For What It's Worth

Monday, November 21, 2011

Review: The Darkest Hour by Maya Banks (KGI #1)

It's been a year since ex-Navy SEAL Ethan Kelly saw his wife Rachel alive. Now he's received an anonymous phone call claiming Rachel is alive. To find her, Ethan will have to dodge bullets, cross a jungle, and risk falling captive to a deadly drug cartel that threatens his own demise.
The Darkest Hour was a pleasant surprise for me. Maya Bank's has written a love story with heart wrenching loss, rediscovery and complexity that isn't often seen in romance novels.

Ethan's wife Rachel died a year ago in a plane crash while on a relief mission, or so he thought. On the one year anniversary of her death he receives a package informing Ethan that Rachel is still alive and being held prisoner in the Columbian jungle by a drug cartel.

Luckily Ethan is a former Navy Seal with 5 brothers who run a private security agency called Kelly Group International. Everyone is dubious of the claims at first. Why would anyone go throughout the trouble of faking Rachel's death? Going so far as to give Ethan her remains and wedding ring, then keep her alive in the Columbian jungle for a year without asking for ransom.

Despite their reservations Ethan and his brothers head into the jungle on a rescue mission. What they discover is horrifying. Rachel is indeed alive but barely. She has been drugged to the point of addiction and is left with very little memory of her past. She recognizes Ethan and his brother Garrett…although vaguely at first. It's more a sense of knowing she can trust these people than actual recognition of her past.

The way the trauma Rachel has endured and Ethan's reaction to her trauma was handled was a breath of fresh air. Rachel is suffering from both withdrawals from the drugs and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from her cruel captivity. This was handled so delicately. So many books use lust and sex to sweep away all of the couples problems. The Darkest Hour really delves into Ethan and Rachel's relationship in a realistic way. Their marriage wasn't perfect before her presumed death. Ethan carries around a lot of guilt about that. He has her back and he doesn't ever want to let her go again. Rachel is struggling to become a wife to a man she is beginning to love again although she has nagging suspicions about their past. They really have to work at it, slowly breaking down barriers. It's not easy and there are setbacks which only make sense.

The mystery as to why Rachel was kidnapped is believable and interesting. She's still in danger once she's home after certain parties find out she's still alive. This got a little old for me. One attack sure, two possibly but after the third or maybe fourth time she gets attacked I was beginning to roll my eyes and be done with it.

One other thing that bothered me was a shift in POV. This is the first book to a series so I believe the author was setting up the next books a bit which is fine. The parents of the Kelly brothers are a hoot. Mom is no nonsense, keeping her boys in line no matter how big they get. Loved her……but I didn't need to read her POV or about the stray homeless girl, Rusty that she takes in. It seemed to me that the main story of Rachel was plenty and pretty traumatic so shifting to a girl whining about how no one thinks she's important didn't really move me. Sure I felt bad but I was focused on Ethan and Rachel's plight. Maybe Rusty is important in future stories but I didn't enjoy her here.

Rating: 3.5 out 4: Impressive story that favored character development over a quick solution. A few missteps but overall I adored The Darkest Hour. I'm looking forward to the next books in the series. The Kelly brothers are full on alphas, I could almost feel the testosterone oozing off the page, but they weren't afraid to show their feelings and tenderness to the people they loved.

Author: website | Twitter | Facebook
Source: Purchased
Buy the book! Amazon
Publisher: Berkley Sensation (July 29th 2010)


  1. Agh! I bought this book so long ago, but haven't had the chance to read it. I like how you described their relationship as being one where their problems are solved by sex. I didn't know about the shifting POVs thing. That gonna bother me too.

  2. Just goes to show I should never judge a book by its cover as looking at this I would never have guessed it was a heart wrenching love story. A great review, thanks for the recommendation.

  3. I guess it was book 2 I read then, it was good, I liked the suspense part

  4. I was looking for something adult to read in between all of the YA books I have on my shelf and I saw the link to your review on Twitter. I've read other books in this genre, but this was one of the better written ones (even with the POV switching which bugged me too). So thank you!

  5. @Judy I'm happy to hear that! I was trying to get a breather from YA too. It was a little different than the norm and well written.
    If you like UF I'm reading Mind Games by Carolyn Crane and OMG it's good so far!

  6. Karen, yeah, I've seen I've your comments about Mind Games on Twitter so it ended up on my TBR. Right now I'm in the middle of the October Daye novels by Seanan McGuire, but Mind Games might be my next adult UF read. :)

  7. @Judy - I have a few of the October Day novels but haven't started yet. You will have to let me know what you think of them.