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REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: The Darkest Hour by Maya Banks

NOTE:   I’ll be announcing the winners later today, August 22, 2010.

Dear Ms. Banks:

I have to confess, although I think you know this already, that I am all over the place with your books. Some I have enjoyed tremendously, others have bored me, and still others make me shake my head in dismay. When I had heard you were writing books in the romantic suspense genre, I was interested because most everything I had read from you had been purely erotic in nature, meaning that the conflict was centered mostly around the relationship of the two (or more) protagonists, usually based on sexual exploration. The blurb for The Darkest Hour didn’t sound like an erotic romance and it is not.

The Darkest Hour by Maya BanksThe story opens with Ethan Kelly trying to drink himself into oblivion, again. Ethan had married his childhood love, Rachel, a young girl that became part of his family long before they were married. But Ethan loved his job as a Navy SEAL maybe more than he loved Rachel and their marriage began to disintegrate when he was gone for weeks on end, with no word when he would return. Lonely and alone, Rachel went on a relief mission and only her remains were returned to Ethan. Devastated by how he had failed Rachel, how he never gave enough of himself to her, Ethan can’t live with himself.

On the one year anniversary of her death, Ethan receives a package which suggests that his precious wife is not dead, but has instead been held in captivity in some hellhole in Cambodia. Ethan is struck by two extreme emotions: hope and hate. Hope that his beloved is still alive and hate at himself for allowing her to be a prisoner for over a year. Ethan seeks out the help of his brothers, all former military who run a security firm that rescued people, freed hostages, “blew shit up.” I loved the scene in which Ethan took his case to his brothers.

"Ethan," Donovan began in his quiet voice. "You have to know, this is probably just a hoax. Some sick joke. It might even be someone with a grudge against KGI. What better way to get us in the line of fire with our balls hanging out than to dangle Rachel in front of us like that?"

Sam nodded grimly. "We certainly have to treat it as a possible threat."

Ethan exploded in rage. He slammed into Sam, grabbed handfuls of his shirt and got into his face. "That's my wife down there in some shit hole. We aren't talking about some name-less hostage or some political pawn who doesn't matter. This is Rachel. With or without your help, I'm going in to get her."

I don’t think it is any spoiler to say that Rachel is recovered but she has amnesia. She’s addicted to drugs which were used to keep her compliant while imprisoned and her memory is like a sieve. She remembers a few people from her past, like Ethan, but not much else. She doesn’t even recall much about Ethan, just a lot of intense feeling and a foreboding.

There is a lot of emotion in this story and while the suspense is present, I thought the real story was the relationship between Ethan and Rachel. Ethan is desperate for a second chance. Rachel is haunted by fleeting memories and struggling to cope with being with Ethan again. There is tension between them that belies his whispers of love and devotion. They both have to deal with the problems of what caused their marriage to fail the first go around. Ethan, in particular, is in a pickle because no one in his family knew how bad his marriage to Rachel had become.

This book isn’t perfect. One thing that bothered me quite a bit was Ethan’s mother’s adoption of another teenage stray, Rusty. While she played a part in the conflict, Rusty was also a forgotten character for many stretches of narrative. I felt she was sequel bait and little else. At some point, I presume she will hook up with one of the many Kelly brothers.

I liked how the amnesia part was dealt with. Rachel felt confused and guilty and needy, all at the same time:

"Will you take a bath with me?" she blurted.

He blinked in surprise, and for a long moment he didn't say anything. He seemed to struggle with exactly what to say, how to respond.

"You used to wash my hair. I remember you touching me."

Fire built in his eyes, sparking the blue until it resembled a storm front.

"Are you sure, baby? I don't want to do anything to make you uncomfortable."

She shrugged, hating the awkwardness of asking her husband, her husband, to be intimate with her again.

But I would have liked to have seen more of Rachel’s recovery from her addiction to drugs and whether it had any long lasting effects (it didn’t seem like it did) particularly when I thought that the drug addiction was in place of Rachel being sexually assaulted (which it appears that she was not).   The suspense doesn’t pick up until the second half of the book and while present, my focus was on the rebuilding of the marriage between the amnesiac Rachel and the guilt ridden Ethan.

Also, while I didn’t mind this, I can see some people being frustrated with Rachel because she is weak and often being taken care of by the Kelly men, and the local law enforcement, Sean (who might also be future hero for Rusty) but given that she was a recovering drug addict who had been imprisoned for a year in Cambodia who was also struggling with regaining her memory, I cut her some slack.   Who wouldn’t be a basket case, right?

I was very satisfied, emotionally, by the romance.   Bring on the rest of the Kelly brothers!   B

Best regards,

Jane

I have 10 books to giveaway and if you leave a comment and tell us the title of the last good book you’ve read (because I’m nosy like that), I’ll enter you to win one of the 10 copies. Thanks to Berkley and Maya Banks for the giveaway. You can read an excerpt of the book here.

