Monday, January 26, 2015

Maya Banks -- Shades of Gray

Maya Banks -- Shades of Gray

Rated: ♥ ♥ . ♥   {2.95}
Action: ♠♠♠♠ / Emotion: ♣♣♣.♣ / Romance: ♥♥♥.♥ / Sensuous: ♦♦ / Suspense: ♠♠♠.♠
Action: 4.0 / Emotion: 3.5 / Romance: 3.5 / Sensuous: 2.0 / Suspense: 3.5  //  Laughter: 1 / Giggle: 0  //  Tears: 3 / Teary: 2

Setting:       Camden, Tennessee / Nashville, Tennessee / Dover, Tennessee
                     Vienna, Austria
Era:             Present Day (2013)
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Shades of Gray, the sixth book in The Kelly Group International "KGI" Series written by Maya Banks is another unusual addition to this series.   In the process of reading this series of books back-to-back, it has become apparent that each of the books is slightly disappointing.   Nevertheless, Maya Banks has so successfully created a cast of characters that have ignited that spark of interest in knowing more about each them, that makes it difficult to put aside the rest of the books in this series to pick up a book that really rocks.

Although Shades of Gray was an entertaining and intriguing read, for some reason it did not grab my undivided attention.   While reading this book, rather than get so deeply engrossed in the story so that it was impossible to put the book down, it was too easy to get distracted by thoughts of checking e-mails, scanning through facebook, or taking a nap.   That means that although Banks finally managed to write a story that brought forth tears, there was something missing that made it less than absorbing.

Banks, as usual, starts the book off in such a manner that really draws one into the story.   Having read the previous books in the series, Banks has inserted just enough stimulating dialogue between the two snipers on Steele's team, David "Cole" Coltrane and P.J. Rutherford, to let us know that there is a friendly quality to their competitive, 'dare you' conversations.   Since these are romance books, it was also impossible not to assume that there was something of a romantic nature simmering somewhere underneath the camaraderie that existed between Cole and P.J.

Banks did two things in the opening chapters of the book that were great.   First, she revealed a bit of P.J.'s background to readers.   P.J. was sitting in a bar in Denver, her hometown, unwinding after completing a mission with her KGI team.   Her choice of bar was certainly questionable -- a stripper club that featured bad music and bar fights.   Is this P.J.'s method of proving that she's just one of the boys?

P.J.'s ex-lover and former S.W.A.T. teammate, Derek, and his two friends, Jimmy and Mike, walked into the bar and start giving P.J. grief.   Because P.J. has been angry ever since she lost her position on the S.W.A.T. team because of Derek, she decided she'd had enough of his flack and punched him in the nose.   Before a full-out fight can break out, in walks the charming, handsome, hunk of a man, Cole.   He walks right up to P.J., apologizes for being late, and plants a toe-curling kiss on her.

Cole had decided it was time to let P.J. know that he was interested in her and had planted a tracking device on her jeep and followed her.   Cole was frustrated because P.J. was so secretive about herself and her past that he had no idea where she even lived.   Cole was tired of knowing nothing about P.J. and wanted to act on the attraction he felt upon first meeting her.   P.J. decided it would be a good thing to have some hot monkey sex with Cole and invited him to her place.

Where they did have some hot monkey sex.   But then Cole turned the tables on P.J. and made love to her as well.
Because this wasn't just sex.   It felt a hell of a lot like making love.   (P.J., page 26)
Before P.J. can experience full-blown morning after recriminations, Steele calls Cole and P.J. to come to his house because their extended R&R has been cut short.   P.J. doesn't want Cole to let anyone know that they had been intimate.
"Look, can we just agree that last night was a mistake?   A huge mistake.   One we need to promise never happens again."   (P.J., page 29)

"If you think I'm going to pretend this never happened, you're out of your . . . mind."   (Cole, page 30)
From this point on Banks starts taking the story in a confusing direction.   First, apparently it is unusual for Steele to hold team meetings at his house.   Nevertheless, when the team, comprised of Cole, P.J., Dolphin, Renshaw, and Baker show up at Steele's home, Donovan "Van" Kelly is there, so it was easy to assume that this was a KGI sanctioned mission.   So why go to all the trouble to hold the meeting at Steele's home?

Then Donovan and Steele told the team that this mission was far from the norm.   Rather than go in all macho-man with plenty of firepower, featuring Cole and P.J.'s impressive sniper skills, they wanted to dress up P.J. as a femme fatale and take her to a party where she could tempt the mark into spilling the beans after imbibing plenty of alcohol.   Apparently, Donovan had managed to scrape up an invitation to a party in Vienna where Carter Brumley, one of the world's largest traffickers in children, was attending, along with his right hand man, Gregory Nelson, who had a predilection for women who looked like P.J.

