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-.