Book Link | Kindle | Amazon | nook | BN | Borders
| Sony| BooksonBoard

This is a mass market to be released on September 7, 2010 by Berkley, a division of Penguin Books. Penguin engages in Agency pricing.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

240 Comments

  1. Doreen R
    Aug 18, 2010 @ 23:43:32

    The last book I read was A Hint of Wicked. It was a very sweet read. Thanks so much for a chance to win this.

  2. Chelsea B.
    Aug 18, 2010 @ 23:53:55

    The last good book I read was Highlander Ever After by Jennifer Ashley.

  3. Shawna C.
    Aug 18, 2010 @ 23:57:11

    The last good book I read was “Lover Unbound” by JR Ward. I figure with John’s story done it was time to re-read the first three books and finish reading the rest. Before that was Angela Knight’s “Master of Dragons.”

  4. Layla
    Aug 19, 2010 @ 00:06:30

    El último libro que he leído es “Delicious “de Shayla Black y estoy leyendo “Rosas sin espinas” de Nora Roberts.

    De Maya Banks, sólo he leido la Mujer de los Colters

  5. Jenna E.
    Aug 19, 2010 @ 00:13:07

    Thanks for reviewing this book–it sounds like one I will want to read. The last good book I read was Rochelle Mead’s Spirit Bound. I love her YA series.

  6. Mitzi H.
    Aug 19, 2010 @ 00:18:47

    I just finished Guilty Pleasure and Nauti Deceptions by Lora Leigh….on my new Kindle…and enjoyed both stories very very much.

  7. Julia
    Aug 19, 2010 @ 02:18:12

    Cannot wait to read this book!!! The last good book I read was Into The Crossfire by Lisa Marie Rice it was an amazing book just like all her others!!!

  8. Bella F
    Aug 19, 2010 @ 02:19:06

    The last good book I just finished was a memoir called “Sh*t My Dad Says” and was hysterically funny. But my last great romance read was Julie James’ “Practice Makes Perfect” and now I just started reading and loving her book “Something About You”!

  9. sab
    Aug 19, 2010 @ 02:36:13

    latest book i read that was incredible would be nalini singh’s archangel’s kiss

  10. Marcella
    Aug 19, 2010 @ 03:15:14

    Haven’t read her before and this book sounds great – I’d like to try it.

    Latest great book I read was Pamela Clare – Naked Edge.

  11. Maija A.
    Aug 19, 2010 @ 03:20:01

    I love her books!

    I just reread Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh. There hasn’t been any other book as good as that this month…

  12. Ellie
    Aug 19, 2010 @ 05:11:00

    The premise sounds interesting.

    The last good book was a whole series, actually, City of Ghosts, Stacia Kane. The whole Downside series has just been riveting.

  13. Leslie Grabill
    Aug 19, 2010 @ 05:45:23

    I love Maya Bank’s Books . I last book i have read is Kris Cooks PERECTION It was totally awesome .

  14. julie defruscio
    Aug 19, 2010 @ 06:12:00

    Can’t wait for Maya’s book to come out i automatically buy them because they are always so good. Hope you pick me!

    Last good book Extreme Danger by Shannon Mckenna, so glad you asked that question because i am writing down a lot of the books people enjoyed that i haven’t read yet so that i can check them out, always looking for good authors and books like Maya’s, thanks Julie

  15. ~ames~
    Aug 19, 2010 @ 06:54:18

    I’m a big Maya Banks fan and this sounds good!

    Last good book I read was Out of the Pocket by Bill Koningsberg. It’s a sports YA with a gay quarterback for a hero, very good stuff!

  16. Victoria Zumbrum
    Aug 19, 2010 @ 08:10:40

  17. Loviegirl
    Aug 19, 2010 @ 09:39:55

    The last good book that I read was Bad Things Happen by Harry Dolan. I seem to be bouncing back and forth between murder and romance this summer! I’m hoping that this book goes in the plus column for Maya Banks (for me) but I keep reading them so there must be something that I like!

  18. DianeN
    Aug 19, 2010 @ 10:15:40

    The last good book I read is Shadows at Midnight by Elizabeth Jennings. It’s so good, in fact, that I borrowed several of her other books from a college library in MN, which is significant because (a) a college library that owns romance novels is made of win, and (b) I live in upstate NY, which is nowhere near MN! Gotta love interlibrary loan. Gotta love it even more when it’s your actual job and you can pretty much borrow any book you want no matter where it’s located!

  19. Angela McCallister
    Aug 19, 2010 @ 10:37:01

    I just read Angel’s Blood by Nalini Singh, and I’m eagerly waiting for Archangel’s Kiss to arrive to continue the story. Loved it, but the down side: it had lots of romantic tension but felt kinda weak to me when they finally consummated. I really enjoyed Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooter’s Inc, so I think I’d like this book.

  20. Teri P
    Aug 19, 2010 @ 12:06:53

    The last good book I read was Crazy for Love, by Victoria Dahl. Great light, humorous book.

