Holy Cow! Has Brockmann Done It Now?

First, you’ll find no real Dark of Night spoilers here, though you should stop reading now if you truly don’t want to know anything.  And, just to get it on the table, I know what happens in the book since I was sent an early copy.

And I loved it.  Seriously.

Truth is, I’ve been out of the Suzanne Brockmann loop for a while.  A few books ago I was s-o-o-o-o totally turned off by those manly men running around pointlessly in the woods while talking like teenagers that I checked out for a while.  Then, I tried again with Into the Fire and it just failed to grab me.

I was in a definite – and, for all I knew, permanent – Brockmann lull.

Then this one arrived in the mail.  With no other books really sounding the “read me” alarm, I sat down to read it…and zap!  For this reader, anyway, the old Brockmann magic was back again.  Seriously.

In case you haven’t been following the saga, a whole lot of readers are mighty pissed at Brockmann right now.  Based on spoilers that have leaked out, they’re expressing themselves at Amazon and in multiple threads at AAR.   They think – and I’m vastly simplifying things here – that Brockmann has betrayed the trust of her readers by…well, taking things in a different direction then the author led them to expect.

Color me clueless because I just didn’t anticipate that kind of reaction from so many readers.  Seriously.   Hey, I think I’m a smart woman (I graduated from college and everything), but considering my Brockmann break, I didn’t share the heavy investment many obviously feel in the continuing couple storyline that may – or may not – be the centerpiece here.  To further explain my bafflement, this couple – let’s call them Dophia and Secker – never really caught my imagination the way that Max and Gina did.   (Me love Max.  Me didn’t love Max’s book.)

So, imagine my surprised pleasure when almost from the very first page I got caught up in the kind of terrific storytelling that Brockmann – when she is on her game – does so very well.  I just went with it and let the author take me where she would.  And I loved it.  Seriously.

But, undeniably, based on all that early reader outrage, those who make up Brockmann’s core audience probably aren’t going to see it that way.  Which makes me wonder – and not for the first time – just what authors who extend storylines over multiple books owe their readers.  Whatever kind of “suspense” angle the publisher tries to put on it, when romance authors reach the level of success that Brockmann has, the truth is that she still writes…well, romance. When readers pick up a book by Brockmann, they know they are guaranteed a main couple HEA and – reasonably enough – that the author’s patented extended couple storylines will also end happily.  That’s the deal and both the writer and her readers know it.

But I can’t escape the fact that this book worked for me – far better than anything I’ve read by the author in the last four or five years.  And, considering that I fully believed Brockmann had well and truly dropped off my list, that is saying something.

Still, there’s no getting around the harsh truth that expectations – especially when nurtured by the author over multiple books – can be a bitch.  And Brockmann may well be about to find that out.

But I’ll say it again because it bears repeating:  As a reader who approached Dark of Night with few – if any – preconceptions, I found it to be a great ride.  Seriously.

-Sandy AAR

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80 Responses to “Holy Cow! Has Brockmann Done It Now?”

  1. Leigh says:

    I am glad that you enjoyed the book. And honestly, if I had taken a break from her also, then I might be in your shoes. Seriously. However, my anticipation has been fueled by glimpses of a certain couple over the last four years and 9 months. Not only did I have scenes that I interpreted as as concern, jealousy, and love, but I have had reader’s extras from the author showing this couple’s names linked. So, I do feel that my expectations have been nutured over almost five years by Brockmann. just so she could have a surprise ending and do something different. , I don’t like being upset over a book, and its characters. And once the author has provided clues that certain individuals are couples their HEA is not interchangeable with another person. I don’t read romance so I can figure out who is who in a love triangle. I read knowing who the couples are, so I can live vicarously through their ups and downs and then rejoice when their true love endures. So yes I do expect from Brockmann that her main extended couple storyline end in a HEA. My disappointment would have been so much less if this happened within a book. But when you factor in almost five years of anticipation the disillusionment has gone up exponentially. I haven’t read the book, but I feel just like the boy from the book “The Christmas Sweater” who just knew that he was going to get his Huffy bike, but instead he got a home made sweater.

