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Sequel to Rise & Fall
THIRDS: Book Five
As the fiercest Defense Agent at the THIRDS, Destructive Delta’s Ash Keeler is foul-mouthed and foul-tempered. But his hard-lined approach always yields results, evident by his recent infiltration of the Coalition. Thanks to Ash’s skills and the help of his team, they finally put an end to the murdering extremist group for good, though not before Ash takes a bullet to save teammate Cael Maddock. As a result, Ash’s secrets start to surface, and he can no longer ignore what’s in his heart.
Cael Maddock is no stranger to heartache. As a Recon Agent for Destructive Delta, he has successfully maneuvered through the urban jungle that is New York City, picking up his own scars along the way. Yet nothing he’s ever faced has been more of a challenge than the heart of Ash Keeler, his supposedly straight teammate. Being in love isn’t the only danger he and Ash face as wounds reopen and new secrets emerge, forcing them to question old loyalties.
How much were you looking forward to this?
Gaby: I was really looking forward to this book. I’ve been a huge fan of THIRDS ever since the series was first released. I am also a huge fan of Cael and Ash! I loved them as a couple, and think that they have great chemistry, so reading this was like Christmas in July!
Tracy: Christmas in July is a good metaphor. Against the Grain was in my short-list of books I was most waiting for this year. Why? CASH. I’m actually a so-so fan of series. (whispers: I find Dex and Sloane a little dull. I’m sorry.) But I’ve LOOOOOOOOVED the hints and movement for Ash and Cael, and will be honest that I’ve been riding the last couple books for them. I love the charactype types/pairing of grouchy & sweet, even more so when they’re badasses, so their pairing hits a lot of my buttons.
What worked for you?
Gaby: There were many things that worked for me. As usual, I enjoyed the action bits tremendously! Whenever I pick one of these books, the fights and guns are one of the things I look forward to the most. I think Charlie Cochet writes pretty exciting action. There is also, of course, the wonderful chemistry between Ash and Cael! Jesus, how much I craved those two together. I was pleased to see that our boys finally got over their differences and fears and fought for each other. I also loved that even though Ash was obviously utterly confused and afraid, he did all he could to work things out for him and Cael.
Tracy For me, I was pretty psyched that this was Cael & Ash’s book, so that was probably my fave. There was also some nice hints for other pairings (Austin and his bear shifter buddy, Seb and Hudson, Calvin & Hobbes, and of course, Dex and Sloane time, so there’s some things for everyone.) I felt it was less action then some of the other books, but the last quarter was pretty action-packed.
Favorite Pairings or Characters
Gaby? I practically love all the pairings. Of course my crush is Dex, and right after him, Ash (this is super funny because I loathed Ash in the first two books). But I have a very special kind of love for Calvin and Hobbs. I love all pairings, but this one, in particular, seems interesting to me. I can’t wait to see how Charlie writes them. It’s gonna be forever amazing to be able to be in Hobbs’ head.
Tracy Cael and Ash by far is my fave. Besides them, Seb and Hudson (not yet paired) are my second fave. Along with that, I dig some of the platonic friendships that Cochet develops. (Dex and Ash being begrudging friends is awesome.) I also appreciate that we got a little more time to see Letty and Ash together since they are partners.
Anything that didn’t work for you?
Gaby: One of them was that even thought his was supposed to be a CASH book, it was still largely focused on Dex and Sloane. Yes, they were a bit more in the background, but I don’t think that it was enough to let the new couple shine and take the spotlight. I find myself wondering if maybe Mrs. Cochet doesn’t want to let Dex and Sloane go, or if it’s intentional so the readers don’t feel the change so sudden.
Another thing that didn’t quite work for me. At the end of book four we were left with Maddock and a bat… I honestly was traumatized! I felt offended because it seemed to me like he didn’t trust his guys enough to let them decide. They are not children. When this book starts we are immediately taken back to that scene… So far so good… but then Maddock outs Cael. He literally told Ash everything, and I do not care how much he, as a father, thought he was helping his son… Those stories were not his to tell and it was a huge invasion of privacy. I was impressed that after Cael found out he was able to get over it so quickly.
There were two things that… Not that they bothered me, because they didn’t, more like surprised me:
1. I feel like the humor is not so humorish right now. I love the humor in these books, but it felt too much in this installment. It happened the same in the third book.
2. There was too little sex compared to Sloane and Dex scenes. Now, I normally don’t care much for sex scenes… But I love how Mrs. Cochet writes them, so I was a bit bummed to find out that there weren’t as many as in the other four books. The ones we got were ridiculously hot, though!
Tracy: Great points, Gaby. I agree with you too that I wouldn’t have minded more intimacy since it felt like we were waiting for ages for it. It also felt a little less CASH than what I was hoping for, but I wondered it was because I really wanted their book, so was just so greedy.
My qualm about Tony in the beginning (and I LOVE Tony–Papa of the year!) is I found it a bit of an info-dump of sudden information. It’s possible more signs appeared in earlier books related to this, but when I read this part, I felt it was a little out of left-field to add drama. (You’re right too though that Tony “outed” Cael and his story before Cael could be honest about it himself.)
One other thing that stuck out was some places, especially around the holidays, felt more telling than showing. (“They had dinner. They had a good time.” etc.) These parts felt a little over-fluffy, but also lacked immediacy for me. I think Cochet excels when she’s writing more action-oriented, in the moment scenes than ones more reflective, descriptive, or serving as a “montage.”
Who would you recommend this to?
Gaby: You know, I’m not a huge fan of shifters… Ha! You wouldn’t think so seeing how passionate I am about these guys. I have friends who, like me, are not shifter lovers, but we’ve all fallen head over heels for this series. So, leaving aside the obvious which would be to recommend this to shifter lovers, I’d like to recommend this to those who are looking for something different than the usual read. This series while being about hot guys who shift into felines, carries a lot of the awesomeness of contemporary romance. It’s also hot as hell, and it has a very interesting metaphorical comparison from the world in the book to real life issues. It’s dead fun to read, too.
Tracy: This is book 5 in a series, so my first rec is to start with book 1, Hell and High Water. I don’t think this would work well as a stand-alone. Also, if you don’t like the series, I don’t think this one will win you over. Even though it’s a different couple as the main focus, it’s still similar enough in style to the other books. If you’ve been hanging on for the CASH, then I definitely think you should try this. I see this book primarily enjoyed by THIRDS and especially CASH fans.
What are you looking forward to next?
Gaby: I’m obviously looking forward to Calvin and Hobbs. Being in the mind of a person who suffers from selective mutism is going to be quite a ride. I’m dying to see how Charlie works this issue and how she brings his mind to life on page.
Tracy: I’m greedy so I’m going to say more CASH. It’s not on the horizon, but I would love another book with them. I’m less psyched than Gaby for Calvin and Hobbs. Although I’m a fan of gentle giants like Hobbs, I find their pairing more angsty, but a little dull. I am looking forward to Seb and Hudson’s story though.