The Darkest Hour (KGI Series #1)

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Overview

Intelligence: high. Body: hard. Mission: what no one else can do.

It's been a year since ex-Navy SEAL Ethan Kelly saw his wife Rachel alive. Now he's received an anonymous phone call claiming Rachel is alive. To find her, Ethan will have to doge bullets, cross a jungle, and risk falling captive to a deadly drug cartel that threatens his own demise.

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Overview

Intelligence: high. Body: hard. Mission: what no one else can do.

It's been a year since ex-Navy SEAL Ethan Kelly saw his wife Rachel alive. Now he's received an anonymous phone call claiming Rachel is alive. To find her, Ethan will have to doge bullets, cross a jungle, and risk falling captive to a deadly drug cartel that threatens his own demise.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In an intriguing mix of military action and sizzling romance, this latest of the KGI series features ex-Navy Seal Ethan Kelly's fight to reclaim the life and love of his wife Rachel, who had gone missing and had been presumed dead a year earlier. He enlists the members of his family in his struggle, who run a special operations group known as Kelly Group International, or KGI. Ethan's emotional and physical resources are put to the test rescuing Rachel, who proves to be a tough cookie in her own right, at one point eluding kidnappers by swimming through a lake at night, all while nursing a broken arm. Their battle to reclaim Rachel's lost memories and solve the problems raised by the reappearance of those memories is engaging and entertaining. While well-paced throughout, its final pages reveal an author in too much of a hurry to bring her tale to a conclusion. (Sept.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425227947
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/7/2010
  • Series: KGI Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 80,207
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

 

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 12

CHAPTER 13

CHAPTER 14

CHAPTER 15

CHAPTER 16

CHAPTER 17

CHAPTER 18

CHAPTER 19

CHAPTER 20

CHAPTER 21

CHAPTER 22

CHAPTER 23

CHAPTER 24

CHAPTER 25

CHAPTER 26

CHAPTER 27

CHAPTER 28

CHAPTER 29

CHAPTER 30

CHAPTER 31

CHAPTER 32

CHAPTER 33

CHAPTER 34

CHAPTER 35

CHAPTER 36

CHAPTER 37

CHAPTER 38

CHAPTER 39

CHAPTER 40

CHAPTER 41

CHAPTER 42

 

Teaser chapter

Praise for the novels of Maya Banks

BE WITH ME

“Three hot men and one lucky woman. I absolutely loved it! Simply wonderful writing. There’s a new star on the rise and her name is Maya Banks.”

—Sunny, national bestselling author of Lucinda, Darkly

 

SWEET SURRENDER

“Searingly sexy and highly believable.”

Romantic Times

“This story ran my heart through the wringer more than once.”

CK2S Kwips and Kritiques

“From page one, I was drawn into the story and literally could not stop reading until the last page.”

The Romance Studio

“Maya Banks’s story lines are always full of situations that captivate readers, but it’s the emotional pull you experience which brings the story to life.”

Romance Junkies

 

FOR HER PLEASURE

“[It] is the ultimate in pleasurable reading. Enticing, enchanting and sinfully sensual, I couldn’t have asked for a better anthology.”

Joyfully Reviewed

“Full of emotional situations, lovable characters, and kick-butt story lines that will leave you desperate for more. I highly recommend For Her Pleasure for readers who like spicy romances with a suspenseful element—it’s definitely a must read!”

Romance Junkies

“Totally intoxicating, For Her Pleasure is one of those reads you won’t be forgetting any time soon.”

The Road to Romance

Berkley titles by Maya Banks

 

FOR HER PLEASURE
SWEET SURRENDER
BE WITH ME
SWEET PERSUASION
SWEET SEDUCTION
SWEET TEMPTATION

 

THE DARKEST HOUR

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

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Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

 

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

 

THE DARKEST HOUR

 

A Berkley Sensation Book / published by arrangement with the author

 

PRINTING HISTORY

Berkley Sensation mass-market edition / September 2010

 

Copyright © 2010 by Maya Banks.

 

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

 

ISBN: 9781101443170

 

BERKLEY® SENSATION
Berkley Sensation Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
BERKLEY® SENSATION and the “B” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

 

 

 

To Stephanie Tyler, Jaci Burton, Karin Tabke, Sylvia Day and Lorelei James.

 

Good friends are the sweetest pleasures in life. Thank you for being mine.