  2. Scout says:

    I’m among the crowd that’s really upset I’ll try and explain why. I truly feel that Suz has violated the trust in the writer/reader relationship. She likes to write long story arcs and no matter how long they have dragged out we hung on because we knew the couple would get their HEA.

    There was never a doubt that Alyssa and Sam would end up together, same for Max and Gina, Tom and Kelly etc. Well I don’t feel that way anymore. I have to wonder if I’m only setting myself up for future disappointment if I continue to read and buy her books. Why get invested in Izzy and Eden to have them end up with other people at the end of the story arc??

    I no longer believe her when she says she ended the story arc the way she intended. There is no way anyone read Flashpoint and predicted this outcome. I think she was swayed by some fans on her board and simply changed her mind halfway through the story arc. What really upsets most of us is that she created and posted a poll on her website listing Decker and Sophia as a couple!! Twice!! And again in her troubleshooters guides. This is really where I feel the violation of my trust – why jerk us around like this?

    I’m not into bed hopping between main characters and this is what is happening within the troublshooters world. As others have said it’s taking on a very soap opera ‘Desperate Housewives’ kind of vibe and that’s not what I want to read in my romance novels.

    As Leigh said, what is most upsetting is that this has transpired over 5 years!!! That’s a lot of money for all the hardcovers in between. If she wanted to write a novel where you don’t know who ends up with who, why not do it within one book? Maybe two. But don’t string us along for 5 years! To me it’s a gimmick and I’ve lost a lot of respect for Suz I’m sad to say.

  3. Scout says:

    Sandy I have to ask, how would would your opinion of the book changed if you HAD been really invested in Decker and Sophia? If you hadn’t taken a break from Brockmann but had been buying her hardcovers every year diligently waiting for the expected ending?

  4. library addict says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed the book and have a feeling many of her fans will as well. You weren‘t particularly attached to the characters in question and that distance allowed you to enjoy the book. Fans who wanted the couple(s) to end up the way they have will be pleased and no doubt think the book is good. As a former fan of Brockmann’s I am happy for those readers.

    I say former fan because I am not a reader who will blindly follow an author ANYWHERE they go. As someone whose imagination was caught by the couple in question, I feel a sense of betrayal regarding the way the characters in DON will apparently align themselves. I believe Brockmann purposely misled her readers. You are correct – “there’s no getting around the harsh truth that expectations – especially when nurtured by the author over multiple books – can be a bitch.”

    I won’t restate all the reasons I and many readers feel this way. There are those multiple threads here at AAR, Amazon, and various other boards that spell out the reasons for anyone who cares to read them.

    Obviously I haven’t read the book either and some fans may find fault with my judging a book that I haven’t read. There’s simply no way I can approach this book as you did, without preconceptions. So we’ll have to agree to disagree that Brockmann in fact still writes “romance.” The characters in a romance are not interchangeable to me. So the fact that “Dophia and Secker” don’t receive their long awaited HEA means the book won’t work for me, regardless of how well it is written.

    As Scout asks, I wonder what your reaction would have been had you been captivated by this couple? And even though you didn’t like Max’s book, what would your reaction have been if Gina and Max had ended up with other people? Or another couple you were actually attached to didn’t end the way you’d been led to expect for so long?

  5. maggie b. says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed the book although I do think taking a break contributed to that. I can remember reading a sci-fi/fantasy series where each book was a stand alone but the character changed partners and people were p*ssed. I wasn’t cause I had come in on the back end and worked my way forward, which meant I had little emotional investment with the whole thing.

