I meant to post about this last week for SBD but didn’t get around to it. Better late than never, though.
Suzanne Brockmann has posted an excerpt of her next book, Dark of Night at her website. And her message board is active again. When I popped in last week, I saw the excerpt (my thoughts on it in a bit) and that there was a bit of a furor on the message board. It seems that someone received an ARC and posted couple spoilers on a thread at Amazon. Couple spoilers? How can it be a spoiler to know who the main couple is? Well, there has been a multibook story arc that includes two characters, Decker and Sophia, and a lot of readers have been impatiently waiting for their HEA. Except in the last couple of books, a third character, Dave, has been introduced as competition for Sophia’s affections. Some of the posters were outraged, swearing that they felt misled and cheated if those spoilers turned out to be true. Strung along for a multibook story arc that now turns out to be “wrong”.
I dunno. Did Brockmann ever say outright that Sophia and Decker would have their HEA together? In a series of books that has individual h/h rather than being led by a returning h/h (a la Robb’s In Death), is it reasonable to assume who the hero and heroine will be in advance? Or to become so invested in who the anticipated couple will be? I mean, what if Brockmann had figured out a way for Alyssa to be happy without Sam? Or for Sam and MaryLou to remain married in a healthy way? Would readers have had a “right” to bitch and moan about that?
This all goes back to reader expectations again, IMO. Readers have a right to expect that an author has given best efforts for her work. Readers also have a right to expect that marketing and labeling for a book will be honest (as in, don’t market your Urban Fantasy novel as romance, then be surprised by the backlash when readers learn there’s no HEA). But readers don’t have a right to force their desired storyline on an author, which is how the subtext of a lot of the disgruntled comments read to me. YMMV.
After reading the excerpt and thinking about what Brockmann has shown readers in the last few books, I think the couple with the HEA is going to be Sophia and Dave, not Sophia and Decker. Presumably Decker will be getting his HEA, too; with whom, I’m not sure, but it’ll probably be in this book, too, because I believe that this book is wrapping up this storyline. Why Dave and not Decker? Because Brockmann plays with POV. Because of how Sophia and Decker met, readers assumed they’d be a couple eventually, rather like Sam and Alyssa, and Robin and Jules. But a couple of books ago, I began to wonder. Not about Dave as a potential hero, but about whether Decker would be Sophia’s hero. Because while other characters observed Sophia’s crush on Decker, no one ever mentioned Decker returning those feelings. Even in Into the Storm, when Dave was encouraging Decker to ask Sophia out, Decker’s response was never about what he wanted, but about what Sophia wanted. Decker’s POV *never* included any sort of longing or romantic feeling, just discomfort. He was all about the guilt and making amends.
Another reason I think Dave and not Decker is because although Brockmann likes to play with genre romance rules, I’m not sure she’s going to outright break them. And the heroine having a love scene with one character, even as a flashback, while ending up with another permanently would break A Serious Romance Rule. [Actually, I’d love to see her break that rule, but I think the Sam/MaryLou implied sex in the same book as actual Sam/Alyssa sex is about as close as she can get without alienating a lot of more traditional romance readers.]
Of course, it’s easy for me to make that prediction — I’m not invested in the outcome either way, Sophia/Decker or Sophia/Dave.