Title: Shock & Awe (Sidewinder #1)
Author: Abigail Roux and Brock Thompson (Narrator)
Publisher: Audible Studios
Release Date: M/M Contemporary
Genre(s): November 18th 2015
Length: 3 hrs 57 mins
Reviewed by: Belen
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
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.
Um, so full disclosure here, I only ever read the first two Cut & Run books. I tapped out midway through book three and never looked back. *gasps* I know! I know! I’m sorry…I’m just not a fan of Ty and Zane. *ducks objects* (Mostly Ty.)
But from the moment I read the blurb for this story I knew I had to have it. Two badass Marine Force Recon soldiers realizing their chemistry together and falling for each other? Loads of hot sex? OH YES, PLEASE AND THANK YOU.
There are actually two short stories in this book – “Shock & Awe”, which is about 75% and “Bait & Switch”, which is the last 15-20%. Then there’s a free chapter of the second book of this new series “Cross & Crown”.
My largest problem with the story stems from my belief that it is written for fans of Cut & Run, with the author’s belief that the readers of the story would come from that series. People, places, and situations are described with little backstory, so someone like me, who hasn’t read the other series felt like I was floundering most of the time trying to play catch up and figure out what was going on. It was like a “members only” club I had somehow gotten the invite to by mistake.
“Shock & Awe”
While in New Orleans with his Marine Force Recon team Sidewinder, medic Kelly “Doc” Abbott was almost fatally killed during a shootout. Now, I don’t know why he and his team were in New Orleans. I don’t know what happened in the shootout. I don’t know how long, except that the blurb says a month, Kelly had been recovering in New Orleans before friend, and fellow teammate, Nick O’Flaherty takes him home. I don’t know because the story opens with them arriving at Kelly’s cabin in Colorado and the barest background of information about what’s happened or happening.
When Nick brings Kelly home to finish recuperating Kelly is also apparently still reeling from the news that Nick is gay and has been in love with other team member, Ty, for a decade. Though, at some point, Nick kissed Ty and realized he wasn’t in love with him anymore? I wasn’t really sure on those points either.
Whatever, anyway, Nick is helping Kelly out as he recuperates and Kelly is suddenly very curious about the whole gay thing and talks Nick into kissing him. This sparks their desires and they follow their passions. There are a lot of super hot sexy times, which I LOVED, but I did find I had to keep suspending my disbelief that Kelly, who could barely walk unaided, couldn’t turn on his side without help, or climb stairs, was participating in the aforementioned super hot sexy times within hours and days of returning to his cabin.
Nevertheless, the sexy times they are a’smoking!
NOTE: For those who purchased and downloaded the Audible.com version of Shock & Awe on 11/18/2015 (and who knows how long after until it’s fixed) some of the chapters are out of order. After Nick and Kelly kiss it then jumps ahead to the airport…then jumps back to Nick and Kelly at Kelly’s cabin. Chapters 2 and 3 of the audio book should actually be between chapters 10 and 11. Audible is aware and working on it but I wanted to give anyone who downloaded before the fix a head’s up – because it totally messed with my mind.
The story ends with Nick being redeployed with the rest of the team, sans Kelly, and Kelly’s absolute devastation at not being kept together with the rest of the Sidewinders.
“Bait & Switch”
Nick shows up on Zane’s doorstep (for those who haven’t read any of the Cut & Run series you will be lost entirely) during a 48 hour leave with a letter from Ty, Zane’s lover and partner.
Kelly meets Nick at Zane’s, then they take Zane to dinner where we get a little follow up on the other Sidewinder teammates and what’s happening with them now, then Kelly and Nick go to a hotel for hot sexy times, and finally, they talk about their future together.
I was a little lost, because I didn’t understand how much time had passed between the ending of Shock & Awe and the beginning of Bait & Switch. Added to that misery comes my biggest problem with the narration – I was loving the character voices and narration in Shock & Awe, but when Brock Thompson gets to Bait & Switch he changes the character voices. Seriously. It was a total mind fuck.
Here I’ve been listening for almost two hours to these two characters and suddenly they sound completely different! I actually spent ten minutes going back and forth between the two to make sure I wasn’t losing my mind! So jarring. I didn’t really get to enjoy any of Bait & Switch because I liked the character voices from Shock & Awe better and couldn’t understand how no one caught that big of a mistake.
All told, between Audible’s editing screw-up, trying to figure out backstory and what was happening, and the change of character voices in the narration I didn’t have a great time with this. Which makes me sad. Being that this was the first story in a new series there should have been more explanation of the characters and how they got to where they were. Fans of Roux’s Cut & Run series will no doubt love this, but it’s far less magical for those of us who didn’t come in knowing that saga.