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Abigail Roux: Stars & Stripes

Abigail Roux--Cut & Run Book 6 - Stars & StripesAgainst the backdrop of exotic animal and drug trafficking, Ty and Zane come out to their families, though not entirely by choice. Ty’s mother calls him home to West Virginia for a bit of manual labor and Zane tags along. After they’re outed and things are relatively settled, Zane’s sister calls him to tell him that their father was shot. He leaves Ty behind to rush home to Texas to deal with the dirt that someone seems to be doing. And as if I could ever expect otherwise, Ty makes his way to Texas by calling in some favors. And that’s pretty much where the real trouble begins. While Ty’s family took it relatively well, Zane wasn’t as fortunate.

On the surface, this is great, but having read everything before, I can’t say I’m all that happy about the series at this point. I felt it coming, though. Anything read beyond this book is probably going to be complete torture. But I’m still going to read it because I want to see what happens in the end.

Now, in addition to the tone of the story, Ty and Zane have also changed. Not so much their relationship, though. I still feel like the boys I got attached to are still there and some of the changes are just a matter of their growth. The thing about them that’s changed is how they do their job. They are unbelievably sloppy and careless and I’m not buying that they’re blinded by love or lust (though they go at it like hormonal teenagers). Roux is taking the easy way out and writing them so that they miss or shrug off little things that they shouldn’t. I don’t care how comfortable they’ve become with each other, they’re still FBI agents, an elite team, if you will, so there’s no way their senses and instincts should be so dull.

It’s frustrating and made even more so because the story itself is still progressing rather well, but the devices being used to advance the story are so basic and unworthy of what this series started out as. Even moving beyond the boys, the secondary characters are ringing false notes all over the place. The reactions to their coming out and the issues surrounding the reason why Zane’s father was shot were a mixed bag. A vet–a doctor, mind you–saying “he’s gone”  after tending to a person who very well could die, but then basically saying “oops! I meant unconscious.” What is that? And I know everything can’t be perfect; any variety of reactions are bound to happen in real life, but there was just something so uninspiring about how Zane’s people–other than his family–took to the news. Kind of the opposite of what I praised the story for in my book four review.

This story has suffered and continues to suffer from Urban’s absence. I can see the inner workings of the story as I read and that’s never a good thing for suspense. Roux’s strategy is wide open and I see things happening from miles away. It takes all the fun out when you can see the set up and call the play long before it happens. The story just isn’t as tight anymore and it’s starting to remind me all too much of Murder She Wrote.

Also of note, Roux took the story from Dreamspinner Press to Riptide Publishing and I have to wonder if her hand was forced because DsP realized the story wasn’t flying anymore or if it was simply a better opportunity for her.

But anyway, as I mentioned above, I’m reading until the end. I just hope I don’t die from an overdose of bad writing before I get there.

 

 

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