Book Review: Maya Banks’ Darkest Before Dawn

Posted December 12, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Maya Banks’ Darkest Before Dawn

Darkest Before Dawn


Maya Banks

romantic suspense that was published by Penguin on October 27, 2015 and has 384 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Sweet Surrender, Colters' Woman, Sweet Persuasion, Sweet Seduction, In Bed with a Highlander, Darkest Hour, Seduction of a Highland Lass, Colters' Lady, No Place to Run, Hidden Away, Men Out of Uniform, Red-Hot Summer, Never Love a Highlander, Brazen, Sweet Temptation, Whispers in the Dark, "Colters' Wife", Colters' Promise, Echoes at Dawn, Undone By Her Tender Touch, Four Play, Cherished, The Tycoon's Pregnant Mistress, Never Seduce a Scot, Highlander Most Wanted, "Softly at Sunrise", Shades of Gray, Rush, Fever, Forged in Steele, Burn, Colters' Daughter, Colters' Gift, Be With Me, When Day Breaks, After the Storm, Taking It All, Keep Me Safe, Enticed by His Forgotten Lover, Sweet Possession, Sweet Addiction

Tenth in the KGI romantic suspense series and loosely revolving around the Kelly family. The couple focus is on Guy Hancock (!) and Honor Cambridge.

My Take

Okay, it is better than the past few installments, you just have to slog through all the opening melodrama in which Honor goes on and on and on and on about her situation. Yeah, it is bad. And I do mean bad! I think Banks is trying to pad it all out to increase her word count.

I will confess that I skipped chunks of text if only because I was bored or annoyed. Especially as it kept whining on about the same thing in some 1,000 different ways. That said, I also have to confess that I was crying through about half the story. And I mean, nose-blowing crying! So be prepared. It’s actually why I’ve given it a “3” in spite of all the melodrama.

It was rather fun to see Hancock warm up. In previous stories he’s always been such a cold machine. It’s only part of why I didn’t see the romance as believable. Maybe I’m being picky, probably because of all the over-the-top drama — but Banks made this happen too quickly, too insta-love. Sure, Honor is impressive, but why that leads to the whole love thing…? It did NOT help that Honor is such a forgiving woman, willing…sob…to sacrifice herself…sob, sob…for the gr-gr-great-greater…sob…good. That she can…see…sob…what a decent man…sob…he is…sobbbb… Yeah, well, you’ll see if you read it.

And, oh, by the way, she’s a virgin.

Honor does annoy me at the start with running back into the building. I’d like to think that I’d want to help fellow victims, and I’d also like to think I wouldn’t be stupid enough to run back into Hell when Satan’s minions are rushing in.

There’s that bit where she wonders why she has been left to suffer…oh, woe. I can tell her why: She’s stupid.

I did like that she was brave and inventive with a compassion for the people. I loved that Banks portrayed the Arabic people who helped Honor in such a decent light. We do tend to forget that we only ever hear of the major jerkwads in the news. We don’t hear about the suffering of those who have to survive under these idiot terrorists. I agree with Banks as well that all the media attention the West gives these wicked people only encourages them to continue torturing, killing, and destroying.

Hancock is somewhat better than Honor in the woe is me dramatics. Still, he does indulge in the masculine version of whining.

Another annoying aspect was how stupid they all were. I mean, duh, why doesn’t Hancock come up with this plan earlier? Why not tell Honor what’s going to happen toward the end and why she needs to be drugged? Why wouldn’t they think of another traitor in Bristow’s men? Why wouldn’t they be prepared for that ambush? They’re supposed to be such big bad military men, why aren’t they showing this expertise?

More of the unbelievable is how much of the action takes place in the U.S. The Russian big bad is operating in the U.S. And why does it have to wait for Hancock to fall in love for all of them to finally find out where Maksimov is? If Resnick is a rogue agent, how does he get all the cooperation at the end? Then this is where my inner Attila comes out. I want them to kill Maksimov. I see no point in giving him a chance to break free or to broker a deal with the government.

The ending seems rather tame for Honor. After all her protesting to her family about why she simply had to go work in the Middle East and now she’s content to be where she is?

I gotta say…unless you’re a die-hard KGI fan who absolutely must own every book, just borrow it from the library.

The Story

As the only survivor of an attack on a relief station, Honor Cambridge is a stain on A New Era’s badge of terror. Her continued freedom is a mockery of their power, and they are hunting her down.

It’s an anger Bristow can harness to gain what he desires: an innocent woman and power.

Capturing her will give Hancock and his men the way in, access to Maksimov, for the needs of the many outweigh the death of one. Or will this victim, the only woman who’s ever managed to penetrate the rigid walls surrounding his icy heart, be able to change his focus on a mission he’s spent years working to complete or will he be forced to sacrifice her for “the greater good”?

The Characters

Honor Cambridge is a relief worker in the Middle East and the youngest of six in her very supportive, if terrified, family. Everyone in the family is athletic, except Honor. Her dad, Mike, is a high school coach in Kentucky; her mom, Cynthia; her oldest brother, Brad, is sheriff of their county; her second oldest brother plays for a pro baseball team; her two younger brothers, Tate and Scott, are businessmen; and, her sister, Mandie, is the head coach of a softball team at a small university.

Hancock (Guy is his first name, although only one other person uses it) is a mercenary who fights for the greater good. He’s currently undercover with Bristow. Big Eddie and Caroline Sinclair were the foster parents who made him feel worthy. His Sinclair foster siblings include Raid, a policeman; Ryker, a former military man who has gone into private security (KGI is thinking of hiring him); and, Eden is his baby sister now married to Swanny.

Hancock’s team includes Mojo who’s a good cook, Conrad is his cold second-in-command, Henderson, Viper, and Copeland “Cope”.

KGI is…
Kelly Group International, a private special ops group whom Hancock refers to as Captain Americas. Rio is one of the team leaders and had been Titan’s first leader and Hancock’s trainer. Grace, Rio’s wife, and Dr. Maren Scofield, Steele’s wife, were the “wrong” choices in Hancock’s past. The Kelly family includes Garrett Kelly (who has got to stop with the F-bombs); Sarah is his wife; Donovan Kelly; Sam Kelly is married to Sophie and has two kids, one of whom is Charlotte; Marlene and Frank Kelly, the Kelly parents, have moved into their new place inside the compound; Joe Kelly still lives in Sam’s old cabin; and, Joe’s twin, Nathan, is married to Shea. Other members of KGI include P.J. Coletrane and her husband, Cole; Jackson Steele (he and Maren have a daughter, Olivia); Swanny; Skylar Watkins; Zane “Edge”; Dolphin; and, Terrence. Marlene’s chicks include Sean Cameron, the sheriff of Stewart County and Rusty Kelly.

Russell Bristol is a scumbag who hides behind his money and self-aggrandizement. Ruslan is his second-in-command and a spy for Maksimov. Maksimov is the ultimate terrorist, taking pleasure in anything that hurts another while making money at all of it. He’s been Hancock and his men’s target for years. A New Era is another terrorist group feared by many, Westerners and Arabs alike.

Titan had been the super-secret government organization that got carried away with its own power. Adam Resnick is the CIA operative who used to send jobs KGI’s way until the government turned on him. Kyle Phillips leads a team of Marines.

The Cover and Title

The cover is dark browns with Hancock in a brownish gray tight-fitting T and jeans, a gun held in both hands, pointing at an angle to the floor of what feels like the underground bunker in which they hid in the desert. The author’s name and title are in an embossed gold.

The title is what happens to both Hancock and Honor when it’s Darkest Before Dawn.