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Showing 1-10 of 22 reviews(3 star). Show all reviews
on October 6, 2010
`The Darkest Hour' is the first book in a hot new series from erotica author, Maya Banks.

Maya Banks is a bit of a `hit and miss' author for me. Sometimes I love her books (I would count `Colter's Woman' amongst my favourite erotica reads). And then sometimes I really despise her books (`Colter's Lady', for instance). But I am always willing to give her a try.

I was pleasantly surprised by `The Darkest Hour'.

The premise of the series revolves around KGI (Kelly Group International). This is a family-run group established by six brothers who have various backgrounds in the Army and SEALs. The KGI are private military contractors, of sorts. They do the tough jobs no one else will touch; hostage extractions, assassinations, and murky political surveillance.

We are first introduced to the Kelly family via middle brother, Ethan. Ethan is in a downward spiral following the tragic death of his wife, Rachel, in a plane crash in South America. Ethan has cut himself off from his family and become a recluse in the wake of Rachel's death, which is also tainted by his own guilt for his perceived involvement.
When we meet him the first year anniversary of Rachel's death is upon him, and Ethan is drinking himself into oblivion. Until a package arrives, showing surveillance pictures of Rachel and tangible proof that she is alive. Alive, but held hostage in a drug cartel's base camp.
Ethan rouses the KGI group together to save his beloved wife.... but even second chances come with complications. Rachel may be back, but she has demons to face, and so does Ethan.

I really enjoyed this book. To begin with, I love the series premise. The KGI will no doubt provide many a steamy book - I love the combination of tough army men, with the camaraderie of a family-run organization. I think there's a lot of possibility in this series, and I will definitely be sticking with it.

Secondly, I loved the fact that although this is a fairly outlandish erotica/romance read, there's a lot of emotional angst and characterization behind the characters. Rachel is, of course, the character with the most turmoil - and Maya Banks really doesn't pull punches with Rachel's post traumatic stress and agonizing recovery.

But I also loved the fact that Ethan is recovering, both from his wife's death and her return. Not to give anything away, but Ethan is harbouring some guilt over the way he treated Rachel before she left for South America. Her return from the dead is a miracle to Ethan, but at the same time he is worried about what she will remember of their imperfect marriage... and that worry turns to guilt over not being 100% elated by her return. I loved the emotional connection Maya Banks made with the characters; it made for a surprisingly fulfilling read.

I did have one or two problems with the book, however...

Because there are six Kelly siblings it was a little hard to keep track of everyone and I felt that the brother's weren't given enough page-time to be distinctive. On the one hand I thought their family dynamic came across beautifully, and the Kelly's were definitely a formidable clan. But I felt a little disconnected from the individual brothers. Ethan was obviously well developed because this is his story. But twins Nathan and Joe have a `blink and you'll miss them' appearance. Donovan `Van' is the quiet recluse and therefore virtually invisible. Sam and Garrett seemed to be the two Alpha brothers, and were given the most characterization of any other brothers, but still not enough for my liking. But Maya Banks also throws into the KGI/Kelly mix employees like Sean (who is also the town cop) and Rio, and there are a lot of men to keep straight in your head. I would have been fine if Banks had simply referred to some of the brothers, without introducing them in this book (I think Nathan and Joe could have remained off the page, merely mentioned by the family members to be formally introduced in scene in later books?).

There's also a second storyline about a runaway girl called Rusty who ma and pa Kelly take in off the street. This was a little `huh?' for me. I'm sure this story will come to fruition in future books as Rusty grows and matures, but in this first book it felt out of place running concurrently with Rachel and Ethan's emotional story.

On the plus side, the sex is hot. This is a guarantee in a Maya Banks book.... she alternates between rough and sensual, smutty and romantic. There's a little something here to push everyone's buttons. And because the emotional stakes are constantly raised between Rachel and Ethan the sex is even more intense and frantic. I loved it.

I had a few problems with `The Darkest Hour', but overall I thought this was a great and tempting introduction to a wonderful new series. I will definitely be reading more books in the KGI series.
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on January 22, 2013
Let me start off by saying that I do like Maya Banks style of writing when it comes to suspense and action so that aspect of this book I loved! Having said that, I wasn't so impressed by the other stuff in it. Don't get me wrong, romantic suspense is my favorite genre but I like a ratio of at least 60/40 either way. This was about 80/20: whiny angst/suspense. Not much of a romance...

I didn't like how the brothers (esp one in particular...Garrett) of the hero (Ethan) hovered over the heroine so much! It got on my nerves! She seemed to have had more of a connection with the hero's brother than she had with her own husband! Maybe Maya Banks should have pared them together instead.