Cole's alarm bells were ringing as long, loud, and clear as any sensible person reading this book.   Anyone who has ever read any of these military suspenseful novels knows that you don't send an inexperienced woman, who has no apparent girly-girl skills, into such a setting.   It spelled disaster from the get-go.   In previous books, Banks has gone on, ad nauseam, about how all the KGI operators were intelligent, skilled and the best of the best.   And this is what they came up with!

But P.J., who is all about proving that she is better than all of the men on her team, agrees to the proposition after Cole is vocal about his disapproval of the plan.   Part of the reason P.J. agrees is because she doesn't want Cole to assume that he can dictate to her what assignments she can or can't take because he spent one night in her bed.

The next blatantly obvious mistake is that when Donovan and P.J. enter the party in Vienna she is not carrying any weapon.   Come on!   Any person who watches tv or reads any romantic suspense book knows that women can wear slinky little nothing dresses and still manage to either wear a weapon or carry one in their evening bag.   Then P.J. doesn't even have to work at gaining Gregory Nelson's attention.   Banks is obviously not into writing witty repartee when it comes to entertaining readers with exciting action and increasing the suspenseful nature of the story.   All P.J. has to do is walk by Gregory Nelson on her way to the ladies room, and, bam, he's decided she is the woman he wants to highjack for the night.

Then the next truly unbelievable set of events takes place.   This supposedly top-notch special ops team is so ill prepared for P.J. to be whisked off to her hotel by Gregory Nelson, (wasn't that the plan!) that they get caught up in a traffic jam and arrive at P.J.'s hotel room to find that the bracelet holding her tracking device is laying on the floor, broken.   The first question that came to mind was, why didn't this supposedly incredible military team have a man waiting in the room next to P.J.'s since that is where she was supposed to bring her mark anyway?   So Steele, Cole, Dolphin, Renshaw and Baker are scrambling through the city trying to find where Nelson has taken P.J.   Naturally, P.J. was able to give them hints from the microphone patch she was wearing.

P.J. has obviously not watched much tv or read the right romance books to know that you don't drink anything handed to you by the bad guy.   Everyone but P.J. knows that you pour your drink in the potted palm!   It seems Banks apparently decided to write a series of events that are so totally out of the realm of believable (for supposed super-skilled KGI operatives) just so she could move her characters into place on the chess board of her story.

And then Banks really shocks readers by actually writing a rape scene.   It was pretty graphic, but at least readers weren't there to "see" the rape -- at first.   Yes, we were as horrified at what we heard through the earbuds of Cole, Steele, Dolphin, Renshaw, and Baker.   And, yes, Banks then went so far as to take readers to the scene of the rape and have them witness what P.J. was experiencing when Brumley finished with her and turned her over to Nelson.   The only reason this scene was tolerable was because of the knowledge that this was fiction.   Still!   This was a pretty bold move.

P.J.'s teammates arrive in time to keep her from being killed, but not in time to capture the two bad guys.   The team rushes P.J. home and puts her in the hospital because she was not only raped, but she'd been cut multiple times as well.   Now this part was a bit hard to swallow, but it made sense.   It was way too easy to imagine P.J.'s shame and pain at not only being raped, but that her entire team witnessed the event.   So when Cole is called away to attend a KGI briefing after sitting in P.J.'s room for two days, she asks her friend, Cathy, the nurse on duty, to help her leave the hospital.

Banks takes readers into the team meeting and reveals to readers that Steele may come across as a cold, emotionless, automation, but he was as shaken up by what happened to P.J. as the rest of KGI.   And this is one time that Cole doesn't sit back and keep his mouth shut.   Cole, supported by Dolphin, Renshaw, and Baker express their displeasure at the way this entire operation was planned and carried out.
"I don't give a damn what she thinks she wanted," Cole said softly.   "She's not thinking straight and we all know it.   Sometimes doing the right thing is all wrong.   Giving her space and time and all that other bullshit is great on paper, but you and I both know that the very last thing she needs is to be alone.   We are her family.   Her only family.   We're supposed to give a damn.   Were supposed to stand up for her when no one else will.   And we're damn sure supposed to call her out when she's making stupid choices and [screw]ing up.   That's what family does.   Live and die as a team, right?   Well, you hung her out to dry, Steele.   And you hung the rest of us out right along with her, because now we all look like a bunch of uncaring assholes who just let her walk away without a fight."   (Cole, page 111)
Banks seems to have a thing for making the heroines featured in these books suffer horrendously.   And then, rather than let their respective heros save the day and exact revenge against the villain, she arranges the story so that in the end it is the heroine who saves the day.   And the big, bad, alpha, military hero, is left with nothing else to do but be her supportive man.   While there is nothing wrong with having kick-ass heroines in a romantic suspense book, aren't these books, with hot-looking military men on the covers, supposed to be about men being macho and getting to kick some serious villain ass?
It's like Banks can only write one woman over and over and over and over.   (Jamie on Good Reads)
And Banks has stressed repeatedly throughout all of the books of this series that every member of the Kelly family and all the operatives of KGI are bound and determined to protect not only the weaker women and children in the world, but their number one goal in life is protect their family.   But do the men ever get to protect their women and their family members?   No!   Banks insists that the heroine be delegated to that role.
"I understand how you feel, P.J., and I want you to know that I'm not judging you, because in your shoes, I would have done the exact same thing if what happened to you had happened to any member of my family.   And you are family.   In the future you should be willing, and I will demand that you be willing, to rely more heavily on your family instead of going it alone."   (Sam, page 276)
Banks continues to regale readers with more unbelievable events when six months after P.J.'s disappearance, Steele, Cole, Dolphin, Renshaw, and Baker arrive just in time to save P.J. as she attempted to invade one of Brumley's holdings to kill Brumley and Nelson.   P.J. managed to kill Nelson and got shot in the leg, but Brumley got away.   Thus, Banks was able to do the 'let Cole take care of his woman' part of the book.   And, yes, it was a joy to see Cole being so supporting and understanding -- and, basically, being perfect, but it would have been nice to let him be the alpha dog in the book instead of letting P.J. continue to take that role -- and not relinquish it to anyone for any reason.   It sure would have been nice if Banks had made P.J. multi-dimensional.