CHAPTER 1

HE’D hoped if he drank enough the night before he’d sleep right through today. Instead his eyes popped open at eight A.M., and sunlight promptly fried his retinas.

Ethan Kelly threw an arm over his face and lay there as the reality of the day hit him square in the gut.

June 16.

He could say something incredibly corny like . . . June 16, the day his world irrevocably changed. June 16, the day everything went to hell. Truth was, it had done that long before.

The phone rang shrilly from the nightstand, and he quelled the urge to smash it. Instead he listened as each ring pierced his skull like an ice pick.

When it didn’t quit in a reasonable length of time, he reached over and yanked the cord from the wall. It could only be one of his well-meaning family members, and the last thing Ethan wanted today was sympathy.

If it was his dad, he’d give Ethan a lecture about how Rachel wouldn’t like the man he’d become. No, Rachel hadn’t liked the man he’d been. Huge difference there. He hadn’t liked the man he’d been.

Frank Kelly would go on about how it was time to get on with his life. Move on. He’d grieved long enough.

If it was one of his brothers calling, they’d ride his ass about when he was coming to work for KGI.

Try never.

Knowing there was no chance of him going back to sleep with a head that was split apart at the seams, he struggled to the edge of the bed and planted his feet on the floor.

He’d sought oblivion, but all he had to show for the alcohol binge was cotton mouth and a stomach that felt like he’d ingested lead.

And he still had to face today.

Eyes closed, he pressed his fingers into his temples and then covered his face with his hands. His palms dug into his eye sockets, and he massaged as if he could wipe away the cloud hovering in his vision.

Rachel.

Her name whispered through his tired mind, conjuring memories of his laughing, smiling, beautiful wife. They floated there like butterflies.

Just as quickly they shriveled and turned black as if someone had held the wings to fire.

Rachel was gone.

She was dead.

She wasn’t coming home.

He pushed himself up from the bed and staggered toward the bathroom. His reflection didn’t shock him, and he didn’t spare a moment to splash his face with water or wash out his mouth. He took a piss and stumbled back out, his tongue rasping over the roof of his mouth.

He needed a drink. Preferably something that wasn’t going to make him puke.

Mechanically, he walked barefooted across the wood floors into the living room. Everything was just as she’d left it. The room reflected her personality. Classy, elegant, and uncluttered.

He was a rough-around-the-edges slob.

With a heavy sigh, he wandered into the kitchen to make himself a cup of coffee. Maybe his dad was right. Maybe it was time to put the past behind him. Get on with his sorry life. But he wasn’t sure he could ever forgive himself for pushing her away.

He stood by the coffeemaker, waiting for it to quit gurgling. He could sell the house and move to something smaller. It didn’t make sense to keep it since it was just him now.

He needed to move somewhere he wasn’t reminded of her at every turn, but then this was part of his penance. She didn’t deserve to be forgotten and discarded even if that’s what he’d done.

He thrust his cup forward and poured the steaming coffee from the pot. Then he ambled over to the glass table that overlooked the back deck. He sat and stared out over the landscape that had suffered over the last year. Rachel and his mom had painstakingly planned every detail, putting in long hours planting and weeding. Ethan had helped—when he was home.

He’d often been gone for weeks on end, the assignments always out of the blue, classified. He left Rachel with her never knowing where he was going or if he’d return. It was no way for them to live.

He’d resigned his commission after Rachel had miscarried their child. During the two years they were married, he’d failed her a lot, and he’d sworn he wouldn’t do it again. But he had.

He rubbed his eyes then let his hand rest lingeringly on the three days’ worth of stubble that resided on his jaw. He was a wreck.

A flash of peach caught his eye. He zeroed in on the vase of roses he’d bought yesterday. They were her favorite. Not quite orange, not quite pink, she’d always say. A perfect shade of peach. He should take them to her grave, but he wasn’t sure he could bear to stand over that cold slab of marble and tell her for the fortieth time he was sorry.

As quickly as the thought seared through his mind, he curled his lip in disgust. He’d go. It was the least he could do. In the weeks leading up to the one-year anniversary of her death, he’d avoided the cemetery. It shouldn’t surprise him that he was all too willing to shirk his responsibility. He’d made a practice of it.

