Sticks & Stones (Cut & Run Series)

Sticks & Stones - Abigail Roux, Madeleine Urban I think that this book decided for me that I do *like* Ty and Zane. I still don't quite get them, and I don't think that I'm supposed to yet. These two guys don't even know who THEY are - individually or as a unit. There are so many unspoken things, secrets, emotions that they both try to bury as part of self-preservation.But I *do* like Deuce, Ty's brother, and I have hopes that he can and will truly help Zane put his head back on straight and dump the baggage he carries around. It's easy to play armchair psychiatrist and decide that Zane simply needs to get over his wife's death and his guilt associated with it. And yet, all that unspoken subtext is bordering on making me crazy. Did Zane's sexual preferences have anything to do with his wife's death and his separation from his family? Is it the crux of why Zane is so repressed and so on-edge, all the time? That is likely too easy an out.And that's the thing about these books and these characters: there's never an easy way out. Everything is layers and complexity. And it's good, but often exhausting. There's the whole question about whether Zane and/or Ty (one or both) is bi or gay; not that it matters much to me... the storyline obviously has these two matched, despite whether either of them will admit it to more than even themselves. It makes me wonder if they ever get PAST any of this and into an actual relationship? Will either of them leave their stuff behind and become mentally healthy?The mystery part of this story is... sort of lame. In fact, it's lamer than the 1st book, since we at least had a mystery working. This book is just about some crazy treasure hunters. We never learn who HE is (unless he's one of the 3 who take Zane, Ty, Deuce, and Earl hostage) or even IF there really is a treasure worth pursuing.There's tons of action and adventure... danger at every turn. We also get to see Ty's family at work, including what the relationship is between Ty and Burns and some of what Ty's been doing for Burns off the books. We get glimpses of why Ty is who he is. We see Zane try to deal with himself, as Ty's brother, the shrink, does manage to get through to Zane in nice, bite-sized pieces that he can apply.We see hope at the end of the book for these two... But I honestly can't say I know where we're going with all of this. Are they partners in business? Can they be partners in bed *and* partners in business?An aside: I happen to be more than OK with the subtleties of the sex scenes between these two. They aren't vulgar or overly descriptive, but they do get across what's happening and how it affects both guys, physically and emotionally.So again, why the 4 star rating? Still a mystery to me. Something about these books draws me in - something about Ty and Zane draws me into wanting to watch them make all of this work.