Review: The Darkest Hour by Maya Banks

Posted on September 17, 2010


I picked up Maya Bank’s latest novel because I had read a review on Dear Author that the heroine was captured and held in Cambodia, my parents’ home country.  My copy of the book was in e-book format and there wasn’t any mention of Cambodia.  Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the book and was inspired to review it.  Oh yeah, it’s been ages since my last book review so I immediately started writing before I lost the urge again. Lol!

Series: The Kelly Group International aka KGI #1

Hero: Ethan Kelly

Heroine: Rachel Kelly

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.

It’s been a year since his wife died.  Ethan is trying to drink himself to oblivion on the anniversary of her death when a package arrives showing a picture of Rachel still alive.  Warred with disbelief that the pictures and the cryptic note are misleading him yet unable to disregard it lest another woman was held captive Ethan seeks his brothers for help. The rescue is successful but there are more obstacles for Ethan and Rachel to overcome than just her health recovery.

This was an emotional story for the entire family.  In the opening chapters we meet Ethan and his family as they mourn the beloved wife, sister, and daughter tragically removed from them.  Then Rachel is brought back to them but she is a frail version of the woman they know and love.  For a year, Rachel was kept restrained on drugs and as a result her memory is faded and flashes of the past pops in and out of her mind.  Rachel not only has to overcome the drug addiction that was forced upon her but to separate reality from illusion.  It was heart wrenching following Rachel’s recovery to health, her re-acquaintance with the only family she’s ever known, and struggle to relive the love she has with her husband.

Second chances are rarely given.  Ethan knows this and does all he can to show Rachel that he loves her.  He and Rachel were having marital problems before the nightmare of her capture but the problems were his doing, stemmed from unfounded jealousies and assumptions on his part.  Ethan is torn with guilt that once Rachel‘s memory returns she would believe that he no longer loves her.  Not loving Rachel was far from the truth.  Ethan’s love for his wife is apparent even in the darker moments of their marriage.  Despite the guilt and fear of Rachel finding out the truth Ethan rejoice in the miraculous second chance to regain his love.  Unlike the past when he would refrain from voicing his feelings Ethan now frequently tells and show Rachel how much he loves her.

I love the Kelly’s family unity, the brothers’ camaraderie, and Rachel‘s relationship with all the members of the family.  Whether it was angst or happiness all the emotions running in the family were sweetly poignant and realistic.  The scene where Sam, the eldest brother, informs his parents and younger brothers of Rachel’s homecoming brought such tears to my eyes.  Rachel’s discovery of her marital problems and subsequent grapple with Ethan’s feelings was heartrending.  But not all moments are sad.  We get glimpses of Ethan and his brothers hanging out, of Nathan, the youngest Kelly brother, nervously asking Rachel out on a date, of Garrett walking Rachel down the aisle – flashes of happy memories that flit through Rachel’s mind.

When I read that there are six of the Kelly brothers I wondered at how similar their personalities – and stories if there is one for each of them – would be since they are all military guys.  While the Kelly brothers are all alpha each has his own differing personality but not so different that they are unlikely as brothers.  Even more refreshing is that the men are not the I’ve-seen-all-the-cruelty-in-this-world war-torn, cynical, and brooding type of guys.  These brothers love, laugh, and lean on each other.  So this makes me more interested to read about them and follow the rest of the series.

The Darkest Hour is categorized as romantic suspense but only a small portion of the novel is suspenseful.  The mystery of Rachel’s abduction and the revealing and, ultimately, capture of the villain takes backstage to Rachel and Ethan’s healing with life and love.  There is also a side story of a new addition to the family in the first half of the story that annoyed me but that’s mainly because I was engrossed in finding out about Rachel’s return and dislike interruption when I’m hook on reading.

Maya Banks is known for her erotic romance stories.  The Kelly series is her foray into romantic suspense.  I’ve enjoyed her writing in the past but this one has climbed up to be my favorite even if it’s not all RS.

The next book in the series features Sam Kelly.  We don’t have long to wait for his story because it is slated to release on December 7, 2010.  To check out an excerpt of The Darkest Hour, click here; excerpt of No Place to Run, book 2 is here.

Grading: B+

Posted in: B Reviews, Reviews