3 out of 4 stars
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Hints of Grey, by C.D. Paul, follows a chance meeting between two strangers on a plane: Azar, a movie star, and Maya, a physician for Doctors Without Borders. Although the two don’t have much in common, they find themselves crossing paths on multiple occasions. The story moves from Karachi, to California, and even Paris as Azar and Maya explore their feelings for each other. However, both characters lead overly complicated lives. Not only is Azar a movie star, but the recent death of an uncle has him taking over some illegal business dealings. Similarly, Maya juggles her work as a physician with the complications of her recent divorce and the birth of a new grandchild. Despite their busy lives, Azar and Maya are committed to making a relationship work, but can the two find love in spite of their differences?
C. D. Paul’s novel focuses on two very interesting points of view: Maya is a grandmother and she is recovering from a divorce; Azar is a movie star and he is reluctantly involved in the illegal arms trade. However, it is the perspective of the female protagonist, Maya, that really makes this book worth reading. The evolution of Maya’s character is thought provoking and artistically conveyed. Initially, the tone of Maya’s perspective reflects a broken woman trying to repair her life, but the character methodically changes as she gains strength and purpose. Towards the second half of the novel, the perspective switches to focus on Azar. Unfortunately, these sections didn’t have the emotional appeal that made the first half of the novel so entrancing.
In perfect alignment with the meticulous development of Maya’s character is the story’s methodical pacing. This novel is a quasi thriller, but not in the sense that would elevate one’s heartbeat. Characters from intelligence agencies and terrorist organizations are included in the plot, but the more thrilling aspects of the novel are the choices made by the protagonists. Paul utilizes a slower pace to ensure the characters and their motives are adequately developed. Although some readers may dislike the slow pacing, I found the author’s choice superbly complemented the mature female protagonist at the heart of the story.
Although there was much to like about Hints of Grey, the novel had some significant flaws. For starters, the narrative is in need of professional editing; there were many distracting errors. Further, readers looking for a perfectly complete novel will be left unsatisfied. The ending raises many questions, but the author certainly paved the way for a sequel. Lastly, this book is difficult to categorize; it has elements of a romance and a thriller, but the story fails to embody either genre to a full extent. This book isn’t for readers looking for a steamy romance because the story of Maya and Azar focuses on the emotional development of an unlikely relationship, and the physical elements of the couple’s story are left to the imagination. On the contrary, readers looking for a thriller will most likely be bored by the slow pacing and attention given to the protagonists' relationship.
Hints of Grey proved difficult to rate. The use of a protagonist that deviated significantly from those typically found in novels coupled with the thorough development of Maya’s evolution had me leaning towards a high rating. However, the lack of professional editing and the disconnected latter half of the story had to be considered. Ultimately, I landed on 3 out of 4 stars because I was so enamored with the character of Maya. Readers looking for a different perspective and interested in a romance that doesn’t fit the typical standards of the genre are sure to enjoy many aspects of Hints of Grey.
Hints of Grey
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