Series: KGI #7
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Published by Berkley on 25 June 2013
Forged in Steele is fairly light on the suspense but heavy on the romance. Steele, one of the KGI leaders, may have had a thing for Dr Maren Scofield for some time but he’s not the most romantic of guys. His method of propositioning Maren is woeful but she falls for it and they are soon happy victims of insta-love. Maren gets into trouble and Steele is determined to save the day. It isn’t bad by a long shot but for me this isn’t Banks at her best.
Steele is so tough he is called the “ice man” and yet he turns to putty around Maren. He is quickly sprouting heartfelt and soulful speeches about how he never lived until he met Maren. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had started dedicating poetry to her, such was his overflowing passion. It was a complete 180 degree turn and I think I preferred him in tough guy mode. He may not always crack funnies but his team genuinely respect and admire him as a leader. Being helpless to protect Maren would be difficult for that kind of guy and it takes its toll on him. Maren copes with the extreme situation she is placed in and only needs to be rescued a couple of times. We’ve met Maren in earlier novels and she’s been practical and efficient in treating the KGI teams. Unlike the other heroines who have had tragic pasts, she has had a fairly stable one with parents that love her. I think in this respect she is a good match for Steele as he needed someone with lots of warmth that could thaw him out (even if that does lead to cheesy dialogue). She and Steele spend so much time apart in this novel though that I really found it hard to buy how quickly they fell in love.
The pacing seemed a bit off as we had a great opening which got the adrenaline flowing only to have it peter out. Things then picked up drastically in the last third of the novel only to die down again with an extended denouement. The final action scene was nail biting and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Lots of time is spent catching up with the rest of the previous HEA couples and their kids which is great for readers who are heavily invested in them but it didn’t advance the plot. I thought Maren and Steele deserved a little more page time getting to know each other sans love scenes. Things did get a bit too schmaltzy for my liking in parts and veered into contemporary romance territory rather staying true to romantic suspense. There are so many secondary characters we really need a chart of some sort to keep them straight or at the very least an index.
I really love Banks in full-blown suspense mode but there wasn’t enough of that in this novel. A little more action and a bit less mushiness would have made me much happier.