Case in point (Potential spoilers)...

Once they found Rachel (the heroine), one of the first things she does is says "I love you" to the hero's brother! Really? She runs to him constantly, he calls her sweat pea and she remembers him a great deal but barely remembers her own husband. Garrett even "protected" her from Ethan when he came to his house to pick her up...and they wonder why Ethan thought she and Garrett were having an affair...Hell, anybody would! And it took them so freakin looong to get out of South America or where ever the hell they were! I kept thinking, "Oh my God! Please go home and get on with the story!"

The rest of the family was even more annoying! All of their "Rachel this" and "Poor Rachel that!" RACHEL RACHEL RACHEL!!! Drove me nuts!! I felt like Jan on "The Brady Bunch" when she got annoyed because all anybody could talk about was Marsha!

This book was not about KGI men, action, suspense or romance. This book was about everyone fussing over RACHEL!! That was about 75% of the book! The sex was good but not great.

The character Rusty served absolutely NO purpose! I don't know why she was even there and she was more annoying than anything. Maybe she'll have more of a purpose in the rest of the series but in this book, she has zero.

All in all, the book held my attention enough for me to want to read about the other brothers in the next installments of the series, but I sure hope it gets better then this! As I said, I did like the little suspense that was in it so i'll keep going with it.

Mind you, this is the first book i've ever read by Ms Banks so i'm not ready to give up on her because I see that she does have a skill for writing, this one just didn't quite work for me on a lot of levels. I'll check out the next in the series to see if it's any better.

3 stars...I recommend if you don't mind your romantic suspense heavy on the angst and very light on the suspense....
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on July 12, 2012
The Darkest Hour is the first book I've read by Maya Banks, and this is one of the first few reviews I've written here on Amazon.
I bought this book on a whim, while feeling the twinge from some romance. My reading habits range from the light to the seriously heavy, and romance is always my go-to "light" reading stand-by, something for when I need to relax, get swept up in an improbable but fun adventure where I can pretty much guess the ending will be satisfactory.
The Darkest Hour did not fail to deliver on any of those expectations. The books starts out swift and you're immediately drug into the waters of Ethan's emotions and the pain he is going through after the loss of his wife. You continue on down the trail from there, learning that the wife is really alive, and all the trouble of getting her out.
Now, here is where I will break to say that this book earns a solid (and not a BAD) three star review in my opinion. Like all romance novels, the action in this book is larger that life, a bit forced and definately improbably. The heroine survives three (or was it four?) near death/attempts on her life, overcomes a year long forced drug addiction to IV heroine and manages some pretty amazing emotional break throughs without going seriously PTSD in a matter of a fictional few months. I enjoyed the read, start to finish, but at the end of it, I had to sit back and chuckle at the amazing stuff this woman was made of.
I'd reccomend the book, absolutely, for what it is. Not hard mind probing literature, but a fun relaxing read that will keep you hooked until the end, a story of love and hope, danger and family. I've even gone ahead and ordered the second book in the series, for when the next craving strikes. Enjoy!
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on July 12, 2015
3 stars.

Started out good but I quickly lost interest about half way through.

Very little suspense, it's in the first 30 pages and in the last 20 or 30 pages. Other than that there is very little investigating into why Rachel was taken and kept alive and the only progress really is when Rachel regains her memory.

Found the KGI guys kind of dumb. Major spoilers for the rest of the book. Don't read further if you don't want to know.
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They know she was taken and kept alive for year and they were made to believe that she had died. Clearly someone went to that kind of trouble for reason. When she is run off the road once and says it was deliberate, they ignore her and basically think she's seeing things that aren't there or reading too much into an accident. Gee getting rammed 3 times to get you to edge of a bridge so she'll go off is kind of hard to misinterpret.

Then only when Ethan is involved in the next on purpose car crash and Rachel is taken do they jump into action. After Rachel is found and in a hospital room, they leave her there, granted with a guard on the door but alone in the room while they go chat. Yes the two guys who kidnapped her are in custody, but not the person who gave the order to have her killed. So what happens, a nurse (fake/real, don't know) tries to kill her again. These guys shouldn't be in charge of a guppy, let alone a person in danger.

And lastly I didn't really feel the chemistry between Ethan and Rachel. Yea, they were married and they had connection but I felt more between her and Garrett than her and Ethan.

