Sunday, February 27, 2011

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥: Hidden Away by Maya Banks

Hidden Away
Maya Banks

Page Count: 336
Release Date: 1 March, 2011
Publisher: Berkley Sensation (Penguin)
Kim at SOS Aloha for review.

The Kelly Group International (KGI): A super-elite, to secret, family-run business.
Qualifications: High intelligence, rock-hard body, military background.Mission: Host/kidnap victim recovery. Intelligence gathering. Handling jobs the U.S. government can't...
A man who shoots first and asks questions later...
Most people would take an all-expenses-paid trip to the beach in a heartbeat. Garrett Kelly only accepts to keep tabs on Sarah Daniels, who's in hiding after witnessing a murder by Marcus Lattimer, her half-brother—and a personal enemy of KGI. This gig may be beneath a disciplined soldier like Garrett, but if he gets a shot at Lattimer, it will all be worth it...

...and the ultimate moving target.
But Garrett hadn't counted on falling for Sarah. He'd considered seduction as a tactical maneuver, but when he glimpses Sarah's dark past, he feels an urgent desire to keep her safe—even after she disappears on him. Garrett doesn't know exactly who, or what, Sarah's running from, but whatever it is, she's running for her life...

What Stephanie Thought: I usually don't find myself enjoying romantic suspense because I like my romance books to be simple and realistic, something I can snuggle up with after a long day and not have to think too deeply about. Hidden Away, March's upcoming Berkley Sensation release, is an exception though. Frankly, I loved it.

Let me begin with the story line first. I had not realized, when I started reading, that this book was the third installment of Maya Banks's KGI series. So, much of the plot was confusing, but I had it down pat once I was about halfway-through; it wasn't that hard to figure out and I will personally say it makes a great stand-alone novel. The Kellys are a noble, cunning family with a proud line of spies, agents, and soldiers alike. All of the Kelly sons were once part of the Marine or the Army yet Garrett Kelly, though only in his thirties, is retired due to injuries. He now accepts top-secret missions to save and protect refugees and victims of crime or war. And he thought by leaving the military, the hard part was over—until he was assigned Sarah's case.

To make a long story short, Sarah Daniels was raped by her boss, Allen Cross, and her half-brother, Marcus, rebounds with a cold vengeance by murdering him. Once the trigger is pulled though, is when Marcus realizes that killing a man right in his office is a tragic mistake, and Sarah, the only witness of the shooting, is forced to run away in order to keep her half-brother safe from the government.

Even before actually meeting Sarah, Garrett knows there is something about her that draws him to her. He willingly accepts the mission, and locates Sarah at her "hiding place" way too easily. Though he is hired by the very men who want to convict Marcus, he lies to Sarah saying Marcus is the one who brought him to her, and unfortunately, Sarah believes him.

Hidden Away is a story of failed trust, loyalty, and deceit. Sarah's journey of losing herself within Garrett's charm and kindness is portrayed beautifully, only to have it shatter when she finds out he is actually after Marcus. Garrett's struggle to remain loyal to his family and the KGI, but "fall head over ass" is admittedly enlivening, but heartbreaking at the same time. And the way Sarah is able to rebuild her trust in the man she realizes she loves is a warm, hopeful ride that is complemented by strong passion and scintillating romance.

By far, Hidden Away was made enjoyable most by Banks's writing style. Her voice is rich and detailed, but not too flowery, and her writing contains LOTS of humor, provided, it's mostly crude. However, that's my kind of story: one with wit and vulgarity, so I found it entertaining. A warning for the more genteel: there is a lot of swearing in this book. Maybe one or two swear words per page, oftentimes more. I didn't have a problem with it, but some of you might, so it's just a heads up.

Another thing I loved about this novel. Berkley Sensation is the erotic imprint of the Berkley Publishing Group. Unlike most erotic novels however, Hidden Away does not have characters sleeping with each other all over the place within the first few chapters. In fact, despite major flirting, innocent kissing, and somewhat heavy petting, actual sex does not occur until about the last quarter of the book. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I think it enhanced my anticipation of the story because I knew Sarah and Garrett had it bad for each other; it was just a matter of when they would express that attraction. I was at the edge of my seat the entire time building up to the (sinfully) steamy sex scene. Not only because of all the suspense with guns and fighting, because I just needed to know what would happen in the relationship. And Banks certainly satisfied by detailing a scene of passion sensually and enticingly.

Some of the dialogue was repetitive. This wouldn't have been so disappointing if the original line wasn't so good. I would come across a line while reading and laugh out loud thinking, "Oh my gosh, this is great." But then about fifty pages later, the same line would come up again, which took away from my initial awe of Banks's delightful verbosity. That is the only thing I disliked about Hidden Away. Other than that, it is perfect, perfect, and more perfect. Not one stray bullet.

Stephanie Loves: "'It's all right,' he crooned as he stroked down her arm. 'You're safe now. Take some deep breaths.' ... Gradually her heartbeat slowed and he could no longer feel the erratic thump of her pulse. She raised her head, bumping his chin as she stared across the room at the table where his gun rested.

'You have a gun,' she whispered.
He winced. Trust her to notice that detail. She was probably one of those women who fainted at the sight of a weapon.
She raised herself off his chest to look into his eyes. 'Can I have it?'
As what-the-fuck moments went, this one was one of the bigger ones. The thing was, she was dead serious. There was an earnestness to her gaze that said she really wanted him to give her his gun. Shit."

Radical Rating: 9 hearts: Loved it! This book has a spot on my favorites shelf. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