    You know, I don’t think authors *owe* readers anything. The reverse also holds true though and I think that is where the situation gets sticky. Sometimes, an author, like Brockmann or Garwood, reach such popularity heights that they can afford to lose a reader here or there. Other times it isn’t that easy. I can remember when the mid-list authors were losing publishing contracts and many blamed fans because the fans had been doing a lot of UBS buying and had, in several authors minds, caused the problem. That hoopla changed the way I buy and now in romance my new authors and those not on best sellers are more likely to get a purchase than Nora Roberts (who I love but seems to have a pretty stable career) or others that make the NY Times bestseller list. I do this for the author, myself and others. For others because unless people who read these authors buy, others may never get a chance too ;-) Erin Grady for example writes some really good books but you rarely hear about her. When she publishes, I buy –even if they sit on my TBR pile for awhile before I get to them. I just feel it is important to support her. I always buy Robyn Carr — before the Virgin River books I was literally the only fan of her work I knew about. It has been wonderful to see others gain an interest in her! So I think many authors see a debt in the different direction, that we *owe* it to them to buy the books that enable them to keep telling us their stories.

    Some fans begin with an author, do what I do for Grady and Carr, and feel they are betrayed when the author switches and I get that. While there is no real debt, there is the sense that you helped make this person big and they suddenly have no interest in. It’s like dating a med student who ditches you once he passes his licensing boards ;-) You can’t help but feel a bit used and betrayed, even if that isn’t what happened.

    So I don’t think authors owe us anything. But they have to understand that works both ways. And while I may lose a good read if they don’t get that next contract, romance publishes a ridiculous 500 books a year. I’ll find someone to replace them. The question is, will they find something to replace that career?

    maggie b.

  6. Jess says:

    I’ve got to say I’ve been kind of shocked by the rather loud reaction from some of the fans. First and foremost because some seem to be assuming control over the storylines (although I fully acknowledge that that isn’t the case of those that have commented here already).

    Also, while many have sighted Into the Storm as feeding those expectations, it’s exactly the same book where I started to get the feeling that maybe HEA wasn’t going to be Sophia & Decker. I know it’s not enough to build a full romance on, but I really loved Deck and Tracey’s exchange in the book. I also loved that we started to see Dave acknowledging his own feelings a little.

    I always understood Sophia’s feelings for Decker to be based on this survival instinct, and Decker’s feelings for Sophia based on guilt. I figured Brockmann would have a hell of a task reconciling these emotions enough before they could actually be happy together. And I guess that brings me to my third point.

    I really like the drawn out, realistic romances that Brockmann’s stories include. I also like that, as with real life, maybe you don’t end up with the guy you thought you had an all-consuming, tragic love for. Maybe you end up with the guy who loves you 200% and who you’ve grown to love 200% yourself.

    Anyway, just thought I’d pipe up for those who are happy about this coupling. I respect that everyone is entitled to their opinions (and different interpretations of a book :) ). I also understand how it can be disappointing when a relationship you’ve routed for doesn’t come through (I was totally on the Decker/Sophia ship for several books there). But still, I’m very excited to read Dark of Night and super glad it’s coming out so soon. :)

  7. AAR Sandy says:

    To answer the question posed by Scout: If I was more invested, my feelings might have been different. I can say that if Brockmann hadn’t delivered an HEA for Max and Gina I would have been pissed. Flat out pissed.

    I think this is a really interesting discussion about reader expectations and the author-reader deal. Because there IS a deal.

  8. MMcA says:

    (I haven’t read other people’s comments, because I’m still in spoiler avoidance mode – so if I repeat or contradict someone, it’s not intentional.)

    I’d count myself core audience, and I think what I’m owed is a HEA. I buy these books as romance, so I think that’s required. However, I don’t think I’m owed any particular HEA – if Sam had found a way to be happy with Mary Lou, and Alyssa had ended up with Max, and Gina with Ric – as long as the author had sold those endings to me, that would have been fine.
    Given the choice, I wouldn’t have had Jules marry Robin – as someone with experience of alcoholism, I’d have sworn that nothing could make me root for an alcoholic hero – but Brockmann convinced me they’d be happy, and those two books are complete comfort rereads for me.