He shoved the cup of coffee across the table, sloshing liquid over the rim. Ignoring the mess, he went back into the bedroom and pulled on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt. He needed a shower and a shave, but he wasn’t taking the time to do either. If his appearance put people off, all the better. Making small talk and exchanging pleasantries wasn’t on his agenda.

Back in the kitchen, he paused in front of the vase of roses. With shaking fingers, he touched one of the soft petals. He hadn’t bought Rachel flowers in a long time. Not since the first year of their marriage. What did it say about him that he bought them now?

Regret was hard enough for a man to swallow, but to swallow the knowledge that he could never do anything to right the wrongs was more than he could bear.

He gripped the vase, his self-disgust making him more nauseous than the sour alcohol swirling around his belly. He grabbed for his keys and stalked toward the front door, determined to go to her grave, face the past and make his peace with the day.

As he opened the door, he came face-to-face with a FedEx deliveryman. He wasn’t sure who was more surprised, him or the FedEx guy, but judging by the way the man backed up a step, Ethan guessed he didn’t look too welcoming.

“Are you Ethan Kelly?” the guy asked nervously.

“Yeah.”

“Have a package for you.”

“Just leave it,” Ethan said, gesturing toward the rocker on the porch. He was impatient to be gone, and he looked pretty damn stupid standing there clutching a vase of flowers.

“I, uh, need your signature.”

Ethan caught the snarl before it escaped and set the flowers down on the porch railing. He gestured impatiently for the stylus and scribbled his electronic signature on the handheld unit.

“Thanks. And here’s your package.”

The guy thrust a thick envelope into Ethan’s hand and hastily backed down the steps. With a wave, he got into his delivery van and roared off down the drive.

Ethan glanced down at the envelope but didn’t immediately see any identifying information. He leaned back into the house and tossed it on the small table in the foyer. Then he slammed the door and reached for the vase.

When he arrived at the small church his family had attended for decades, his gut tightened. It was old, whitewashed and situated off a gravel road well off the beaten path. The cemetery was adjacent to the church, and it was where his ancestors had been buried since the late 1800s.

He got out of his truck, swallowed and then made his way down the worn path to the fenced-in plot of land that made up the cemetery.

The roses shook in his grasp, several petals falling and then catching in the breeze. They swirled crazily and blew across the collection of marble headstones.

His mom had been here. Probably this morning. There were fresh flowers and Rachel’s headstone gleamed in the mid-morning sun.

Rachel Kelly. Beloved wife, sister and daughter.

They’d loved her. His whole family adored her. His brothers used to tease him, tell him if he wasn’t careful they’d lure Rachel away from him.

His gut churned. Acid rose, burning a path through his chest. Why had he thought he could return to the place where he’d said good-bye to his wife? His family had gathered round him that day, his mother’s hand on his arm, his father standing to the side, looking for all the world like he’d break down and cry any moment.

He hated this place.

He leaned down and placed the roses next to her headstone. Tears burned his eyes, and he clenched his jaw, determined not to allow his emotions free rein. He hadn’t cried. Not since he’d received her wedding bands in the mail. The only personal effects recovered from the crash. A crash that had taken the lives of the small group of relief workers flying home from South America.

No, he wouldn’t cry again. If he started, he’d never stop, and he might well lose his tenuous grip on sanity after all. Coldness suited him much better. He knew his family thought he was unfeeling. He’d never allowed anyone to see how profoundly affected he was by Rachel’s death. The truth was he couldn’t bring himself to share her memory with anyone.

He stood there, hands shoved into his pockets, staring at the place where Rachel rested. Overhead the sun rose higher, beating relentlessly down on him. But he felt frozen.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered. “If I could take it all back I would. If I just had one more chance. I’d never let a day go by that I didn’t show you how much I love you.”

The knowledge that he’d never have another chance crippled him. The fact that he’d fucked up the best thing in his life . . . he didn’t have the words to describe the agony.

Unable to stand it another minute, he turned away and walked stiffly back to his truck. The drive home was quiet. He blocked out everything but the road in front of him. Numbness he could deal with.

He walked back into his house, absorbing yet more quiet as he shut the door. The FedEx package lay to the side, but he walked by it, his only desire right now to get a shower and rid himself of the smell of stale booze.

Twenty minutes later, he sat on the edge of the bed and hung his head as he tried to settle his roiling stomach. The shower had helped. Some. But it hadn’t rid him of the aching head and sick gut.

