DARKEST BEFORE DAWN - Maya Banks
KGI , Book 10
Berkley
ISBN: 978-0-425-276990
November 2015
Romantic Suspense

The Middle East - Present Day

For years Hancock and his men have been after Maksimov, a ruthless and sadistic arms dealer, and they are finally getting close to his inner circle. Currently, Hancock's team, known as Titan, is working undercover as hired muscle for Bristow, who is just as eager to become a part of Maksimov's inner circle and may have found a way in.  A radical terrorist group in the Middle East has bombed a relief center, leaving behind a single survivor who has managed to escape.  Since the terrorists owe Maksimov a large sum of money, he is just as interested in finding this survivor.Bristow believes if he can turn the woman over to Maksimov, Bristow will become part of Maksimov's inner circle, and Hancock might finally have a way to get to Maksimov.

Honor Cambridge has decided that she must have been the only survivor of the attack that killed her friends and fellow relief workers for a reason.  Once she finally pulls herself free from the rubble of the bombed building, she begins to make her way toward safety. Severely injured, she is only able to travel during the night, and because this terrorist group is feared by everyone in the area, she knows she can't ask for help.  When someone finally offers to help her, the stories she hears from this group only steel Honor's resolve to make it back to the States to bear witness to the group's atrocities.  At first, when the group of American men she meets help her to evade capture, Honor is leery. Even though Hancock and his men are harsh and have little to say to her, she comes to trust them.

Twice before Hancock came close to catching Maksimov only to abort the mission in order to save a woman.  He has no intention of doing it again; he will sacrifice Honor for the greater good.  As he gets to know her, Hancock realizes that she is strong, courageous and good everything he has spent his life trying to protect.  She is as much a warrior as the Kelly women the women he's sacrificed his mission for before.  Honor is also the only woman to penetrate the shell of the hardened assassin and see something good in the man underneath.  But how can he pass up his last opportunity to take down the man responsible for the torture and deaths of thousands of innocents?

Throughout the KGI series, Hancock has been the enigmatic soldier of fortune who inexplicably helps out the Kelly Group.  The Titan group was trained by the government to carry out black ops, but when they started questioning some of their orders, they were branded terrorists and are now among the most wanted men in America.  Being betrayed by their country hasn't stopped them from protecting it however, and Titan goes after the worst of the worst in the world.  Hancock has decided that after taking down Maksimov he will retire, and has convinced himself that this is his last opportunity to do so.  Honor's affinity for languages and desire to help people have taken her to a place where not many dare to go.  She is determined to make it back to the States and her family, even though she knows she faces almost insurmountable odds.

In the middle of a life threatening situation, two people find a surprising love in DARKEST BEFORE DAWN.  While part of the KGI series, Hancock has not been a part of the group, and has in fact been on the opposite side of a situation at times in the past.  Having read the books in order will give readers a better sense of who Hancock is and the complicated relationship he has with the Kelly's, but it's not necessary to have done so to be able to follow along.  This is truly Honor and Hancock's story, and it is an intense and emotional one.  A tale that will grab you right from the start and hold on until the very end, I highly recommend DARKEST BEFORE DAWN.

Jennifer Bishop