wrenching for me.
“I was following orders, Irish,” he finally managed to whisper. “If anyone will understand that, it’s you.”
“Oh, I understand.” Nick tapped a finger at his forehead. “I understand if you were given the order to put one between my eyes, you’d feel bad at my funeral.”
I felt awful for both of them. It will be just another example of how Abi rips my heart out and stomps around on it. lol
So we briefly touched on it but let’s talk about Nick and Kelly. I LOVE them. Almost like I love Ty and Zane.
They are funny:
“The way the new machines are? They take a picture when you stand there, right?” Nick said, raising his arms above his head. “The fucking shrapnel in my thigh makes it look like I have something sharp in my pocket. They kept telling me to empty my pockets, and I was like, ‘I can’t’”
Kelly began to laugh. “They made him drop his pants. He got whistled at.”
“By you!” Nick shouted.
They are sexy:
He took a last step and grabbed Kelly by his upper arms, shoving him against the paneled wall beside the fireplace. He pressed their bodies together and kissed Kelly hungrily.
And they are so in love:
Kelly snorted. “I want us to start something, Kels. You and me. Something we’ll live through. Something we’ll grow old doing. We can’t do that if I’m a cop.
Kelly bit his lip, and his eyes were just as misty as Nick’s. “Are you sure?”
Nick didn’t answer. He was staring at Kelly, completely smitten, wondering why it had taken him so fucking long to realize he loved the man. “I’d do anything with you, Kels. Anything you wanted.”
Angela: You are so right about Nick & Kelly. I know there are some fans who weren’t excited about this couple, thinking they might overshadow Ty & Zane, but I don’t see that at all. I see how they all fit together. How everything from book one onward has led into what happens in Ball & Chain and then progresses into Sidewinder. Anything that continues on with these characters makes me happy.
There were some “aha” moments and a few surprises, but as always, my favorite part is the interaction between the characters. After the emotional turmoil of Touch & Geaux I think Abigail Roux did a brilliant job of bringing everything together again and giving readers just what they needed.
Jen: We haven’t talked much about the plot and that is because, just like you said, these stories are so much about the characters. But as far as the action goes, it is a non-stop roller coaster ride from page 1. There are some serious WTF moments and some things that I NEVER saw coming. Abi has managed to surprise me again. The final book in this series will be a doozy with all the things that came to light in Ball & Chain.
Angela: I had so much love for this book. I pretty much adored everything about it. As soon as I finished I wanted to go back to the beginning and start it all over again. Only one book left in the Cut & Run series now guys. Just one. Ty and Zane have grown and changed so much in eight books. All at once I find myself pretty freaking thrilled with their love story and a little sad that the next book is the finale. Thank goodness that my love affair can continue on with Sidewinder. Ball & Chain was excellent. The ending left me smiling and so happy. I know we’ve killed you guys with quotes in this review, there were just so many great ones to choose from, but I’m going to leave you with my favorite. Final Grade- A+
This was real, and Zane wasn’t about to let it slip away. He grabbed Ty and dipped him backward, kissing him for all he was worth. He heard the distant snap of a few cameras, the tears of joy from other reunions, tiny voices welcoming their mothers and fathers home, the muffled gripes from Nick to let him the fuck off the ground so he could at least try to be dignified about coming home. He felt Ty smiling against his lips and holding to his neck so he wouldn’t fall.
It was the most satisfying rush of emotion Zane had ever experienced. Better than any high.
Jen: So if you are still with us, you realized that Angela and I have huge love for these boys and this book didn’t disappoint. It wasn’t as gut wrenching as Touch & Geaux when it comes to Ty and Zane but it still left me an emotional mess. This time it was in a good way. I, too, loved the end. It was perfect and I couldn’t have asked for more. Final grade- A+
Ty squeezed his hand and pulled him closer, enjoying such a simple thing as walking along the dark path with their fingers entwined. This particular path was lit by dim, boxed solar lights set low to the ground. Zane didn’t hurry. He purposely brushed their arms together as they walked. The warmth Ty had noticed whenever Zane was near him began to spread further, making the touch of Zane’s fingers like traces of fire, and a sort of unfettered giddiness crept in. They so rarely had these moments, but tonight Ty could make himself believe they were normal.