If it hadn’t meant facing his mom, he’d have gone over to get some of her soup. She didn’t deserve to see him hungover and looking like shit, though. It would upset her and make her and his dad worry more than they did already.

He flopped back onto the mattress and closed his eyes. Peace. He just wanted peace.

 

WHEN Ethan next cracked his eyes open, the room was dark. He sucked in a breath through his nose and tested the steadiness of his stomach. He didn’t immediately suffer the urge to puke, so he counted that as a victory.

He glanced over at the window to see that night had fallen. Somehow he’d managed to sleep the entire afternoon. Not that he was complaining. It meant he was that much closer to putting June 16 behind him.

His muscles protested when he crawled out of bed. He stretched and rolled his shoulders as he padded into the kitchen. His stomach growled, another thing he took as a positive sign.

He threw together a sandwich, poured himself a glass of water and made his way into the living room. Not bothering to turn on the light, he sat on the couch and ate in the dark.

He briefly considered finishing off the liquor he’d purchased the day before, but it would mean he’d start all over tomorrow and eventually his family would get tired of his avoidance and they’d come for him.

He’d shoved the last bite of his sandwich into his mouth when his gaze found the FedEx envelope hanging halfway off the table in the small foyer. He frowned as he remembered the encounter with the delivery guy.

Setting his glass on the coffee table, he walked over to retrieve the heavy envelope. As he returned to the couch, he ripped at the seal. He reached over to flip on the lamp, then flopped onto the sofa and slid his hand inside the sturdy Tyvek envelope.

He dragged out a stack of papers in varying sizes and shapes. Some were legal-sized documents while others were half pieces of paper. There were charts and stuff that looked like satellite imagery and GPS coordinates.

Had he gotten KGI stuff by mistake? Surely his brothers wouldn’t have made an error like that. No one they knew should even have his address, but this stuff looked official. It looked military.

There were photos. Several spilled over his lap and onto the couch. When he picked one up, his heart stuttered and all the breath left his chest in a painful rush.

It was a photo of a woman, obviously a prisoner in some shithole jungle camp. If Ethan had to guess, he’d place odds on South America or maybe Asia. Some fuckhole like Cambodia.

Two men flanked the woman in the photo and both carried guns. One had a grip on her arm, and she looked scared out of her mind.

That wasn’t what blazed through his mind like a buzz saw.

The woman looked remarkably like Rachel. His wife Rachel. Rachel who was dead. Rachel who he’d just visited in the fucking cemetery.

What kind of twisted joke was this?

He rifled through the stack of paperwork looking for something that made sense. Maybe some haha note from some sick fuck looking for kicks.

When he came across the short handwritten note, he froze. All the blood left his face at the four simple words.

Your wife is alive.

It was a kick right to the balls. Rage surged through his veins like bubbling lava. He crumpled the note in his fist and threw it across the room. It skittered along the floor and landed under the television.

Who the hell would pull a stunt like this and why?

He snatched up the photo again and then another. He gathered them all, his hands shaking so bad the pictures scattered like a deck of cards.

Cursing, he got down on his knees to collect the photos from underneath the coffee table. Some had slid under the couch, and still more were wedged between the cushions.

Papers had also scattered everywhere. Charts, maps, a whole host of crap that made no sense to him.

Get a grip. Don’t let this asshole get to you.

Even though he told himself it was all some morbid prank, he couldn’t control the rush of anger. Hope. Fear. Rage. Helpless fury. Hope. Against his fucking will. Hope.

He curled his fingers around the papers, wrinkling them with the force of his grip. The pictures stared back at him, mocking him. They were Rachel. All were Rachel.

Thinner, haunted. Her hair was shorter, her eyes duller. But it was Rachel. A face and body he was intimately familiar with.

Who would do this? Why would someone set up such an elaborate hoax just to fuck with him on the one-year anniversary of her death? What could they possibly hope to gain?

He forced himself to look away from the scared, fragile woman in the picture because if he continued to stare and if he gave any thought to it being Rachel—his wife—he was going to vomit.

The other documents blurred in his vision, and he wiped angrily at his eyes so he could make sense of what he was holding. He forced calm he didn’t feel. It took everything he had, but he switched off his emotions and studied the documents with the detached coldness necessary to remain objective.

He hastily spread everything out on the coffee table, positioning what he could fit, and then he lined the rest out on the couch.

