Arc Review & Giveaway-After the Storm: Maya Banks

After The Storm (KGI #8)
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The Kelly Group International (KGI): A super-elite, top secret, family-run business.
Qualifications: High intelligence, rock-hard body, military background.

Mission: Hostage/kidnap victim recovery. Intelligence gathering. Handling jobs the U.S. government can’t… 

Over the years, Donovan Kelly has fought relentlessly for justice, women and children always holding a special place in his heart. Working side by side with his brothers, Donovan has witnessed firsthand the toll it’s taken—physically, mentally, and emotionally—on his loved ones, and the innocent lives caught in the crossfire. What he never expects is for his next mission to happen right on his home turf—or for it to take a very personal turn.

Picturesque Kentucky Lake is the perfect place for a soul in search of safe harbor. A beautiful stranger has arrived—desperate, breathless, and on the run from a dark past closing in on her and the younger siblings she has vowed to protect. Donovan must now draw on every resource at his disposal—if he wants to save a woman and the children who may prove to be his destiny.

Reading Order: 
(Covers linked to GR)
Read Tammy & Kim's 4 & 5 star reviews of Forged in Steel & Shades of Gray
(click on book cover to view)
I have been waiting for Donovan Kelly's story for so long! He has always been on my fave KGI men and every time a book was planned, I hoped he was going to be next. Finally in KGI #8, we get his story!

Rusty was adopted by the Kelly clan when she was a scared, hungry teen so she can see the same in a young man looking for a job. She sets out to help this young man, Travis and his sisters, and she enlists the help of her adopted brother, Donovan.

Donovan Kelly is a strong women and children's advocate. He immediately sees that Eve, Travis, and Cammie are running and need help. And he is not going to hesitate in doing that. He immediately becomes protective of them all. Soon he enlists the entire Kelly clan and KGI and they all vow to keep them safe. 

I have always loved Van. He is a bad ass, but also a computer "geek" and has such a soft spot for women and kids. He is gentle and kind, while also being an in control alpha. He has watched his brothers find mates and fall in love. He teased them about it, but at the same time is longing to settle down himself and have a family, but he has not met anyone that has sparked his interest enough....until Eve.  I loved how protective and accepting he was of Eve, Travis, and Cammie. But I will admit that he was not as rough and rugged in this one as we have seen him in previous books. He became pretty love struck and desperate during much of this one. 

Eve is tough, but also beaten down and terrified. She did everything for her siblings to her own detriment. She is scarred, fearful, and she had a right to be after all she had been through. And since someone was still after them. She is desperate and has lost hope, until Donovan barrels his way into their lives.

"When I look at Eve, I see something more than a woman in danger. I see someone who's different from every other mission I've worked. I may not know where this will take me yet, but it's not going to stop me from taking the path."

Donovan did that for her. He gave her hope. He gave her the confidence that her future was not fixed. 

Together they were compatible, sweet, and had good chemistry. But I have to mention that even though I liked how he immediately jumped in and  wanted to take care of them, it all did happen very fast. Him claiming them as "mine" and talk of love, forever, family, and futures happened very quickly...like in days.  I understood that there were difficult circumstances that added to the intensity of feelings and need to keep them safe. But it moved at a bit of an unrealistic pace as far as their relationship(and his family's acceptance of it), but this is not unusual for Maya's novels or the KGI men so I could deal with it. 

I adored Eve's teenage brother, Travis and little sister Cammie. They were such great kids who had been through so much. The bond they had with their older sister was remarkable. I loved how Van treated them and how they responded to him. 

And it was great to see the Kellys coming by for support and just be nosy. We got updates from our fave couples and families. This one had more with Steele and Maren, Rusty, Sean, Joe, and Swanny, but all of the Kellys appeared at some point.  We got to know a little more about the new female Skylar as well. And Rusty and Sean's "anti-relationship" continues to lurk under the surface. I can't wait for their book. And we also go to see the softer of Swanny too. His book When Day Breaks will be next. 

