Divide & Conquer (Cut & Run #4)

Title: Divide & Conquer: (Cut & Run #4)
Author: Abigail Roux and Madeleine Urban
Cover Artist: Mara McKennen
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M, Action/Adventure
Length: Novel (320 pages) 104K approx.
Rating: 5+ stars, DIK

Review Summary: Divide & Conquer is a triumph. It will make you cry, it’s fun, it will lift you up, and ultimately give you the best reason to continue reading books.

THE BLURB

Baltimore, Maryland, is a city in alarming distress. Rising violence is fanning the flames of public outrage, and all law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, are catching blame. Thus the FBI’s latest ideas to improve public relations: a municipal softball league and workshops for community leaders. But the new commitments just mean more time Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett have to spend apart when they’re happily exploring how to be more than by-the-book partners.

Then the latest spate of crime explodes in their faces—literally—throwing the city, the Bureau, and Ty and Zane’s volatile partnership both in and out of the office into chaos. They’re hip-deep in trouble, trying to track down bombers and bank robbers in the dark with very few clues, and the only way to reach the light at the end of the tunnel together requires Ty and Zane to close their eyes and trust each other to the fiery end.

Cut & Run Series

THE REVIEW

Book four started off with a bang, literally, as an angry mob used hand-made weapons against the FBI agents to express their anger and frustration because they were fed up with the rising crime rate in Baltimore, MD. It was too bad that Ty and Zane were in the shower when the fire alarm went off at their headquarters that particular day so they had to run outside almost naked in the frigid January air smack into a wave of water balloons. This set the tone for the story as Ty was so incensed that federal agents were being attacked by the public they had sworn to protect he didn’t let discretion get in the way of making his displeasure known. Unfortunately that made him the main target of a small-time perp who loved making bombs and didn’t like being shown up on television, so he aimed his bombs at Ty.

In Divide & Conquer what I noticed from the beginning were the raw emotions of a different kind between Ty and Zane. The extreme competitiveness was still there but Ty seemed to lean a lot more on Zane and vice versa, and there was a heightened tenderness between them I never saw in the previous books, even Fish & Chips where Ty revealed that he loved Zane. Zane changed a lot as he realized, more than he ever had before, how much Ty meant to him and that he couldn’t live without him – Ty had become as essential to him as breathing and there was only one explanation, even though his past kept colliding with moving forward. Here’s an excerpt that explains Zane’s confusion:

It was important to Zane to understand where craving Ty had become needing him, and when needing him had become caring for him, and if it was possible for that caring to truly become even more. Because Ty deserved nothing less. Zane could see it now. The craving he worried about wasn’t an addiction. It was far more wrenching. Something significant enough that Zane was changing his entire life to be worthy of it, and there just wasn’t any other possible explanation.

Both MCs went through every emotion in the book: Anger, love, rejection and a passion so all encompassing that the constantly changing landscape made the sex erotic and moving, tender and brutally hot, as Ty showed his mastery over Zane who gave as good as he got while they measured every surface in the apartment in the context of how and where they could lay other each out. Ty being possessive was a thing of beauty. 🙂

There is a new character: Nick, Ty’s best friend since boot camp, and their relationship is complicated by their old friendship and new revelations. Ty’s insecurities are never more apparent than when he’s with his Recon buddies. He’s uncertain and conflicted and he worries about maintaining his tough image as he lives with one foot in the present with Zane and the other in the past.

For the first time since they met and became more than partners on the job Zane had to face one very troubling question. Could he lose Ty? The likely answer took an emotional toll on him at a time when he had no defenses, and he wondered whether they could survive the stress and come out intact, if they made it out alive.

There is one character in the book that I absolutely loved, and it’s not human – it’s Ty’s Ford Bronco. It had been with him for most of his adult life, he had built it from spare parts and it was his baby; the stickers and decals on the vehicle told the story of his life. He lavished love and tenderness on the four wheel drive that was his oldest and most beloved possession and it repaid him in the most incredible way.

In book four there’s a lot of hurt/comfort and one devastating problem for Zane required that Ty be even more supportive towards him, and their feelings underwent a metamorphosis of sorts. The emotions were so thick at times you could cut it as they experience need, desperation, love unspoken, and a lot of it was painful to read especially when they were fighting a real menace that could end their lives at any moment.  The last 10% of the book was the most harrowing and dangerous as Zane and Ty had to race against the clock to avert disaster and loss of life, but it was worth every second as in the end Zane was the one to offer Ty comfort in critical moments to stave off his complete breakdown. For the first time I really understood Ty, what drove him and how conflicted he was; his trust in Zane was absolute but there were issues around that trust, his love for Zane, and the uncertainty about whether it would be returned or if he would always play second fiddle to Zane’s dead wife.

Divide & Conquer had many “moments” but one picture that sticks in my memory is Ty in dress blues. What an incredible gift. You will understand why this impacted me so much when you read the book.

