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Stars & Stripes by Abigail Roux
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's review
Aug 22, 12

bookshelves: re-read

For several months of relative calm and stability, Ty and Zane have finally been able to enjoy being together. Aside from the constant need to hide their relationship from their coworkers and families, things are going better than ever. But, as living magnets for chaos, it’s a sure bet that such bliss couldn’t last for long.

Stars & Stripes covers a lot of ground, both figuratively as well as geographically. From the mountains of West Virginia to the Hill Country of Texas, Ms. Roux puts her heroes to the test, and proves once again that she is adept at multitasking; writing not only an endearing romance, but a compelling whodunit, as well. Subtle where it counts, and funny in the most unexpected places, this story expands on the solid foundation that’s been built by the previous novels in the series, while giving the two main characters a chance to evolve along with the relationship they’ve been working for.

I was very happy to see Ty’s family again, even though I have serious issues with Ty’s father, as was certainly intended. Every family is different, and things turned out well, but I couldn’t help feeling a strong connection to Zane and his desire for retribution during one particular scene. However, meeting Zane’s family was a real eye-opener, too, his mother being of the most fascinatingly abhorrent characters I’ve read in a while. She defies every idea I have of what a mother should be, and I absolutely hated her. Zane’s father, Harrison, on the other hand, has garnered a solid place in my heart, right alongside Chester, whose reappearance thrilled me through and through.

Both Ty and Zane are more overtly affectionate in this book, which I very much enjoyed. They’ve been together for nearly a year at this point, and have fought hard to make it this far. Combine what would have to be a substantial fatigue over having to hide their relationship from the rest of the world with the relief of giving in and letting themselves love simply and honestly, and it makes their increasingly demonstrative interactions quite lovely, indeed. They’ve travelled a long road together already, and they’ve earned it. Not that being able to love openly should be a thing to be earned in the first place, but they have, regardless.

Part of what made Stars & Stripes so interesting, was that I was truly surprised by the conclusion to the mystery Ty and Zane were trying to solve. While the villains were obvious and even fairly predictable on the surface, there was a deeper level of betrayal that I never saw coming, leaving me with the grudging satisfaction that can only come from being outwitted by a book.

The Cut & Run series continues to be an incredibly enjoyable one to read, and Ty and Zane are two of my favorite characters ever. The determined self-sacrifice each displayed earlier in the series has been transformed into the heartfelt unwillingness to live a life without each other in it. These two men are perfect together, and the more explicit depiction of the sex between them was undeniably scorching. Suspenseful and funny, Stars & Stripes is one story I know I’ll read again and again as I wait impatiently for the next novel in the series.

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