Why couldn't P.J. have been allowed to be as considerate, supportive, and as understanding as Cole?   Why couldn't she have been portrayed as someone other than the girl who was trying to prove to herself, to the world, and to her overly religious mother that she was super tough and no one was going to get the best of her?   It was while Cole and P.J. spent time together at his home talking about their respective pasts that Cole finally learned that P.J. stood for Penelope Jane.

However, during this time Banks stressed how difficult it was for P.J. to maneuver around because of the bullet wound in her leg.   And Cole, foolishly, took P.J. home with him for some down time rather than take her immediately to the hospital to see to the wound.   Yes, Cole took P.J. to the hospital the next day and gripped at Cathy for helping P.J. escape six months ago, but, come on, when an agent is shot, you take them to the hospital for treatment.   And Cathy had a good comeback to Cole about why she helped P.J. during that most difficult time in her life.
"A good friend will bail you out when you land in jail, but a very good friend will be sitting beside you in that jail cell."   (Cathy, page 191)
It was during this time that Banks got in her Kelly time.   Cole, in his effort to help P.J. with the psychological trauma that she experienced arranged an afternoon for P.J. to spend time with the wives of the Kelly men.   It was wonderful that Banks went to the effort to make P.J. one of the girls, but sadly, there was just something lacking in this scene with P.J. and Rachel, Sophie, Sarah, and Shea.   The dialogue was so pat, so 'this is what you need to do if something devastating happens to you.'   And while the conversation was emotionally moving, Banks doesn't seem to have a way with writing entertaining dialogue between her female characters.

There is no way this could be a stand alone book.   A conscious effort was made to pay close attention to see if Banks made the necessary connections between characters when she introduced them into the book.   If a reader had not read the previous books in the series, it would have had been difficult knowing which characters were tied together because of the way Banks just dropped names of the Kelly brothers, their spouses, and the KGI teams into the story.   For instance, during the scene where all the Kelly wives were visiting with P.J. on the back deck of Sam Kelly's home, there is no way to tell to whom little three year old Charlotte belonged.   Sure you could guess, but it isn't spelled out that Charlotte is Sam and Sophie's daughter.   And new readers would have absolutely no idea who Elizabeth was.   They would only know that this person is somehow tied to Rio and Grace.

Banks wasn't ready to leave the realm of the implausible as she prepared to give readers her version of an exciting, action-filled, suspenseful finale.   P.J. gets an e-mail from one of her contacts in Vienna that Brumley was in town and insists that she go see Katia, who insisted P.J. come alone.   Hello!   It was clear to everyone but P.J. that this just screamed 'this is a setup.'   And, Cole, relegated to his role as simply being supportive to P.J., had no choice but to go with P.J. -- because it was blatantly apparent that obsessively stubborn and determined P.J. would have gone alone.

Of course, it was a set up.   Of course, Banks had to take Cole out of the equation -- because, heaven forbid that she let Cole help P.J. take down Brumley.   And then, P.J., who could barely walk several days ago was able to perform daring feats (that sounded like roundhouse kicks) to take down Brumley and his three henchmen -- but only after she had been told to strip down.   Seriously!   Sometimes you just have to wonder at the paths Banks takes in these stories just to make her heroine come across as a totally kick-ass chick.   Again, Banks just reiterated how simplistic she'd made P.J. in this exciting finale.   P.J. was, basically, all about doing it on her own and showing the world that she could be just as much a man as her teammates.

