Shades of Gray by Brooke McKinley
October 19, 2009
M/M Romantic Suspense
Reviewed by Mandi
Miller Sutton is a very strict, and serious FBI agent. He has devoted the last three years of his life tracking down the drug lord, Roberto Hinestroza. He finally has a break in the case, after he arrests Danny Butler, who runs drugs for Hinestroza. Danny has worked from Hinestroza since he was a teenager, basically forced into the job. But he works hard for him and has earned Hinestroza’s trust. When he hears Miller wants him to testify against Hinestroza, Danny wants nothing to do with it.
But Miller is persuasive and promises Danny protection for him and his ex-wife if he testifies. Not having many other options, Danny reluctantly agrees. But it doesn’t take long for Hinestroza’s men to realize Danny is betraying him, and to hunt him down. After a very narrow escape, Danny ends up under Miller’s personal protection.
Miller has been engaged to a woman named Rachel for five years. While he thinks he loves her, and he knows she would make a good wife for a FBI agent, he still drags his feet with the thought of going down the alter. When he and Danny move in together in a secret FBI apartment, Miller starts fantasizing about Danny. Although he tries to stop, he just can’t help himself.
From here, this romantic suspense story unfolds. And it is a very complex story with…wait for it…many shades of gray. Miller is a very black and white type of guy. To him, there are criminals and then there is law enforcement. Period. He will marry the model wife, have three kids and have a long career. He can’t see any other life for himself.
But then he meets Danny. This man with a felony record, but who starts to become his friend. Danny is comfortable in his skin, something Miller struggles with. Sure, Danny doesn’t love what he does, but he has money and in a twisted sort of way, he has earned the respect of Hinestroza, and it is very hard for Danny to betray him. Through brief flashbacks at the beginning of each chapter, we learn of Danny’s past and how he became involved with Hinestroza which I think is needed in this book. We start to have empathy for Danny, and see him more of a regular guy, rather than just a criminal. But what I love is that even towards the end of this book, when Danny knows how horrible Hinestroza can be, he still doubts himself thinking about testifying against him:
“I hate letting Hinestroza down. I hate throwing all the faith he had in me back in his face.” Danny closed his eyes, not wanting to witness Miller’s changing expression.
Ah yes. Shades of gray.
Danny is not the only one struggling. Miller finds himself attracted to Danny. I think deep down Miller has maybe known he was gay, but has suppressed those thoughts throughout his adult life. But it has come to a point where he can’t control them anymore. They start to come to the forefront when Miller and Danny get into a physical fight:
Their strength was evenly matched and Miller couldn’t hold him much longer. His face was pressed into Danny’s neck, the soft, dark hair tickling his skin. He could smell sweat and smoke and a faint whiff of long-ago soap. For the first time in his career it hit him how absurdly intimate it was to hold a suspect this way. Danny’s taut muscles flexed under his hands, his ass arched back as he tried to break free, and his stubble-strewn cheek rasped like a rough tongue against Miller’s own. Miller released Danny with a stumbling shove, pushing him away.
Jesus Christ. Jesus. Miller ran a shaking hand over his face, breath coming in short gasps.
Miller eventually lets down his defenses and gives into his attraction for Danny, while still engaged to Rachel. So yes, there is cheating, but it didn’t make me want to shake my fist like in other books. You get the impression Miller and Rachel’s relationship isn’t headed anywhere anyway, so in a way, I could let it slide a little easier.
And of course, Miller is also sleeping with not only a criminal but one under the protection of the FBI. More gray. Not only are all these aspects examined, but we also have the very dangerous Hinestroza always on Danny’s tail. And for this love story to work – for the happily ever after to be believable, these two have a lot to improve about themselves – and I think the author does a nice job showing us a glimpse of that towards the end.
A lot of people recommended this book to me, and I’m really glad I read it.
(I couldn’t find a website for this author)