Series: KGI

Brighter than the Sun by Maya Banks

Brighter than the Sun by Maya BanksBrighter than the Sun by Maya Banks
Series: KGI, #11
on March 7th 2017
Pages: 254
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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inexplicably) head over heels for a damaged, frightened woman and can’t let her go, while Zoe continues to be timid, withdrawn and pretty much babied into coming out of her shell by everyone around her.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.


Darkest Before Dawn by Maya Banks

Darkest Before Dawn by Maya BanksDarkest Before Dawn by Maya Banks
Series: KGI #10
Published by Penguin Publishing Group on October 27th 2015
Pages: 384
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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.”

The mixed reviews of this book made me wary of even beginning what looked to be a long and daunting story and unfortunately, those which were negative resonated more with me than the positive ones. I found the book unnecessarily bloated, overly introspective, filled with self-righteous justification and characters so unbelievably clichéd that they could well be the unfeeling devil and the virtuous virgin mary in disguise. My incredulity lasted pretty much the whole time and eventually, I started skimming through the pages, impatient to get past the droning of Honor’s and/or Hancock’s internal (but repetitive) mental processes.

Yet another disappointment from Maya Banks – as her latest KGI books have been – and I’m almost inclined to think that this series actually reached its peak around book 4 and never quite scaled those heights again.


Forged in Steele by Maya Banks

Forged in Steele by Maya BanksForged in Steele (KGI, #7) by Maya Banks
Series: KGI #7
Published by Berkley on June 25th 2013
Pages: 372
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Steele, a KGI team leader, is an enigma not even his team mates understand. His emotions are tightly locked down and nothing can break that icy exterior. Nothing except Maren Scofield, a doctor on a mission, a woman who has gotten under Steele’s skin and threatens to crack that unflappable cool he’s legendary for.
Steele is determined not to allow Maren past his carefully guarded defenses, but when she’s in danger, there’s no way he’ll allow anyone else to protect her. She’s hiding something. He’s sure of it. But he isn’t prepared for the shocking discovery her secrets reveal. Or how they will forever alter the course of his destiny. He has a decision to make. Hold tight and shut her out. Or take a chance on something more powerful than he’s ever faced. Love.

Forged in Steele starts brilliantly until….

I really wanted to like this book, considering I’ve been craving Steele’s story for a long time – call it ‘the harder the guy, the harder the fall’ syndrome that I’ve probably developed after finishing several books in the KGI series. But seeing Steele turn to mush at a woman’s hands is not only disconcerting, but somewhat out of character after he starts talking in long sentences and proclaiming his love. Or maybe I’ve simply been overdosing a little too much on the KGI series where the hero gets brought to his knees and makes a rather extreme turn into someone I don’t really identify with too much.