In true KGI style, this one has romance, humor, miscommunication, drama, and suspense. This one was a little different in that it mostly took place at home, but the action and suspense built toward the end. And it took a whole lot of KGI assistance to try to resolve the situation. These couples never have an easy road and this one was no exception. But I really liked the characters in this one even though at times the plot was a little fast or unbelievable. The heart of the KGI series is that the characters have such depth and connections. I love the tight bonds of this family and those that they bring in to it. Every time I pick up one of the books it feels like I am going back to visit with family and friends. I am looking forward to more from this series.

“It means that every one of my brothers met their wives while on a mission. Bullets flying, explosions, car chases, wrecks, bad guys. You name it, they experienced it. I’d say our situation is tame in comparison.” 

Thanks to PENGUIN GROUP Berkley, NAL / Signet Romance, DAW for providing me with an arc in exchange for an honest review. Quotes are from arc copy and subject to change in final draft. 

The Kelly family is back for Donovan's book, in the ninth installment in the KGI series. Donovan is the group's tech genius and one of only 2 Kelly brothers not matched up with a woman. Eve is running with her younger siblings, Travis and Cammie, scared to trust anyone she meets. When she feels like Donovan and Rusty are getting too involved and too many people know where they are, she makes plans to leave. Unfortunately, she didn't plan for a tornado to hit while she and her siblings were trying to leave on foot.

Donovan has long been a reader favorite in the series, and how could he not? He's strong, smart, has a huge heart, and has been there for each of his brothers along the way. It has never been a secret that he would love to settle down and start a family, that he was just waiting for the right woman. His family constantly reminds everyone that he has a soft spot for woman and children. Not surprisingly when he meets Eve, Travis and Cammie, he is drawn to them and begins picturing them as the center of his family. His challenge is convincing Eve of his feelings. 

I enjoyed reading Van and Eve's story, if for nothing else than they both deserved to have their stories told. Was it my favorite in the series? No. But following right after Forged in Steele, which may very well BE my favorite, was a tough act to follow. This was a little different in that rather than meeting while on a mission, they meet after Rusty hires Travis to work part time in the hardware store and the teams are between missions. There is no KGI mission swirling around the action of the story, rather that action of the story is completely centered on Eve and her family problems and Donovan inserts himself and his brothers into the center on her behalf. 

I always love how the Kelly's band together to protect their own and how quickly they absorb the women (and children) the boys bring home. They aren't on a mission, aren't being paid, but they still rally around Eve and work to remove the threat from over her head. 

For me, KGI will always be one of those series that can be picked up here and there as a break between other reads. There is plenty of action in addition to the romance aspect of the storyline. After the Storm was a great continuation of this familial series and started some intriguing threads for future books as well. 

Thanks to PENGUIN GROUP Berkley, NAL / Signet Romance, DAW for providing me with an arc in exchange for an honest review. 

Sigh, very very sad right now! I have been dying for Van's story for years now (since KGI first came out, he has always intrigued me). The last thought I ever entertained was that it would falter for me. The thought of giving Van a star rating less than a 4 honestly makes me cringe. I'm beginning to think it may be time for me to walk away from Maya all together. Lately her books have been a huge hit and miss for me.

My rating system for After the Storm goes a little something like this...

Donovan Kelly = 5 beautifully vulnerable and loving stars
First 75% of the book = 3 intriguing stars
Instalove = 1 over the top star
Last 25% = 0 sadly entered into DNF stage star

Overall, I am averaging my rating at 3 Stars.

Why such a low rating, you ask? Simply put...

The wicked over exaggeration of instalove. Van and Eve's relationship flourished to declarations of undying love, marriage and forever within a 48 hour period, yes you read that right...2 DAYS. The instant Van and Eve met each other, Van's thoughts went into overload, running towards Evie being the center of his family, marriage, and babies. It was extremely overwhelming to me as a reader, and because of this, I had a hard time swallowing the believability of their relationship, especially under the circumstances they found themselves.

