Ethan believes his wife is dead. She died in a plane crash one year ago, and he buried her. Except now, a year later, someone sends him evidence that she’s not as dead as he though and is, in fact, being held captive in some South American hell hole.
Ethan and his brothers, mercenaries by trade, launch a rescue mission to get her home. But things aren’t easy for Rachel, who has been mistreated and drugged (heroine or cocaine). She can’t remember much of her life, and she suffers from severe withdrawal.
Here’s what I loved about this story: Rachel. She was a strong woman made weak by circumstance, struggling to come back to life. She isn’t okay after her ordeal, and in fact, still isn’t really okay at the end of this book. (Kudos!)
Ultimately, though, I rated it three stars because I found myself glad I had read the next three books in the series before I read this one. It wasn’t intentional — my library just didn’t have this title until this week and I was very much looking forward to it. But I read books 2, 3, and 4 (in that order) first, and thought they were all a bit stronger on the suspense.
This book had some believability issues, particularly towards the end. When certain people learn of Rachel’s continued existence, they try to kill her for what she knows (or knew, since her memory is wonky). The assassination attempts were PITIFUL! I simply do not believe that these men couldn’t manage to kill her, given the circumstances presented in this book. There was also a nit-picky story-telling issue that nonetheless jumped out at me and, IMO, should have jumped out at a content editor — late in the book Rachel suddenly knows self defense, because her brothers in law taught her. She should have remembered this sooner, so that the tool was in place when she needed it, rather than having it drop out of the heavens in the middle of a desperate situation.
As for the romance, at first I was really into it. Ethan had filed for divorce just before she flew off to South America on her “mission of mercy.” He regretted it shortly thereafter, but then she died — or so he thought. She doesn’t remember any of this at first. I’m not sure why, but somewhere around 2/3 of the way through this book, I began to get really impatient with her still not knowing. Then, when she does remember, and we finally get the whole story, I felt a bit let down. I often feel this way in reunion stories, which is why I tend to avoid them.
Also, I didn’t care for the sex scenes. I was bored with the first and skipped the second entirely. It wasn’t the scenes themselves — which reminded me strongly of all of Banks’s other sex scenes — but the lead-in. Given what Rachel had been through, and all the healing she was undergoing, and Ethan’s feelings of insecurity over what she didn’t remember, I didn’t think either one of them was READY to have sex yet. In fact, I don’t think this book needed sex at all. It felt forced, inserted more because the author was writing for a specific audience that expected it rather than because it developed organically out of the characters and situation.
I will say, though, that finally reading this book made Rusty’s situation make a LOT more sense. I really didn’t get her until now.
Overall, I do recommend this book, but mostly because I recommend the series.
Title: The Darkest Hour
Author: Maya Banks
Published September 7, 2010