** THIS REVIEW CONTAINS WHAT SOME MAY CONSIDER TO BE SPOILERS **
Title: Touch & Geaux (Cut & Run #7)
Author: Abigail Roux
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: Contemporary M/M, Action Adventure, Murder Mystery
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Length: Novel/349 PDF pages
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5
Review Summary: A rip-roaring adventure worthy of Ty & Zane, but their romance will break your heart as Zane realizes that their entire relationship was built on a lie. Secrets and new revelations could destroy something precious: trust.
After having their faces plastered across the news during a high-profile case, FBI Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett have become more useful to the Bureau posing for photo ops than working undercover. Just as Zane is beginning to consider retirement a viable option, Ty receives a distress call from a friend, leading them to a city rife with echoes from the past.
New Orleans wears its history on its streets, and it’s the one place Ty’s face could get him killed. Surrounded by trouble as soon as they land, Ty and Zane are swiftly confronted with a past from which Ty can’t hide—one with a surprising connection to Zane’s.
As threats close in from all directions, both men must come to terms with the lives they’ve led and the lies they’ve told. They soon discover that not all their secrets are out yet, and nothing lasts forever.
When I opened this book I was hoping that our heroes might return to the non-stop action, as with some other instalments, that would leave readers breathless. I got my wish as Ty and Zane moved from one heart-stopping adventure to the next, although not quite seamlessly. This is actually two stories in one – an adrenaline-laced action-adventure which will rock your socks and keep you perched on the edge of your seat, and a romance that seems to be imploding, as emotions, lack of trust, brinkmanship and ultimatums become the name of the game.
As indicated in the blurb, because of overexposure in the press from being used as poster boys for the department, Ty and Zane were now becoming unsuitable for undercover assignments as well as being sick of photo ops. Just as they were about to look at options for moving on, especially Zane who had been with the FBI for 20 years, Ty received a call for help from one of his Recon buddies, Nick, who had been arrested on a murder rap. The sticking point was that Nick was in NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana) a place where Ty could be killed or imprisoned on any number of trumped-up charges if he returned, as he had not left New Orleans years ago of his own volition. It was kill or be killed if he went back and his chances of leaving the city alive were slim and none, and slim has just left town. However this was a cry for help from someone that he couldn’t refuse. When he and Zane arrived they found that instead of being in jail, Nick and the rest of his pals were having a party for a deceased member of the team. Once Ty got over his snit he decided to enjoy his short stay, but unfortunately reality is a bitch and she bit him on the ass, starting with a gris-gris or voodoo bag.
This is my 7th review in this series, so I won’t go over old ground, including detailing Ty’s relationship with his Recon buddies. Obviously Ty’s and Zane’s relationship has changed since they met and became FBI partners, then lovers 2 years ago, and now share a home. They seem to be solid as a couple, but not everything is what it appears to be on the surface and the first sign of trouble shows the cracks that come from keeping secrets. The guys’ feelings have evolved from the all-consuming heat of first love to an emotion that is much more intense and deeper. In fact they are looking for something permanent together, but before they could do anything about it old misunderstandings and hidden truths rear their ugly heads, and Zane and Ty reach a breaking point when Zane realizes that his entire relationship with Ty has been based on a lie. The hurt that he feels when he finds out how tenuous those bonds of love really are and that trust is ephemeral – here one minute and gone the next – breaks his heart. Ty abused his trust and their relationship fractures to the point that Zane says the unforgivable right after telling Ty that he had intended to propose marriage to him.
The scenes between Zane and Ty when Zane finds out how he has been played and lied to, as well as his hurt and justifiable anger got to me on a gut level, not only because of his emotions, self-destructive behaviour and emotional and physical breakdown, but I felt for him as the trust between him and Ty was shattered. Zane’s reaction to Ty’s betrayal might appear to be over the top to some readers, but to me it was a human reaction. He had given up a lot to be with Ty, had basically invested all of his life in him since they became lovers. When the lies blew up in his face he couldn’t control his reaction to being betrayed, even though he knew the type of person Ty was. Ty’s dishonesty upset him the most, especially when he said he would do it all over again. Zane knew that Ty would do anything for his job but he didn’t think it would involve screwing him over: other people, yes, but not him.
As usual, this story is told from both Ty’s and Zane’s POV so everything is laid bare – every emotion, every hurt – but I suspect there are other secrets still to be revealed because there were a few dangling threads at the end of Touch & Geaux including why would his friends lure Ty back to NOLA knowing his past and the danger he would be placed in if he returned. While I didn’t find them distracting, there were many flashbacks that played a part in the story: Zane and Becky 10 years ago in New Orleans; Zane’s first meeting with Ty; Ty’s relationships with various exes; etc.
In case you thought that this story was very serious with no humour, there were many funny interludes and one of them came almost at the end. As everyone who is a fan of this series knows, Ty is obsessive- compulsive and loves order, so this scene was hilarious:
Ty laughed, a carefree, boyish sound, and glanced to his
side, distracted by what he saw. “You moved the rug.”
“I kitty-cornered it.”
“Why would you do that?” Ty asked, aghast.
“To see you lose your shit when you got home.” Zane
leaned closer, grinning evilly. “There are other things out
of order too. Books not alphabetized. Coffee mug handles
facing different directions.” He lowered his voice to a whisper
as Ty’s eyes widened in horror. “The closet isn’t color coded.”
“You’re just watching the world burn, huh?”
“God I missed you,” Ty said in a rush of breath.”Okay, so I am assuming you’re finished by now.” 🙂
Zane grabbed a handful of Ty’s hair and tugged, and
when Ty’s head tipped back, Zane kissed him hungrily, not
letting go of him. Ty’s laugh turned into a growl, and suddenly
there was no space between them. No tears or lonely days, no
secrets and no lies. Just Ty and Zane. On the floor of their row
house. On a crooked rug.
If I had a criticism about this book it was that I thought there was too much plot and too many characters for one 350 page novel. There was the backstory with Liam Bell, a former member of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and Ty’s one-time lover and teammate who everyone thought was dead because they saw Ty shoot him years ago, but he was very much alive and seemed to be calling the shots. To complicate matters, Ty appeared to be afraid of Liam who was like a chameleon – changeable – as well as destructive, outsmarting Ty at every turn – and no one could figure out whether he was friend or foe. Then there was the voodoo curse Ty was convinced was on his head by way of a gris-gris bag; the unsolved murder of a woman that was tied to another voodoo bag, a complication as Ty and the other members of the Recon team were on the scene where she was murdered but Ty couldn’t show his face in New Orleans because he could be arrested for the murder; there was the crooked Chief of Police who wanted Ty dead and would do everything in his power to make it happen; Ty’s ex girlfriend from a decade ago who happens to be the Police Chief’s daughter, begging the question of her loyalties. Then there were Zane’s former associates when he was undercover with a drug cartel; also, Ty’s connection to the murder of the head of the same cartel; and on and on. This all seemed to be too contrived, especially the location of the story in New Orleans where so much had happened to them in the past. Yet the redeeming feature of the book was the wonderful writing of Abigail Roux who did an incredible job of tying up most of the loose ends. I also have to credit the editing that made reading Touch & Geaux such a pleasure.
A few final things: the story ended on what could be considered a cliffhanger and some of you may hate this as it could conceivably change the direction of this series. Last, the sex was erotic and just so emotional I couldn’t help but be touched as I felt Ty’s and Zane’s love for each other. The passion, love, disappointment, anger and a host of other emotions expressed so well through her characters makes Abi Roux one of the best writers in this or any genre, and despite my criticism above, she rocks!