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I'm a hopeful cynic.

Sticks & Stones (Cut & Run Series)

Sticks & Stones - Abigail Roux, Madeleine Urban Wow. I started reading Sticks & Stones last night and couldn't stop; I had to finish it almost in one go. I'm sure I can't describe all the reasons why I liked this second book in the series so much better than the first one, but I'm going to give it a try anyway.I feel I really got to know Ty and Zane in this installment. Their development was clearer and more profound. I understood them better. I might not agree with everything they said or did but I really comprehended the whys behind their thoughts and actions. They are still completely dysfunctional but, as the story evolves, it becomes crystal clear that they are perfect for each other exactly because of that. Because they complement each other in so many strange and unconventional ways. The secondary characters introduced in this book were all very interesting on different levels and for different reasons. I concur that Earl, Ty's father, was a bossy, domineering father and his behaviour toward Ty after that Coke can incident was insulting, to say the least, but I wouldn't expect a former marine who's also a Vietnam veteran to be the tender, touchy-feely kind of father. Plus, he realised the enormity of the repercussions his poor judgment and thoughtlessness had on all of them -and most of all on Ty- and he genuinely repented.I liked Deacon, Ty's brother, mostly because he supported and didn't pass judgment on either Ty or Zane. Also, both he and Earl helped me understand Ty and his relationship with Zane better. Seeing both Ty and Zane through their eyes was, in more ways than one, a revelation.My absolute favourite was Chester, the grandfather. He was hilarious with that shovel! The scene with the garden hose and the one, toward the end, where he slammed the shovel onto that ranger's desk cracked me up!I loved Mara, Ty's mother, the typical mother hen who's also the one that really runs the household, much as Earl would like to believe differently.As for the action scenes, they occupied my attention enough and I saw them as another opportunity to see Ty and Zane interact. They also provided moments like the one by the riverbank when Zane cups Ty's face with both his hands and tells him to not make him go after Ty. And then actually going after him when he thinks Ty is drowning before Earl stops him. Moments like that spoke volumes.Another important factor was that the POV shifts were much smoother in this installment and they didn't bother me at all. That or the story was so well-delivered, I didn't notice. Plus, the style was very much improved, and the dialogue much more coherent.All in all, I appreciated the way the relationship between Ty and Zane progressed, albeit slowly, in this book. In spite of the lack of communication and the misunderstandings, it's clear that they're a great match and that deep down they care a great deal about each other on a professional but, most importantly, also on a personal level. And Ty may have realized it first but I'm sure Zane is not very far behind.Please note that Dreamspinner Press kindly provided me with an electronic copy of this book through NetGalley.com in exchange for an honest review