Review - "Shades of Gray" by Brooke McKinley
Exciting, thrilling and touching read
Danny Butler is a criminal. End of subject. A means to an end. The lieutenant to a drug lord, he is the key to bringing down the head honcho.
And that is something Miller Sutton has as a fact in his black and white world. He has been building the case against Roberto Hinestroza for years, and he will do whatever to takes to finish the case, put the man behind bars and move on to the next scumbag. That is his life, his mission, and who he is.
But when he has to protect Danny when he enters the Witness Protection Program, the certainty that Miller feels comes into question. The black and white, not so clear cut anymore. Because he begins to see the shades of Danny. Gets the story of Danny's life, sees the man behind the rap sheet.
And it challenges his world. His straight laced, factual, passionless world. Because behind the job, the badge, the case, the fiance, there is an attraction he feels for Danny. Because Danny is loyal, spontaneous, fun, passionate. Vibrant colors to Miller's cold whites and blacks.
"You're always so quick to think people are all one way, Miller. It's more complicated than that."
Miller embarks on an affair with Danny, and it turns his world upside down. It is a betrayal of his job, his commitment to his fiance. But it feels so right. And it awakens things in Miller he had kept hidden for years.
Will the two men have a future together, or will Danny's criminal past catch up with him? Will the very real danger to Danny's life keep them apart forever?
This is a terrific, exciting and surprisingly touching book. The two main characters are so dissimilar, and yet when they come together, they fit so well. Danny is all sparks and fire, honest in his feelings and sure of who he is. Miller is quiet, strong but so very self contained and insular.
But when they come together, they begin to move towards a center, and the two extremes begin to fade away. Danny gains some of Miller's strength, and Miller loosens up and allows Danny's fire to warm the stillness and cold in him.
And the prose is so beautifully written, the voice so clear. When Danny fears that he and Miller cannot be together, it is so gorgeous.
"'Then what's the point?' Danny demanded. 'What's the point of trying to do anything different?'"
"The point is...it's like this old patchwork quilt my momma used to have...each piece on that old quilt meant something. And some of those pieces were the damn ugliest things you've ever seen...but some of the pieces were so beautiful they hurt my eyes to look at...That's the best you can hope for, Danny. That your life turns out like that patchwork quilt. That you can add some bright, sparkling pieces to the dirty, stained ones you've got so far. That in the end, the bright pieces might take up more space on your quilt than the dark ones."
When a writer can create a character who speaks words like this, it is remarkable. And this is a fine, fine book written by a talented writer with a beautiful heart.
I cannot wait for Brooke McKinley to let her voice loose again.