Hidden Away – a review

KGI 3

Blurb:

A man who shoots first and asks questions later…

Most people would take an all-expenses-paid trip to the beach in a heartbeat. Garrett Kelly only accepts to keep tabs on Sarah Daniels, who’s in hiding after witnessing a murder by Marcus Lattimer, her half-brother—and a personal enemy of KGI. This gig may be beneath a disciplined soldier like Garrett, but if he gets a shot at Lattimer, it will all be worth it…

…and the ultimate moving target.

But Garrett hadn’t counted on falling for Sarah. He’d considered seduction as a tactical maneuver, but when he glimpses Sarah’s dark past, he feels an urgent desire to keep her safe—even after she disappears on him. Garrett doesn’t know exactly who, or what, Sarah’s running from, but whatever it is, she’s running for her life…

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One of the things that I really admire about Maya Banks’ first three KGI novels is that each of them has a very different tone. Ethan and Rachel’s novel is more emotional and intimate. You see the family dynamics strongly at play and the softer side of everyone. It tugs at your heart strings just a little bit. Sam and Sophie have lots more action. So much of the story is told from Sophie’s perspective that even though the reader has already met the Kelly brothers, they seem a little cold and harsh, a lot intimidating and powerful. In particular, I loved seeing the very different sides of Garrett, from lovey with Rachel to suspicious of (and frightening to) Sophie.

Which leads us to Hidden Away, featuring the enigmatic Garrett and fragile, forgiving Sarah.

I loved the beachy tone of this book, and the time that this allowed for Garrett to break down Sarah’s defences. I don’t think that their relationship would have worked in any other environment, because he wouldn’t have gotten through those barriers without completely breaking her down as a person. I felt a lot of empathy for their situation. And now I feel a strong need to escape my life and move to a sleepy little Caribbean island.

There were a couple of things that bothered me a slightly about this book. Sarah is so emotionally fragile – understandably so from her character’s backstory – but she seemed to get over it a little too easily when she and Garrett became intimate. I would have really loved to see the back-end of their story extended at least five chapters to see how they work through some of those problems, and also to demonstrate how they stay together and overcome the fallout at the end of the plot …..

* * * Minor Spoiler Alert * * *

You know it isn’t going to end completely happy because Sarah is inevitably going to lose either Garrett or her brother … and it’s a romance … so you can probably guess who she loses from her life. That was well-written and I enjoyed how it played out on the page but was another thing that I wish Banks had teased out a little more. Without giving everything away, I have no idea how Sarah and Garrett were able to overcome the hardships and emotional entanglements that became embedded in their relationship due to his mission and her circumstances. It would be so natural for this to break them apart and their reunion is little more than that. A reunion. You have about a half chapter where he apologizes and they get back together to sail off into the sunset.

I don’t like that the book ended this way. It left out all the hard stuff and it’s super lazy when authors do that. I suspect Banks was concerned that the novel was going to be too long, but there was other stuff I would have much preferred she remove, especially the whole Alaska plot-line. It would have saved a few pages without affecting the story at all.

It would have been awesome to see Sarah slowly make her way into the Kelly family and overcome what I’m sure would be initial fear – intimidation, at least – of the KGI group as she and Garrett made a life together. You do get to see glimpses in later books, but it is very understated because this couple is not the focus of those instalments.

Despite my criticisms, I do really like Hidden Away, I just wish the tough bits had been more flushed out.

This is the last KGI book that I am going to review – for now at least. There are seven more after Hidden Away, but I like the first three the best so I don’t want to re-read the others for a review. If you really like these ones though, you might want to continue.

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No Place to Run – a review

No place to run is the second novel in Maya Banks’ KGI series which features a post-military career family of 6 boys who start their own consulting business together, covering everything from outsourced government jobs, to private hostage rescues and corporate security.

Here’s the blurb:

KGI 2

Sam Kelly was her first love.

The last person Sam Kelly expected to pull wounded from the lake was Sophie Lundgren. Once they shared a brief, intense affair while Sam was undercover and then she vanished. She’s spent the last months on the run, knowing that any mistake would cost her life and that of her unborn child—Sam’s child. Now she’s resurfaced with a warning for Sam: this time, he’s the one in danger.