Banks finally gave readers more of a picture of the members of Steele's team as she told Cole and P.J.'s story.   And even though you couldn't help but like the teasing, cocky good old boy that was Dolphin, Baker and Renshaw mostly stayed in the shadows.   But Banks, as she tends to do, failed to paint a picture of what these three men looked like.   They were given no descriptors like height, width, age, hair color, eye color, or unique features so that the reader could distinguish them in their minds.

The same was true of the descriptors of Steele, Cole and P.J.'s team leader.   Book after book, Banks has stressed the cold automation that is attributed to Steele's personality.   But besides having blue eyes and strong hands, Steele takes no form.   This fascinating secondary character, who stars in the next book in the series (Forged In Steele), is just as much of a shadow as Dolphin, Baker and Renshaw.   Readers of the series and of this book, however, can sense from the way Banks has dropped hints that Steele does, indeed, have a tender heart beating underneath his steely exterior.   Thus, it will be impossible not to pick up the next book in the series and keep reading.

So in closing, Shades of Gray, the sixth book in The Kelly Group International "KGI" Series is not the best read of the series, simply because Maya Banks spent way too much time in the realm of implausibility and did not keep the reader engrossed in the story.   The factors included in this book to make it a readable, but disappointing addition to this series were: {1} David "Cole" Coletrane, a hero who had his alpha wings clipped so he could only play the 'supportive mate' role; {2} P.J. (Penelope Jane) Rutherford, a heroine who was so busy proving she was better than the men on her team, that she was a single-dimensional character; {3} a lot of action, however unbelievable, moved the story along at a quick pace; {4} an emotional attachment developed between the reader and Cole and P.J., which resulted in the shedding of a few tears and several moments of laughter; {5} the romance that existed between Cole and P.J. was minimal and took second place to the action; {6} the introductory love scene was filled with heat and spice; {7} incredulity at what was happening replaced the edgy suspenseful aura that should have inhabited the storyline; and, finally {8} the brief inclusion of previously introduced secondary characters added to the entertainment value of the story: {a} Sam Kelly, {b} Donovan "Van" Kelly, {c} Sophie [Lundgren] Kelly, {d} Rachel Kelly, {e} Sarah [Daniels] Kelly, {f} Shea [Peterson] Kelly, {g} Steele, {h} Dolphin, {i} Renshaw, and {j} Baker.   Although a necessary inclusion to this series, Shades of Gray, is definitely not worthy of being re-read.
--Vonda M. Reid (Sunday, January 25, 2015 : 11:40 a.m.)     [362]

Books In The Series: "The Kelly Group International "KGI" Series"
# Date Title Hero Heroine
01.09-2010The Darkest HourEthan Kelly: ex-Navy SEAL, Fourth SonRachel Kelly: his wife, captive
02.12-2010No Place To RunSam Kelly: KGI co-Owner, First SonSophie Lundgren: daughter to arms dealer
03.03-2011Hidden AwayGarrett Kelly: KGI co-Owner, Second SonSarah Daniels: half sister of Garrett's nemesis
04.01-2012Whispers In The DarkNathan Kelly: prisoner of warShea Peterson: telepathic connection
05.07-2012Echoes At DawnRio (Eduardo Bezerra): KGI Team LeaderGrace Peterson: telepathic and healer
5.508-2012Softly At SunriseEthan Kelly: KGI Operative, Fourth SonRachel Kelly: his wife
06.01-2013Shades of GrayDavid "Cole" Coletrane: KGI Sniper, Steele's TeamP.J. (Penelope Jane) Rutherford: KGI's best sniper
07.06-2013Forged In SteeleJackson "Ice Man" Steele: KGI Team LeaderDr. Maren Scofield: Doctor in Costa Rica
08.01-2014After The StormDonovan Kelly: KGI co-Owner, Third SonEve "Evie" [Breckenridge]: On The Run From Step-Father
09.06-2014When Day BreaksDaryl "Swanny" Swanson: scarred from battleEden: supermodel
10.06-2015Darkest Before DawnHancock:: leader of Titan. . .

