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.
What can I say about Sticks & Stones? Not much that hasn’t already been said (by me) about Cut & Run.
I was still cursing the adverbs and the repetition, although, the latter was greatly improved (read: greatly diminished) in this second part of the series. And as before, the characters are the story. There’s something around the 30% mark that could be interpreted as a hint of a plot, but it never develops into anything and fizzles out long before the end of the novel.
To the list of authors’ sins we get to add infodump. Ty’s family is introduced in such a manner that the only impressions left are vague caricatural characterisations, one with a shovel, another with a limp, and a third with a cooking addiction.
I’m still hoping for a better, more precise writing from this author duo. For example, there’s a scene where Ty and Zane spend a night in Ty’s old room and I was confused by the state of the door. Was it shut with a click, or was it left open to act as a deterrent for gay sex? Also, who was wearing which shoes? I could infer more details from the additional commentary, but only after spending a few minutes turning back the pages trying to find the right answer.
These weren’t my only issues with the continuity within the book and the series so far. This time Zane took back the I love you he said in Cut & Run and Ty’s characterisation morphed from slightly unstable to properly insane without any real forewarning or foreshadowing. I guess the signs could have been there, but the imprecise writing undermined the effort.
My other issues include the questions when did “marine” become a magic word and why did the blissfully absent cockcommentary from book one have to be introduced here?
Also it was fun (not really) reading how the men had a quickie with all their injuries and enjoyed unbridled and spontaneous kissing with a broken nose without a single complaint or a wince. No, the wince came after when he accidentally tried wrinkling his nose.
In Sticks & Stones we also get to hear from Ty’s brother and father, but I was left wondering why. As nice as it was to have someone observe Ty’s and Zane’s unconscious cuddling, there really wasn’t a point to these point of views. Of course those paragraphs could have been wasted in background information or mental monologues in the middle of an action scene, so I’m not complaining too loudly.
There are lots of cute moments between Ty and Zane that unfortunately can’t carry this plotless story even if we do learn Beaumont’s real name.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher.
Series: Cut & Run #2
Pages: 322 (paperback)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Published: January 25th 2010