After the Storm -- Maya Banks
Book 8 of KGI series
I had a lot of time to sit on this book and how I felt about it. And the more I thought about it, the more I feel like this is the one KGI book that I like the least... which is definitely a disappointment because I hadn't realized how much I'd been looking forward to middle son, Donovan Kelly's story. Like the rest of the Kelly men, he's a warrior, ex-military, broody, and gorgeous and muscled. The only difference is that he's the self-proclaimed geek of the siblings, always tinkering with one set of tech or another, and always working intel with his computers and whatnot.
So, yeah... I'd been looking forward to his book. The disappointment, however, as well as the continuously building disappointment with the turn that the KGI series has taken, has been enough that I can't quite let a personal bias influence my enjoyment of these books now.
While the action sequences were riveting enough to keep me hooked, I can't help but see the same story line over and over again concerning the romance and even the light-hearted contemporary portions of the most recent KGI installments.
Added onto that, the insta-love and the almost obsessive, controlling, stalker-ish, man-handle-y behavior that Donovan exhibits, which feel completely out of character for any of the Kelly brothers, and we take caveman possessiveness romance to something that I'm not sure I can accept readily. To me, it didn't even really matter that his need to protect the heroine had justifications left and right--the way in which he goes about being a hero just felt wrong to me. The only redeeming factor was that he acknowledged how wrong everything felt concerning his behavior... even if he still went ahead and did it all anyway, then coming back around to regret his actions.
A healthy romance this kind of behavior will not make.
It struck me as almost scarily similar how Donovan's ideals of claiming Eve and her siblings as his family felt to the other hellish, dysfunctional family Eve and her siblings had been trying to escape. The only difference is that while Eve's stepfather was a possessive, evil monster who didn't hesitate to damage or hurt other people, Donovan comes from much more loving, caring stock and probably would have allowed Eve and her siblings to retreat into their own lives, independent of him if they so desired. The comparisons that surfaced in my mind were very, dangerously similar, and THAT definitely didn't settle well with me.
This is definitely NOT the best KGI installment. Only the instalove romance in Book #3, Hidden Away bugged me equally, but at least I could still kind of gloss over that love story and accept it... if I squinted hard enough.
While After the Storm might have suffered from its main love story line, there were a lot of other things about it that I found delightful enough not to write it off completely. Once again, I always enjoy a good family interaction story and the Kelly's are definitely a group of people you come to love over time... even if they manage to get dramatically sappy to an extreme. And so the interaction between Eve, Travis, and Cammie (our heroine and her step-siblings) was quite heartfelt, even if you had to suspend some disbelief to accept some of the dialogue between the three siblings.
Travis was especially a nice kid to have around, and while at the age of sixteen, he's still got some growing to go through before getting his own book in this world, I wouldn't mind seeing him with a story of his own at some point in time.
Secondly, Rusty is a character I've liked since the beginning as a belligerent teenager who grew into a really great young adolescent. I've always enjoyed her presence and her growth and the interaction between her and the Kelly's. And since her ambition is law enforcement, I'm crossing my fingers in hopes that when her story finally comes around, we'll get to add onto our collection of kickass heroines, right alongside P.J. And also, that new interaction between her and Sean Cameron that had been hinted at throughout... I like it (and I might have squealed a little... even if only in my head). In fact, that is entirely where a whole half a star came from to make this book only slightly better than a 2 Star rating.