The map pointed him to a remote area of Colombia about fifty miles from the Venezuelan border. The satellite photos showed dense jungle surrounding the tiny village—if you could call it a village. It was nothing more than a dozen huts constructed of bamboo and banana leaves.

Special attention was given to the guard towers and to the two areas where arms were stockpiled. What the hell would a shithole like that need with guard towers and enough ammo to support a small army?

Drug cartel.

He glanced again at the photo of the woman.

Rachel.

Her name floated insidiously through his mind.

It looked like her. Made sense it could be her. If it weren’t for the fact that her remains had been shipped home along with her wedding rings.

No DNA testing had been done.

Nausea surged in his belly until he physically gagged.

No. No way in hell he’d blindly accepted his wife’s death while she was being held, enduring God knows what by men who had no compunction about terrorizing an innocent woman.

She’d been identified only by the personal effects supposedly recovered with her remains. The fire had made even dental record identification a moot point. The explosion had incinerated everything in its path. Everything but the bent, misshapen rings and the charred remains of her suitcase. Half of a melted passport had been found in the wreckage. Her passport. It was the flight she’d taken and there had been no survivors. Ethan had never thought to question it.

Jesus, he hadn’t questioned his wife’s death.

He shook his head angrily. Boy was he getting carried away. There had to be some other explanation. Someone was messing with him. He didn’t know why. He didn’t care.

He scanned the rest of the papers. Guard post schedule. Drug drop schedule. What the hell? It certainly looked like someone wanted them to be able to waltz right in. It screamed setup.

GPS coordinates. Satellite photos. Topo maps. Whoever had sent it was thorough.

If this was for real, this information made these jokers sitting ducks. The Boy Scouts could mount an assault on the camp that would take it down inside of five minutes.

Your wife is alive.

He glanced at the shadow of the small, balled-up piece of paper lying underneath the television.

Four words. Just four simple words.

He hated the hope that sprung to life within him. His heart thumped like a jackhammer inside his chest. His pulse raced so fast he felt light-headed, almost like the night before when he’d obliterated any rational thoughts with really cheap liquor.

Only tonight he was stone cold sober.

No. No fucking way. He wouldn’t allow himself the small glimmer of hope that was battling its way through a year of grief. This shit didn’t happen in real life. People didn’t get handed second chances on a fucking platter.

He’d prayed for a miracle more times than he cared to admit, but his prayers had gone unanswered. Or had they?

“You’re losing it,” he muttered.

Finally he was losing the last shreds of sanity. Was this what it felt like at the end of the road? Was all that was left was for him to start barking at the moon?

He rubbed his hands over his face and then over the back of his neck. Then he stared down at the information spread out before him like a road map. A map to his wife.

He wanted to believe it. He’d be the worst sort of dumbass to give this any sort of credibility. But could he afford to dismiss it without even talking to his brothers about it?

Hell, they ran KGI. They kicked asses for a living. There wasn’t a military operation they couldn’t mount. They found people who didn’t want to be found. They rescued people from impossible situations. They freed hostages. They blew shit up. Surely some rinky-dink cartel outpost in the middle of Bum Fuck, Colombia, would be a walk in the park for an organization like KGI.

Oh God, they’d think he’d finally lost his mind. They’d have him committed.

But what if this isn’t a joke?

The thought took him by the throat. It had teeth. It wouldn’t let go.

He spent the entire night rifling through the material, document after document, mentally compiling the image in his head until it was so ingrained he could see the compound in his sleep. He knew it intimately, knew where every hut stood, where the guard towers were positioned. He knew when they changed guard, knew their drug drop schedule. Even when they took their prisoner and moved her to a different hut.

He had to be prepared. His brothers might think he was nuts. He couldn’t really blame them if they did. One thing he knew for certain. With or without them he was going in after his wife.

If she was there . . . if she was alive . . . he was bringing her home.

CHAPTER 2

THERE weren’t scripts for moments like this. Nothing in his years in the military had prepared him for this bizarre turn of events. Even as he tried to beat down the hope pulsating in his chest, it lived and breathed inside his skin.

Ethan parked his truck in the driveway of his brother Sam’s lake house then reached down onto the seat to grip the envelope containing all the information on Rachel’s whereabouts.