Characters Found In "Shades of Gray"
Character Description
David "Cole" Coletrane[Hero] cute pain in P.J.'s ass; perfect target for cutting jokes and egging on; always rose to the bait (2) sparkling blue eyes; hair longer than his normal neat cut, spiky on top; dressed in fatigues, black shirt and combat boots; looked like a total badass; drawfed P.J.; good 2" taller than Derek; biceps bulged and strained against sleeves of his t-shirt (5) easy on the eyes; muddy blond hair; newly grown goatee; blue eyes that could be mean as hell one moment and carefree and twinkling the next; the total package; P.J.'s teammate (6) charming; lived in Tennessee (7) strong; confident; toe-curling kisser; absolutely certain of himself; rippling, drool worthy chest muscles (12) gorgeous; broad shoulders; muscled biceps; lean, toned abdomen; light smattering of chest hair (14) comfortable to be around; easy to talk to (22) beautiful physique (27) had a mouth made for sin (30) infectious charm; suave smile (32) smelled of clean, delicious male (33) former Navy SEAL (45) damned good sniper (38) didn't bullshit; lighthearted and fun when occasion called for it; a straight shooter; blunt; spoke his mind (153) a good man; loyal; fiercely protective (154) liked action and thrill of his job (167) parents killed in car crash when he was a senior in high school; only child; took baseball team to state championship; could have gone to college on baseball scholarship (184) 32-y-o (196) more of a measured, sit back and think out all the possible issues kind of guy (234)
P.J. (Penelope Jane) Rutherford[Heroine] competitive with Cole; better marksman than Cole (2) good at running; left s.w.a.t. under a shadow (4) Cole's teammate (6) joined KGI; never dated teammates after Derek; swore off hard liquor when left s.w.a.t. unit (8) a hardass; difficult to get close to; hard to get any information from; did not reveal details about her personal life; never slipped up or dropped hints; single-minded focus when on a mission; no chitchat, no social hour after mission, first to bug out; carried backpack with her everywhere; drove a jeep; unreadable eyes; saucy (9) had to make everything a dare or a challenge (10) lived in small apartment just outside Denver (31) standoffish since day one; let's no one get close (33) gave 150% to team; damned good sniper (38) petite brunette with killer legs, toned, small busted, but not too small (43) attitude; confidence; not a party girl (45) hard-cored; never complained; kept up with the team; oftentimes went above and beyond; was a better shot than Cole (48) long lashes accenting startling green eyes (49) killer legs, toned from a strict exercise regime; beautiful (50) confident; arrogant; cocky demeanor (90) 'a highly trained operative who goes into combat and deals with situations most other women don't. She's wired differently.' (101) Penelope Jane (180) grew up in very religious family (185) will turn 30 this year (196) a take the bull by the horns when all hell breaks loose girl (234)
. . .. . .
Alton[no Appearance] KGI; member of Rio's team (96)
Baker[Secondary Character] Cole and P.J.'s teammate (6) the muscle and the brains behind explosives and tactical maneuvers (38) parents are divorced, doesn't see much of either one (183)
Browning[no Appearance] former member of Rio's team; betrayed Rio's trust (96)
Carter Brumley[Secondary Character] one of the largest traffickers of children in the world; likes them young, preferably between the ages of 8-12; deals exclusively in females; public enemy number one in a lot of countries; smart; lucky; more lives than a cat (42) tall; blond; laughs really loud; likes to be the center of attention; women flock to him because he has money (56)
Cathy[Secondary Character] one of the nurses P.J. had met during the countless times KGI had been through the hospital at Fort Campbell; the closest to another female friend P.J. possessed; a retired Naval nurse who'd moved to Kentucky with her husband, and they both worked on the base; a brisk, no-nonsense woman whose bluntness had always been appreciated by P.J. (92)
Colin[One Appearance] one of Brumley's men (70)
Decker[no Appearance] KGI; member of Rio's team (96)
Derek[One Appearance] P.J.'s ex-lover; hung her out to dry; P.J.'s lover for two years (3) member of P.J.'s former s.w.a.t. team; had hooked up with P.J. shortly after she joined the team (3) taller than Jimmy and Mike (5) a dirty cop; stealing drug money and later even drugs themselves when S.W.A.T. was called in to assist in drug bust; hid and pocketed stuff from the scene when things were still chaotic (22) smart; didn't leave any sort of trail, no deposits to a bank account, no change in spending habits, he had planned long-term and was apparently stashing the money where it couldn't be found (23)
Diego[no Appearance] KGI; member of Rio's team (96)
Dimas[no Appearance] newly into trafficking; supplying virgins to Brumley in Jakarta (128)
Dolphin[Secondary Character] Cole and P.J.'s teammate (6) smart ass; the epitome of cocky good old boy; originally from Texas; had the worn cowboy look down without actually looking like he was right off the ranch; more often than not he wore jeans with at least half a dozen holes, flip-flops that made him look like he was heading to the beach and a t-shirt, usually with a snarky saying; a former Navy SEAL, and he'd been called Dolphin since BUD/S training, because he swam like one; more at home in the water than on land (34) nights out were legendary (36) no couth (37) utility man on Steele's team; could do a little bit of everything, whatever the team needed (38) visits his sister a couple times a year; hates his dad; takes care of his mom (183)
Zane Edgerton[Rare Appearances] new KGI recruit; about Garrett's size with tattoos running up both arms, disappearing behind the short sleeves of his t-shirt; looked like he'd been in a few too many bar fights; Cole pegged him as a boxer or perhaps a mixed martial arts fighter because he had the telltale beginnings of the cauliflower ears and his nose looked like it had been broken at least once (114) bigger than Nathan, Joe, Swanny (212)
Elizabeth[No Appearance] Rio brought her to Kelly compound (102)
Franz[One Appearance] Kristoff's henchman (240) three times Cole's size; long, stringy hair that had been washed in at least a week; a jagged scar the curved the entire side of his face (237)
Isaac[One Appearance] one of Brumley's men (70)
Jimmy[One Appearance] Derek's friend; had been P.J.'s friend (3)
Katia[One Appearance] call girl that P.J. met while searching for Brumley (229)
Charlotte Kelly[One Appearance] blond hair; little imp; chasing golden retriever puppy (214) 3-y-o (219)
Donovan "Van" Kelly[Secondary Character] [Book 8 / After The Storm] ran KGI with his brothers, Sam and Garrett; computer geek; smaller than his Neanderthal brothers; a badass nerd; P.J. respected; quiet; didn't need to be loud to get his point across; smart (41) above all things, had a soft spot for children (42) arrogant; confident (55)
Ethan Kelly[Rare Appearances] [Book 1 / The Darkest Hour] [Novella 5.5 / Softly At Sunrise] Sam, Donovan, and Garrett's younger brother; recently joined KGI; hulking Neanderthal (41) Rachel's husband (212)
Garrett Kelly[Rare Appearances] [Book 3 / Hidden Away] ran KGI with his brothers, Sam and Donovan; hulking Neanderthal (41)
Joe Kelly[Rare Appearances] [Book x / Title] Sam, Donovan, and Garrett's younger brother; recently joined KGI; hulking Neanderthal (41)
Frank Kelly[No Appearance] didn't want to leave home to move into compound (213)
Marlene Kelly[No Appearance] didn't want to leave home to move into compound (213)
Nathan Kelly[Rare Appearances] [Book 4 / Whispers In The Dark] Sam, Donovan, and Garrett's younger brother; recently joined KGI; hulking Neanderthal (41) spent months imprisoned in the Middle East (162)
Rachel Kelly[Book 1 / The Darkest Hour] [Novella 5.5 / Softly At Sunrise] rescued by the KGI teams from Colombia (38) captive for a year in South America (98) Ethan's wife (212) pregnant with twins; teaching again (221)
Sam Kelly[Secondary Character] [Book 2 / No Place To Run] ran KGI with his brothers, Donovan and Garrett; hulking Neanderthal (41)
Sarah [Daniels] Kelly [Secondary Character] [Book 3 / Hidden Away] raped (209) quieter and more withdrawn than the others (214) Garrett's wife (220)
Shea [Peterson] Kelly[Secondary Character] [Book 4 / Whispers In The Dark] Nathan's wife; P.J. respected (161) endured a lot of pain and torture on Nathan's behalf; helped him survive hell; the only reason Nathan was home with his family (162) wide smile; pretty features (216) her gift of connecting to people is random (217)
Sophie [Lundgren] Kelly[Secondary Character] [Book 2 / No Place To Run] Sam's wife (214)
Kristoff[One Appearance] P.J.'s contact in Vienna; supplied weapons (237)
Mike[One Appearance] Derek's friend; had been P.J.'s friend (3)
Gregory Nelson[Secondary Character] Carter Brumley's right hand man; has a predilection for petite brunettes with killer legs, likes them toned, small busted, not too small, but not overly endowed; has a big mouth, particularly when drinking; 'with alcohol and encouragement, he'll air damn near anything' (43) shorter than Brumley; stocky; muscled; dark hair; mustache; fake tan (56) heavily accented voice (57) beefy arms (58)
Grace [Peterson][No Appearance] [Book 5 / Echoes At Dawn] Rio's wife (97) Shea's sister; had unique abilities that defied scientific explanations (217)
Renshaw[Secondary Character] Cole and P.J.'s teammate (6) the muscle and the brains behind explosives and tactical maneuvers (38) stays with his parents between missions because doesn't feel like buying a home if he's never there (183)
[Adam] Resnick[No Appearance] KGI's CIA contact (52) mollified by the information KGI was able to provide him; has the leverage to bring down a lot of the big players in child trafficking, which in turn gives him more power, which in turn gives him more protection. He skated a pretty thin line with the shit that went down with Shea and Grace, and he spent plenty of time wondering when he was going to be taken out. This gives them plenty of insurance, so to speak. Before long, the president's going to fear him (273)
Rio (Eduardo Bezerra)[No Appearance] [Book 5 / Echoes At Dawn] KGI (81) team leader; hard, unforgiving man (96) dark eyes (100) intense; broody; hard to imagine as a father; soft spot a mile wide (218)
Steele[Secondary Character] [Book 7 / Forged In Steele] P.J.'s team leader; didn't sugarcoat shit; if you screwed up, he called you on it; if you did your job, he didn't give you any special accolades (2) lived just outside Nashville; a loner; didn't like to be intruded upon; didn't intrude upon others; P.J. respected him (31) description of his ranch; a hard ass; had team's unwavering loyalty; gave P.J. a chance in spite of her record; one bad ass mother-- and he could do it all (38) calm, unruffled voice (50) strong hands; blue eyes (78) legendary composure; all about the team, he lived it and breathed; had never failed a mission before (82) cold; formidable (83) cold-blooded machine; possessive and protective towards his team; didn't take any shit from anybody; expected his orders to be instantly obeyed (99) never one to mince words; wanted information short, concise, and to the point (247)
Arthur Stromberg[No Appearance] one of Europe's biggest arms dealers; holding a soiree in Vienna; Carter Brumley and Gregory Nelson were invited (43)
Terrence[No Appearance] KGI; member of Rio's team (96)
Wainwright[No Appearance] purchasing girls from Carter Brumley (69)
Skylar Watkins[Rare Appearances] new KGI recruit; about P.J.s size but with honey blond hair and deep blue eyes; looked far too young to be working on a mercenary team (114)

