Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Sticks & Stones Book Review
Six months after nearly losing their lives to a serial killer in New York City, FBI Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett are suffering through something almost as frightening: the monotony of desk duty. When they're ordered to take a vacation for the good of everyone's sanity, Ty bites the bullet and takes Zane home with him to West Virginia, hoping the peace and quiet of the mountains will give them the chance to explore the explosive attraction they've so far been unable to reconcile with their professional partnership. Ty and Zane, along with Ty's father and brother, head up into the Appalachian mountains for a nice, relaxing hike deep into the woods... where no one will hear them scream. They find themselves facing danger from all directions: unpredictable weather, the unrelenting mountains, wild animals, fellow hikers with nothing to lose, and the most terrifying challenge of all. Each other.
While I enjoyed Cut & Run, I wasn't sucked in to the point of no return. I read it, enjoyed it, and moved on to other books I needed to read. I knew I would return to the series someday but was in no hurry. Several books later, I picked up Sticks and Stones with the thought of finishing this series for a Goodreads group challenge. Early in the book, I found Ty & Zane being ordered on another "mental health" break (vacation) from duty. Jeez...are all FBI agents nut cases?! These guys are seriously messed up in the head. I settled in to read, hoping to discover what had snagged my friends into this series - hook, line, & sinker. Somewhere around a half book or so later, I was flipping pages & snarling at anyone who dared to interrupt my reading. Finally, it dawned on me what was holding me enthralled...Ty & Zane - two men struggling to come to terms with emotions they have no idea what to do with, while fighting to survive on a mountainside with Mother Nature throwing everything in her arsenal at them. You can read the synopsis and get the drift of the many elements & dangers these guys battle while on a hiking trip in the Appalachian Mountains with Ty's dad & brother. I'll just try to relay some of the emotions I was feeling by the end of the book & the reasons why I am now "caught" - just as hooked as my friends are.
Ty & Zane are both struggling to hold on to their sanity from past catastrophes of one kind or the other. In Sticks & Stones, I was more atoned to what they were thinking - each in his own head, and thus, both characters evoked a deeper, emotional response from me. I loved getting in each character's mind and being privy to their thoughts about one another...both of them wondering what the other one is thinking - how each is feeling about their relationship and where it might be going. I felt their insecurities and learned their vulnerabilities as they each battle their own demons. Their pain, both emotional & physical, is very much alive and both devastating and heartbreaking. They face death and fight for life and each other on that mountain. The author did an amazing job portraying the emotional turmoil that is churning inside both men threatening to tear them apart.
I lamented the bumbling job Ty & Zane did as veteran detectives in Cut & Run and slashed my rating by 1 heart because of it. This book does not suffer the same malady. Once they start up that mountain, the suspense and action are non-stop. The interaction between all the characters is fascinating, revealing family dynamics & issues as the mountain and all her secrets threaten to prevent them from ever going home again. I found my heart pounding as I raced through the latter half of this book. Please, I prayed, give me and Ty & Zane a happy ending.
I didn't expect to become caught up in this series but I am. I will be finishing the rest of the books and, like everyone else, anxiously waiting for more, I'm sure. I will just say to doubters - commit to reading the first two books. If you're not a fan by the end of Sticks & Stones, then drop it. I can't imagine any fan of Romance/Suspense not loving it. In my opinion, it just about has it all. I have argued with myself to rate this book 4 hearts...but then I think about how I flipped pages into the night to find out what was going to happen, allowing neither dirty house nor hungry husband to interfere with my infatuation with this story. I just can't justify not giving it the other heart so...here goes. Sticks & Stones is a must read!
Rating - 5 Gorgeous ♥♥♥♥♥'s...And that's the truth!
Cross My Heart...xxx
"Next time you're struggling, you tell me," Ty said quietly. "Don't care what it's about. That way I don't have to guess what you need from me."
Zane's lips pressed together hard, and he swallowed with difficulty, not wanting to pull away from Ty even an inch. "I don't want you to think I can't back you up," he said, their lips brushing as he spoke.
"When I think that, you'll know it," Ty promised, and he leaned away from him just enough to be able to look him in the eye. "It's twice now you've saved my life," he reminded in a gruff voice. "Time you stopped thinking of yourself as the weaker half."
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"There aren't many things left that truly scare me, Ty," Zane said softly. "But that's one of them."
"What is?" Ty asked without looking back at him. There was a hint of dread in his voice as he stared devotedly at the ground.
Zane looked at him longingly, the words on the tip of his tongue: Not being in time. Losing you. But just the sound of Ty's voice carried a warning; they were too close to a line neither of them wanted to cross.
"Hell freezing over because you actually said thank you," he tried instead.
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Leaning close to Ty's ear, Zane whispered, "Don't make me come after you. You get swept off, I'm eating your share of the pie."
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Deuce put his chin in his hand and watched them silently. He couldn't read Zane, but he thought the man's projected emotions were fairly straightforward. When they were visible at all. Right now, Zane was focused on Ty, and that anger appeared to be totally gone, replaced by something milder. Warmer.
But Ty? Deuce snorted. Not in love, his ass. Ty could fool Zane, maybe. He could even fool himself for a while longer. But Ty couldn't fool Deuce, not anymore.