They’d be surprised to see him. In fact, Sam, Garrett and Donovan were probably inside planning their raid on Ethan’s house. They’d been after him for months to join their special ops group, KGI. All in their plan to shove him firmly back into the land of the living.

A FedEx package had done what his brothers couldn’t do.

For the first time, he felt something other than guilt or grief. He was angry. Very, very angry.

He harnessed that rage and kept it close, needing it for the impending confrontation. His brothers were going to think he’d lost his mind. They were his only hope, though, so he had to convince them that Rachel was alive.

He got out of his truck and glanced toward the adjacent lot where the war room was located. Built next to Sam’s rustic log cabin that was nestled on the bank of Kentucky Lake, the state-of-the-art, completely decked-out, two-thousand-square-foot building housed the offices of Kelly Group International.

It was where Sam, Garrett and Donovan, Ethan’s older brothers, practically lived. They slept in the war room more often than they did the house.

Ethan headed there first. Last he’d heard, one of the KGI teams was doing a recon mission, which meant that his brothers wouldn’t venture far from the communications room.

The facility was impenetrable thanks to a high-tech security system. The location was benign and seemingly innocent, which was why Sam liked it so much. No one would suspect that military operations were planned and carried out in rural Stewart County.

Ethan stopped at the keypad and had to think hard to remember the security code. The last thing he wanted to do was get it wrong and get his ass laid out by his brothers.

After he’d punched in a series of codes, the door opened and he walked inside. Sam and Garrett were sprawled on the couches in the middle of the room, while predictably, Donovan was manning the computer system referred to as Hoss.

Ethan strode forward, a determined set to his mouth. There was nothing to be gained by coming across as some weak pansy. Sam looked up when he heard Ethan, and his eyes widened in surprise. He kicked at Garrett’s leg that rested on the coffee table and gestured in Ethan’s direction.

“ ’Bout time you dragged your carcass out of that house,” Sam drawled.

Donovan swiveled in his chair, and his surprised gaze met Ethan’s. “Hey, man, it’s good to see you.”

“You look like shit,” Garrett said bluntly. “When was the last time you slept?”

Ethan ignored the pleasantries and Garrett’s observations. “I need your help.”

Sam’s brows drew together, and he stared intently at Ethan. His gaze swept up and down, taking in every detail of his appearance. When he spoke, it was in a quiet, but firm voice. “You know all you have to do is ask.”

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 483 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 10, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Fantastic New Military Romantic Suspense Series

    Get ready military romantic suspense fans for Maya Banks fantastic new The Kelly Group International (KGI) series for Berkley Sensation which debuts with THE DARKEST HOUR in Sept. 2010. Ex-Navy SEAL, Ethan Kelly is trying to forget the first year anniversary of his wife, Rachel's death by getting drunk when he receives a mysterious FedEx package. Rachel died in an Amazon plane crash while doing relief work in South America. Ethan has been a recluse for the last year to his large, close family which includes his loving parents and five brothers. Ethan's two younger brothers, Joe and Nathan are still in the military. However, his three other brothers, Sam, Garrett and Donovan run KGI, a super elite, top secret business specializing in hostage/kidnap recovery handling jobs the U.S. government can't undertake and they've been trying to recruit Ethan to join them. After going to the cemetery, Ethan opens the envelope and can't believe that there are photos of Rachel as a hostage in the jungle with a message that she is still alive! Ethan takes the photos to his brothers' KGI headquarters and they decide there's enough evidence to try to rescue her. Although injured on the mission, Ethan returns with Rachel determined to help her get well and put their lives back together. But secrets are hindering their progress. Why was Rachel held hostage and is she still in danger? And why does Rachel keep having bad dreams of something not being quite right in their marriage despite Ethan's loving behavior? Maya Banks has penned an absolutely brilliant debut to her KGI military series with THE DARKEST HOUR. Not only are the six Kelly brothers seriously hot heroes, they're men of honor, compassion and the right stuff to accomplish any daring mission. Add to this mix strong, loving women that are their perfect match and you get a phenomenal new romantic suspense series for readers to savor!

