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Madeleine Urban & Abigail Roux: Sticks & Stones

Madeleine Urban & Abigail Roux--Cut & Run Book 2 - Sticks & StonesI couldn’t articulate this feeling in my review of the first book, so I completely left it out, but I feel it even more in this one. Sometimes I get a feeling as I’m reading the story and it’s kind of distant. Rather than being about the plot or the characters, it’s like a general impression or summary of how I feel about reading the story. I have this muffled sense of anxiety. This story hasn’t excited me in the way other stories have. I’ve laughed, wiped some tears, held my breath, and just had a feeling of general satisfaction while reading it–it’s a form of excitement, but not the kind I usually mean when I say “excited.” My previously stated issues aside, the progression of Ty and Zane’s partnership and relationship is really sitting with me, somewhere deep. So deep and obscured that I’m just anxious.

In this book, they’ve both failed their most recent psych evaluations and their boss, Burns, sends them on vacation for them to get their heads together. They’ve been riding a desk for a while and driving the office crazy, so Burns wants to get them back in the field, but he can’t send them back unless they pass, so off they go. They’ve been kind of distant with each other and that unwanted space on top of feelings that they don’t know what to do with and all the stuff they barely survived, is doing a number on them. Well, out of frying pan and into the fire. Ty invites Zane to his family’s place for a bit, hoping to take him up into the West Virginia stretch of the Appalachian Mountains. And they seriously can’t catch a break. This book just plucks the strings of all of my emotions. I want to tell you about it, but if I start, it’s just going to be the whole story and I seriously want anyone reading this to read it for themselves.

The thing that I love about this whole second book is the fact that they can’t be safe, sane, and in one piece for more than a week and it doesn’t feel like “Crisis of the Week.” Say, for instance, like E.R. Explosions and plane crashes and whatever world-ending thing was always happening on the show and it got exhausting. I know it was a drama, but come on! But it’s real and believable here. And all that they’re going through is keeping them together but apart.

Right now I’m feeling so much for these boys. I say boys, but, in book one, Ty was 34 and Zane was 42. They are so deep into their chaotic, crazy life that I can’t see how they’re doing it. If it’s not the job, then it’s their pasts. If it’s not their pasts, then it’s their feelings for each other and I just want to scream. I hate when writers draw out the drama just for the sake of it or to unnecessarily lengthen the story, but book one didn’t end all pretty, tied in a bow–they have some serious issues to deal with and I don’t doubt their struggle. They are both so wrecked, but they have these moments when there’s nothing between them, just their want for the other and it’s beautiful and sad, but it’s so fleeting that you never really get to enjoy it long enough before something happens. It’s almost maddening, but it’s so great and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

A lot of things happen on that mountain and it sparks something in them, but, by the end of the book, you realize, on the whole, they’ve barely advanced five paces from where they were at the end of the first book. With seven books still left to read, I am so going to enjoy witnessing them fall so deeply and painfully in love. Because, right now, even though they’ve fallen for each other–fighting nearly the whole way down–they are both scared to death of what the truth is between them and I just want to see both of them finally and fully own up to it. And that’s just my small goal for now.

This was released in 2010, so two years later–storywise, it’s only weeks. None of the issues I had about the first book are present. Particularly the substance abuse thing that I was wondering how that was going to play out and even though it’s not really mentioned much, I think they really are handling it well, because it’s in book 3, which I’m already halfway through–again nothing gratuitous, just good writing.

When reading a series, if I’m not just going to burn my way through and talk about it at the end, I prefer to get my thoughts out about one book before I move on to the next. But I couldn’t help myself. Well, barely–I wrote the majority of this right before I started on book 3.

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