Book Review: Shades of Gray by Brooke McKinley

Shades of Gray by Brooke McKinleyTitle: Shades of Gray
Author: Brooke McKinley
Genre: Romantic Suspense, M/M Romance
Sensuality Rating: Erotic
Source: review copy provided by publisher
Published: October 2009 by Dreamspinner Press

Miller Sutton, a by-the-book FBI agent, is starting to see some troubling shades of gray in his black-and-white world. He comes face-to-face with his doubts in the person of Danny Butler, a mid-level drug runner Miller hopes to use to catch a much larger fish: Roberto Hinestroza, a drug lord Miller has pursued for years. Danny has no interest in being a witness against his boss, both out of a sense of twisted loyalty and because he knows double-crossing Hinestroza is a sure death sentence. But he reluctantly agrees to cooperate, and as he suspects, it doesn't take long for Hinestroza to figure out the betrayal. Miller is surprised to discover Danny's not the career-criminal lowlife he expected; at the same time, Danny finds himself helplessly attracted to Miller's innate goodness. They barely begin to explore the sparking attraction between them when Hinestroza's hitman tracks them down, and then they're on the run, both for their lives and for any kind of love.

Reviewed By: J9

In a Nutshell: FREAKIN’ AMAZING!

The Set Up: Miller is an FBI agent about to take out crime boss Hinestroza by squeezing Danny Butler, a mid-level drug runner to testify against Hinestroza. Danny doesn’t think he’ll live long enough to testify so Miller agrees to round-the-clock personal protection. But Danny isn’t the lowlife Miller expects and the attraction between the men may just cause Miller to doubt his black and white world view.

Why I Read this Book: This is on a lot of best of MM books so I had to try it.

What I Liked: I adored the complicated characters of Miller and Danny. Miller starts as an unhappy, workaholic FBI agent who only sees people as good or bad. He’s restless in his personal life and can’t figure out what is missing. Danny lives a fast lifestyle of mindless sex and lots of money but he doesn’t want to look any deeper at his life or his future. The collision of these two polar opposite characters is what makes this book amazing. I was astounded at how well the author develops these characters, not in ways that are unrealistic but instead in meaningful increments that keep true to the characters. I held my breath at some of the character development. For example, I was on the edge of my seat because I didn’t know if Danny would use Miller’s attraction against him to be released from his obligatory testifying against Hinestroza—right along with Danny who didn’t know either! The intense and incremental character development is best illustrated in Miller’s decision at novel’s end regarding Danny and Hinestroza. I won’t spoil it except to say it was just as complicated, honest, and heart-wrenching as these two characters are. These aren’t simple, two dimensional characters and I loved them more because of their complicated humanity.

What I Also Liked: The relationship that develops between Danny and Miller is fraught with the angst I adore in MM romance. The author could have easily left the romance at the sexual attraction between the men and just explored Miller’s coming out but it deepens much further, much quicker than expected. Danny and Miller confront their emotional intimacy and how it scares them both as well as the futile nature of a doomed relationship between them. This romance didn’t take an expected path for me as it forces the men into time and distance to develop a relationship that will be sustainable for these two complicated men.

The danger plot of the crime boss Hinestroza and his power over Danny was also extremely well done. Readers are privy to Danny’s past recruitment so we understand how he can live the life he does now. It’s not an easy read but it’s an utterly captivating one as readers are shown a young Danny desperate for money and approval from Hinestroza to a disillusioned man living on the edge of total destruction from both the FBI and Hinestroza. This story is fast paced and compelling but still appropriate for a character-based romance.

What I Didn’t Like: The moment I finished this book I looked to see if this author has any other books and to my deep sorrow, she doesn’t.

IMO: Buy and read this book today!

J9’s Rating:
5 Frogs

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About J9: Vegan. Avid runner. Android addict. Never without a book in hand. Currently devouring MM romance but reads historial romance and paranormal romance as well. Follow J9 on Twitter.


  1. This was one of the very first m/m books I read and it definitely still remains at the top of my list. I ADORE this book. Every once in a while I hear a rumor that she's writing another book and I get excited, but so far...*sigh* Great review, J9! smiles...

  2. One of my favorite books. I've read it over and over again through the years. Pains me that she hasn't written anything else. I even sent the author an email about 2 years ago. She said she was writing another book, but .... nothing so far.

  3. I'm in good company then bummed that author hasn't written another book. Let's gang up on her and force her to write us books! ;)

  4. 5 HUUUUUUGE stars from me. This book is on my the-best-ones-ever list. Great review!


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