Release Reviews: Brighter Than the Sun: Maya Banks

Brighter than the Sun (KGI #11)
Maya Banks
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Release Date March 7, 2017

Searing action and passion ignite the latest KGI novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Darkest Before Dawn.

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...

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… 
This is a typical KGI book featuring the last remaining single Kelly brother, Joe. Joe is sure he is not ready to settle down like his brothers, and keeps trying avoid the good intentions of his mom and sister-in-laws. But he's a Kelly after all and it does not take long to realize that he has found his one.

Zoe Kildare is a girl on the run. She is terrified, insecure, unsure, and lacks self worth. Her best friend, Rusty Kelly, has helped her forge her new identity and brings her home to the Kelly compound to keep her protected. But the girls keep Zoe's secrets locked down. Zoe has always been under the influence of controlling men telling her what to wear and how to act, so she had developed an outward facade. But now she is shedding that image and letting the natural, sweet, beauty shine through as she is exposed to family, love, and freedom.

I was hoping Joe would put up a bigger fight, but he falls pretty fast...like going from anti-relationship to forever in a couple days. But this is pretty typical of the Kelly men when they find their "one" so it was not that unexpected, but I would have like to see the author build on it a little more or at least for Joe to have more confusion over it. Joe might not be quite as dynamic as some of his brothers. I did like them together. They had an easy going rapport and a sweet vulnerability to their interactions. But it was a bit tentative due to her hidden fears and him trying not scare her.  And she had some serious issues with self worth and not being good enough making her wary and untrusting. But I did get frustrated with the secrets, and the fact that Joe did not know a lot about her made it even harder to buy their insta-love at times. 

Of course, there is bound to be some drama, action, and a need to save the defenseless beauty that will involve all the teams. We get to spend time with many of our fave couples and the newer recruits, as well as the Kelly parents. I love the dynamics in this group, not only the humor, but also the care they show. They are truly a blended family who will do anything to support each other.

But I think during this book I was even more interested in the continuing side story of Rusty and Sean. The adopted Kelly sister and the sheriff have been circling around each other for years. Due to their communication issues, they have a tendency not to get their points across and end up just hurting the other or going into avoidance mode. And this time it finally all comes down to a situation that could finally be the breaking point one way or another.  I have been waiting for their book forever, but looks like we will be waiting longer since Skylar is supposed to be next. 

So fans of this series will get a book that follows the beloved KGI formula somewhat...the damaged hero in need of saving, the determined alpha who falls fast, fun, camaraderie, danger, and action. There is some comfort in being able to return to a world that you are so invested in after all this time and seeing progression of couples who you care about.  This story all occurred close to home, so the action mostly came in one part of the book. Brighter Than the Sun was a comfy read for me despite it being full of tension, drama, pain and sacrifice. It was also full of love, family, and the idea of soul mates. Sure some things are over the top, but if you have been a fan of this series then you should already be prepared for it and be able to go with it. I am invested in this series, so I will keep reading them as long as she keeps writing them. And I seriously need Rusty and Sean as soon as possible.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review. 
Joe Kelly doesn’t want to settle down. As the last Kelly holdout not living within the compound, he doesn’t want to settle down and is happy to watch his brothers settle down and avoid his mother’s matchmaking attempts and not so subtle hints. But, as typical with the Kellys, when they find their one any past declarations are forgotten in the single minded focus to make her his.

Zoe Kildare is reinventing herself, hiding with her college friend Rusty Kelly. She hasn’t had luck in any aspect of her life, and has some serious confidence issues and carries guilt caused by actions that are not her own. She is unsure about herself as she tries to find footing in her new life.

I loved watching Joe take great care with Zoe. He may not have known her past, but he knew she was skittish and needed someone to help her see herself. He is careful with her, and shows a great amount of patience as he waits for her to open up, but just as his brothers, when he decides Zoe is his one and only, he has to work to convince her of the same.

There was a great connection between Zoe and the other Kellys that fits, especially with Joe’s twin, Nathan, and Shea. I loved how quickly she was welcomed into the Kelly clan and how quickly she found at least some comfort in the large chaotic group.

The other fun part of this book is the amount of Rusty and Sean we get. As Zoe is Rusty’s best friend, she is involved in the story quite a bit, and though their story is not settled at all, it is so much fun to watch them interact. Sean and Rusty have not had an easy time, nor are their interactions new, but the setup from this book is a fantastic teaser for the possibility of more for these two. 

As this is a long standing series and the Kellys are a large family, there are plenty of cameos by the previous characters, as well as the new team members that have been added to KGI over the years. There is a lot going on here, with teasers of Sean and Rusty, updates on all the other brothers and teammates, and of course Joe and Zoe’s beginning, but all that adds up to page turning action that keeps moving whether they are having a quiet moment on the lake or in the middle of danger. 

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.

KGI series:
Goodreads/Maya's website

See our reviews of Shades of Gray, Forged in Steele,  After The StormWhen Day Breaks. and Darkest Before Dawn

Book covers linked to its Goodreads page

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.


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