Now he’s her last chance.

Sam has too many questions to let her slip away again—like why she disappeared in the first place. This time he vows not to be seduced. But one look in her eyes, and the passion burns again, and Sam knows he’ll do anything to keep her and his child safe. However, Sophie’s dark past is more dangerous than he imagines, and the only way for either to survive it is to outrun it.

—                      —                       —

I found this second novel to be very different from the first. Possibly because a lot of pages in The Darkest Hour were devoted to establishing the characters and KGI’s business, the story felt more emotionally intimate between the characters and you see the softer side of them, as their missing family member returns home after a year in hell.

But in No Place to Run, the introductions have already been made. There are more pages available to devote to the plot and plenty of action. Gunfights, knife fights, helicopters and grenades galore.

I really admire Sophie. She has been on the run for five months, pregnant the whole time, and is at the end of her ability to protect herself and her unborn child. But when she arrives in Sam’s arms, she doesn’t turn into a silly little fool. She keeps thinking and playing the angles, trying to figure out the safest path forward.

I don’t blame either Sophie or Sam for not immediately trusting each other with everything that has happened. I actually really liked that the author kept true to the natural feelings of distrust and reluctance between the characters, despite their mutual attraction. It felt more realistic and allowed the reader to see a different side of the Kellys than was established in the previous instalment.

The boys were all super sweet and devoted to Rachel in book one. This time around, you get a small sense of what it would be like to be standing on the other side from them, during certain scenes told from Sophie’s perspective. They are certainly an intimidating and formidable force!

I’m glad that I choose to re-read these novels this week and will be posting the review for the third – Garrett’s – shortly. If No Place to Run sounds to your taste, you can try it out by reading the first chapter and a bit on Amazon.

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The Darkest Hour – a review

I love the first few books in Maya Banks’ KGI series. They feature a post-military career family of 6 boys who start their own consulting business together, covering everything from outsourced government jobs, to private hostage rescues and corporate security.

What sets these books apart from other contemporary military/LEO series is the strong sense of family and the supporting cast that shows up in every book. Because the author starts with such a large family and immediately introduces supporting characters, you don’t get the sense that she is merely adding characters to pair up, in order to continue the series. They are a part of the story from the beginning.

I also love how the heroes are sensitive and gentle to the woman in their lives, without losing any of that badassery. You get to see characters like Rachel experience meaningful relationships outside of the romantic lead in novel, which is something many romances lack.

Speaking of Rachel … here’s the blurb and cover to book 1.

KGI 1

Blurb:

It’s been one year since ex-Navy SEAL Ethan Kelly last saw his wife Rachel alive. Overwhelmed by grief and guilt over his failures as a husband, Ethan shuts himself off from everything and everyone.

His brothers have tried to bring Ethan into the KGI fold, tried to break through the barriers he’s built around himself, but Ethan refuses to respond… until he receives anonymous information claiming Rachel is alive.

To save her, Ethan will have to dodge bullets, cross a jungle, and risk falling captive to a deadly drug cartel that threatens his own demise. And even if he succeeds, he’ll have to force Rachel to recover memories she can’t and doesn’t want to relive—the minute by minute terror of her darkest hour—for their love, and their lives, may depend on it.

—                        —                        —

The Darkest Hour is a stand-out first book in the KGI series. I love Ethan and Rachel together and how the whole Kelly clan came together to support them and help Rachel reintegrate back into her old life. If you are looking for a book full of action and explosions, some of the later books in the series might be more to your taste. While The Darkest Hours definitely has action, more of the book is dedicated to Rachel’s overcoming of the abuse she suffered during her year as a captive, and the journey she and Ethan have to take to find their ways back to each other.

The KGI books have less sex and steamy scenes in them than many of the author’s other books, if you are familiar with her writing. There are no bdsm or kinky scenes, making it a good choice for someone who prefers “sweet romance”.

The relationship that Ethan’s brother Garret and Rachel share is incredibly special, and one I’m a little jealous of. The second and third KGI books are about Sam and Garret and I look forward to reviewing them shortly.

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Edit: I just noticed that the first 1.5 chapters are on the book’s amazon page if you want to try this book out before purchasing.

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