Review Summary: A terrific start to a new series in the Cut & Run universe. Abi has done it again. She has given her fans a wonderful story that’s both funny and tender with a side serving of danger.
After barely surviving a shootout in New Orleans, Sidewinder medic Kelly Abbott has to suffer through a month of recovery before he can return home to Colorado. He’s not surprised when fellow Sidewinder Nick O’Flaherty stays with him in New Orleans. Nor is he surprised when Nick travels home with him to help him get back on his feet—after all, years on the same Marine Force Recon team bonded the men in ways that only bleeding for a brother can. He’s very surprised, though, when Nick humors his moment of curiosity and kisses him.
Nick knows all of Kelly’s quirks and caprices, so the kiss was a low-risk move on his part . . . or so he thought. But what should’ve been a simple moment unleashes a flood of confusing emotions and urges that neither man is prepared to address.
Now, Kelly and Nick must figure out what they mean to each other—friends and brothers in arms, or something even deeper?—before the past can come back to ruin their tenuous future.
I posted this review on October 7, a month before Shock & Awe was released because I couldn’t wait. As most of you know, I am a huge fan of the Cut & Run series (Sidewinder is a spin off) so I thought I would re-post it now that the book has been released for those of you who didn’t see the review..
Whether or not you’re a fan of the Cut & Run series, I think this little jewel will find its place in your collection of memorable M/M romances. Compared to the C & R books, Shock & Awe may seem somewhat like a delicious appetiser before a three course meal because it’s only 94 pages, but don’t be fooled by its length as it’s packed full of emotion, caring and action. Shock & Awe is really two stories: Shock & Awe and a bonus story Bait & Switch which is the sequel.
I’m sure many C & R fans remember Nick O’Flaherty, Ty Grady’s comrade-in-arms who was in love with him for 10 years, but of course he didn’t get his man because Zane Garrett entered the picture and it was game over. Nick, Ty, Digger, Owen and Kelly were part of the Sidewinders, A Marine Force Recon Team that went on a lot of undercover black-ops assignments all over the world for over a decade that they couldn’t talk about, even to their Marine buddies, because their missions were so secret. The camaraderie of the team members was unbelievable as they took the anthem “one for all and all for one” to new heights.
When the story opened Kelly was in hospital in New Orleans recovering after taking a bullet meant for Nick, which was no big deal to him as all the guys had done something similar for each other. After he was released Kelly and Nick went to his house in Colorado while Kelly recuperated. Nick had taken a leave of absence and insisted on accompanying his teammate, something that wasn’t considered remarkable by either of them because of their history. But Kelly had something else on his mind when they arrived at his house: he wanted to find out what kissing a man would be like. He had been curious about Nick’s sexual orientation since he told him a year ago that he was bi, and he was determined to find out for himself what being with another man was all about by using Nick to satisfy his curiosity. What he didn’t bargain for was that his emotions would become engaged.
This is one of the most fun courtships I have read in a long while as Kelly and Nick played the sexual game of advance and retreat like a strategic point and counterpoint manoeuvre, with bonus points to the winner. The funny lines kept on coming and I couldn’t stop laughing, but beneath all the fun and games was the love and caring and the joy of being together away from everyone else to pursue the serious business of seeing whether underneath Kelly’s curiosity and the love for their partner in crime, they could transition from friendship to something they could build on for a lasting future.
Here’s a sample of the wonderful writing of this author and the funny lines that kept me in stitches:
“I want you to kiss me.”
Nick examined him, seeming dubious.
“I want to know what it feels like to kiss a guy. And you’ve had a lot of practice, so I know you’re a good kisser.”
“Are you simultaneously complimenting me and calling me a whore?”
“I’m . . . I’m just impressed you can take half a Percocet and say simul . . . simultaneous.”
Nick sighed heavily, fighting back his smile. He came around the end of the bed and sat next to Kelly’s hip, turning to hover over him. “Okay.”
Kelly was surprised when his stomach flipped, but he liked the feeling. “Okay what?”
“Okay. If you want me to kiss you, I will.”
Nick nodded. “But only if you can sit up on your own, and then pass a field sobriety test.”
Kelly rolled his eyes and snorted. “You’re such a dick.”
“I’ll give you that too if you want it,” Nick said, laughing as he pushed off the bed and headed for the loft steps.
Kelly watched him, trying to decide if the flip in his stomach was excitement or nerves.
Those kisses were the stuff of dreams as the emotions spilled over during Kelly’s “experiment” to find out about what kissing another man would be like. Nick did his best to hold Kelly back in his eagerness and excitement because physically he wasn’t up to sex, vigorous or otherwise, but he was like a runaway train. However, I don’t want to leave the impression that this book was all about sex, because nothing could be further from the truth as the sex didn’t happen until much later in the book when Abi proved once again that she really knows how to write an incredible sex scene by throwing all the ingredients together to make it joyous and memorable.
What was obvious was that in addition to their camaraderie, the guys’ feelings for each other were more tender than they had anticipated. While undoubtedly their history had a lot to do with how comfortable they were around each other in a romantic sense as they knew everything about each other’s vices and lives, the caring that spilled over was palpable, and I love how Abigail Roux can take her characters that I have known for a long time and give them a whole new dimension. Nick was deathly afraid of anything that smacked of a relationship and this aversion was a backdrop to how he dealt with his best friend Kelly’s wish to experience man on man sex. The impact of blurring the lines between friendship and a sexual/romantic relationship was something they both had to consider carefully because if they screwed up it could ruin more than a beautiful friendship.
I have to say how much I enjoyed the incredible writing in this novella as the author showed her characters’ strengths and weaknesses and inserted both seriousness and light into the story so that it was balanced between their jobs in the Marine Corps and their relationship with their comrades, as well as the burgeoning emotional feelings between Nick and Kelly. To make this book even more delightful, your favourite characters from the C & R series made cameo appearances and contributed to the action sequence.
I think you will love this book because of the writing and the characters and I can’t say enough about the lines that just kept on coming. It’s hard to be funny but Abi made it seem like a piece of red velvet cake, sumptuous and delicious, and when you bite into it it’s even creamier than you imagined.
This book will be available November 11 (sorry guys) but you can pre-order. If you’re attending GRL next week you may be lucky to get a print copy as I understand Abi is taking a few copies with her. 😀 .