Sunday, December 12, 2010

Review: The Darkest Hour by Maya Banks

Title: The Darkest Hour
Series: KGI
Author: Maya Banks
Read copy: eBook
Published: September 7, 2010
Publisher: Berkley
ISBN: 1101452811
ISBN-13: 9781101452813

Intelligence: high.
Body: hard.
Mission: what no one else can do.

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 doge bullets cross a jungle and risk falling captive to a deadly drug cartel that threatens his own demise.

My rating:

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 layouts...Everything 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 love...But 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 him more. I 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 a more “profound” explanation for the villain’s actions.

Ms. Banks has created an amazing story, that despite being classified as a romantic suspense, was more a 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.


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