Will I read the next book, maybe. I'm not sure yet. I loved Garrett and Sam so I might continue just for them and hope the guys, in general, smarten up
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on May 11, 2014
I've been looking around for another series to start and came across this one. The basic plot is actually quite good. Ethan Kelly, a former navy seal is mourning the loss of his beloved wife Rachel. On the one year anniversary of her death, Ethan gets notice from an anonymous source that surprise! Rachel is actually alive and is being held captive. Ethan gathers his brothers (all former military who formed their own top secret group that goes in where the government can't) to help him rescue. They find Rachel but because of the horrific conditions she was held under, she has little to no memory of her former life, including who was behind her kidnapping or the state of her marriage to Ethan when she was taken.

The major problems I had with this book is that as I say in my headline, the book never quite gets off the ground despite having a good enough plot to do so. The book not only starts off with questions about who would want Rachel's husband and family to think she was dead but also who was the person to finally inform Ethan she was alive. However, when we do get the answers to these questions, I felt it was all handled way to neatly; almost as if it is all wrapped up in a nice little bow. Don't get me wrong, I love a happy ending and the bad guys going down for their crimes but it's just not interesting to me when it's done within the span of a chapter or two and I'm not hanging on the edge of my seat wondering what's going to happen. I will say though, I liked the added plot point that Ethan and Rachel's marriage had been in serious trouble prior to her presumed death, it added a very nice element to their personal story.

Also, while I really liked Ethan and Rachel as characters in addition to Ethan's brothers ( there was just something about Sam to me...), I could not stand the character of Rusty. Rusty is introduced in the book early on as a teen delinquent who Ethan's parents take in after she is caught breaking into their house. She ( yes Rusty is a girl) added absolutely NOTHING to the book and really spends the most part of it sulking for one reason or another while the rest of the family attempts to do their part in protecting Rachel. I actually thought of skipping over chapters she was the primary part of it because she and her story just seemed so out of place with what else was going on. Granted I have not read the rest of the series so Rusty may very well have become more useful in the subsequent books but as of this reading for me, I would be happy if she just went away.

So for me, this was an okay start to a series but I just feel it could've been so much better.
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on June 29, 2011
I actually read the second and third books in this series before this one. I wasn't quite prepared for this one. As the title suggests it's much sadder than most romantic suspense novels.

The Darkest Hour is the dark, but sweet story of two lovers finding their way back to each other after a long winding road apart. What could be worse than losing a loved one? Knowing that they died thinking you hated them tops my list. That's what Ethan Kelly has lived with for the last year. He made mistakes in his marriage to Rachel, and never had a chance to make them right. When an anonymous letter tells him Rachel may still be alive, he's afraid to believe it might actually be true. He and his brothers who run KGI will risk everything to bring Rachel back.

Rachel is utterly broken after a year in captivity. Their lives will depend on her recovering her memories of what led to her kidnapping. Ethan is terrified that Rachel will remember his failings as a husband and it will make her condition worse.

I had a few problems with this book. While I enjoyed Rachel and Ethan's journey, I found the giant Kelly clan a little distracting. I liked the camaraderie of the brothers. I found the inclusion of the parents, their friend Sean and the "stray" Rusty to be just too many darn characters. Although, I will say that Maya Banks does a good job of making every character distinct which can be hard to do when dealing with so many characters. But, at times I felt that so many other people really detracted from the main story. Also, Rachel has a panic attack the first time she goes out on her own, then they let her go out on her own again? For guys who "protect their own" they did a really crappy job of protecting Rachel at times. I know she was a grown woman capable of making her own decisions, but everyone was so busy tip-toeing around poor fragile Rachel, but then when it counted, they failed her, not once but multiple times.

Overall, it's a well-paced romantic suspense. There's less sex than most, but because of the subject matter it makes sense. It's tastefully and appropriately done considering all Rachel has been through.

I definitely like this series and will be looking forward to the next installment.
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on March 22, 2012
SPOILERS BELOW

