Shades of Gray
L.M. Pruitt / Urban Fantasy
A Jude Magdalyn Novel
Jude Magdalyn Henries has what some--okay, many--would call an unconventional life. Orphaned at birth, raised by nuns, teenage runaway, fake tarot card reader--there is very little about Jude that’s normal. Jude plays hard, which means she has to work at least semi-hard, but when she accepts an invitation to do a private tarot reading, “unconventional” takes on a whole new meaning. Almost nothing shocks Jude anymore, but when she finds out that she’s the last in a line of matriarchal leaders of a magical group, shock is definitely what she feels. The Covenant has been waiting for Jude to come into her birthright for the past twenty five years. And then there’s the war between vampire factions for control of the city of New Orleans. In the end, the fate of the city hinges on one last battle, ranging from roof top to Bourbon Street to the bottom of the Mississippi River. (click on title)
I knew when I read the blurb that I’d enjoy reading this book but NOTHING prepared me for the feelings of shell shock and amazement I felt the moment I finished it. I texted my BFF and one of the first things I said was “My gosh, how will I ever be able to write a review that could describe just how much I loved this book?” I still feel that way and so with a hopeful heart, I pray to Book Gods that somehow I can do this book justice.
To say that I loved and enjoyed this book would be a gross understatement. The story had a real edge to it that I really appreciated and definitely didn’t expect to find. It was a no holds barred story of Jude Magdalyn and how she suddenly found herself in the middle of a battle where she was expected to take a pivotal role. She was the Prophecy, the foretold person who would bring peace and eventually became the leader of a group of magical people called The Covenant. Although she felt extremely inadequate, when you add the little training and years of experience she'd had and the heart she had, she more than met the challenge and ruffled a lot of feathers along the way. She had to prepare her newly appointed people for the battle against the resident evil vampire Hart, all the while having to deal with a budding love relationship and the heartache of betrayal from another. The author wrote a well thought out story, filled with humor and action, heartache and triumph and it definitely hooked me from beginning to end. I’d been looking for a book with a slightly dark feeling to it and I found it in Shades of Gray.
I loved Jude within moments of meeting her and it wasn’t too long before I realized that she was exactly how I like my lead females – opinionated with a splash of sarcastic humor. Growing up the way she did and the years she spent on the street trying to survive really gave her the kind of grit that made her amazing to read. She had this toughness about her, a no nonsense feel and I loved how she paid no attention to the role people expected her to play but did what she felt was right. She wouldn't play games and she showed an incredible amount of heart as she sometimes worked blindly towards preparing her people for the upcoming battle. There was no fakeness about her, being completely real and I LOVED the thought process Jude had and the way the author showed it through the inner dialogues she wrote for her. For me it was including those insights that made Jude 100% believable for me because I could totally imagine myself in her place, thinking and reacting the same way. I can’t begin to describe how refreshingly REAL Jude was and what an incredible character she was to me. There was no fluff when it came to Jude. She was three dimensional in every sense of the word, having a depth and layer to her that made connecting to her as easy as breathing.
There were a lot of great characters in this story but being the romance junkie that I am what review wouldn’t be complete without a few gushing words about the men. There were two men in Jude’s life that would’ve given anything to be with her. First there was Williams, a 200 year old vampire that I was INSTANTLY attracted to. The sexual tension between him and Jude was intense, my body shivering in those beginning scenes and the image I had of Williams was that he was incredibly powerful and just oozed masculine sexuality. He was drawn to Jude and I loved those scenes where he would sneak up on her and lay on the seductive heat. I sat there tingling with anticipation, waiting for the pages to start scorching when along comes Theo, a member of the covenant who for all I could see was the “safe” love choice for Jude. I’ll admit I didn’t hold much hope for him but he was also incredibly sexy with an amazing sense of humor and down to earth attitude. He was entirely focused on Jude and supporting but seriously, when up against a vampire, he didn’t stand a chance. Through the different twists the story took however, I was proven wrong, that Theo wasn’t just the safest choice but the only choice and I sat back and watched it all play out. I loved the way that Jude interacted with Theo and Williams with the constant change of dynamics in their relationships and it added a real spice and emotion to an already amazing read. Great men who showed me that there’s always more to meet the eye than first appearances.
I REVELLED in the evilness of the characters in this book and I can’t begin to describe how excited I was to read a story that totally let go and gave the characters free reign to show just how bad they could be. I have a real “thing” for the well written villain and I swear I almost overdosed on Hart and his minions. I was practically thrumming reading the scenes with Hart and although he made my skin crawl at times, he had my blood pumping and those final scenes with him had me bouncing around in my seat he was that delicious. A very loud MWAHAHAHAHA from me!!
I’ve said before that when reviewing I stick mainly with the emotions and connection I had while reading, touching things like word choice only as they affected my experience with story. Having said that, my review wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t share my reaction to the amazing way the author chose to write her story. To me, one of the signs of a well written book is in the descriptiveness in the scene and how well the author can pull me in and make me see it, turning the story from just words on a page to a kind of mini movie in my head. The downside to this is I sometimes find in the quest to create the scene, the author includes too much detail and loses me where a few well chosen sentences could have done it much better. It didn’t take me long to realize that this author was a GENIUS when it comes to word choice. Each word she used when put together held power and it was INCREDIBLY easy to not only see the scene but to feel it. There were scenes that had me so completely entranced that I couldn’t read fast enough, my heart completely invested in the story. Her writing style made the story become real (gosh I wish I could find a better word than that because it doesn’t quite capture just how good it was) and I have to say it was an amazing experience.
As the book wrapped up and I was finally able to release the breath I’d been holding through those final scenes, I realized that I had just found what I’ve come to term as a O.M.G.S.H Award book. It had totally taken me over, drawing such a powerful response that for a moment I was completely speechless and happily exhausted from the emotional ride I’d just taken. To me, this is a book that needs to be read and I hope that others will be able to have similar experiences to what I had. I can’t praise the author and her story enough. A definite read for not just lovers of Urban Fantasy but for anyone who appreciates a book written so well that it comes alive. Enjoy!
What Kind Of Review Can You Expect?
If I could describe what kind of reader I am, I would hands down say I was an emotional one. When I read I want to fully experience the book, from the emotions coursing through the characters to reacting to the twist and turns of the storyline. I'm looking for those books that fire up my imagination and leave me breathless when it's over. It's for this reason why the reviews I write aren't so much what I think and are more on how I feel. My hopes in sharing my review in this way is that something will spark an interest and have you wanting to have the same experiences. This isn't to say I don't have issues with grammar, word choices etc. Trust me I do and most times all it takes is waiting for the story to grab hold for it not to matter. When I do include things about what I thought about the book (for example I've included comments about word choices and being too descriptive), I only do so because it directly affected how I felt. I hope this helps. Enjoy!