The Kelly Group International (KGI): A super elite, top secret, family-run business.
Qualifications: High intelligence, rock hard body, military background.
Mission: Hostage/kidnap victim recovery. Intelligence gathering. Handling jobs the US government can’t…
It’s been one year since ex-Navy SEAL Ethan Kelly last saw his wife Rachel alive. Overwhelmed by grief and guilt over his failures as a husband, Ethan shuts himself off from everything and everyone.
His brothers have tried to bring Ethan into the KGI fold, tried to break through the barriers he’s built around himself, but Ethan refuses to respond… until he receives anonymous information claiming Rachel is alive.
To save her, Ethan will have to dodge bullets, cross a jungle, and risk falling captive to a deadly drug cartel that threatens his own demise. And even if he succeeds, he’ll have to force Rachel to recover memories she can’t and doesn’t want to relive—the minute by minute terror of her darkest hour—for their love, and their lives, may depend on it.
Title: The Darkest Hour
Author: Maya Banks
Series: KGI Series (Kelly Group International), book 1
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Year of release: 2010, September 7
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages
Source: Received an e-ARC on request from author for review
First line:He’d hoped if he drank enough the night before he’d sleep right through today. Instead his eyes popped open at eight A.M., and sunlight promptly fried his retinas.
– bathtub scene > heartbreaking
– first time they make love after Rachel returns > so beautifully written
Ethan Kelly is grieving for the wife he lost in a self-destructive way: drinking, holding on to everything that reminds him of her, consumed by guilt over his role in the rough time his marriage went through before she died. Then, on the 1-year anniversary of her death he receives a message that she is still alive and is being held captive in a South American hellhole. Grabbing this second chance with both hands, he enlists his brothers’ help for a save and rescue mission.
Ethan is an ex-SEAL, he’s a little rough-around-the-edges and blunt yet he’s also sensitive and has a heart of gold. He’s tough, protective and stubborn. However, he is not afraid to admit his mistakes and own up to them. He knows he screwed up with Rachel before she disappeared and is now determined to make things right.
Rachel is quiet, shy and calm. The ordeal she’s gone through leaves her damaged but not broken. Fear and pain have ruled her world for a year and now she needs to build up trust from scratch and built on a few hazy memories. With her memory returning she also discovers that the Ethan she’s getting to know now, is not the Ethan she knew before her disappearance.
Ethan and Rachel were the main characters of THE DARKEST HOUR as they were the couple the story centered on but reminiscent of Suzanne Brockmann’s and Stephanie Tyler’s romantic suspense I’ve read, there are much more POVs in this story than just Ethan and Rachel’s. There are 9 in total (if I counted them right). Of course the more important ones were those of Rachel and Ethan but Marlene, most of the other Kelly siblings and some other brief POVs are used in this book. I don’t mind multiple POVs as it gives me a fully rounded story from different angles but I know there are readers who are not a fan of this type of storytelling. Those readers I’d want to warn in advance and at the same time urge them to take a chance on THE DARKEST HOUR if they love to read romantic suspense novels, as the POVs all serve a purpose and it’s excellently done by Maya Banks.
Ethan’s brothers, each and every one of them, made a lasting impression on me and I can’t wait to read their individual stories in the future. Next up are Sam and Garrett, consecutively and I am already looking forward to what they will bring to the table. But there are more secondary characters that sparked my interest. Some non-family members of KGI were just as intriguing: female sniper P.J., and team leaders Steele and Rio. I doubt it will happen but would love it if these secondary characters got their own books in the future.
Attached to the multiple POVs are a few distinct and separate plotlines being Ethan and Rachel’s romance, the how and why of Rachel’s disappearance and there’s a storyline about Ethan’s parents and a girl they take in their home. This last storyline was a bit lost on me. I enjoyed reading it but did wonder what the actual point of the story line was as it didn’t really tie-in with the rest. As for the other two plotlines, Maya Banks executed those masterfully. While reading some questions popped up in my head about the romance and the suspense and all those questions were gradually and satisfyingly answered along the way, working towards a climactic ending that was a perfect and made me sob with emotion.
Maya Banks pulled me in from the very first sentence and didn’t let me go until I finished. Though I would have liked to see a little bit more suspense in the middle part, she kept me at the edge of my seat with a fast-paced first installment of the KGI series where she didn’t waste time or pages on a lot of background information. I liked that because there was enough information and background provided intertwined throughout the story without taking away from pace or suspense.
The romance in this book was subtle and beautiful. There weren’t many love scenes but Maya Banks definitely made the ones that were in it count! They were sweet and pretty hot and exactly right for romantic suspense. And when you have me sobbing at the end of a book, to a point that your husband wakes up from it, that makes you an author that is high on my favorites list, because emotion gets me every single time, no matter how suspenseful, hot or exciting a book is, if it doesn’t affect me emotionally, to me it hasn’t done its job.
With THE DARKEST HOUR Maya Banks brought me the beginning of something very promising. It was a story of second chance, family bonds, personal struggles and forgiveness brought through brotherly banter, easy and fluent writing, great suspense and characters who aren’t perfect but make it right in the end.
A peculiar prickle shivered up her spine, leaving a warm glow in its wake. Her chest fluttered, and something inside her long dead awakened and unfurled.
“First rule of seduction. At least one of us has to get naked. Preferably you,” he murmured.
He wasn’t going to survive this. He was trying to be good. Patient and understanding, when every instinct screamed at him to take his woman and make love to her until she forgot both their names.
He looked at her, knowing that in this moment she could ask him for damn near anything and he’d tell her yes.
“Would you mind too terribly if I made love to you?”
He swallowed and swallowed again. Here was this beautiful woman, a woman he loved more than anything. The woman he’d married and lost. Now she was here, like a dream, asking him so sweetly if she could make love to him.
Dear God, yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
“I’d love nothing more,” he managed to croak out. It sounded better than oh hell yeah, even if that was what his c#ck was screaming.