In His Keeping
One of the hardest things for me to buy is the concept of two people meeting and falling in a soul-joining, all-consuming, forever-and-beyond love in less time than a long holiday weekend. In fact, such a premise is so off-putting that usually, the book never stands a chance. Such was the case of Maya Banks’ In His Keeping, a story so rife with insta-love that all of its other problems paled in comparison.
Arial “Ari” Rochester entered into a life of privilege when her rich-but-barren parents found her literally left on their doorstep when she was an infant. It didn’t take long for Gavin and Ginger Rochester to discover that their gift from heaven had special gifts of her own, mainly the ability to fetch her favorite toys and her bottle and pretty much anything she wanted by means of telekinesis. A powerful and highly protective man, Gavin Rochester vowed to keep Ari’s psychic ability a secret from the world, and she grew up with the rules of never show, never tell drilled into her head.
Years later, an adult Ari is forced to use her powers to protect herself from a brutal attack and the entire incident is filmed via cell phone, uploaded to the net and gone viral before she knows what’s happened. Before her parents can whisk her off to some place safe, Gavin and Ginger disappear, apparently kidnapped. Ari doesn’t know what to do, so she turns to the two men her father had instructed her to find if she ever found herself in trouble, Beau and Caleb Devereaux.
The Devereaux brothers run a highly successful security company, and given that his own sister has psychic abilities, Beau Devereaux is not shocked by Ari’s strange talents. Indeed, he knows more about what’s happening to Ari than she herself does. Within seconds of meeting her, he agrees to take on her case and help her find her parents. What neither of them realize is that Ari is part of an experiment to develop people with special abilities, and the people who “created” her are determined to get her back so they can use her for their own purposes. Ari begins to discover that her powers are far greater than she ever imagined, and it’s only by learning how to harness them that she has any hope of ever seeing her parents alive again and saving herself in the process.
Let me see if I can roughly suss out the exact time line of Ari and Beau’s romance. They meet, and within an hour or so, Beau is hugging Ari and smelling her hair and calling her “honey,” which he continues to do throughout the story, much to my nails-on-a-chalkboard annoyance. Another couple of hours and he’s kissing the wound she sustained during a shootout – ewww, germs. Roughly a day after meeting each other, they are fully naked and horizontal, and the day after that, each is willing to die for the other. Whew, that’s a lot of living in just a couple of days.
Ari is the quintessential poor little rich girl. Her parents coddled and protected her such that by the age of twenty-four, she’s barely a functioning adult. To counteract this eye-roll enducing bit of unrealism, Banks assures us that Ari has broken away from Mom and Dad Rochester with a real job as a teacher, her own apartment (albeit in a building owned by her father) with her own car and her own bills. Yet her mother continues to buy Ari’s clothes for her, and Ari spends every summer with her parents in whatever exotic local her father has chosen to most delight his beloved wife. She’s only had a handful of dates and, yes, she’s a virgin in case you didn’t already guess that. Not that this stops her from being a fully orgasmic sex kitten the first time she and Beau do the deed. Ari is also gorgeous, super intelligent, blessed with a photographic memory and psychic.
As far as heroes go, Beau is your standard ex-SEAL/FBI/CIA type who is supposed to be hard as nails, all-business, all-the-time, and fully emotionally detached when it comes to his clients. Yeah, right. Beau becomes furious when he sees a video of Ari – a woman he hasn’t even met yet – getting attacked. I would think that’s a clear sign that maybe he should let one of his coworkers run lead on this particular job. I’m honestly not sure how the Devereaux security firm became so successful given the owners’ unprofessional habit of falling in love with their clients – apparently Beau’s brother Caleb found love with a client in the first book in the series. I haven’t read that book, but the clues are there.
Indeed, this book firmly takes the concept of the amount of rage shown by the hero when the heroine is in peril being directly proportional to the depth of his love for her far into the red zone. Both Ari’s father Gavin Rochester and Beau become practically mental every time one of their women are in the least bit of danger. While some amount of protectiveness is charming and sweet, there is protectiveness and then there is need of therapy.
If the insta-love and over-the-top reactions weren’t enough, the dialogue and character inconsistencies were enough to make this book a wallbanger. Everyone speaks in long phrase-heavy sentences that would sound ridiculous if actually said out-loud. The bad guys speak fluent Evil, such as, “Get the little bitch and hold her down so I can gut her like the pig she is.” Another lovely fellow says, “Don’t think this is the end…We’ll come after you. You aren’t safe anywhere. There is nowhere we can’t find you. I underestimated you this time. I won’t make that mistake again. And if you ever want to see your precious mommy and daddy you’ll do just what we want.” Yeah, and your little dog, too!
Ari has “thank god” disease, as in, “thank god” her father taught her self defense (so she could ward off an attack by a highly trained, ex-military security guard-turned-bad-guy) and “thank god” her father made sure she had a key to every single one of the many cars he owns (along with knowledge about horsepower and maneuverability) and “thank god” she knows spy craft techniques to avoid being notice despite her distinctive eye and hair color (of course she has distinctive eye and hair color!). Beau never answers a phone call from an unknown number unless of course it just so happens to be from Ali’s biological father just in time for him to info-dump some very important information never to be heard from again.
And I’ve got to be honest. The use of “old fart” as a teasing descriptor of the hero (twice!) is never charming. Ever.
This book is absolutely rife with sequel bait, so I’m sure there will be loads more insta-love stories for anyone who isn’t bothered by the trope. As for me, I wish I could have finished In His Keeping as fast as Ari and Beau fell in true love, because I found their romance to be a bit of a slog.