The Darkest Hour by Maya Banks: A RITA finalist for Romantic Suspense
Ethan is sitting alone in a dark room, grieving the death of his wife Rachel, who died in a plane crash. However, he receives a mystery package that contains photographs of a hostage who bears a striking resemblance to his wife. He's afraid to hope, but he's desperate to check it out anyway. Along with his brothers, who run the mercenary teams of KGI, they travel to the jungle to find a Rachel who's been trapped in hell. Abused and addicted to heroin, her memory is fragmented, but she recognizes Ethan. Ethan is so grateful to have his wife back. He just hopes her memory stays missing and she never remembers what happened before she got on that plane...
I had to stop reading Suzanne Brockmann's books when the War in Iraq started because she wrote so well, I couldn't stop thinking about all the real servicemen suffering overseas. I quit Battlestar Galatica after the first episode for the same reason. The sense of desperation, the violent need to survive, it reminded me too strongly of 9-11. I am already very conscious of the turmoil and the relative unsafeness of the world (a perk of having PTSD) and so I tend to avoid romance suspense books. Living inside a character's head while they are pursued by a murderer is very disquieting and not my idea of escapism.
However, The Darkest Hour is not so much about Rachel's ordeal and more about family & the human body's capability for resilience. Banks could have made it a much more gritty story, focusing on Rachel's withdrawal or her treatment at the hands of her captors, but she focuses instead on hope and love. Ethan has a second chance with his wife, a chance to atone for the mistakes he made in the past. To read about the outpouring of love that greets Rachel on her rescue is envy-inspiring. She has been missed, her return from the dead a cause for celebration.
Due to the emotional focus, I really enjoyed this book, more than I thought I would. I immediately requested the next book, No Place to Run from the library (liked it as well) and now I have Hidden Away sitting at home waiting to be read. I'm looking forward to checking out her upcoming historical, In Bed with the Highlander, now. Nalini Singh has been tweeting about it and that's a gold star rec for me.