Story Rating 4 StarsCharacter Rating 4 StarsRomance Rating 5 StarsAction Level 4.5 StarsHeat Level 3 StarsOverall Rating 4 StarsThis book took off right from the beginning and kept me interested all the way through It was exciting and had me tearing up in quite a few spots too I absolutely loved how this story involved the whole family They were just so caring for each other I can t forget to mention all the hunky brothers and friends The few love scenes were done well with some good heat to them and nothing over the top I could feel the need that the Hh had for each other and how tortured they were over the past.So yes, I really did like this book but not quite enough to give it 5 stars Some of the things that happened in this book just plan out should not have happened Also getting the bad guy could have been done withimagination I wanted to read about how he got caught not just the mention of it happening That would have added someexcitement to the ending.All and all it was a good book and I m sure to read the next book in this series soon. Obviously I m in the minority, reading other reviews, but I have to say I didn t enjoy this.I m not going to rehash what the story is about, plenty of those kinds of reviews Here s what pissed me off ETHAN KELLY.To me, he s a sonofabitch His wife has been presumed dead for a year Granted, no one knew but when she s finally, FINALLY rescued and brought home, a literal shell of the woman she was, all super dick can worry about is her not finding out about the divorce papers he gave her before she disappeared GOD FORBID he be the one thing this poor woman needs an honest husband I ve never been a fan of the big secret trope but this one takes the cake I truly believe he didn t want her to recover her memory in full because she would find out what an insecure bastard he really was Oh sure, he claimed he was sorry, he was over it, he was a jerk extraordinaire, but even after Rachel came home, he was STILL jealous of his own brother And how many times can he hug her, call her baby and profess his undying love OMG it was over the top At one point I was even hoping that Rachel and Garret HAD gotten it on, despite how much I hate adultery Rachel didn t deserve to be shackled to that prick for the rest of her life The ONLY thing that garnered this an extra star 2 total was Garrett, Sam, Sean, Donovan, Rio and Steele I sooo cannot wait to read Steele s story.This plot has been done before and MUCH better Still not a fan Ms Banks, but I m willing to give Sam s book a shot Don t screw it up.D 4 to 4 Captivating Stars I really enjoyed this book Why on earth it took me so long to start this series is beyond me. 5 stars Romantic Suspense I m a big fan of Maya Banks and military romantic suspense, so I was really looking forward to this first book in her new KGI series I m not at all surprised that I liked and enjoyed it, but I was amazed and impressed by the emotional depth and intensity of the story Ethan might be an alpha military hero, but he s not afraid to express his love, demonstrate his feelings, or shed tears of grief, relief, joy, and gratitude The homecoming scene where Ethan cries while bathing, holding, and comforting Rachel is one of the most poignant moments of any romance that I ve read I loved this and can t wait for Sam s story next in No Place to Run And the cover ishot, HOT, HAWT Your wife is alive. Four simple words and Ethan s life implodes Again After losing his wife in a plane crash, a year after her death someone concocts a sick joke Making him believe she might be alive There re pictures of her being a prisoner in a Colombian drug cartel camp Guard change schedules, topographic maps, camp layoutsEverything he might need to get Rachel out of that hell If he believed she was still alive that is.And he does Despite everything, he does Because maybe, just maybe, a miracle is happening, and he ll get his second chance A second chance to do it all again, differently, to be a better a good husband to the wife he tried to selfishly push away a year ago To be the man worthy of her loveBut first, he must get her back Then, their trials will only just begin.What Is it possible A man that isn t perfect Are you sure In Romancelandia Really Could it be And what s that you say Their marriage wasn t that perfect either Wow Because Ethan is far from perfect besides his height, dark good looks, and apparently being hung like a horse This guy has made mistakes, big ones which the reader finds out through the course of the story , and he s convinced there s no way of making amends After all, his wife is dead Then, a miracle happens which makes us realize this is Romancelandia after all He gets a second chance, he gets a do over And he s adamant to not fail this time Yeah, well, life, despite this being Romancelandia, isn t always that easy, because he makes the biggest mistake of them all He lies to his wife Sure, he s trying to protect her Sure, he s trying to rebuild their lives Sure, he s trying to forget the past and concentrate on their future.Still, a lie is a lie And that makes Ethan real Yes, I know, it s fiction But it s those flaws that make Ethan a realistic character He doesn t get everything right, he s not perfect, and that s why he s real Despite being a fictitious character, we can relate to him, because of those flaws he has and the mistakes he makes.Though this is pretty much both Ethan and Rachel s story, I appreciated himI don t know why Maybe because he was the screwed up party in their relationship despite everything Rachel went through , maybe