    19 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 15, 2010

    Not A Thriller

    I like Maya Banks' books, but this one was a strange combination of sappy drama and lame action. It sounded interesting, if far-fetched: Everyone thinks wife is dead, but she's really alive, held captive by drug cartel and developed amnesia; husband rescues her and then has to protect her from the bad guys. The rescue sequence was ok, but then the book floundered along, dealing with the wife coming back from the dead to a husband that had some big dark secrets (which were pretty stupid - yeah, he was a real jerk before the wife "died", but deal with it and get over it already!). And then Ms. Banks threw in the requisite bad guy and his scheme to kill the wife, which never really took off until the very end.
    Based on the other review, this is apparently the first in a series based on the Kelly guys. This could explain why there were all these little side-stories, which never developed into anything that added positively to this book, just cluttered it up. Hopefully the next in the KGI series will be a little more exciting - either that or they should be marketed as sappy dramas for those who like that kind of thing.

    11 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2013

    Great Series!

    291 pages • Romantic Suspense.

    Great series! Maya Banks has been added to my list of top authors. I love the character development and the story line doesn't give me a sense of deja vu like some other authors. I actually started the series with the second book instead of this one and was hooked. This book is not my favorite in the series, but overall they are a good read.

    • 1 - Darkest Hour (291 pgs)
    • 2 - No Place to Run (239 pgs)
    • 3 - Hidden Away (290 pgs)
    • 4 - Whispers in the Dark (327 pgs)
    • 5 - Echoes at Dawn (276 pgs)
    • 6 - Shades of Gray (257 pgs)
    • 7 - Forged in Steele (324 pgs)
    • 8 - After the Storm (to be released Dec 2013)

    Other recommendations: Julie Garwood, Nora Roberts, and Black Knights Inc series by Julie Ann Walker.

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 7, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Spectacular read!

    This has to be the best laid out first book for a dynamic series, since the Suzanne Brockmann series. Into it a quarter of the way I am in tears. The couple in this book are so real and perfect the way you wish all relationships were, JUST REAL. The action scene felt as though I was watching a movie. I usually hate a second story line going on at the same time, but this one blended in perfectly. I read this in 6 hours. I just couldnt put it down. The plot was so awesome, and all of the characters so memorable. I can hardly wati till Dec. 2010 for the second one. You go Girl....

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 1, 2012

    I really wanted to like this book. It had all the components tha

    I really wanted to like this book. It had all the components that normally make for a good read. Hot, Special Forces type guy. Throw in a few hot, Special Forces type guys that happen to be his brother AND, they own their own Good-Guys-Saving-The-World company. The damsel in distress, that just happens to be his wife. Everyone rallying around to save her and the extended family. It really should of added up to a great read. Unfortunately, I kept waiting for the book to grab me and it never did. Everyone and everything in the book did what they were suppose to but it didn't have 'chemistry'.
    I also found it increasingly annoying that Ethan called Rachel 'Baby' about every other sentence.
    To be fair, the author was setting up alot of ground work for the next books to come in her KGI series but it just bored me. I did buy the second book, No Place To Run, figuring the series would really take off but I found it to be the same in pacing etc. Ironically enough, the annoying factor was in this book as well. It's not calling the wife 'Baby' but putting his hand on her pregnant belly. ALL THE TIME.
    I won't be reading the rest of the series and I wish I wouldn't of spent the time and money on the second book.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 18, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    soooooo great

    Such a great book if not for the three kids I would never have put it down the characters were so real and you couldn't help but fall in love with them the whole story line seemed so well thought out I couldn't wait for the next page. The only bad thing about this book is waiting till Nov. for the next one. This book is a must read and make sure you have down time to read it because after the first page you won't want to put it down.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2012

    A must read...

    I was reluctant to read this series of books, thinking they would be like most other romance novels: boy saves girl,he becomes her hero and they live happily ever after. I could not have been more wrong.

    The emotions, character development, action and story line are well done.

    I cried and laughed through this book. You can feel the characters emotions and love they have for each other.

    Be sure to read the following books in this series. The author continues with the same writing qualities...

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2011

    Fantastic!

    I admit that i was not sure i was gonna like the book.....but WOW! I was so captured by the storyline and the characters that it was like they were my friendsand family. The series is on the top of my list of favorites and i cant wait to read ones coming out next year.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 19, 2012

    Great Book

    Love this book. Emotional, but action packed, never boring. Makes you want to read the others in the series.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 7, 2012

    Great read!!!