Well sometimes it's hard to believe if these Kelly men can really protect people. Rachel is not even out of the woods yet and shouldn't be left alone. Thanks to Sean, she was saved twice. I was puzzled by Rachel's reaction to Ethan and Garret. First off, she said she survived all those nights for 1 yr because she thought about Ethan, as her savior, as her reason to live on. She has a lot of affection for Garret due to the past but never once did she thought about him in her torment. I felt that the affection she showed to Garret was supposed to be written for Ethan. I mean she said 'i love you' to Garret first before Ethan. That kinda bugged me. Overall, I liked how Banks wrote Rachel, her emotions, reactions, reasoning, and understanding. Ethan is a on the fence of a hero for me. His reason for wanting a divorce is stupid and for even thinking that Rachel and Garret had an affair it should've ruined the relationship he has with Garret. This is another thing that bugged me because trust is big in the Kelly family. Anyways a good emotional read about forgiveness and pain.
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on September 23, 2015
I would say this is about a 3.89- nearly a 4 star but not quite. Maya Banks has written some amazing novels. Never Seduce a Scot is perhaps my all time favorite highlander novel and her McCabe trilogy novels were also amazing. This book really is not in the same league. I am not sure I even really liked the H. I certainly never connected with him or with Ethan and Rachel as a couple. In fact I liked some of his brothers better. The passion/heat between the H and h was also surprisingly low for a Maya Banks novel. I expected scorching hot and got lukewarm instead. I did not give it a lower rating because the writing itself is good and the plot was decent if predictable. This is not a book I would read again and for $7.99 I am not going to invest in anymore of this series. I will however immediately buy another Armstrong/Montgomery book if she writes another.
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on January 6, 2015
Overall Rating: 3.65
Action: 3.0 / Emotion: 4.0 / Romance: 5.0 / Sensuous: 3.5 / Suspense: 3.0 // Laughter: 5 / Giggle: 3 // Tears: 2 / Teary: 2

The Darkest Hour: 3.65:
While it was an entertaining, easy to read, easy to finish book, this story lacked that abundance of action and suspense that makes for a great read.

Hero: 1.5:
Ethan Kelly: Under-developed character. Although a hunk of muscled alpha male, his skills as a military macho man were not featured. Instead Ethan spent the book constantly fighting tears (and not winning the battle), hugging his wife, and calling her Baby.

Heroine: 1.0:
Rachel Kelly: A single-dimensional character. The only thing Rachel seemed to do is draw people to her like bees to honey so they could cosset and coddle her because she is so lovable. But what made her so lovable?

Story Line: 3.0:
Great possibilities existed in this story line of an ex-Navy SEAL who learns his wife is not dead, but a captive in the jungles of Colombia. Rather than feature an exciting story about the brave warrior saving his beloved, the story focused on the guilt-ridden husband trying to convince his wounded wife he loved her.

Action: 3.0:
There were basically only four major action scenes in the book -- and Ethan only starred in the first one at the beginning of the book. A Military Romantic Suspense book should be more exciting, full of action and adventure.

Emotion: 4.0:
Banks did manage to so engage the reader that she brought forth laughter and tears. Although overdone, liked that the hero showed his vulnerabilities. Also liked the tight-knit family unit.

Romance: 5.0:
This book was all about the love that existed between Ethan and Rachel. Rachel didn't remember her past and Ethan was bound and determined to prove to Rachel how much he loved her, in spite of his past mistakes.

Sensuous: 3.5:
The lovemaking scenes were pretty graphic (not erotica graphic), heated, passionate, and well-written.

Suspense: 3.0:
Again, the romance overshadowed the suspense. No intense search was made for the person(s) that led Ethan to believe Rachel was dead but was, instead, being held captive.

Secondary Characters: 4.0:
The first book in the series so a lot of potential future book candidates were briefly introduced. Also, several very interesting Kelly family members were introduced. They made the story a much more enjoyable read. The intriguing secondary characters included: {1} Sam Kelly, {2} Garrett Kelly, {3} Donovan Kelly, {4} Nathan Kelly, {5} Joe Kelly, {6} Frank Kelly, {7} Marlene Kelly, {8} Rusty, {9} Sean Copper, {10} Dr. Maren Scofield, {11} Rio, {12} Steele, and {13} P.J. Rutherford.

A more in-depth, detailed, spoiler-ridden review of *The Darkest Hour* appears at Wolf Bear Does Books.
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on February 24, 2014
When a man loses his wife it's like the world just stops spinning and nothing is what it seems. You just become stuck in this kind of rut and even when family tries to help you through the pain, you just don't want or take any kindness.

But when a package declaring that your wife isn't dead.....well that just hits below the belt!

Ethan Kelly lost his wife to a tragic accident when she was doing some mission trips overseas. Or so he thought. The package he received in the mail shows that his wife Rachel is still alive but held captive.

And who does he turn to for help?

The Government? Why would they help when she was declared dead a year ago?

The Police? She's all the way over in another country, how could they help?

KGI? Of course. His own brothers decided after their tour in the military they banned together to form this elite special ops group called the KGI....tough notch secret FAMILY business. So when little brother Ethan shows up at their door after a year proving that his wife is indeed alive, they will do anything to get her back.

But what if she isn't the same Rachel Kelly they all knew and love? And why the cover up of her dying? And why would ANYONE from that compound want Ethan to find her? All these questions are asked to a lonely woman who was held captive for nearly a year and with no memory of what happened. Can Ethan put back the pieces for her before anything else happens to her? Or is she doomed to not know for the rest of her life?
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