Locations, Organizations Found In "Shades of Gray"
Location / Organization Description
KGIThe Kelly Group International: a super-elite, top secret, family-run business. Qualifications: High intelligent, rock-hard bodied, military background. Mission: Hostage/kidnap victim recovery. Intelligence gathering. Handling jobs the U.S. Government can't. (back cover) members loyal to team and one another; deeply honorable (8) the entire organization wasn't the average gun for hire group; they had a conscience; their missions were righteous; at the end of the day they could look at themselves in the mirror and not flinch away (116)
Camdenwhere Cole lived, just a short distance from the KGI compound (113)
Clarksvillewhere P.J. asked Cathy to drop her off (94)
ColombiaCole had been shot during teams' rescue of Rachel Kelly (38)
Czech Republicacross the border from Slovakia; where Donovan and Cole were taking P.J. (135)
Denverwhere bar that P.J. frequented between assignments was located (7) P.J. lived in small apartment just outside Denver (31)
Fort Campbellwhere P.J. being taken for medical treatment (82)
Henry Countywhere KGI usually landed their plane (82) the Kellys home airfield; where they kept their planes hangared (159)
Jakartawhere Brumley has a big deal going down; big auction (128)
Kelly Compoundhome base of KGI; where most of the Kelly's lived
Kentucky Lakesat next to the Kelly stronghold (31)
Nashvillewhere Steele lived; about 2 miles away from Kelly stronghold (31)
Paducahwhere Cathy took P.J. to catch a flight (94)
Tennesseewhere Kelly Compound was located
Slovakiawhere P.J. found Brumley and Nelson (122)
war roomon KGI compound (96)