Another small issue I had was the lack of edge, teamwork, and action. This series is well known for its intense missions that evoke tension, chemistry, and suspense. Unfortunately all of this was lacking. I stopped reading around the 75% mark and at that point had yet to encounter any of this. So if any of this came after the fact, then it came a tad bit too late, since I bowed out.

Beyond that, I absolutely LOVED Van and I adored Evie. Cammie was such a cutie and I found Travis was the highlight of the story, maybe because I have a 15 year old myself and he reminded me a lot of my Ryan. There were some swoon worthy moments,some oh so surprising moments (think Sean and Rusty), and the thought of is it June yet she built up the anticipation for Swanny’s story.

If I could just have gotten past the 2-day instalove, I think I would have really loved and enjoyed Donovan and Eve's story. Both characters truly were beautifully written, however the extremely short time just consumed my every thought. And believe me when I say I tried. After the Storm read as though these two had known each other forever, and it never once felt as though it was 2 days, but in the back of my mind it was all I could think about. The timeline really threw me, it messed horribly with my OCD.

Would I recommend: Yes, actually I would, because this is more of a personal preference then anything to do with the author's actual writing. While reading and sharing my thoughts with Kim, I told her this will be a 4 or higher star read for her, if that helps you any. In all honesty, I am totally not an instalove type; I am more of a build up to the big moment type of girl. Very rarely do these types of stories work for me. I know all of KGI is insta, but this one was just too much with its extremely short time span. However, Maya never fails to write stunning characters with depth and chemistry (this is what kept me hooked the first 75% of the book). I think for those who don't mind love at first sight stories, or even hard-core Maya fans, you will utterly and completely love it.

Thank you,PENGUIN GROUP Berkley, NAL / Signet Romance, DAW, for the opportunity to read and review an ARC of After the Storm in exchange for my honest opinion.
Maya Banks 

My name is Maya Banks and I live in Texas with my husband and three children and our assortment of pets. I’m more of a cat person, but my daughter became convinced she NEEDED a dog. So convinced in fact that it became her mission to convince her father and me. She prepared a two page handwritten proposal that detailed WHY she needed a dog, and well, after I sent her to her father (I knew he wouldn’t tell her no) we embarked on the search for the perfect dog. The journey that was two hours away and that I got pulled over for speeding while I was on the phone with my agent who had an offer from a publisher for one of my books… The officer wasn’t impressed. He wrote me a ticket anyway. Thus, I now tell my daughter that her dog turned into one very expensive concession! But isn’t he cute?
When I’m not writing, I love to hunt and fish with my family. We all love the outdoors and go on family hunting trips every year. We also love to travel. One of our more recent trips was to Scotland, which was every bit as comical as National Lampoon’s European Vacation. You know the part about “Look kids, Big Ben, Parliament” as they went round and round the roundabouts? Yeah, that was us, only we couldn’t even get out of the airport in Glasgow without hitting three of those suckers.
Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of a writing career is getting to meet so many wonderful readers. There’s nothing better than dishing books with someone who loves the romance genre as much as I do. Romance readers are passionate and vocal. We love our books, love our happily ever afters, and we love to spend time talking to others about our favorites. THIS is why I love my job so much, and I’m so grateful to readers who gave ME a chance when I began my career. So thank you.

(2) Paperback copies of After the Storm: Maya Banks (U.S. ONLY)
This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Age 18 and over please. Ecopy giveaways are international. Signed or paperback giveaways are US only unless otherwise specified. Giveaway will run 01/07/14 to 01/19/14 closing at 12:00 a.m. Winner will be notified via email. Winner has 48 hours to claim their prize; otherwise, a new winner will be chosen. Please allow time (up to two weeks, unless stated otherwise) for the delivery of your book. If you have not received your book within the started time please notify us. In addition, In addition, if the book has yet to release please keep in mind that the book will be distributed within two weeks of it's release date.
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