The KGI series by Maya Banks and I have a rocky relationship. I very much enjoyed the first three books in the series and kind of fell in love with these brothers and their big, loving family. Book four was a shock to the system because this series was always romantic suspense and all of sudden, with no warning, it suddenly became a PARANORMAL romantic suspense series. People talking in each other’s minds, healing from afar, I’m still wondering what happened. Did I miss something in the first three books that might have hinted at what was to come? Then came book five, Echoes at Dawn, which in my opinion had an almost ridiculous case of insta-love. Which leads us to book six, Shades of Gray, about PJ and Cole. I decided to give this one a chance because I’ve been a huge fan of these two from the start, PJ seemed to be an exceptionally strong, tough leading lady and the relationship between her and Cole had always been one of friendly competitors. Plus I adore a story about friends turned lovers.
Shades of Gray leads off with Cole following PJ home to Denver in the hopes of finally turning their relationship into more than just friends. PJ has just had an uncomfortable encounter with her former lover and team from her SWAT days. When Cole appears they fall into their easy banter, but are aware that something else is there along with it. They end up back at PJ’s apartment where they have a smoking hot night together, which leads to a weird morning after when they are both called in for a job by Steele. PJ doesn’t know where exactly she wants their new relationship to go, but Cole has no intention of letting her revert back to just teammates after he’s finally gotten her to see him as more.
The new job their team commander, Steele, wants them on is the capture of a known child trafficker who KGI has been hunting and wants to take down. PJ agrees to go in undercover and draw the eye of one of the bad guy’s cronies to find out the specifics of where and when they can apprehend him and free the young girls. Cole has major problems with PJ putting herself at such risk and lets his voice be heard. Turns out he has valid reasons to be so worried as right from the start the mission goes fubar and PJ ends up suffering through the worst thing a woman can go through. Twice. All while her team can listen in and hear what’s going on, but are unable to get to her. It was a terrible scene and I couldn’t believe what was going on as it was happening. Her team does finally rescue her, but are unable to capture the men who did the damage.
When PJ becomes lucid and conscious again she immediately sneaks out of the hospital, resigns her place on the KGI team and disappears. For six months she is missing. Cole goes a little nuts, he’s angry at Steele for letting her leave, worried for PJ and wants revenge on the people who hurt his lover. When the team finally figures out what she’s been up to they are shocked to find out she has struck out on her own, seeking her own kind of revenge for the wrongs done against her.
I was very disappointed in the way PJ’s story played out. While on one hand I understood her need for revenge, I didn’t like that she turned into some kind of lone vigilante to get it. She does horrible things, yes they were done to horrible men, but she becomes her own judge, jury and executioner. I also didn’t care for the fact that immediately after the traumatic event she disappears and the reader doesn’t see her or even Cole for that matter for months. That whole period of time is skipped, six months of important time while she is coming to terms with her trauma and looking for the bad guys just gone. Then when the team finally catches up with her they all seem just a tab bit too comfortable with the fact that she’s been the female version of the terminator for months on end. The ending is a little much. There is a big confrontation where PJ must confront the bad guys, while rescuing Cole and doing it all naked. Yes, naked. For anyone else they would need some type of therapy to get through these hard times, but PJ has the Kelly women and after they have a lovely little chat all is better. *sigh*
Cole is this story’s saving grace. He’s so warm, patient and careful with PJ. He knew what he was getting into from the beginning with such a tough heroine, but had no desire for her to change and after she becomes a victim of a crime he takes care of her. His only thought is to help her get back to being herself.
I’m not sure if this is where KGI and I part ways or if I’m just a glutton for punishment and will pick up Steele’s book. I’ve held out, waiting on Donovan, hoping I can last to see how his future plays out. I’m still not sure. Final Grade: D+
“I’m a complete mess. I don’t have my head on straight. I’m a master of fucking up everything that’s good in my life.”
“But you’re my mess,” Cole said quietly. “I don’t need you to be perfect. I just need you to be you because that’s who I care about.”