Echoes at Dawn

Maya Banks
August 2012, Psychic Romance
Penguin, $7.99, 307 pages, Amazon ASIN 0425250865
Part of a series

Grade: D+
Sensuality: Hot

The latest entry in the author’s KGI series about a group of paramilitary operatives is an uneven read, combining hot sex with infrequent action and some downright bizarre elements. Some made my eyes pop. And some might have made me cringe.

The latest assignment for the band of hunks concerns retrieving Grace Peterson, the victim of an abduction, from a group of nefarious individuals using her unique abilities of healing. Grace and her sister Shea were conceived as part of a laboratory experiment and have the ability to communicate telepathically. Grace also has the ability to heal other people, but only at great cost to herself as she must take the injured party’s illness or wound onto herself. As the story begins, Grace has managed to escape her abductors, but she is weak and injured. Because her captors had blocked her psychic communication to her sister, Grace is unable to reach out to Shea and doesn’t know if Shea is still alive.

Shea is alive and well and is being looked after by the members of KGI who have also been tasked with finding and rescuing Grace. The mission is being led by Rio, one of KGI’s coldest and methodical operatives. Rio is very good at his job and manages to locate Grace quickly, but the rescue does not go smoothly. Rio and his men are pursued and go into deep cover. They are unable to sustain this though as Grace is still in danger since her reputation as a healer has spread. Another dangerous group, one with whom Rio is far too familiar, is in pursuit and a showdown is on the horizon.

Please allow me to preface this by saying that I haven’t read the previous KGI novels, so there may have been some buildup to this story in prior books that I have missed. I thought Rio’s immediate attachment and protectiveness toward Grace was odd and slightly creepy for someone who was on assignment and encountering a woman he had never met. It’s not that he attempts to take advantage of her which would be reprehensible with her in this situation, but rather that he is over-the-top nurturing while priority number one should have been getting Grace and his team to safety. I would have expected a hardened military man to be more concise with words and abrupt with actions whilst being pursued by the bad guys.

But protective and nurturing he is and he continues to coddle and care for Grace in the ensuing days. Grace plays right into this by whimpering, weeping, and cowering for something akin to 200 pages. She annoyed me to no end. She had endured a horrible ordeal at the hands of unscrupulous characters so she could be expected to be traumatized. But the weeping and cowering became really old, really quickly for me. She did this so much that when she finally does show a little strength I was left disbelieving. The reader is told repeatedly how strong she is, yet she is shown throughout the story as having trouble pulling it together. I know that she suffered great psychological trauma in addition to the physical ordeal she endured, but her terror at every tiny movement or noise made her seem not psychologically sound enough to begin a relationship, and particularly one with her rescuer, the idea of which gave me a slightly Stockholm Syndrome vibe.

Echoes at Dawn is part of a series, but I believe it may be read as a standalone since the storyline is resolved at the novel’s end. I found the initial chapters somewhat confusing though as reference is made to Shea’s capture and her situation, which was addressed in a prior book.

All that being said, the text is quite readable and the sex scenes are pretty hot. There is a bit of crudeness and one scene in which Rio teaches Grace how to give him a blow job left me more exasperated than turned on as it was all very technical and not sexy in the least. But the other love scenes are quite sensual which is a bonus. I also really enjoyed the action scenes, but found that when Grace and Rio were not on the run from bad guys or doing the horizontal mambo the story lagged.

In summary, this one just was not for me. I couldn’t shake my ill feelings toward Rio and Grace’s relationship’s origins, nor could I completely get on board with an ending that left me a little stunned and disbelieving. All the great sex and action could not make me believe that this was a healthy relationship destined to last.

-- Heather Stanton

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