I’m a huge fan of Maya Banks’ KGI series. A family full of sexy, former special ops military men? Oh yes, sign me up! Shades of Gray, though features 2 members of one of the KGI teams, not a Kelly brother. Don’t let that bother you, if you’ve read this series to date, you know the team members are considered extended family by the Kellys. Maya does not disappoint with Cole and PJ. In fact, Shades of Gray is one of my favorite within the series.
The Kelly Group International (KGI): A super-elite, top secret, family-run business. Qualifications: High intelligence, rock-hard body, military background. Mission: Hostage/kidnap victim recovery. Intelligence gathering. Handling jobs the U.S. government can’t…
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 out on a mission that goes terribly wrong, and P.J. walks away from KGI, resolved 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. has plunged into a serpentine game of payback that will make her question everything she’s ever believed in. But 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 lives…
Oh man, PJ completely broke my heart. She is such a strong woman…not just physically but mentally and emotionally as well. Even before joining the guys at KGI, PJ had been through a lot. We finally get to learn PJ’s backstory–what had happened in Denver with her former SWAT team. As if that wasn’t enough, Maya really puts PJ through the ringer in Shades of Gray. I don’t think any other woman could go through what she endures and survive as well as PJ does. All the female leads in the KGI series are strong and all go through their own emotional roller coaster. But, I really think Maya outdid herself with PJ. I really can’t tell you much as it’d give away too many spoilers. I can say that something goes really really awry during the mission PJ goes on. As the blurb mentions, the aftermath of the failed mission causes PJ to leave her team. What you can’t guess is the why behind it…PJ is put through one bad ordeal after another. I admire her strength and Maya does a beautiful job of showing the reader that while PJ is strong, she is human and that it’s OK to lean on others…something I think many a strong woman often forgets.
Shades of Gray is brilliantly written. Fans of the series will continue to read at that nice, even-killed pace that you’ve come to expect from the KGI series. The characters are former military and go on similar missions they did while in government service. So, there is that high-adrenaline/action-packed scenario that the reader experiences while the characters are engaged in the height of the mission. With Shades of Gray, there is more than one high-stakes mission. In between this, you get the interplay between not only the main characters, but the other team members. You learn more, of course, about the hero/heroine, but you also get snippets of previous characters and insights to other secondary characters that don’t yet have their own story. One thing I enjoyed, you got to see a bit different prospective. This isn’t a Kelly brother, so you don’t have all the surrounding family. You’re dealing with just one of the teams. So, you see more of how the units, not run by a Kelly, interact and how each team really is like a family unit. If you haven’t read any of the other KGI novels yet, you could read Shades of Gray as a standalone. You’ll see some of the other, prior, couples and some allusion to those stories. I don’t think you’d get too lost, as the main focus is on PJ and Cole.
The only complaint I have with Shades of Gray is that I needed a bit more at the end. After so much turmoil and everything that PJ goes through…I needed something just more for her and Cole. It took her forever to finally lean on him (and her team) and accept that he isn’t going anywhere. She chooses him but we don’t get to see much more than that. I don’t expect a wedding at this point. But dang it, these 2 deserved a bit more page time with their romance–sans all the drama. I’m really hoping we’ll get a novella or a short story in an antho down the line. At the very least, I’m hoping we see some more of a wrap-up in another storyline, even if from the sidelines.
Overall, I highly recommend Shades of Gray. You’re taken through a maze of emotions…so many it’s hard to keep track. I really enjoyed getting to know PJ and seeing some of the other team members who have only been mentioned here and there during the other books. Another refreshing feeling, this was partially written through a female POV, something different for this series. If you’re a fan, you won’t be disappointed, if you’re new to the series, I think you’ll enjoy the ride and will want to go see what you’ve missed previously! Happy reading!