To summarize: Urban and Roux gave the fans of the series a book for the ages in thrills, chills and emotional content and context. They are skilled in knowing when to go full tilt for the “kill” and how to rein it in. The characters are like living, breathing human beings with feelings and you live through all of their emotions as well as the inevitable tensions, but the best times are the quiet moments that allow you to feel the punch in the gut and dread when they are at their weakest and can’t find their way back to each other.

Divide & Conquer has the usual personal blowups as well as explosions of a different kind, and our heroes’ trust in each other is tested due to challenges from a direction neither saw coming. For the first time Ty has to face a personal donnybrook without the usual fisticuffs, and Zane has to fight new demons in a world where it seems there’s no light in the darkness.

There are many revelations in this book that will rock your socks and you realize how clever Urban and Roux are in using the action/adventure plot as a distraction for what was the real story – Ty’s and Zane’s very complex relationship – as they set the stage for what comes next.

Is this the best book in the series so far? I certainly think so because the authors really stretched here and didn’t phone anything in. They put their hearts on the line and created characters that touched me because they are memorable, flawed, tender AND kick-ass which very few authors know how to do as well. Ty and Zane are heartbreaking and their pain gave the characters a luminous quality that sparkled and shone brilliantly. Divide & Conquer never lets up until the big finale, and it was a finale that only Ty could have dreamed up for the fans. I totally LOVED this book and I don’t see how Urban and Roux can top this but I never underestimate them.

This book is not a standalone and should be read as part of the series, starting with Cut & Run.

Highly recommended.

Cut & Run Series

Author

I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports – especially baseball

95 comments

  • By far my favorite of the series. I especially loved Ty in this book. I was also happy that Zane was able to finally say those important words to Ty. I am a little nervous to read A&D. I like Warrior’s Cross but not as much as these books. I don’t want Ty and Zane’s parts to be cut down.

    Reply
    • If you think about it there a lot of parallels between the four. Cam and Ty were the first to admit their feelings and although polar opposites in their personalities are more alike in their feelings. Zane and Julian are the same in their hesitation although for different reasons. It might be nice for Ty and Zane to each have a sounding board with a character who understands the emotions, kind of a been there done that thing. I don’t think that urban and roux would cut down Ty and Zane at all. If anything I think it will make the story more brilliant. Just my thoughts. And just by the little piece of the attitude between Ty and Julian in the preview you just know it’s going to be a wild ride! I mean really with lines like “Preston shoot the stupid one” how can it not be

      Reply
  • My love for this series just grows and grows. This was the best book IMO by far and I loved how much the characters have grown individually and as partners (in both senses). I can’t imagine Zane trusting Ty so much during his problem in any of the other books. I can’t wait for the next book, I think I might explode!

    Reply
    • Hi Nolagal

      Urban & Roux can’t seem to put a foot wrong in this series. Cut & Run was mostly about the serial killings, interspersed with “getting to know and hate you”. Then came books 2 and 3 when Ty & Zane’s relationship really got rolling and they haven’t looked back, even with the few hiccups the authors threw in their way.

      What will we do when the series comes to an end as it must? Not looking forward to that day.

      Reply
  • EXCELLENT!!!!!! The best so far. You do really start to see under Ty’s shell and it’s as if Zane is finally see his true feelings with clearer vision. Although I have to say being a fan of all of their books I was blown away by the preview of A&D. For those of you who have read Warrior Cross you will be blown away, excited and frustrated all at the same time too! What a shear stroke of genius to do that. If you have not read warrior cross download it and read it NOW. It’s going to make reading A&D soooooo much better

    Reply
    • Hi Jeff
      Like you I, too, think this is the best book so far. This writing pair seems to gather strength with each new book and they can’t put a foot wrong.

      It will be interesting to see how Cameron and Julian from Warrior’s Cross will work with Ty & Zane. Can’t wait. 🙂

      Reply
      • I would not have seen that coming if I tried! I almost fell off my sofa. Urban and roux surprised the hell out of me with that one.

        Reply
  • This was the best book in the series and that’s saying something. The ending!!! Awesome.
    So 2 more books in Ty and Zane.
    I know the story has to end, I just hope there will not be any questions left hanging.

    Reply
    • Hi Hannah
      I’m so happy you agree this is the best book so far. I’m already counting down to Armed & Dangerous. I’m hoping for 2 more books before the series ends.

      Reply
  • Spent a large chunk of Friday night and yesterday reading D&C. This series and the characters of Ty and Zane are prime examples of why I love to read 🙂
    To quote Lynn, I love how “the character arc is…arcing”. Zane being calm and introspective in the aftermath of his incident- instead of having a “freak out” or regression – was huge for me. Ty opening up to his recon buddies and being so open emotionally in general was also big – and it’s finally paying off for him :love2: . That being said, the ending to me ties in perfectly as a culmination of Ty’s unspoken past and how it is figuring in to his relationship with Zane. I’m hoping to see Ty let Zane in on that part of his past in the next story.

