THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
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.
Angela: Cross & Crown is the second book in what is the new Sidewinder series, a spin off from the much loved Cut & Run series. Nick and Kelly first became potential love interests in Touch & Geaux and then full fledged lovers in Shock & Awe. Ball & Chain saw them fast forwarding into coupledom with a bright future for the two ahead. They have a friends to lovers romance that has happened so fast it seemed meant to be, to me at least. So when I read the blurb for this book, especially this part:
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.
I will admit to being worried, then confused, and then worried all over again. I mean seriously, who the hell is JD? And why was Nick going to have to struggle not to respond to him? Sigh.
Jen: I remember sending you an email wondering what the heck was up with the blurb. If we were going to have so much Nick and Kelly in Ty and Zane’s books then why in the world would we watch them struggle mere months later?
Angela: I love Nick and Kelly. I really do. Their relationship is fun, sexy and there is almost zero angst. None. Nada. Zip. They are so different from Ty and Zane that sometimes I can’t help but compare the two relationships. One has been a roller coaster ride of secrets, drama and compromises. The other developed in like a minute, with very little struggle. Kelly wanted to explore his desires, he propositioned Nick and then bam! Nick and Kelly fell into bed and never looked back. At times it almost seems too easy for them.
Jen: I think I like Nick and Kelly a little bit more than you do. They are kind of a breath of fresh air after the heavy angst of Ty and Zane.
“You keep your phone under your pillow?” Kelly asked with a laugh. This was the first time they’d shared a bed while Nick was on duty. “How does it fit beside your gun and your knife and the lube?”
I think my issues with their relationship are a little different from yours. To me, this book was Nick’s book with sideshow Kelly. I adore Kelly and his lovable, happy-go-lucky attitude but…..why did it seem like Nick was the one we were supposed to take seriously and Kelly was only there for comic relief?
Angela: I completely agree with you. I guess I went into this thinking that this would be equally Nick and Kelly and it didn’t have that feel to me at all. Nick is the main focus of this book. Nick, his job as a cop, his backstory with the Irish mob, his feelings over JD, even his damaged friendship with Ty. It’s all Nick, Nick, Nick. I guess I wanted there to be more equality in the storyline between the two. I adore Kelly. I want to know more about him.
Jen: This is where my past experiences with Abi make me a little nervous. It took a long time to get more of Zane like I wanted. Hopefully it won’t be that long before we get to the real heart of Kels.
Angela: The main complaint readers had in Ball & Chain was that the Nick and Kelly (mainly Nick) storyline took over much of the book and they felt like Ty and Zane got cheated. I wasn’t as bothered by that, but….. I think my frustration with Cross & Crown stems from the fact that this couple, who took such a huge leap forward, now seems to be some what stagnant. The big thing that happens at the end of the previous book appears to have just been swept under the rug and the two aren’t even talking about it. In fact, Kelly is afraid to bring it up, thinking maybe it was the drugs talking and Nick doesn’t even remember.
There were a couple of scenes where it seemed there might be some angst thrown in:
“Kels,” Nick whispered. “Jesus Christ, are you breaking up with me right now?” Because that’s kind of what this feels like.”
Kelly smiled gently. “Do you want me to?”
But they are dealt with quickly. I think the only real conflict between these two is Kelly wondering where he stands with Nick and if Nick is serious in his intentions.
Jen: The proposal. UGH. For it to come before Ty and Zane’s official engagement and then nothing to happen here? How frustrating for all us fans. What was the point is something I still wonder even now after weeks having passed from reading the book.
Angela: Now that I’ve brought up Nick and Ty’s friendship, can I just say that this fracture between them really, really bothers me. Like a lot.
The state of Nick and Ty’s fracturing friendship was a topic only the bravest of men would touch on. Zane had balls of brass to do it.
I don’t want this to continue on for an untold number of books. Part of me needs this to be resolved in the last Ty & Zane book. Then the other part of me is afraid that if it is dealt with it will take over and my favorite couple won’t get the send off they deserve. I guess you could say I don’t really know what I want. The Sidewinder loyalty and brotherhood has been almost a backbone to this series, and one of the reasons why I even believe Nick & Kelly’s ease with falling into a sexual relationship. I hate that two of it’s members are barely speaking.
Jen: This would be my second issue with the book. Ty and Nick’s fallout cause me so much stress that I wanted it resolved more than I wanted more of Nick and Kelly. This is their book right?……Or maybe it goes back to the fact that this is really Nick’s book and his relationship with Ty is just another part of his story. All I know is that THIS was the most angst in the story for me.
Angela: I know some fans were stupid excited that Julian Cross would be making an appearance. I was too. But this isn’t the Julian I remember. This Julian was not a badass. What did you think Jen?
Jen: Julian was mostly a non-issue for me. I am not sure why he was even in the book.
Angela: So I’m totally making it sound like I hated this book. Which is not the case. I always enjoy my time in this world. I may have issues and worries about how things will play out between Nick and Ty, or wondering if we’ll ever get to learn more about Kelly’s backstory, but I think I’m more critical with these two series because I’m so invested in this world and these characters. There is some very sexy scenes between this couple, super sexy. They desire each other and are not afraid to show it. Sometimes in very public places. Nick and Kelly are so sexy together and I love them.
Desire tore through Kelly like a wildfire. It always did when Nick touched him. This was his first relationship with another man, but the excitement and adventure had yet to wear off. He was certain that with Nick, it would never fade.
Jen: Same here. I didn’t hate the book, in fact I liked it. I guess I have such high standards from all my Ty and Zane books that I want Nick and Kelly to be just as awesome. I do love their ease with each other. The way they are solid and comfortable together. They are sexy and darnit Kelly is easily my favorite.
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.
Angela: In the end I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would, but I still loved getting some Nick and Kelly romantic sexy times. I am eagerly awaiting the release of the last Ty & Zane book and the next in the Sidewinder series. Final Grade- C+
“Doc. There is no ‘something else’ for me. There’s no second option. It’s you. It’s just you.
Jen: I am anxious for the next book and to see what it will bring for Nick and Kelly. They have plans and hopefully all the issues I had with Cross & Crown won’t be as prevalent with the next Sidewinder book. Final grade- B-
“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.”