because he had the most to be ashamed and afraid of, maybe because he had the most to make up for.And he didn t get the privilege of a blank slate like Rachel did He had to do it all from scratch, while still retaining every single good and bad memory of their life together before her death Yes, I felt compassion toward Rachel for the hell she s been through, but I loved Ethan to bits Also because there was a moment where Rachel, despite being a great heroine and a perfect match for her husband , reverted to that stereotypical heroine I hate with all my heart It was a fleeting moment that ended almost as soon as it began, but it left a sour aftertaste in my mouth after pages and pages of excellent heroine behavior.As for the rest, I absolutely loved the banter between brothers It really gave an impression of real family and created yet another connection to the characters, both primary and secondary The pacing was excellent, the plot tightly woven, and the suspense intense, though I missed aprofound explanation for the villain s actions.Ms Banks has created an amazing story, that despite being classified as a romantic suspense, wasa tale of second chances, new beginnings, and self discovery It worked perfectly and I only hope the next book in this series is as good or better than this one. Opening LineHe d hoped if he drank enough the night before he d sleep right through today Ex Navy SEAL Ethan Kelly is hangover again, it s been a year since his wife Rachael was killed in a plane crash in South America and he can t seem to move on, the pain as fresh as the day she died Ethan has cut himself off from his large family and refuses to have anything to do with his brother s top secret business, that of KGI Kelly Group International With their expensive military backgrounds the Kelly brother s are essentially guns for hire taking the tricky jobs the government can t and specializing in intelligence recovery and hostage kidnap victim extractions.On the anniversary of Rachael s death Ethan receives an unmarked package containing surveillance pictures and maps of a drug cartel base camp in Columbia The photos show something else too, a woman who looks very much like his late wife Ethan doesn t think anyone will believe him but of course he now has to try and find her Good thing most of his family is in the victim recovery business and handy with a gun because he s heading into the jungle and getting his wife back.But Rachael s not the woman he knew a year ago forcibly addicted to drugs, and suffering from memory loss and PTSD she may never fully recover and just because he s got her back Stateside doesn t mean she s safe either, the bad guys still want her dead And then there s that little matter of the divorce papers.There were parts of this book that I loved and others that I struggled with but all in all this was a really good romantic suspense Banks writes an awesome tortured hero and although I did get tired of Ethan constantly dropping to his knees in front of Rachael and thanking or apologizing to everyone now that he s stopped self medicating, I loved that he was man enough to shed a few tears that bathtub scene killed me One of my biggest issues here however was Rachael s extreme closeness to the brothers it was just a little too intimate They were forever enfolding her in their arms and cooing Baby and Sweet Pea and I guess because I ve read some of Banks erotica I kept waiting for her to get it on with at least 3 of the 6 Kelly boys which distracted me from Ethan and Rachael s rekindled love story as well as creating several weird, ick moments There was also the issue of Rachael having been adopted and brought up by the Kelly parents in the same house as her husband to be Why was that little bit of info necessary Wouldn t that kind of make everyone related Another ick moment.I also found that there were just too many Kelly brothers to keep track of properly and before long stopped even trying Except for Garrett and Sam who I m sure were just trying to get lucky they all sort of blended together along with the Kelly parents and a side story involving a runaway girl named Rusty that I can only assume we ll seefrom in later books I ll be continuing on with the series of course Listening to this series on audio as a re read This one, while a tougher read I would probably increase to 4 stars upon re read Many of the below originally mentioned things did not bother me this time and I enjoyed the angst in this book even though I am not usually a fan of it.Previous comments I know I am late to this series, but thought I would give it a try The story is a heartbreaking love story I enjoyed the character development and it makes me interested in the next books in the series There were some sections that dragged a bit, but there was enough action to keep me going I really did not like the Rusty storyline Don t like her or think it is needed Other than the books being way too expensive, if am interested in seeing the rest of the Kelly brothers find their HEA So look I m not usually one to get on my high horse and go off on a rant about certain words or derogatory phrases used in books It s fiction and sometimes things are said because the flow of the story and banter can lend itself to the occasional you re a girl comment or that s a pussy thing to do remark and I get that And you know what I would probably even overlook itoften than not ButThis book pissed me right off I LOVE alpha book men Adore them Can t read enough of them I m aware that these type of men can be misogynistic a holes on occasion, usually