Book Reviews

Sticks & Stones (Cut & Run 2) by Abigail Roux at Riptide Publishing

Genre Bisexual / Pansexual/Panromantic / Contemporary / Agents/Spies / Military/Former Military / Romance / Action/Adventure / Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Reviewed by Barb Manning on 17-June-2024

Book Blurb

In order to survive in the wilderness, they'll have to survive each other.

After the case they just closed, it’s unsurprising FBI Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett are having trouble passing their psych evaluations. The only thing worse than a near-death experience is trying to lie to a shrink about it. And the only thing worse than that is being stuck on desk duty after failing. The two of them are soon ordered to take a vacation, before their exasperated coworkers finish what the serial killer started.


Hoping to bolster their partnership—in every sense of the word—Ty invites Zane to visit his family in West Virginia, and Zane accepts. The mountains can’t be that different from Texas, right? Snakes are snakes.


When they join Ty’s father and brother for a hike deep into the woods, the Grady family’s dysfunction quickly becomes the least of their worries. The weather is bad, the wildlife is bloodthirsty, and their fellow hikers are ready to break out the banjos. Zane and Ty still have each other, but whether that will make the trip—or break it—remains to be seen.



Reader discretion advised. This title contains the following sensitive themes: Explicit Violence

First edition published at Dreamspinner Press, January 2010.

*This is a limited re-release of the original series, without changes. Some aspects of the story are now dated, and an updated version will be published at a later date.*


Book Review

'Sticks & Stones' brings Ty Grady and Zane Garrett back together after the climactic ending of the first book. The Bureau separated Ty and Zane for six months after their last assignment. The FBI dropped Zane back into a meat-grinder of an assignment in New Mexico and Ty spent much of his time recovering from their last encounter. When their boss, Dick Burns, calls them into his office to give them the negative results on their latest unofficial psych evals, he makes it clear that they're out if they don't get their heads straight. Burns orders them both to go on an immediate vacation. Ty, in particular, he instructs to go home and visit his family in West Virginia.

Roux’s familiarity with the two characters makes for an intense and dramatic read. As Ty interacts with his father Earl, his mother Mara, and his brother Deuce, I got to see a different side of his character. With Earl, Ty is someone who follows orders without question. His tendency to obey his father even against his own better judgment has horrendous consequences for the entire group during their “relaxing” hike into the mountains. His mother and father are unaware that Ty is gay, so he spends much of his time trying to control his sexual attraction to Zane.

Zane believes the reason he’s making the trip to West Virginia with Ty is so that he can act as a smoke screen or buffer between Ty and his family. In reality, Ty’s brother Deuce is a psychiatrist. Ty wants his brother’s opinion on the soundness of Zane’s sanity. Zane has put aside his drug and alcohol use, but he’s chain-smoking and not sleeping. When he does manage to sleep, nightmares trouble his rest unless he’s sharing a bed with Ty, something that’s a little hard to do in a household where almost no one knows he’s gay.

Still, Ty and Zane are real partners. Each has protected the other’s life. Each has risked his own life to save the other. Crazed treasure hunters and wild predators notwithstanding, Ty and Zane will do almost anything for each other. Ty follows Earl Grady up the mountain on a trek that may cost lives and Zane follows Ty. During this harrowing vacation, Zane learns just how much Ty is afraid of letting down people he cares about. He can’t let Deuce down, or his father, Earl.

In 'Sticks & Stones', Ty and Zane come closer to admitting the strength of their feelings for each other. Ty takes the brunt of the physical trauma this time in a story full of violence and death, but also warmth and tenderness. The third installment in this great series promises to be just as fine a read.




DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. The first edition of this book was provided by the publisher for the purpose of a review.


Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 296 pages/99K words
Heat Level
Publication Date 17-June-2024
Price $6.99 ebook, $17.99 paperback
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