|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…
P.J. and Cole have been dancing around their attraction for years. Throughout all the KGI books, they’ve been in the background, bickering, fighting, but they’re a unit – both snipers on a small team led by Steele and they always have each others back. That hasn’t always been the case for P.J. She was previously the only female on her SWAT team and when she turned in a teammate, who also happened to be her lover, for some shady dealings he was involved in, she was the one that got called out and ultimately had to leave her position after having everyone turn on her. Her team then didn’t have her back and when a devastating and tragic event happens to P.J. during a mission with her KGI team, she learns that this team and these men not only have her back, but will do anything to help her.
I’m going to try my best to keep this review spoiler-free (one section below is hidden if you really want to know), but everything that P.J. goes through during this story, both personally and professionally, stems from one scene that happens early on in the book. But first, at the start of Shades of Gray, P.J. and Cole give in to their attraction and have a night of unbelievably hot sex that for both of them, changes their relationship. But before they can really stop and talk about what happened and what it means for them going forward, P.J. finds herself in her own personal nightmare.
(Highlight text for spoiler)
During a mission that goes horribly wrong, P.J. is raped by two men. Part of her rape happens off page, we get the details through her team who are unable to get to her in time and have to listen to what she’s going through as P.J. is wired for sound. But there is a portion that does happen on page and I had to skim it. I don’t like reading scenes like this and skimmed. Quickly.
Maya doesn’t hold back, she goes there with the trauma that P.J. endures and it’s the catalyst for the direction that P.J.’s life starts to move in. When her attackers get away, her entire focus is on revenge. She’s out for blood and knowing what that could bring down on KGI, she resigns and start to plan the murders of the men involved. There’s a time jump in the story where P.J. is MIA for 6 months. When she resurfaces, it’s to find her team, Cole specifically, pissed off and ready to read her the riot act for not trusting in them. This was the beginning of the healing for P.J. She learned the hard way early on about believing in her team only to have them turn on her. But KGI, Steele and Cole are different and she needs them all now more than ever as they all help her track the men she needs to find to put this painful nightmare behind her so she can start to try and move forward.
Maya Banks loves to torture her heroines and P.J. may have gotten the worst of it out of any heroine from Banks that I’ve read about. What I most loved about P.J. was that she could on one page, kick a guy’s ass up one side and down the other, but on the next page be completely vulnerable with Cole and lean on him. I loved that about her. She is so tough and strong but I liked seeing the woman she became around Cole, she softens up a bit and lets Cole get closer to her then anyone she’s ever let before. She’s a heroine that I’m going to be thinking about for a long time; that’s one the best things I can say about a character.
Right beside P.J. the whole way was Cole. He was broken too after he was forced to hear what was happening to P.J. but was unable to get to her. He turns into her rock once she’s lets him, and is exactly what she needs him to be; present and there for her and simply understanding. They have their one hot, sexy night early on, but for obvious reasons sex isn’t high on their list of things to think about during the rest of the book. And while that worked and made obvious since story wise, I was left feeling like there was so much more to tell between Cole and P.J. and I hope (hope hope hope!) that Maya has plans to revisit them and their relationship in a novella soon.
He leaned forward, tense and hesitant. His free hand went to her face, brushing aside her hair, and then he simply kissed her.
It wasn’t the burning, scorching-the-sheets kind of kiss that they’d shared that night so many months earlier. There was no impatience and no demand. It wasn’t even sexual. The touch was so exquisitely gentle that it made her want to cry.
He had a way of getting to her. Past her barriers. And there he was, at the very heart of her before she even realized he’d slipped past.
The other members of P.J.’s team and the Kelly men all make appearances in some way throughout the story. I was most taken with P.J.’s team leader, Steele. I loved seeing more of him and especially his reactions to everything that happens to P.J. and the team. He comes off as the ultimate loner when he’s not leading his team, and that makes me very intrigued about him.
This is up there as one of my favorite books in the KGI series. The scene early on was tough to read and while that scene is the huge, pivotal moment for P.J. and really everyone in the story, I really got caught up in not only the relationship that builds for Cole and P.J. but in how P.J. deals with her actions, what she’s choosing to do and how her life has gone from making clear black and white decisions to being in a completely gray area. My one teeny, tiny issue is I wish there was just a little more between Cole and P.J. at the end. P.J. ended up being one of my favorite Banks heroines. I loved seeing her kick ass just as much as I loved seeing her softer side when she was with Cole. She’s an unforgettable character.
Release Date: December 31, 2012
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*eARC provided by publisher for review*