    Perhaps I’m easy. I know I’ve enjoyed long pieces of fanfic where I’ve been rooting for Harry to have a HEA with Draco, or Miles to find his HEA with Gregor. What matters to me is that I believe in the relationship in the story I’m reading, and that the characters I’m invested in end up happy.

    I’m now wondering if that’s just a lack of imagination on my part – I’m 100% reader and I wouldn’t think about characters outside of their books, the way that fanfic writers obviously must. Perhaps people with more active imaginations invest differently in characters – because, in a way, this isn’t a Brockmann thing – plenty of Rowling readers felt betrayed by that series, and plenty of Twilight readers hated the direction of the final book. It’s clearly something that happens with series.

    (Brockmann must be an old hand at dealing with thwarted reader expectations – the old AAR boards had long, long threads around GTF, with people feeling very betrayed by what she did to Sam. I didn’t like Sam, but I loved the subversion of the romance cliche; because in Romance, when the Hero gets the Heroine pregnant and marries her, it always works out.)

  9. laura477 says:

    Personally, I never was into the Sophia/Decker relationship. It always seemed to be too much high drama and not rooted enough in day to day interactions.

  10. Janet W says:

    This is how Scout put it: “I no longer believe her when she says she ended the story arc the way she intended. There is no way anyone read Flashpoint and predicted this outcome. I think she was swayed by some fans on her board and simply changed her mind halfway through the story arc. What really upsets most of us is that she created and posted a poll on her website listing Decker and Sophia as a couple!! Twice!! And again in her troubleshooters guides. This is really where I feel the violation of my trust – why jerk us around like this?”

    I remember the day on the board when someone analyzed a convention — a certainty — of an HEA in the Brockmann world. Call it an If/Then if you will — IF a character has POV sex, THEN that coupling with eventually end up in an HEA. The couple used as an example was Izzy/Tracy — but guess what? They don’t have an HEA. Nor does the couple of the polls after Flashpoint. I’ll read the book from the library but this style of writing needs a new descriptor because it doesn’t fit my definition of romance. Romance to me is being able, eventually, to count on an HEA between a couple that is initially presented to me as having a relationship. And HEAs are not interchangeable — I’m not just looking when I read a book for HEAs in themselves to be the outcome — not after a 5 year investment. A little understanding for how people feel would go a long way here. Do I think all the publicity will result in a hugely successful book? I really don’t know. I will say that word of mouth and the feelings of the community probably factor in too … and I suppose that goes both ways.

    Of course opinions may differ — glad you liked it Sandy. But thanks for your honesty is saying how you’d feel had something similar happened to Max and Gina. Lastly, above I’m reading how Brockmann dissolved the Romance cliche of pregnant Heroine gets married and HEA ensues … and that’s pretty cool. How about the cliche of Receptionist marries company Principal — isn’t that rather a throwback to books that are let’s just say not exactly 21st century?

    Again, really like your new AAR blog … thanks a lot!

  11. Tee says:

    I quit reading Brockmann a long while ago. But this discussion reminds me a lot of how Karin Slaughter handled one of her recent books, “Beyond Reach.” It was not an expected ending and most people didn’t see it coming. But this question is really, why did we feel that way as readers? As an author, she has the right to begin and end her books exactly the way she wants. She takes a risk that way in that consumers may not purchase more of her stuff, but still it’s her prerogative. If this had been a romance fiction, then an HEA should have been expected; but Slaughter doesn’t write in that genre. And I don’t think Brockmann does anymore either–does she? I thought she abandoned that field and is classified as general fiction. I may be wrong on that.

  12. Leigh says:

    Tee,

    If I remember correctly from your post just recently on the boards, you said you were upset too, with Karin Slaughter. After reading ITF, I would have been hard pressed to call her a romance writer. So during one of SB’s visits to her board, I asked her “Do you still consider yourself a romance writer?” And she replied yes, one who likes to push the envelope .

