First thing - this has got to be one of the most beautiful covers I have seen in a long, long while. Especially on a M/M eBook where the covers often tend to the cartoonish or headshots of two bare-chested men.
Secondly - the magic is back! I love Abi's books, don't get me wrong. There's not one that I've read that I've not liked, a lot. But with Crown & Cross, everything that I love about Abi's stories is here - two distinct, different, still surprising, fun and sexy main characters; a cast of supporting characters that's not too unweidly nor do they intrude on the story, fun banter back and forth, twists and turns, no over-the-top emotional or physical cliffhanger, wonderfully hot and steamy sex scenes, affection and love. I had become worried over the past few releases if Abi was losing her steam for this whole universe. If felt more like she had written this book saying, "Look here, look what the characters did, isn't it fun?" instead of "Look here, look how I wrote this for all of you. Did you see I gave you what you wanted?" I don't know if that makes sense to anyone but me though. *LOL*
So... the book...
I never saw - even after going back and re-reading - the instant connection between Nick and Kelly that many other fans of Abi's Cut & Run series did. It seemed like wishful thinking to me and continued to do so through the beginning or their relationship in Shock & Awe. There was a glimmer of fun for me to find in Nick and Kelly's appearance in the latest Ty and Zane, Ball & Chain, but I was too annoyed to really enjoy it because I felt they were taking screen time away from the real stars of the story, Ty and Zane.
But in Cross & Crown, the first full novel of the Sidewinder Stories, it all clicked for me. I've been in love with Kelly since day one and I have to admit, and I've always enjoyed Nick, even when he was being the tragic, love-lorn figure in Ty and Zane's relationship. *LOL* And now? THEY WORK!! And I want them together and I'm rooting for them to be together, to fight and love and dream and tease and get into trouble and out of trouble.
The plot of C&C is interesting and fun. There's an amnesiac who gets a crush on Nick (and I wonder if we've seen the last of him), a lost treasure, a historical puzzle, some mob interaction and a couple of murders to start things off. It all hangs together fine enough for me, and doesn't get overwhelmed by Nick and Kelly's romance. And we have a visit, well more than a visit, from Julian Cross, one of my favourite Abi characters.