Dark of Night by Suzanne Brockmann

As I’ve already mentioned, I was not a Sophia/Decker ‘shipper…although Brockmann probably could have sold me on the relationship if that was where she decided to go. I thought it would be Dave for Sophia – and I liked that Dave was not a super hero but kind of a geek, and a guy who just put his head down and ground through things, like being ill but helping, being freezing but still ready to defend, walking through the cold for help with a broken wrist. No a he-man, but human, with faults and flaws and doubts about himself.

The pairing of Tracy and Decker surprised me a bit, not in a bad way though. I suppose the hotel room scene in Into the Storm may have been a hint about their potential, even though it was vague. Really, I expected Decker’s heroine to be Dr. Jo Heissman for a couple of reasons – the tension between them about The Agency would’ve made a good external issue for them to deal with, and it would’ve been nice to see a slightly older hero (Decker’s in his mid 40s, I think) matched up with an older heroine. I would love to read Brockmann’s take on an older heroine – not just one who is a few years older than the hero (like Meg in The Defiant Hero and Joan in Into the Night), but a woman who is at or beyond the midpoint of her life. Usually readers only get those stories in Women’s Fiction, and I would love to see it in straight genre romance.

Okay, things I liked about Dark of Night:

  • Overall, I enjoyed the story as I read it, and the way the story arc was wrapped up.
  • Pacing – the book moved quickly, and never bogged down in one part or another
  • Scenes with Robin and Jules

 What I was kind of ~meh~ about

  • Multiple POVs – Dave, Sophia, Decker, Tracy, Jimmy, Tess, Jules. Am I missing any? On one hand, the multiple POVs facilitate in the storytelling and help with the pacing. On the other hand, it comes perilously close to head hopping for me. Some readers like the POV shifts, but it is something that I usually try to ignore.
  • The shift from regular Dave to SuperDave. 
  • How does TSI stay in the black if half the office is either on vacation or taking lost time? Even if they aren’t pulling salaries, they are still not doing anything billable, leaving contracts unfulfilled.
  • The reappearance of Sam and Alyssa. I know there are lots of Brockmann fans who just adore them, but I’m ready for them go on with their HEA off the page somewhere, leaving page space for other, newer characters.

Things that really bothered me — this part is a function of my my view on politics and law, things of reality, which is supposed to be suspended while reading fiction.  Here’s the thing – I can only suspend disbelief so far, and these things are pushing beyond that boundary. YMMV.

  • The utter disregard for criminal and constitutional law by both individuals and quasi-government agencies. Hello, Decker SHOT someone. In broad day light. In a public place. And it was caught on video.  Now, maybe there were consequences in Brockmann’s fictional world that were handled off the page or edited out, maybe it was arguably self defense. But that is homicide or manslaughter at the very least, and the fact that it was never addressed bothered me. And breaking and entering? Also a crime. The fact that a federal agent doesn’t help since there was no freaking warrant. Hello? 
  • Jules going off the books bothered me, too, a lot. And yes, I can absolutely see that his career with might be over now.
  • The Agency. No doubt the CIA and DIA and NSA have done and continue to do things that make my ACLU-loving soul cringe, but the entire premise of The Agency makes my skin crawl.
  • TSI running its own independent operations within the United States, without law enforcement accompaniment really bothered me. Body guarding? Okay. Security? Okay. Contracts with the government? Okay.   Involved in a mission with the FBI – mmm, okay, slightly harder sell. But independent operations? No.  It felt like the Wild West, and not in a good way.

Actually, that last is my biggest problem and it extends beyond just this book. I’m getting uncomfortable with what TSI is. The more the series focuses on TSI rather than the U.S. Navy or other armed forces, the further out of my comfort zone it goes.  Because TSI reminds me of Blackwater, KBR and Halliburton, none of which are happy comparisons in my mind, frankly.

As I mentioned in a thread over at Dear Author, Dark of Night is the last Brockmann book that I will pre-order from the library.  Not because I didn’t enjoy the book – I did. I’m just tired of waiting for older characters to appear as heroes in books of their own – Jazz, Duke, Silverman, BigMac, George, etc. were introduced before Sophia, Decker, James and Tess, but they seem to be stuck as background characters. And I’m tired of waiting around to read their stories.  The characters who’ll be heroes in the next story arc?  I’m guessing Lopez, Gillman, Zanella, and Koehl.  Maybe Yashi.  All nice characters, but I don’t feel all that invested in them. 

Afterthought: I get that Brockmann has gotten a lot of flack online from readers about “misleading” them about Sophia and Decker. I don’t necessarily think that she did mislead readers, but I’m sure others would disagree with me. In any case, I’m of the school of thought that no publicity is bad publicity when one has a new book out, and I think the brouhaha has sold more books for Brockmann rather than less. Skimming through the book club chat over at B&N while trying to gather my thoughts to write this post, I thought Brockmann was remarkably patient and polite to disgruntled readers, if a little condescending at times. Until this post, in which she seems to be saying that the people who are unhappy with Dark of Night are homophobes.