    The criminal case in the story really acted as a catalyst for the advancing of the inter-personal relationships without taking over the story and I really liked that. I love a good crime/mystery but seeing the characters make a huge step in evolving was especially satisfying here.

    Nick – heh, I was right about him 😀

    I wonder how long that purchase of Zane’s is going to remain hidden…

    I thought at some point I read that the authors plan on 7 in this series?

    Thanks Madeleine and Abigail for another awesome read :bravo:

    Reply
    • Dianne
      Thank you for coming back. I can’t add anything to what you said. 🙂 Also I appreciate that you did not reveal any spoilers, for those who still haven’t read the book – that’s huge.

      Reply
  • Now I’ve read it, I agree with your review, though I couldn’t make as much of the Bronco as you did. Ty’s dress blues struck me as odd, he’s no marine anymore, after all. Is there some kind of “once a marine, always a marine” thing when it comes to funerals?
    However, the emotions! Boiling up like geysers in here, heartrendering to read. I’m sure this won’t be the last time I read this, not by far.
    What I’m curious about now is the fifth installment. Mostly, I’m anxious to learn how the authors will pull off dealing with FOUR main characters; it’s seriously upping the ante. Like puppet players suddenly leading two puppets at once instead of just one. If you happen to do an interview on Armed and Dangerous with Urban and Roux, I’d like you to include the question as who leads/writes who, I’m really curious about the brainchild pairings.

    Reply
    • Hi Feliz
      I re-read the other books before I reviewed D & C, and that Bronco was a significant part of Ty’s life before he met Zane so I understood what it really meant to him.

      You got it – once a Marine, always a Marine. 😀 I love military books and I noticed that how Marines always stick together and remain one of the brotherhood. For something as official as a funeral dress blues would be appropriate I suppose.

      Abigail writes Ty and Madeleine writes Zane. Re Armed & Dangerous, I suppose they will have to go back to who wrote Julian and Cameron in Warrior’s Cross.

      Divide & Conquer is definitely my favourite book in this series so far because of all the factors I mentioned in the review. 😀

      Reply
  • I stayed up most of the night reading this and I admit to being left totally satisfied. Even the ending didn’t spoil it for me (not that I read it first, cause I don’t do that like some people *coughsiriuscough* but it fit).

    Your review was spot on and simply wonderful, Wave. I laughed, I cried, I gnawed on my nails, I had hope. The character arc is…arcing, and I eagerly await the next chapter for these two. And you’re right, this is definitely an example, in the days of boredom with much of this genre, of why we continue to read. Roux and Urban continue to amaze me with their talent to put out books in a series that hasn’t gotten tired or jumped the shark. Hopefully they’ll know when to stop it on a high note. 🙂 I don’t think that’s yet and there’s at least another book in them.

    Speaking of which, for me, one of the biggest surprises was the excerpt of the next book, Armed & Dangerous, which marries this series with characters from another of their works (you’ll need to read to find out!).

    Reply
    • Hi Lynn
      Thank you for this comment. I’m so glad you agree that this writing partnership is one of the reasons that a lot of readers continue to read books in this genre. I have re-read their other books in the series and from Cut & Run to Fish & Chips they haven’t put a foot wrong. Divide & Conquer took the series to another level.

      I think that after Armed & Dangerous they may have one more book left in them before they close off the series. One of the reasons series like Adrien English have such impact is that the authors know when to put them to bed.

      Re the merging of this series with characters of another book I will have to check out that particular book before A & D is released. 😮

      Reply
  • Soooo Dreamspinner is so not on my favorites list right now. Book is available, I buy, and it would not show up in my downloads. Ugh, if you cannot make it available right after purchase, dont take my money before you do. Sorry, stayed late and cranky right now lol. But how about sending the LINK with download same as Loose ID does right after purchase instead of making me go into my bookshelf and well, not finding it. Oh well, it is better be there tomorrow. Night everybody 🙂

    Reply
    • Did you contact Customer Service? They usually respond right away if there’s a problem. It could be that the system crashed — it did once before (with Sticks & Stones).

      Reply
    • Same happend to me Sirius, but I actually had a warning that it would not be available right away. I have it now though.

      Reply
  • I’ve been SO looking forward to the latest adventure with these great characters, but I’ve been reading some of comments about a cliffhanger or ambiguity. I can’t stand cliffhangers. So now I’m wondering if maybe I should wait for the next one and read them both together. The last one in the series was one of my favourite novels over the past year.

    Reply
    • Madonna
      I can’t tell you about the end but I think this book is the best in the series so far. If you wait, probably other reviews/comments could give away some spoilers and that will take away part of your enjoyment. It’s up to you but I would go for it now.

      Reply

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