    This book is the type of book i would read on vacation so that i can escape to another world of military hunks and hottie.... so much testosterone yet so much passion and love....captures real life and is believable, not some over the top romance. I look forward to reading more books by Maya Banks because this one hit my taste right away...had trouble with romance novels before but never again with this one! Ms. Banks definitely set the bar pretty high for other action pack romance novels to come!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 2, 2012

    The KGI Series is simply the best.

    The KGI Series is ranked my all time favorite! I cry when Ethan cries in this one. In No Place To Run, I fell in love with how Sophie sacrifices herself for the Kelly family. I've always been in love with Garrett, but Donovan will always be my favorite. Him &Steele. The way he and Sarah connect was the best. And how Sarah is so courageous, ughhh, I love her. She's so sweet and I just love her. The Kelly bond touches my heart and I can read the books over and over again until I go blind. : )

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 27, 2011

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

    Ms. Banks created in "The Darkest Hour" a great romance along with a great para-military suspense. The amazing part is she did this while creating 9 other novels or novellas during the same year - 2010. Prolific is an apt title for this author. Bunny

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great new series

    I really loved this book. It was packed full of adventure, drama, and love. I fell in love with the Kelly family and can't wait to read the next book. Enjoy

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2013

    The KGI really will catch you!

    Really really a good book! I'm on the third book in the KGI Series and can't stop reading them. I like that the family is involved in all the stories. There is a great plot to the books and a lot of romance. This series is very different from some other books I've read by Myra Banks. As I said they have a story, it's not just sex. The characters really pull you in! Can't wait to read the rest of the series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2013

    Zevon Manic

    Lauren Dane is one of my favorite authors (not writers). To me, in this genre especially, there is a BIG difference.

    Since I hate to give too many plot details, suffice it to say that the brothers who make up KGI each are given fantastic characterizations.

    I've never been a fan of military type romance books, but this book hooked me within 25 pages.

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

    **Zevon Manic**

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 28, 2012

    Great Story line and wonderful characters

    At first I was not so sure, and I got the sample...boy was I mistaken, once I finished reading the first chapter I bought the whole book. Its a wonderful book, the characters are so real and the men are simply amazing...now I just bought the sencond and third book in the series...Loved it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2012

    Fantastic

    Im hooked. This book was absolutely AMAZING, getting ready to start the next one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2011

    Great start

    Loved this book. Great start to a series

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2015

    The First Book in the Series

    Get this series today! It is a definite must read!

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  • Posted January 7, 2015

    5 Fantastic Stars  I love this series! KGI is a compellingly wr

    5 Fantastic Stars 

    I love this series! KGI is a compellingly written, action-packed series that has a complexity not often seen in romance novels—these are not the erotic romance stories that readers have become familiar with from Maya Banks. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of steamy romance, but these stories are also full of emotion, danger, mystery, and suspense. The KGI Series centers around the Kelly family. There are a total of six Kelly brothers, all of whom served in different branches of the military. They kick asses for a living. They find people who don’t want to be found and rescue people from impossible situations. They free hostages. And there isn’t a military operation they can’t mount. They’re loyal, hard-working, fiercely competitive, and family is the most important thing in their lives.

    The Darkest Hour begins with ex-Navy SEAL Ethan Kelly waking up to a hangover resulting from an alcohol binge the night before. His life has been in turmoil since the death of his wife, Rachel, a year ago. Overwhelmed by grief and guilt, he's shut himself off from everything and everyone—tormented by how he failed her and their marriage prior to her fateful trip to South America. The one Rachel never came back from when a plane crash took the lives of the small group of relief workers returning home.

    Now, on the one year anniversary of her death, Ethan receives an anonymous package, which suggests that Rachel is alive and being held in captivity in a remote area of Colombia—a prisoner for the last year. The package contains charts, maps, satellite imagery, GPS coordinates, photos, and a note: "Your wife is alive." Telling himself that it’s all some sick joke, Ethan can’t control the rush of anger, fear, and rage he feels—and against his will … hope. He thought Rachel was dead. He buried her, mourned for her, and has tried to get on with his life without her. And now he needs his brothers’ help—KGI’s help, because if it’s true—if she’s been over in some hellhole for a year—with or without their help Ethan’s going in to get his wife. If she’s there, if she’s alive, he’s bringing her home. 

    While suspenseful and action-packed, the real story here is the relationship between Ethan and Rachel. The Darkest Hour is an emotional, heart-wrenching story of love, anguish, guilt, regret, and re-discovery with a satisfying HEA. 

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