My rating: 2.5 / 5
I'm afraid this one's a bit of a stinker. I generally try to focus on books I like here, and to be honest there were things I liked, but man, there is a LOT wrong with this poor book.
Now, I have to point out in the book's defence that I did read all the way to the end, so it must have had something going for it. I don't believe in continuing to read books that suck. I did eventually get pulled into the story, and although I nearly closed it a dozen times, I never quite stopped reading. I won't read any more in the series, though.
There is a really cool concept behind the book. A young woman answers a mysterious help-wanted ad and gets recruited into a freelance spy agency. After that it's non-stop action as she trains, goes on missions, faces setbacks and learns to overcome them. There are some really cool elements.
But that ad she sees, the one that puts the story in motion? It happens a dozen pages into the book. Everything, every last thing, in the first dozen pages is backstory, and it's DULL. I skimmed page after page after page, until I came to the ad. And I had no problem following things from that point on. Hey, Phelps, cut the first ten pages! Completely!
The rest of the chapter plunges into moronic backstory, but eventually she goes to apply for the job, and things pick up nicely. She gushes a lot about how sexy the men are, which gets old fast, but there's an air of mystery and menace as she gets through the evaluation process.
She recruits a talented friend to help her out, and they compete with another applicant in some pretty cool ways. From there the stakes keep rising, and there's always something new around the next corner. In many ways it's a fun potboiler of a book.
But it's also unintentionally hilarious. Comma errors? They happen to everyone. Rappel vs. repel? Anyone can make that mistake. But "a vile of liquid?" It's not a typo, either. She calls it a "vile" twice.
There is some good, solid storytelling, paired with writing that varies between adequate and incompetent. I suspect that, ten years from now, Phelps will be a pretty good writer, and she'll look back on this book with keen embarrassment.
But at least the price is right. Color Me Grey is free, so you can check it out and see if the writing bugs you enough to ruin the story. I recommend starting at Chapter 2. If the premise (and it's a really good premise) really appeals to you, give the book a chance. At the very least you can enjoy a feminist James Bond fantasy with plenty of unintentional laughs.
Free at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Color-Alexis-Stanton-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B003L202M0
Free at Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/18272