Review by Shelley

TITLE: 18% Gray (Book #1)
SERIES: Task Force Iota
AUTHOR: Anne Tenino
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
BLURB: In a future where the United States has split along party lines, Agent Matt Tennimore’s job is to get people out of the Confederated Red States, whether they’re captured special ops agents from his own country or gay CRS citizens who’ve petitioned for asylum. He never expected to have to retrieve his high school crush, aka the guy who ostracized him for being gay.

Rescuing James Ayala isn’t going to be easy: he’s crawling with tracking nanos and has a cybernetic brain implant that’s granted him psychic power he isn’t sure how to control. That’s the good news. The bad? The implant is compromising James’s mental stability.

So they’re on the run, avoiding surveillance by AI aircraft and hiding from enemy militia. Then James confesses he tormented Matt in high school because James wanted him. Matt can’t resist the temptation James offers, but he wants so much more than sex, assuming they ever make it home alive. Is James really a good bet when he’s got a ticking time bomb in his brain and there’s the question of how much he’s actually changed?


My first book by Anne Tenino and I liked it, once I got passed the 15% mark.

This is set in a dystopian America where the states have been divided into red and blue party lines:  liberal pro-gay (blue) and conservative anti-gay (red). You need to pay attention here, and stay focussed for a little while – which I’m not really good at. …Ooh look, bubbles… <– see what I mean.

I admit having to read a few things one too many times before coming to grips with this world but I got there in the end … I think. The many, many confusing anachronisms didn’t help but again … I got there – and if I can, you can too. It’s worth it.

The adventure and delight really begins when James (ultimate psychic warrior) and Matt (queer extraction agent) re-unite and begin their dash for freedom across the red line and into the blue, while being pursued by the RIA militia (red party homophobes).

They encounter some brilliant side characters like Miz Horse (talking horse with attitude) – who snorts as much as James (ha!) and an ex special forces Nun who can say “Jesus fucking Christ” because “her God understands the need for bad language” (snorts) And then there is the unforgettable little nymphomaniac nunette Benigna – the poor girl just wants to get laid and the only men she meets are gay (hehehehe).

This is all great stuff and I think this is where the author’s talent lies. That is; until the attraction between Matt and James reaches a crescendo and I start to experience the full body flushes – oh yes, this author’s got talent! Phew- whee the lady can write sex too, really HOT sex. I think it’s because her characters are so understatedly sexy in their own way, not your archetypal gorgeous heroes which heightens the experience. Well that’s what I thought until I met Laslo, and Laslo meets Logan … but that’s a story for later, I hope.

Yes. I liked this book for its humour, refreshing characterisations and very satisfying man loving.  It could have benefited from better pacing and a glossary for all the acronyms – but overall it’s a winner. I’ll recommend it.

Shelley’s Rating: 535px-3-5_stars-svg

BUY LINK: Dreamspinner Press  ||  Book Store

Shelley is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love

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  1. Macky says:

    Great review Shelley. I love Anne’s books definitely adding this one! 🙂

  2. Shelley says:

    Thanks Macky. I’m certainly going to read more by this Author.

  3. elizabetta says:

    Loved the humor in this book and it’s a creative futuristic story too – a real fun read. Your review brought back some good memories 🙂

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