Author: Maya Banks
Book: Darkest Before Dawn
tl;dr recommendation: This works in so many fantastic, dark, and gritty ways. 5 stars!
The Kelly Group International (KGI): A super-elite, top secret, family-run business.
Qualifications: High intelligence, rock-hard body, military background.
Mission: Hostage/kidnap victim recovery. Intelligence gathering. Handling jobs the U.S. government can’t…
The enigmatic Hancock has been both opponent and ally to the KGI teams for as long as they’ve known him. Always working a deep game, Hancock’s true allegiance has never been apparent, but one thing is for certain—he never lets anything get in the way of duty.
But now, his absolute belief in the primacy of his ultimate goal is challenged by a captive he’s been ordered to guard, no matter how much she suffers in her prison. She’s the only woman who’s ever managed to penetrate the rigid walls surrounding his icy heart, but will he allow his perplexing feelings for the beautiful victim to destroy a mission he’s spent years working to complete or will he be forced to sacrifice her for “the greater good.”
I don’t quite know what I was expecting diving into this book but I was hesitant because of the whole ‘kidnap to love’ trope – if you know me, you know I’m wary about that plot point, but I had nothing to be concerned about here. In fact, I think Maya has turned me. This works in so many fantastic, dark, and gritty ways.
Hancock believes himself to be soulless – hard, tough, unfeeling – and for the most part he’s right. He’s never really let his feelings get in the way of a mission before. Loyalty? Yes. Feelings? No. He doesn’t have them. But Honor breaks through walls to a heart that he didn’t even know he had.
Honor is fucking kick ass. If I could be a heroine, I’d be Honor Cambridge. She’s not only quick thinking and intelligent when she escapes from the bombing of the relief center she works at and evades her would-be captors for over a week, but she’s also caring, fierce and intuitive. She believes in her gut instinct, follows it diligently, and even when she’s at her bleakest point, she manages to surprise everyone by giving the reaction that no one could possibly think is fathomable from a woman in her position. GOD I LOVED HER.
It took me a few chapters, but I was then pulled into this complex storyline and even though I hadn’t read the other books that came before this one, I easily caught up with each character. I liked them, even when I wasn’t supposed to. Talk about a total mindfuck. This book is light on actual sex scenes, but heavy on emotion. I found myself tearing up and breaking down at the mere pain these characters endure.
This book is not a light hearted contemporary romance where you’ll be smiling and holding hands and skipping in a field of wildflowers. Nope. Not this book. But that’s also what I loved so much about it. A good bit of the book takes place in the middle east in war torn country – there’s a lot of violence, death and unknowns. But there’s also a connection between Honor and Hancock that can’t be ignored, even though Hancock does his best to ignore it.
He brings her to the brink of trust, allows her to go over the edge and does nothing to stop it when she does. He loathes himself for every piece of emotional harm he causes her, and yet he still thinks he’s doing it all for the greater good. Until he’s not. Until everything changes.
Darkest Before Dawn may not be my usual go-to kind of book, but I am so glad I took the chance. This dark and suspenseful story had me on my toes and left me inspired. This was different and gloriously beautiful while heartbreaking and painful. This is romantic suspense that’s broken and melded back together. I completely loved it. 5 stars!
[I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review]