This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I had the pleasure of discovering this series on my own a few years back. I had no idea that it was THE series for fans of M/M Romantic Suspense with huge followings for Ty, Zane, and Ty & Zane together. But not far into the first book, Cut & Run, I was personally hooked. Never had I encountered such antagonistic, lethal, witty, passionate men and cunning twisting plots to match.
This particular review will focus on the latter half of the series and was entirely a re-read experience for me. I was offered the opportunity when Riptide Publishing released these four books in audio and done by an all new narrator, JF Harding.
I was enjoying the experience with a new to me narrator moderately well until the moment I heard the accents of the Gradys of West Virginia and the Garretts of Texas. That is when I was mesmerized and hooked. Harding brought the story into vivid life. He was intuitive about humor, timing, emotion, pace, and overall storytelling. I was now completely immersed in Ty and Zane’s world and I stayed there through all four books. From the lightness of Stars & Stripes to the gothic sensualness of Touch & Geaux to the shivers and twists of Ball & Chain and finally to the explosiveness of Crash & Burn. Harding nailed it.
As this is a summation of four books, particularly the four at the end of a series, I’m going to be extra careful and brief after getting folks up to speed if they are unfamiliar with the series. This is a series that MUST be read in order. It is one long running story of a pair that work together, spar, spat, love and hate, but they do it together over a long story arc. There are foreshadowings to what is to come even as each book presents a new case for Ty & Zane to solve. These latter stories also bring in Ty’s old Marine Force Recon unit as strong secondary leads and side characters.
So, here we go…
Ty & Zane meet in an epic moment of total opposites forced to partner as FBI Special Agents on a serial killer case. Ty comes from the world of dark ops military work and as a top operator and leader of his Marine Force Recon unit. When he leaves that world, he is recruited into the FBI. Ty is a West Virginia mountain boy with deep roots and deeper secrets. Zane has been in the FBI for years as a deep undercover operative who had recently been dumped into the cyber crimes department kicking his heels and looking for a second chance after his addictions and smoldering devil may care temperament got him into trouble. Now he is by the book and determined not to let the guy flaunting his disregard for authority and his rogue attitude mess up Zane’s big chance to get back into active field work and Ty sees this pencil pushing suit guy as a slow form of torture. Ty and Zane circle each other warily like junkyard dogs when they are paired as an FBI team sent in to solve a case that baffles everyone. From there, the tempestuous relationship goes from near enemies forced together like two negative ends of a magnet to armed neutrality and finally to something so deep that love doesn’t even quite cover it. Zane is Ty’s anchor and Ty is Zane’s compass and this is tested time and again through deadly missions, life, family, and their own natures.
In Stars & Stripes book six of the series, Ty & Zane come out as a couple to the relations. They start out with Ty’s family in West Virginia and then, for the first time, Ty and the reader get to finally meet Zane’s Texas family and discover his background while figuring out what is going on at the Carter-Garrett Ranch where Zane’s dad was shot and odd things are happening including tigers loose and Fourth of July shooting contests and betrayal close to home. It was not as twisty or intense as others in the series and there was tons of humor, but it does explode into action and passion right when the reader is starting to get comfortable.
Next, Ty & Zane heed a call for help from Nick and the guys taking them to New Orleans in Touch & Geaux book seven of the series. New Orleans is a dark, sensual place where the shadows of the past are close and oh so very heartbreakingly personal. New Orleans is a hunting ground for those who would turn Zane, Ty, and the Sidewinder guys into prey. Zane finally learns all of Ty’s deep secrets and it destroys every truth he thought about their relationship. Or does it? Zane must ponder this even as they are running for their lives. Not easy and definitely the hardest, darkest place these two guys have ever reached in an already tough relationship. Unputdownable!
And after the shocking cliffhanger that ended the previous book that took things into Ball & Chain
Book eight. Surely, after what this pair has been through, we have arrived at the moment when Zane says ‘yes’ and we have a wedding. Well that is half-right. Ty and Zane are called by Ty’s brother, Deuce, to join Deuce and Livy in Scotland for their wedding. Livy’s family is rich and own their own island in the Hebrides. Someone has threatened to kidnap their little girl so Ty contacts Nick to join the party. Nick brings Kelly and things are interesting to say the least when Ty and Zane figure out that they are a couple, that the wedding party is stuck with no immediate escape on an island with a murderer, and death is stalking the halls and secret passages of an old castle. There was much to love about this one, but I wasn’t as impressed with the mystery in this one as I have been with others. It was good, but not as sparkling. I was a fan of the secondary storyline with Nick even if it now had equal time with Ty & Zane. Things are escalating toward a grand finale and I was glad and dreading seeing that.
And for the grand finale, Crash & Burn, book nine, does not disappoint. It jumped right in to an earth shattering betrayal that will split Ty and Sidewinder wide open even while the truths will send Ty & Zane running for their lives as they become the focus of a drug cartel and several governmental agencies. Death, ruin, more betrayal, shadows from the past, loss, and the real truth push them with backs to the wall and looking for a miracle. But they have gotten out of tight spots before, do they have one more in them? Ah yes, this is how the end is supposed to be. Break my heart and put it back together and do it again.
In summary, this is a series deserving of its following. It’s not for the faint of heart or those looking for easy. There is passion and fire, broken and flawed characters and relationships, intriguing twists and breath-stealing action. It’s addicting and worth every gasp, tear, laugh, and loss of sleep.
If you wish to read my extended thoughts on the individual books, you may go to GoodReads and read my reviews posted there.
My thanks to Riptide Publishing for the opportunity to listen to these books in exchange for an honest review.