    Looking forward to something new from Maya Banks and this series sounds interesting.

  21. Marlene Karol
    Aug 19, 2010 @ 13:01:53

    The last book I read was Rapture Untamed by Pamela Palmer.

    I have been waiting for the Kelly Series to hit the stands for what seems like forever! I can’t have this book in my hands soon enough.

    Thanks Maya! Keep them coming ;)

  22. Marlene Karol
    Aug 19, 2010 @ 13:12:57

    For those of you who like Maya Banks, SEALs and Romantic suspense try….

    Lora Leigh (SEALs & Elite Ops Series)
    Roxanne St Clair (Bullet Catchers Series)
    Stephanie Tyler (Hard to Hold Trilogy)

    Great reads!

  23. georganna
    Aug 19, 2010 @ 13:20:46

    Unfortunately, I read quite a few duds lately. The last book I remember really loving was “Lover Mine” by JR Ward.

  24. Cindi Mitchell
    Aug 19, 2010 @ 13:46:14

    “Hot Finish” by Erin McCarthy ;)

  25. cindersmaria
    Aug 19, 2010 @ 14:34:31

    Jane,

    I agree with you about being all over the place with Maya Banks books. And yet, I do continue to read them. I am anxious to read her Navy SEAL series though. I just love me some bad-arse boys.

  26. Geri J.
    Aug 19, 2010 @ 14:43:49

    The last book I really enjoyed was “The Battle Sylph” by LJ McDonald.

  27. Jane
    Aug 19, 2010 @ 16:31:33

    @cindersmaria Hopefully you will like this one too.

  28. Jane
    Aug 19, 2010 @ 16:34:32

    @georganna I’ve been there. Usually I re-read then.

  29. De
    Aug 19, 2010 @ 16:54:18

    Last good book I read, Beyond Heaving Bosoms. I bought it for the library when it came out, and had flipped through it a couple of times. But I hadn’t gotten around to actually reading it until last weekend. Loved it. Pimped it to several people who are planning to read it too.

  30. Bea
    Aug 19, 2010 @ 19:27:47

    As it happens I just finished “All I Ever Wanted” by Kristan Higgins for tomorrow night’s chat.

    I’ve never read anything by Ms Banks, but this new series sounds very much like Brockman’s and Leigh’s series of SEAL’s.

  31. Kim
    Aug 19, 2010 @ 20:21:01

    Your review makes it an even more difficult wait for The Darkest Hour. I’m one who likes, to varying degrees, all of Banks’ books.
    The last “A” book I have read is a tie between Robin Wells’ Still The One and Tymber Dalton’s The Reluctant Dom.

  32. Booklover1335
    Aug 19, 2010 @ 20:31:01

    The last great book that I read was Addicted by Charlotte Featherstone. And while the book is over a year old, I just read it last month….so I haven’t had a big dry spell :)

    I’ve been eagerly and patiently waiting for this new series and can’t wait to read it. Needless to say I would be beyond excited to win a copy!

  33. JenM
    Aug 20, 2010 @ 02:06:50

    I just finished Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars. It was a hilarious look into all of the work that goes into performing the simple, everyday tasks of life, only in space.

  34. jayhjay
    Aug 20, 2010 @ 09:45:59

    I just read Collision Course and it was wonderful. I am reading the sequel/prequel now

  35. Sabrina @ about happy books
    Aug 20, 2010 @ 13:25:09

    The last good book I read is “Pleasures of a notorious gentleman”by Lorraine Heath. I had the chance to read it as an egalley and loved it.
    Historical romances are often hit or miss for me and this one was a big hit. I loved how the two deeply wounded main charcters found love and trust again. I had to cry and smile at the same time while reading the book and that’s always a good sign.

  36. Gabrielle
    Aug 20, 2010 @ 19:00:38

  37. Rachel Riddles
    Aug 20, 2010 @ 19:58:56

    Thanks for doing the giveaway. The last good book I read was Lover Awakened by J R Ward. I just recently discovered The Black Dagger Brotherhood and love them. That book was truly emotional and sucked you in so much. I do have to say I am a big fan of Maya Banks. I am certainly looking forward to The Darkest Hour.

  38. Jennifer M
    Aug 20, 2010 @ 22:24:09

    The last great book I really enjoyed was The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker. I’m now reading the second book (Darkly Luminous) and loving it just as much as the first. The author really invokes the time period that the books are set in (London 1888) with her writing style.

  39. WINNERS of The Darkest Hour Giveaway | Dear Author
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 06:08:43

    [...] follower were our winners for The Darkest Hour giveaway.  We asked them to share with us their last best read.  All winners have been contacted. [...]

  40. Berkley Fall Giveaway | Dear Author
    Sep 01, 2010 @ 04:01:35

    [...] HOUR, Maya Banks We just had a terrific giveaway for THE DARKEST HOUR on Dear Author accompanied by a great review from Jane, but I just can’t resist talking about THE DARKEST HOUR again. It’s the first [...]

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