Natalie Aemmon's Reviews > Sticks & Stones

Sticks & Stones by Madeleine Urban
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's review
Mar 17, 2011

really liked it

I had high hopes for this because I enjoyed Warrior's Cross so much.

At first, I thought those high hopes were going to be dashed. I didn't like the beginning. I won't spoil the first chapter's conclusion; I just thought it was a little bit of a cheap ploy that the authors didn't need to resort to because they do action/drama/tension extremely well. Some of the dislike is on me-- it's the second book in a series. I haven't read the first. I like the authors well enough from earlier reading that they were on my pick-up any title list. So, lacking any knowledge of the characters from the first book, I took a lot of what I read at face value. Thus, the feeling of being suckered at the first chapter, along with diapproving of some of their actions during the first chapter's scene (stealing from small business owners and terrorism). It all ends up good and understandable in the end, and the book really picks up from there. The only reason I'm making so much about it is that if this had been my first introduction to these authors, I likely would have put the book down midway through the first chapter (the writing isn't as tight and crisp as their usual style, either) and never picked it up again.

But, like I said, just as I stuck through Cam in Warrior's Cross, I stuck through that first chapter, and the story got much better once the boys got to West Virginia. The extended Grady family were fun to read-- especially Grandpa and his shovel. Deacon, too, was interesting and deep. So much so, I hope the authors give him some adventures of his own. Adding to the general awesomeness of the Grady's was the fact that most m/m romances don't give much characterization to secondary characters. Usually, they serve a plot purpose, then they leave the story. They aren't much besides mouthpieces for the main characters to talk at. The Gradys were full-blown. Though, like Zane, I couldn't abide by what Earl said to Ty on the mountain, I saw where it came from. Complicated relationships, an aging man with his own motives, agendas, morals and failings. Wonderful stuff.

Along with the deep characterization was the awesome plot. It was so refreshing to read an m/m romance that showed the characters as being involved in something greater than their angsty love. The story was exciting. Lots of action, geniune worry, and plenty of the situation going from bad to worse. This is really what m/m storytelling should strive toward.

This is a five-star book brought down by being one editing round short (too many adverbs. one per sentence is enough) and a bad and unnecessary first chapter. Roux and Urban are staying on my Always Buy list.

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