Stars & Stripes (Cut & Run, #6)

Stars & Stripes (Cut & Run, #6) - Abigail Roux 4-4.5 starsPerhaps the single-mindedness of one author is what's improving these books? The cases/mysteries still aren't quite up-to-snuff, which is why I can't quite go the full 5-stars. But hear me out before you hate on me.In this book, much like [b:Armed Dangerous|13246997|Armed & Dangerous (Cut & Run, #5)|Abigail Roux||18447540], we actually have a PLOT, folks! And while in "Armed and Dangerous", Ty & Zane were on-the-road and on-the-run, figuring it out as they went, they at least ACTED like trained feds. In this book, they do, too - Ty's tracking skills are awesome! Unfortunately, there's so little told about what's actually going on, that it's tough to give Ty & Zane too much credit for the resolution. It seems to take place all at once, at the end of the book. All the tiger stuff was misdirection, and that's where we spend the majority of our time - on all the red herrings. Sure, Ty picks up on something during the trek out to the pump house; but tracking the tiger, once again, takes precedence. Ty & Zane don't refocus on anything until the big 4th of July party.Now to be fair, Ty was beat up badly and recovering between tracking Barnum and chasing off the bad guys. But it seems odd to me that ZANE can't go out to the pump house to see what's up in the meantime? I was pleasantly surprised at just who the bad guys turned out to be - I knew some, but not all. And the misdirection there was pretty awesome.The scene with the fire and the house, though... well, it's very dramatic, and I LOVE Zane's dad and his speech to the Bad Guys. But it's tough to picture that whole segment, and somehow, it felt overly dramatic with the being trapped in the house and all. Plus, I was confused about who was IN the house... weren't there a lot more guests about?Sadie is AWESOME! And I loved seeing that interaction that she had with Zane and with Ty. What a little heart-breaker! Although I don't see these guys with kids down the line, mostly because of their jobs and ages, it's cool to get a glimpse of the "what if".OK... so this book picks up where we left off. I was a little angry at Ty for freaking out and taking off like that. Yes, it makes sense. But he gets angry at Zane for those "little things", too, and Ty doesn't always seem to understand and accept Zane's idiosyncrasies; yet Ty's supposed to get a free pass? But Ty did seem to get Zane's upset and did a great job of acknowledging it and apologizing. Couldn't come too soon for me! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the guys at Ty's folks' house in West Virginia. Chester cracks me up! I wasn't quite sure what was happening with Ty and his dad - and his mom, for that matter; it was explained, but it took a bit of catching up to do, since it was all so unexpected. While we, the readers, know why Ty left to join the Marine Corps, I didn't know that his parents did - the whole thing with the quarterback from the other team and all. Which is why it took awhile for me to figure out why his parents were so angry... But what an amazing family!Then to finally meet Zane's family in Texas... the reveal on that mystery is finally done! My only wish is that we'd have learned more about Becky. I really expected that we would; that Annie or Zane's dad would have had some sort of heart-to-heart with Ty. Ty has plenty of questions about Becky, and Zane's not ready to talk, yet. But Zane was able to find out from Nick the things that have plagued Ty, that Ty's not ready to talk about; so I figured turnabout was fair play.I never quite knew WHY Zane was so anti-family. And I'd gotten the impression that Zane wasn't the only boy in the family, somehow. Strange, to me, that Zane stayed away because of his MOTHER. Now, Beverly is a PITA, no doubt. And I wouldn't want to put up with her, either. But to stay away from his sister and father... dunno. Just seemed like there should be more there - more reasons to stay away. Perhaps, until now, when Zane feels like he truly has his footing in his relationship with Ty, Zane couldn't help but think of Becky when he thought of Texas? Still a mystery...I was overwhelmed at Ty's willingness to be so open with his love for Zane. And Zane's acceptance and returning that. It had to be tough. And not just because of jerks like Stanley and his mom. That was a lot to overcome... what a turning point for these two guys!!!The stuff with Ty, the cats (Smith & Wesson), and the tigers was priceless! This guy can charm virtually anything, man or beast! He was so at-ease with himself in this book... so likeable. Zane really let down his hair, too. It finally felt as if these two might find the peace and the relationship that they really want and need - that they deserve.There's such an element of FUN and lightness in this book and in the previous book - it's FUN! Sure, what they do isn't always sunshine and candy; there's a lot of tough stuff in investigating. But it's nice to have the lightness and fun between the two of them, so that the gloom-doom stuff isn't ever-present. As a reader, I'm not always concerned about the next fight or snub between Ty & Zane - their relationship and love is lighter now, so even the darker stuff in the books is easier to take. And the fun that these two guys have and generate around them is just ... fun!