"Shades of Gray" Quotations
11he did what he'd been dying to do ever since the first day he laid eyes on her.   He kissed her.   (Cole)
21Her entire body was begging.   It scared her because this was one man she would never be able to get enough of.   (P.J.)
35"Heavily armed, easily pissed."   (on Dolphin's t-shirt)
53He had to stop thinking of her as the woman he'd slept with, the woman he'd laid claim to, even if she had no idea that in his mind she was his.   (Cole)
57This girl stuff was more terrifying than an entire company of gun-wielding terrorists, though.   (P.J.)
72There was nothing more horrific than being so helpless that she hadn't been able to move.   (P.J.)
77She couldn't imagine ever not hurting.   Some hurts were so deep, beneath the skin.   Soul deep.   (P.J.)
78Steele knelt and framed her face in his strong hands.   His blue eyes bore into her with burning intensity.   "We'll get the girls, P.J.   But right now we're going to take care of you."   (Steele)
107They just clicked.   There were something indefinable about their connection, and he knew he couldn't have been the only one to have felt it.   (Cole)
145"Not without us," Cole bit out. "It's time for you to suck it up and learn to lean on someone."   (Cole)
149"Nothing you feel is stupid.   It's how you feel, so that makes it legitimate.   Do you understand what I'm saying?   I won't let you beat yourself up for being human.   What happened to you wasn't just a simple injury in the course of a mission.   It was something no person should ever have to endure.   You can't just shrug that often pretend it didn't happen.   Sometime, someway, you have to deal with it.   And I don't think you have yet.   I know you haven't," he added softly.   (Cole)
153"I'll wait as long as it takes, P.J.   I'll do whatever I can to help you.   Whatever it takes for you to heal physically and emotionally.   Just know that I am not going anywhere, and it's time for you to stop running."   (Cole)
155All the pressure was of her own making. She didn't want to seem like she needed help, because she felt like she had more to prove.
Ridiculous, but there you had it.   She was a woman, and her team didn't even care.   It was her with a chip on her shoulder and for no reason.   (P.J.)
169PJ was worth it.   She deserved happiness.   She deserved a man who stood by her and with her.   Someone who allowed her to be herself.   Even if it killed him, he was going to be that man.   Encouraging her to be that kick-ass woman he knew her to be and not holding her back no matter how hard his gut screamed at him to shield her from anything that could ever hurt her.
Love sucked.   (Cole)
176"You aren't going to lose me, P.J.   Don't doom us before we even give it a shot."   (Cole)
177She wanted happily ever after more than he could possibly know.   She wanted forever.   Problem was, she just wasn't sure she believed in it anymore.   (P.J.)
187"Trying to please my mother was like trying to push a rope through the eye of a needle."   (P.J.)
191"A good friend will bail you out when you land in jail, but a very good friend will be sitting beside you in that jail cell."   (Cathy)
221KGI is family, and even though you don't hang around us that much, we all care about you a lot.   You've been there for each of us when we needed someone the most.   You've risked your life for all of us.   You risk your life to keep the men we love safe.   That makes you very special to us whether you know it or not.   (Shea)

