Friday, June 24, 2011

5 minute review, The Darkest Hour by @Maya_Banks

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.

In Harm's Way, Irene Hannon

 In Harm's Way by Irene Hannon: A RITA Finalist for Inspirational Romance

Rachel Sutton never considered herself psychic, but as soon as she touches an old Raggedy Ann doll that she finds in a parking lot, she is overcome by a wave of terror. The FBI agent she eventually approaches, Nick Bradley, doesn't take her seriously until he discovers a link between the doll and a child abduction case. The pair are now racing against the clock to find the baby, but the kidnapper has targeted Rachel, believing she knows more than she should. Rachel is in a fight for her life, with danger and old family secrets hindering her at every turn.

The book is classified as inspirational, but it's not actually that heavy on God and the Christian faith. It's really more of a suspense novel with a bit of religion thrown in. The characters are well-drawn and it's a bit unique,  having the hero be the religious one. I liked the twist regarding Rachel's family an the explanation for why she connects with the doll. The kidnapper's point of view is also shown and, while the sympathy clearly lies with the baby's family, the reader can understand why the kidnapper felt driven to do this. I even pitied her a little in the end.

I'm not really one for inspirationals or romantic suspense, but apparently I enjoy inspirational suspense.  I liked this book, which worked well as a standalone, but it is actually prt of a trilogy., I have the first book on my iPad to read at some point. If you enjoyed this title, I recommend Dee  Henderson's O'Malley series.