Shades of Gray by Maya Banks

Shades of Gray by Maya Banks

Shades of Gray by Maya Banks

It’s been over a year since I last posted.  I’ve been working two jobs and, what can I say, I’m usually exhausted!   I also haven’t been reading much.  But over New Years, I had an opportunity to read Shades of Gray by Maya Banks, a contemporary romance and Book 7 in her KGI series.  (KGI stands for Kelly Group International, a super-elite, top-secret, private military contractor.) I looked forward to reading this book for a while, having pre-ordered it for my Kindle.

I was excited because it wouldn’t feature someone with paranormal abilities. I have not enjoyed the paranormal aspects introduced in later books (I think book 4). The paranormal wouldn’t have bothered me if had been part of the series from the beginning. However, it was introduced later and, for me, has been a dumb, clunky, distracting, and unnecessary addition.

The two main characters P.J. and Cole have been in the books from the beginning.  They are teammates and sharpshooting rivals, and P.J. has been established as the better shot.  I like P.J. and Cole and they work really well as a couple. They have a passionate encounter at the beginning of the book.  I could never have guessed the direction that Maya Banks would take her character.

I love Maya Banks but I have some real problems with this book. I was so upset I posted a version of this review on Amazon.com.  Much shorter than this.  I am very surprised that so few people are troubled by what happened in the book.  I am definitely a minority opinion.  STOP reading if you don’t want to know more.  SPOILER ALERT!!!!

My problem with the book is the rape of P.J. I have two issues with the rape: the rape itself and the reason the rape occurred. P.J.’s vengeance is also extremely disturbing. I’ll be the first to admit, I usually avoid romance books were the heroine is raped. I’ve posted this in the past.  I don’t want to read violent assaults in romance books.  I always cry. I always get nauseous.  Always. If I had known that this would occur I wouldn’t have pre-ordered the book. That said, I didn’t know it was going to occur and I once I’m invested in the characters, I finish the book.

First, the rape. I don’t know how to eloquently say this, so I’ll just be direct. The rape of P.J. is brutal. I’m not sure what the purpose of having her be drugged, raped by two men, and sliced up and permanently disfigured after one carved her up with a knife adds to the story. We already know how terrible the bad guys are. They are children sex traffickers.

Another problem is the reason the rape occurred. Throughout this series, it has been established how professional, responsible, and SMART the KGI organization is. But for this mission, Donovan and Steele are extremely stupid about how it was planned.

Basically, P.J. goes undercover. She arrives at a party with the purpose of luring a bad guy to a hotel room. KGI will be in the next hotel room to make sure nothing goes wrong. She does her job, but there’s no one in the next hotel room – because they are stuck in traffic due to a car accident. Traffic! REALLY?! (My translation: stuck in traffic = lazy writing) No one thought it would be a good idea to have at least ONE person set up IN ADVANCE at the hotel? All these military geniuses thought it was a good idea to follow P.J. from the party to the hotel, and setup the room AFTER P.J. was in the next room? So, of course, there was no one at the hotel to assist and/or follow P.J. when she was forced to leave the hotel (without her tracking devices) and go to a different location. While she doesn’t have her tracking devices, she has listening devices so the entire team can hear her being sexually assaulted.  So, basically, P.J.’s brutalized because Donovan and Steele are morons.

Maybe the brutality of the attack is to give credence for P.J.’s vengeance later in the book. Personally, I think therapy would have been much more helpful than her murdering four men in cold blood (the two men who raped her and the other two men in the room who did nothing to stop it). And I’m not exaggerating – she murders them.  She takes a knife and carves a couple of them up.  She slices another’s throat.  I’ve never read a romance book where any character – hero or heroine – does anything as violent as what she does in retribution.

I’ve read reviews that say that this shows she’s a strong character.  I’m not sure how this shows strength.  To me, it’s psychopathic.  I’m not saying she isn’t justified in wanting them dead. But boy, was it gruesome.

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