"Maya Banks -- Shades of Gray" Review and Information Links
Rated Posted Site Notes, Comments, Etc.
----Maya Banks' WebsiteAuthor
----Maya Banks' FacebookAuthor
----Maya Banks' TwitterAuthor
--12-19-2013Maya Banks' Blog--Maya Banks / very interesting article about readers' reviews
. . . . . . . . .. . .
----Fantastic FictionList of Maya Banks' Books
----Fict FactList of Books In The Kelly Group International "KGI" Series
----Fiction DBList of Maya Banks' Books
----Order of BooksList of Maya Banks' Books
. . . . . . . . .. . .
4.34 average{366 reviews}Amazonas of: January 25, 2015
4.50 average{210 ratings}Barnes & Nobleas of: January 25, 2015
5.0011-30-2012Blithely Bookish--UniquelyMoi // too gushy, too pat, ARC review {gr3}
--01-30-2013Bodice Rippers, Femme Fatales and Fantasy--Shauni S // [qv] a bit PR sounding
4.0012-31-2012Book Pushers--MinnChinn // {gr10}
B-01-29-2013Buried By Books--Amber // short, but pretty good review
4.5011-16-2013Delighted Reader--Shari // great review, good detail and qualifiers
5.0012-26-2012eBook Obsessed--Lucy Dosch // good review {gr8}
D+02-11-2013Fiction Vixen--Amy // great review {gr11}
positive03-27-2013Fresh Fiction--Darlene Kendall // okay
4.29 average{7,792 ratings}Good Readsas of: January 24, 2015
4.0001-15-2013Good Reads // Aunteegreat review // some very valid points {gr4}
4.0012-26-2012Happily Ever After Reads--Jess // very good review {gr6}
5.0012-18-2012Heroes and Heartbreakers--Lucy Dosch // good review
1.0003-07-2013In The Eye of The Beholder--Ellen // excellent review, extremely valid points {gr15}
--04-19-2014Joyfully Reviewed--Miranda Grissom // [qv]
3.0003-16-2013KD Did It - Takes On Books--Kathy Davie // excellent review {gr17}
4.03 average{39 ratings}Library Thingas of: January 25, 2015
3.5001-02-2013Love Affair With An e-Reader--Sunny // good review {also on gr}
Article03-10-2012Marilyn's Romance ReviewsMeet Maya // interesting details
4.50 / Top Pick12-xx.2012Night Owl Romance--Terri // PR review
5.0005-25-2013Novels on the Run--Michelle // great "quote" driven review
4.1 average{81 ratings}Paperback Swapas of: January 25, 2015
5.0001-08-2013Reading Between The Wines--Crystal L // impressive review, thought provoking
5.0001-04-2013Romance Novels News--Jennifer Porter // excellent review
--01-10-2013RT (Romantic Times) Books ReviewsRT's Morgan and Dawn share thoughts on book
4.09 average{22 ratings}Shelfarias of: January 25, 2015
A+01-14-2013The Good, The Bad and The Unread--Sandy M // excellent well-written review
5.0001-04-2013The Reading Café--Vickie M // excellent synopsis and review
4.5001-02-2013Under The Covers--Francesca // [qv]
--07-10-2013USA TodayBest Week: #13 / Weeks On List: 2
4.0001-04-2013Yummy Men and Kick Ass Chicks--Julie // excellent review, thought provoking for me {gr11}
2.9501-26-2015Wolf Bear Does Booksshorter post on Amazon, Fiction DB, Good Reads, Library Thing, Shelfari

♥   Disclaimer:   I Purchased This Book
♥   Very Subjective Rating

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