Wednesday, January 2, 2013
SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW - "Shades of Gray" by Maya Banks
P.J. Rutherford, David "Cole" Coletrane
SUMMARY for Goodreads:
P.J. and Cole were sharpshooting rivals on the same KGI team and enjoyed a spirited, uncomplicated camaraderie. Until the night they gave in to their desires and suddenly took their relationship one step further. In the aftermath of their one night stand, they’re called up on a mission that goes terribly wrong, and P.J. walks away from KGI, determined not to drag her teammates into the murky shadows she’s poised to delve into.
Six months later, Cole hasn’t given up his search for P.J., and he’s determined to bring her back home where she belongs. Bent on vengeance, P.J. is on a mission that will plunge her into a serpentine game of payback and make her question everything she’s ever believed in. Cole—and the rest of their team—refuse to let her go it alone. Even if it means sacrificing their loyalty to KGI and their very lives...
Shades of Gray is the highly anticipated book 6 in the KGI (Kelly Group, International - a kickass group of black ops operatives who do contract work for the US government) series by Maya Banks. This is the story of the heretofore only female operative, PJ, and her teammate Cole. We meet PJ and Cole as periphery characters in the other books. They are a part of the KGI "family" and we understand that they are skilled, hard-nosed, and kick-ass. There are two basic teams in KGI (and a recently formed third by this book). PJ and Cole belong to Steel's group.
When we start this book, we don't know a lot about PJ or Cole. We know that they are teammates on Steel's team. We know that they are both snipers, with PJ being the better of the two. We know that Cole is a former seal that was shot in a previous book. We know that PJ is a former SWAT member who left under uncertain circumstances. We know that these two are an essential part of the KGI family. But we really don't know THEM. I think that is why this story took some time getting started.
** SPOILER ALERT **
The story begins with a hot encounter between PJ and Cole to establish their attraction to one another (and yes, it is a smokin' moment). Then the story quickly moves to an operation that goes terribly wrong and PJ is violated. For me, it brings to mind the scene in GI Jane when Jane is going through SERE training and the instructors try to use the threat of rape to get her peers to talk. It is a reality for women that in war, rape is a weapon. It is the same for the women who work on special ops teams as well. The trauma is terrifying and heartbreaking:
She was shaking from head to toe, and the memory of that night was so vibrant in her mind that no amount of wishing would make it go away.
But this is also the story about love, redemption, recovery and justice.
There are others authors who write wonderful romantic suspense. They are good at creating kickass, alpha males who show varying degrees of vulnerability that hooks the reader. What sets Maya Bank's characters apart in her KGI series is that her alphas also show gentleness not seen in many books. Cole is full of "sweet" as he helps P.J. recover:
The physical scars don't change who you are, P.J. The emotional ones do. Those are the ones I want to help you with...I'll wait as long as it takes...I'll do whatever I can to help you. Whatever it takes for your to heal physically and emotionally. Just know that I'm not going anywhere, and it's time for you to stop running.
My critique about this book has more to do with P.J. Her character didn't resonate with me as much as Cole's. In my opinion, I think there is a challenge to write a female, alpha character. There is always the struggle to balance the masculine parts of the personality with the feminine, to make the female strong and yet soft. Many writers in the paranormal romance genre seems to do this well. I'm not sure that Ms. Banks is completely successful with P.J. She seems to vacillate to the extremes.
This book is gritty and full of heartbreak, but also the love and support of a good, alpha male. It is great to see the KGI family back and this only whet my appetite for Steel's and Donovan's stories.
IN A NUTSHELL: If you are a KGI fan, you don't want to miss this book. If you haven't read the others, I suggest you start at the beginning, get to know their world. .