  13. Scout says:

    I really don’t understand people who say that we as readers shouldn’t have opinions. So we should just blindly hand over our money and shut our mouths? Not dare to criticize or critique an author who we’ve probably spent hundreds of dollars on?

    Of course an author has the right to start and end a book or series they way he/she wants. However as a reader, when I feel that I’ve been jerked around by said author who posted polls listing characters as a couple, I feel I have the right to be upset and to be vocal about it.

    When an author intentionally drags a story out over 5 years of course fans are going to become invested in those characters. And we have the right to speak out when we feel we were intentionally mislead.

    And Karin Slaughter lost a lot of fans by doing what she did, whatever genre you want to call her.

  14. Scout says:

    Sandy, I think this is a great discussion and I want to say thank you for acknowledging our pain while still liking DON. Are you the AAR reviewer for DON by chance?

  15. panthercrawl says:

    Sandy, if Max and Gina didnt get thier HEA I would be livid. (me love Max too) At the same time, I believe Sophia / Decker should be the HEA. I am Ok with after the first encounter, they never interact again (ala Izzy / Tracy) but thier were about 5 books in between where things were discussed that should have lead to Decker / Sophia. And I feel like the rug has been pulled out from under me. At the end of ITF, even though things were leading towards Dave, I was 1,000% sure that it would Decker / Sophia in the end.

    That being said, I do believe Brockmann is a great writer. I went back to previous books to see if I could decifer where I went wrong in my beliefs, and found myself being sucked into the stories. So I am not going to say, I will never read her again. Because honestly I will be first in line on Jan 27th to buy DON. But I will try my best to never get sucked into one of her arcs until the final book.

  16. Tee says:

    Leigh wrote: Tee, If I remember correctly from your post just recently on the boards, you said you were upset too, with Karin Slaughter. After reading ITF, I would have been hard pressed to call her a romance writer. So during one of SB’s visits to her board, I asked her “Do you still consider yourself a romance writer?” And she replied yes, one who likes to push the envelope.

    My response: Leigh, yes, I was upset with the way Slaughter ended “Beyond Reach.” I thought, at that time, I wouldn’t read any more books by her. But as I rethought that, I realized that she can do this. She had other ideas in mind, it appears, for future books. I even knew that I would read those stories in that same series, just to see how she would handle them. I read “Fractured” (which is the second book of another series of hers) and thought it was terrific. It’s difficult to abandon an author whom you love that writes well–and she does. I don’t know what it would take at this point to abandon her, but apparently “Beyond Reach” wasn’t “beyond” the limit for me. But then, Slaughter does not write romance fiction, even though she has romantic relationships within her stories.

    Interesting what you said about Brockmann though. I just assumed, I guess, that she was more general fiction than romance these days. Maybe I have her confused with Gabaldon. Whatever. Pushing the envelope in writing is good, but risky for the author, especially in the romance genre. But we only go thru this life once (well, that’s my opinion on that) and if that’s what she wants to do, then I say go for it. There are consequences with these risky leaps, but it’s theirs to take.

  17. maggie b. says:

    Janet W said: but this style of writing needs a new descriptor because it doesn’t fit my definition of romance. Romance to me is being able, eventually, to count on an HEA between a couple that is initially presented to me as having a relationship. And HEAs are not interchangeable — I’m not just looking when I read a book for HEAs in themselves to be the outcome

    Janet, yes this is how I feel exactly. It’s the equivalent to me of having your h/h split up mid book and get with other people. That’s not a romance novel. It *might* qualify as women’s fiction but not romance.

    Just my .02 but that is how I feel right now.

    maggie b.

  18. Tee says:

    Scout wrote: I really don’t understand people who say that we as readers shouldn’t have opinions. So we should just blindly hand over our money and shut our mouths? Not dare to criticize or critique an author who we’ve probably spent hundreds of dollars on?

