Suspense... military action... drama... romance... must read!

The Darkest Hour - Maya Banks


What would you do when the loss of your wife and the grief wasn't the only thing that was "eating you alive"? But also the horrible guilt that threatened to destroy every inch of you?


Ethan Kelly, a former Navy SEAL, lost his wife in a plane crash exactly one year ago. The plane crash was so devastating that it was impossible to test the DNA or match the dental records. The only thing that was left was her charred wedding ring and a part of her passport. And since no one on the small plane survived, it was evident that she died as well. No one suspected any foul play because everyone on board was on a humanitarian mission in South America and there was no evidence of it.


On the one year anniversary of Rachel's death, Ethan tried to do everything to forget. Cheap liquor was the best way to go. For a while. But when a strange delivery arrived and he opened a thick envelope containing photographs of a woman who looked almost exactly like his late wife, he believed to be hallucinating or that someone is playing a very sick joke on him. Despite trying not to bring any hope to life, he started reviewing maps, directions, photographs... and what he saw added up. The woman was being held by a drug cartel deep in some jungle, she was thin and dirty... but alive.


The only thing he could do was to get help from his brothers. Sam, Garret and Donovan were owners of a group/business called the KGI (Kelly Group International). They did things that US government couldn't or officialy wasn't allowed to do. They gathered intelligence, scouted and rescued hostage from third countries. It was a secret, elite, family business. He trusted his brothers to have a saner view on the case and to investigate if there was anything remotely true to this story. The one thing that was the most unbelievable was that if this really was Rachel, why did they kept her alive for a year and went through all that trouble to fake her death?


Now, that there was a shimmer of hope present, Ethan was at the same time, happy and scared. The reason he was scared was the way they left things upon her departure. They had problems in their marriage and they had a big fight just as she was about to leave. It was so awful that he even mentioned divorce. The last conversation they had was hurtful, mean and the worst mistake he ever made. He regretted it immediately and promised that as soon as she returns he's going to make everything better. But he never got the chance. The guilt that was growing in him day by day since she died was starting to overwhelm him. Now, he hoped that she is alive and well but he also feared that she would hate him and refused him, which she had every right to. Riddled with mixed emotions, regret and confusion, he and his brothers along with their teams set course towards the Columbian jungle.


To get her out, the KGI will have to dodge bullets and explosive, face a deadly danger, risk their lives and when they will finally reach their target there will be in more shock than any physical wound could inflict.


Rachel was a shadow of a woman she used to be. Malnourished, filthy and addicted to heavy drugs, she was scared of them just as she was scared of her kidnappers. She couldn't or didn't want to remember anything from before. She didn't recognised them. All she knew was that she needed the next fix because spiders had started to crawl all over her skin again.


Brothers will have to extract this weak women that wasn't helping them to do so in the least. They will have to deal with her physically as well as psychologically and emotionally for she looked as though she is going to break down at every second.




Exceptionally thrilling read !


Maya Banks, the author, combined military action with deep emotional love story. The suspense is beyond the roof. A real page-turner.


Deep trauma that the main heroine suffered was only the beginning of her troubles. Being held captive for a year, tortured and hooked on drugs which rendered her escape, left emotional and psychic scars. The only natural defence for Rachel was amnesia. She forgot everything. That was easier than to remember everything she will never have and the torture she endured. When rescue finally came, she was lost. She didn't know those people. They all looked like enemies. As she slowly recovered and the pull of the drugs wasn't as strong as before, she started to learn who she used to be.


The most frustrating thing was that she couldn't remember herself. She didn't know who she was so she didn't know who she is supposed to be now. And as the time passed by and she remembered little to none, her frustration and anxiety grew...


On the hand, Ethan Kelly, a strong capable man was tortured on the inside. Since the moment of their big fight, through Rachel's death, her funeral, her anniversary and the proof handed to him that she was alive. When he saw her at that camp, so frightened and thin, he took care of her with such delicacy and patience that is rarely seen. And even though she started to warm up to him and trust him, he knew that this trust will last as long as her memories are missing. Because once she remembers their fight and the divorce papers, she will surely hate him and reject him. As day passed one by one and she slowly recovered, he sank deeper and deeper into despair and guilt. If he tells her now that the fight and his words and actions on that day didn't mean a thing, that he loves her still and always will, will she forgive him or will she crumble under the onslaught of bad memories? The worst thing was that no one else knew about that. Not his brothers or his parents. No one knew what he carried inside and the weight of it will soon crush him.


Amazing display of characters, their inner turmoil, doubt, fear, desire, unexplainable dread, guilt... all mixed amidst some great action scenes and shrouded with secrets.


I'm not a big fan of contemporary romance but this really touched me. It was easy to picture oneself in their position and experience everything they did through their emotions and actions. I felt an incredible urge to go call my boyfriend and have a friendly chit-chat with him just because well... what if it was our last? Damn... some deep heavy feelings turned up as I've finished this book. It moved me. And it is rare for me to be moved by a book, excited yes, turned on yes, but moved on the emotional side... rare.


So, why only four stars you might ask yourself? Well... because I hated the constant repeating. Ethan kept on saying every two or three paragraphs over how this was his only chance and how he dreaded he will miss it. Every single freakin' page. Also, if I were in Ethan's position, I would also suspect Garret and Rachel to have something more going on between them. It is not normal to be that close to your husband's brother.


One more thing, I think that Rachel's past should have been explained more. We only see fragments here and there and it is difficult to represent her as a person she was. We only see her in regard to Ethan and the family. Nothing else. No friends, nothing about her work (I think it's mentioned that she was a teacher) or if she really was a teacher how did the kids react when she rose from the dead. She should have been a greater part of the community, not just the Kelly family.


Despite the lack of her past, if we were to look at the trauma, the feelings, the turmoil in their lifes... we would find that this is an exceptional work, very worth the read and the patience.