Series: KGI, #11
on March 7th 2017
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As the last unattached member of the Kelly clan, Joe is more than ready to risk life and limb on any mission he’s assigned to, but when it comes to love, he’ll keep his distance. He’s content to watch his brothers become thoroughly domesticated.
Zoe’s had nothing but heartbreak in her life, and she’s determined to start over with a completely new identity, thanks to her college friend, Rusty Kelly. But it’s the gorgeous smile and tender words of Joe Kelly that begin to weaken her resolve to never risk her heart again. And Joe will have to put everything on the line to save Zoe, when secrets of her past resurface—and threaten to tear them apart…
Joe Kelly is the last man standing and proud of it. Up until the point he sees Zoe Kildare, because her timid, deer-in-the-headlights skittishness and the secrets she carries call to him like none other. So what is takes for the last, standing, confirmed bachelor in the Kelly household to go down apparently, is a very, very needy, flailing damsel-in-distress type who is wallowing in her sorry state of being unlovable while everyone in the Kelly family rallies to bolster that flagging self-esteem. I do prefer my heroines somewhat more gung-ho and more independent, so Zoe is in many ways, a huge surprise.
The KGI series has admittedly, been a mixed bag of tricks. I liked a few very much, felt lukewarm for the others and ‘Brighter than the Sun’ does bring back shades of Nathan’s book which is one of the better ones I do like, so wanting to know how Joe gets on here is an automatic draw. This book is in some ways, classic Maya Banks—long, expository dialogues from characters, full disclosure of feelings from both men and women and the fairy-tale-like set-up of the huge, loving family who rally around each other—and in other ways, it isn’t what I’d expected. It isn’t action-packed as paramilitary romances tend to be and a lot of the story is spent with Joe slowly coming to terms with his unenviable position as the man who suddenly falls (possibly inexplicably) head over heels for a damaged, frightened woman and can’t let her go, while Zoe continues to be timid, withdrawn and pretty much babied into coming out of her shell by everyone around her.
And like any Banks’s book, their journey is emotional, guilt-laden, sometimes melodramatic with an effusive happy ending with no details spared. Yet I couldn’t quite feel Joe’s and Zoe’s connection apart from his need to be gentle with her as one treats an abused rescue animal, so the declarations of love came out of the left field for me when this didn’t really quite feel like a relationship of equals.
Unsurprisingly, the standout from this book is Rusty—and the continued, unrequited feelings she has for Sean Cameron—who finally breaks away on her own after being short-changed by her adopted family members, so the book definitely reads as though it ends on an unfinished note, with her story still waiting in the wings to take flight.