 And I know that the people who disapprove of me and DARK OF NIGHT (and probably Jules Cassidy, too.  Let’s be honest about what this is about, at least for some of these disproportionately angry folks) are a small portion of the online romance reading population.  (Talk about limited!)

I don’t know if that is the case. In fact, I think that while there may be some overlap of the anti-DoN readers and anti-ATTN readers, it’s unlikely that all of the Sophia/Decker ‘shippers are Jules and Robin haters. That kind of blanket statement seems incongruous coming from the keyboard of a woman who is all about inclusion. It also seems kind of condescending to people for whom the book just didn’t work, which is the complete opposite of what she said earlier in the post, which was that it sometimes a book doesn’t work for a reader, and that was okay.  I dunno, it just leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.  Again, YMMV.

Ultimately, this book was worth the $1 hold fee from my library.  And I’ll probably buy a copy of the book when it is released in paperback, just so I have the series through this last book.  B/B-.



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4 responses to “Dark of Night by Suzanne Brockmann

  1. Anonymous

    I am pretty much in sync with your thoughts. It was a good read, but not a great one. It didn’t promote my interest in future books but it was entertaining (minus the total lack of believability) at the time.
    I think it’s interesting that Brockmann uses the defense that real couples break up, make up, or go their separate ways but fails to incorporate any “realism” in her suspense plots.
    As for her comment on the BN thread, hoo boy. That was shocking. I mean, I understood that she was frustrated by some of the commenters and yeah, some of the prior responses were a bit condescending but you could see why. The one you quoted was pretty astonishing. I read some of her responses to a reader on her own message board and I do get the sense that she feels any criticism arises out of her support for gay rights and being a gay rights activist.
    That did not seem to be the issue for the Dave/Sophie/Decker triangle at all. Maybe the posters were completely disingenuous and hid their anti homosexuality agenda from casual readers, but it was so well hidden that the response seemed disproportionate.

    • When I read the comment over at B&N, I wondered if there was something going on behind the scenes. Hate mail or something? In any case, part of me wants to give her a pass because I agree with her position on gay rights, but the other part of me thinks the post was unprofessional and inconsistent. My decision to shift her from autobuy/borrow status was made before reading the post, though, so it didn’t influence my opinion.
      I’d be interested in reading a story in which an earlier couple broke up and then made up or went their separate ways. But I guess that would bother a lot of readers, since it would violate the HEA rule.

  2. As a non-American, I can suspend belief about a lot of that stuff. I imagine if it had been in a British book, I’d have noticed it, but half my ideas about America are formed by Hollywood: it’s a bit of a mythical place, where normal rules don’t apply.
    My problem is more that I don’t like Brockmann as a suspense writer. I’m rotten at analysing these things, but I read all of Alistair MacLean in my teens, and his military suspense had me on the edge of my seat. Brockmann never manages that. At the same time, I love her as a romance writer, and enjoy her humour.
    If the characters just sat round the office falling in love over cups of tea, I’d be completely happy.
    As for the B&N thing: I probably fall on the fan-girl side of things. I posted on Brockmann’s MB forever, and I think some of the people who are posting about DoN now had a history there, and may not be as objective as they want to appear. (Which isn’t to say anything about people who left the MB in general – I think some of the nicest people left during the last kerfuffle.)
    Marianne McA

  3. I’m thinking this is the fourth (?) review of the book that I’ve read and it’s the 4th that says this book was a good read. I’m counting myself lucky to have not followed what I believed to be a ‘story arc’ only to find out the story arc wasn’t anything like I thought.
    As disappointed as I was in Max and Gina’s book it would have been worse if they had ended up apart. I realized after that book that I am not good with on-going story arcs and decided to let Brockmann get ahead of me. I just recently bought all the books after M/Gs because I figured I’d be okay now that Jules at least had a HEA. I had no clue about the Sophia/Decker/Dave thing except that I did read Flashpoint and thought Sophia and Decker would wind up together way in the future.
    I have heard (and by this I can’t remember where by maybe C2s) that the next book is about Sam and Alyssa. Or maybe they are like the secondary couple.
    Oh – and for the part of Brockmann that bothered me was the ‘melding’ of character. I think I noticed it first with Cosmo – supposed to be quiet and dark. Nope, just like the rest of the heroes. Sam was a character and must have been strong in her head. Max was supposed to be this dark/twisted guy and at the end of the book he was singing an Elvis song – uh, no. Not part of his character as far as I could see.
    Okay, now I’m just rambling 😉

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