Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Happy Hump Day Review: Maya Banks' The Darkest Hour

Happy Hump Day everyone!

Today's treats for you include: my review of Maya Banks' latest endeavor, her new KGI Series, Book 1 - The Darkest Hour AND the only true calorie free treat - mmmmmm eye candy! Lookie here - the perfect Ethan Kelly......

Let me preface this review with the statement that I adore Maya Banks, both as a person and a writer. Her works have an unique blend of sweet and spice, strength and vulnerability - highly prized in a writer, very difficult to achieve. Most of her work (if you have not read her Sweet series - run, do not walk to your nearest bookseller!) is quite steamy erotic romance. Not so with this series, which is most definitely catogorized as romantic suspense. The Kelly series struck me as quite a departure from what I have come to expect from her brand of storytelling - not bad, just different.

The story opens with a broken man, Ethan Kelly, actively mourning his "dead" wife for over a year. His family, a large assortment of military and ex-military men, headed by strong and loving parents have been trying to help him return to the fold. Guilt consumes him and his relationships with this fascinating family suffer. And just about the time you think he is going to drink himself into complete self-destruction, he receives information that points to his love being alive and held captive in South America. Circle the wagons, boys, and rescue that girl!

The bulk of the story revolves around Rachel's recovery after her rescue, where she was forcefully addicted to drugs and returns with large memory gaps. Ethan walks the narrow line between joy at receiving a second chance at happiness and fear of her recovering her memories of their bitter struggles prior to her departure for trip to South America. Ethan comes across as a man fully vested in his relationship and he cares for his wife beautifully during her struggle with her addictions. Rachel feels like a woman tortured, with all the strengths and weaknesses one would expect from a victim of her experiences, and watching her relearn to love her husband is poignant and compelling.

That being said, I felt like there was a large lead up to the explanation of Ethan's source of guilt and Rachel's discovery of it and then it just hung there. The secondary storyline of why precisely Rachel was kidnapped and held captive hung in the background mysteriously unquestioned by this top notch investigative family until a series of events near the end of the book that quickly spun into a very action packed ending, which seemed a bit rushed or forced at points.

Overall, I enjoyed this book very much. I readily admit, I am one of those folks that has to read the 2nd or 3rd book to really get into a series. Fortunately, I am totally looking forward to reading the brothers' and their affiliates stories. Maya has a fan for life in this happy hump day reader! I give this story 3 1/2 chocolate dipped strawberries!

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