as a plot device to show what a holes they really are and then they become fabulously enlightened men who know that the woman they have fallen for is kickass and amazing and he falls over himself to show her he knows this Those are the men I like to read, it s my jam What is not my jam is reading about assholes who I m supposed to want to readof constantly using the term girl as an insult to each other and to women Men who think crying makes you a pussy or worrying about a person you love makes you a mother hen because fuck you assholes You think I exaggerate Some examples of Kelly brother banter Shit, Ethan, you re hit You re bleeding like a stuck pig Ethan glanced up at his brother and curled his lip What are you, a pussy Your years out of the army turned you into a girl Since when do you worry over anything less than a missing limb It s damn good to have you back, little brother Cut the mushy shit out, Ethan grumbled as he pulled away You girls having a love fest back here Donovan asked Ethan looked up, then hastily away, as his father entered the kitchen His emotional outburst was bad enough in front of his mom, but to break down in front of his father wasthan he could stand I will allow that Ethan decided it was okay to cry after his father cried in this scene so I guess he is growing as a human or somethingHe had to admire her courage His family was enough to make him run screaming like a girl on a good day Facing them when they were complete strangers Brave Everything okay, sweet pea Garrett asked as he walked over Yep Just talking to Sean and getting some fresh air Garrett shoved his hands into his pockets You mean you re hiding out here with this pussy who s here for the same reason Sean grunted Yeah, the exact same reason you ve run outside like a damn girl It s hard to run away from Ma in her own house, Garrett said in resignation She ll just hunt us down and give us the look Sam chuckled Damn shame when grown men are reduced to a bunch of pussies by their mother She gathered the memories of Donovan and Garrett teaching her self defense How they d despaired of her being too girly to ever learn anything He rolled away shrieking like a girl, and she was careful to keep him between her and the guy with the gun Those self defense moves Garrett and Donovan taught me when Ethan was away so much You re shitting me Garrett said Hell, and to think we teased you for being such a girl Okay, girls, enough, Sam said in a quiet voice Mom and Dad are outside like two mother hens They ll want to peek in on Rachel, and Garrett and I need to talk to you, Ethan Oh and how fabulous KGI have a most excellent sniper who is a women But she is extra good despite having lady parts so don t worry about that I know that I m probably fixating too much on this one thing and it s not helped by the fact that I ve just finished books where the female lead was incredible and strong and her being a women had fuck all to do with anything but it s all I could see in this book I have no interest in reading about the rest of these idiots And the military aspect of their lives is not an excuse Making it realistic and allowing your characters to be misogynistic douches are two completely different things And it could be that the reason I fixated on all this in the first place was because I wasn t loving the story overall Especially when you have a massive relationship breakthrough and I love you s and then a miscommunication twist afterward I have no faith in this relationship at all to be honest Ethan s inability to communicate after all that has happened does not say white picket fences to me and you know what I loved the premise of this book because it reminded me a little of two of my favorite RS books, To the Brink by Cindy Gerard, and Wild Card by Lora Leigh two stories about second chances Although this book was good, and is a good start to what looks to be an exciting series, it just quite didn t make it to great Something was missing for me and I think it had something to do with the relationship between the H h.Let s back up a minute and get the synopsis out of the way Ethan Kelly is an ex Navy SEAL, wallowing in misery grief guilt on the one year anniversary of his sweet wife of two years Rachel s tragic death in a plane crash while on a humanitarian mission to somewhere Colombia in South America Ethan comes from a large, loving, loud and loyal family, headed by ex schoolteacher rules the roost matriarch Marlene, Papa Bear hardware store owner Frank, and including three older, ex military, competitive, sometimes bossy brothers Sam, Garrett, and Donovan and younger brothers who are currently in the Army twins Joe and Nathan Sam, Garrett, and Donovan are all partners in KGI Kelly Group International , an elite agaency that specializes in hostage and kidnap victim recovery, gathering intelligence, and handling jobs that the US government can t They d like Ethan to come and work for them, and have been after him ever since he d resigned his commission to the Navy over a year ago But Ethan s had a rough year since his wife s untimely death, and the last time he saw her, their marriage was hanging by a thread Rachel was much beloved in the family she was one of Marlene s favorite students, and after her parents died in a car accident, Marlene practically adopted her into the Kelly family All the brothers adored her, but it was Ethan who won her heart and married her But things took a turn for the worse in the marriage After a tragedy happened to the young couple, Ethan left the Navy to spendtime with a wife who needed