Title: Color Me Grey
Author: J.C. Phelps
Genre: Action Adventure
Publisher: New Pub
Price: $9.99 Kindle Edition $0.99
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed By: Cheryl Anne Gardner
Book Description: Meet Alexis Stanton, a 5' 4" petite young woman with a yen for adventure. She grew up as a tomboy wishing she could have all the adventures boys could have. She has since decided that being a boy instead of a girl has its advantages, but being a woman is much better. Raised in a family with money, she was able to pick and choose her education. She had been schooled in everything from being a lady to courses with Special Forces instructors. Her desire for adventure and her boredom with her current employment and a strange 'Help Wanted' ad causes her to quit. She finds that job she could 'just die for'... and it looks like she just might!
Oh my! Alexis Stanton. Only a privileged angsty twenty-something would brag about living off mommy and daddy, quit her job, and go apply for another one without a clue as to what the company does or what the job entails, but that's the sort of story you are in for when you pick up Color Me Grey, a Bondesque coming of age story.
The Alex Stanton chronicles are slated to be a series of books, so in this, the first one, we get a lot of expository background info straight away so we can get to know Alex. The book is told in the first person, so to me, it feels more confessional in it's story telling style than your typical action thriller, which would be mostly scene and dialog versus summary. Some readers may not like this writing style, and some readers may not like Alex. She is your stereotypical spoiled twenty-something: all attitude and very little life experience to back it up, but she gets by, and I, as a reader, just wanted to see her survive herself.
Alex comes from a rather sheltered background. She comes from money; her father is an Admiral and now works some kind of secret ops job, and her mother paints. Both are retired, and both are very forgiving when it comes to their daughter. She is home schooled, though anyone familiar with home schooling will find some inaccuracies in Alex's particular scenario, and speaking of inaccuracies, those familiar with the military might take issue with a few things as well. If you don't take the book too seriously, it's a much better read.
Anyway, Alex is spoiled, and she decides out of pure boredom to up and quit her data processor job to scour the want ads for something just a little bit more high adventure, maybe she'll miraculously find a job where she might be able to use her convenient hacker skills and some of her ninja combat training. She finds a mysterious ad and heads downtown for an interview. Yes, Alex has a set of brass ones. No one in his or her right mind would head off to some unknown company office for an interview without getting some background information first. At the very least, a job description would be in order. But this is a fantasy adventure book and this job just happens to be Alex's ideal fantasy adventure, so I just went with it.
Of course, instantly our little Alex develops a teen crush on the very hot-ticket owner of the firm code-named Mr. White, but too bad for her she won't be spending much time with him. She'll be off at a mountain retreat with Mr. Black learning some useful survival skills along with all the other superspy maneuvers she will need to complete the jobs she might be assigned. Her training is quite brief before she gets slammed into her first full on terrorist retrieval operation, which she fumbles and winds up killing someone. Oh well. In this job, it just goes with the territory, so she sucks it up and moves on rather quickly. The book sort of reminded me of the movie Point of No Return in that the dark handsome black ops man trains this petite young thing to become one of the best spy-killing machines in the business, until things get a little to close to the cuff for her. In this case, Alex has no desire to "get out" and when her family is targeted, she refuses the option to stand aside. The only thing lacking in Color Me Grey was the deep internal conflict. Alex happy go luckily quits her job, gets no flack for it from her parents, waltzes into an interview, is perfectly qualified, and gets everything she wants. It's just a fun read plain and simple.
The story is also a very feel good pro-woman story. Alex can hold her own with the best of the boys, and I had no problem believing that. We've got women in combat, we've got women truckers and construction works; we've even got women boxers and body builders too. I had no problem with a woman working as a secret ops agent. If we weren't allowed to do that Angelina Jolie would be out of a job. It's a short book, so there isn't a whole lot of detail when it comes to the actual combat training, so some things just have to be taken on faith, which I had no problem doing since the inspirational " you can do anything you set your mind to" message to young women was much appreciated and duly noted. Since this was an adventure story and a short one at that -- being the first of several books -- character and relationship development was a little thin, but those will probably be expanded on over time. This isn't a novel; it's a series, and readers will need to be patient while getting to know Alex. She has the potential to grow into quite a complicated character, and what sort of spy reveals everything about themselves on a first meeting anyway?
7/10 for some editorial issues