him But Ethan s insecurities, jealousies, demands, and accusations came between the couple, and put such a strain on the relationship, that Rachel went on a humanitarian trip to South America to get away Ethan regretted his actions, but before he could apologize to Rachel and beg her forgiveness, the accident happened Rachel was dead, and Ethan s life would never be the same Until the one year anniversary of her death, and a package arrives with maps and a note sayingYour wife is aliveWell, to sum up, Ethan and the brothers head off on a daring rescue mission to Colombia, where Rachel is being held captive by drug lords Yes, they get her out alive, but Rachel is not the same girl that she used to be She d been abused by her captors, became hooked on heroin, and suffers almost total memory loss She does remember Ethan though And Garrett.hmmmm.The rest of the story revolves around Rachel trying to get her memory back while answering the questionAre you okayat least a dozen times a day , battling her cravings for the drugs she s withdrawing from she really needed to be in therapy of some sort , Ethan hoping she doesn t remember the state their marriage was in, and the brothers trying to figure out why Rachel was held prisoner for a year When Rachel s story and recovery hits the local newspaper, someone is surprised that she s still alive, and takes action to rectify the situation There s a bit of suspense when the brothers realize that someone s trying to kill Rachel, and it s tied into what she might have witnessed but can t remember while down in Colombia.Okay, my thoughtsIt started out very promising I enjoy a good rescue the hostage plot, especially when it s a husband rescuing the love of his life a la To the Brink And when the spouse thought the love of their life was dead and they re not a la Wild Card that makes it even sweeter Love when a couple gets a second chance lots of emotion there But something didn t quite click for me between Rachel and Ethan I wasn t totally connected to them I kept hoping to read about their courtship I wanted to see Rachel fall for Ethan and Ethan fall for Rachel I kept expecting to read a flashback scene about how they met I wasn t even sure of their ages and fell in love Didn t get it Got some scenes about how beloved Rachel was in the Kelly family treated as a queen by all but I needed to feel the connection between the two I think that would ve made the circumstances of the abduction and the rescuemeaningful for me I knew that Ethan loved Rachel and was sorry for what he put her through, but I needed to experience a littleof their past to totally connect with them as a couple, and to root for their future.Now, for things I thought the author did really wellthe relationship among the brothers, their dialogue and actions were spot on I could feel the love and camaraderie The parents, and especially the portrayal of mother Marlene as the loving and loyal head of a family of six boys, and how all the boys respected and feared their mom well done Marlene s loving penchant for taking in strays the parent less Rachel, sheriff s deputy Sean, teenage runaway Rusty who surely will keep popping up in the series as maybe a future mate for Nathan and her knack for butting into her sons lives, made her a colorful, memorable character I m sure we ll see a lotof her in the series.There are a lot of characters introduced in this book So many that I started writing them down in a notebook just to keep everything straight, in case they pop up again in future books Some of the most memorable were Dr Maren Scofield, who had been rescued by KGI in Africa and treated Rachel at her clinic in Costa Rica P.J Rutherford, a female sniper on one of KGI s teams Steele and Rio two KGI team leaders with a lot of animosity towards each other and of course the female runaway Rusty, who makes an initial bad first impression on the Kelly brothers, but who mom Marlene is determined to keep in the Kelly family So lots of potential for future stories about not only the 5 remaining dashing, hunky brothers, but also for some supporting characters important to the Kellys.So how about the love scenes Well this being Maya Banks, I was expecting something extra steamy But this was a mainstream romance, not erotica, so it was typical of what you d get in a romantic suspense There was only two extended scenes between Rachel and Ethan that I can recall, and had plenty of heat, but weren t anything unusual or kinky I sure wish there had been a couple of scenes shown pre abduction, but it wasn t to be All in all not a bad beginning to a series There were a couple of things that could have made it better to bring it up to a 5 star readbackground on the H h s relationship, a littledescriptions about the characters not real clear about what everyone looked like what color was Rachel s hair, how old was she , how old are the brothers , etc., a littlesuspense , but maybe these little details that help to fill out a book will come out in the future stories I m hoping so I m looking forward to the next one in the series, big over protective brother Sam s story No Place to Run For this first in the series 4 stars 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 EveryoneHis 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 AliveTo 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
Maya Banks is the 1 New York Times, 1 USA Today and international bestselling author of over 50 novels A wife and mother of three, she lives in Texas.
- 304 pages
- The Darkest Hour
- Maya Banks
- 16 September 2019 Maya Banks