    My response: Scout, I hope you didn’t interpret my post as saying that we shouldn’t have opinions about books. Absolutely we should–and do. And we have the right to vocalize them, especially as consumers. However, at the same time, the author has that same right. If authors don’t care that they will possibly lose some readers because of a new direction they’ve taken, that’s their risk to take. We may not like it, so we don’t buy any more books by them. That’s about all we can do, plus, of course, send letters and/or criticize publicly.

    I agree with you that Slaughter did lose a lot of fans following the conclusion of “Beyond Reach.” Temporarily, I was one of them. I’m glad I’m back in her camp, though. She’s really a terrific writer and I would be denying myself some great future stuff, I believe, if I stayed with that attitude. And I can stop reading her whenever I choose. She may have lost some readers; but, on the other hand, who knows how many she gained by turning the wheel. In any event, she’s following her personal instincts in what and how she wants to write and how can that really be wrong for her?

  19. AAR Sandy says:

    Scout, we like to mix things up and let different people review authors, so somebody else (and I don’t honestly know who) will be reviewing DON.

    panthercrawl, yes, I am a BIG Max fan. Especially in Over the Edge. He totally took over that book for me.

  20. Scout says:

    Tee,

    I guess my point is that of course an author has the right to take the story where he/she wants. But all I ask is not to jerk their readers around….i.e. putting up a poll about a couple that she would never end up pairing.

    The Decker/Sophia crowd, speaking for the majority :-) we feel like we’ve been mislead and deceived intentionally. And again it goes to loosing trust in an author.

    I would love to be able to say, oh well, I don’t have to buy anymore of her books. But it really bothers me – we’ve been invested in this story for 5 years and we’ve come to care about these characters and I feel like I was a part of some sort of gimmick.

  21. Jacqueline says:

    Thanks for the review. I am sure it is a great story. I was betting for a good suspense ride with the whole “Agency” storyline and friends believing Nash is dead, etc. (Thank God he is NOT!-that would have really pushed me OVER the EDGE!) However, no matter how well it is written or how great the plot is, it does not change the heartbreaking news that Deck and Soph do not get their HEA after all this time! I am completely baffled that S.B. did this after sucking her readers into this couple over 5 books. Does not make sense to me!

    So the story is great, remind me of all the movies that win Oscars despite the fact that a major character dies. (Although this seems to be a required critea for a nomination these days) However, no matter how great the movie is, I always hate it when one of the characters dies. This is ALMOST how I feel about DON. By Suz not giving Deck and Soph their HEA, it ALMOST feels this bad. I know it may sound silly, but that is how I feel-heartbroken. I say ALMOST because I will still read it, and MAYBE, just MAYBE Suz can pull off a miracle for me and mend my heart. However, if she killed a major character off (like I intially thought in ITF with Nash) then I would defintely stop reading!

    Well, at least it sounds like a good story-so it will hold my interest while my stomach clenches when Dave gets Soph instead of Deck!
    Poor Deck! (WHY? WHY? WHY?)
    Okay, I am moving on with my life now-(ggg)

  22. maggie b. says:

    MMCA wrote:but I loved the subversion of the romance cliche; because in Romance, when the Hero gets the Heroine pregnant and marries her, it always works out.

    This is where those five hundred books a year in the romance world work against us ;-0

    See, I’ve read the book where the pregnant heroine finds herself a single mom so often I could almost write the story in my sleep. I ‘ve read the book where she meets an Ibrahim who is kind to her and the kid and who is compassionate to her many, many times. I know Nora Roberts has done the single mom thing at least ten times all on her own. And where Le Nora goes, others follow. What was different was reading the story from the dad angle, hearing him talk about how he just couldn’t make his marriage work yada yada yada. I’ll be honest, it didn’t work for me. I have an unnatural reaction to deadbeat dads, which is what Sam was described as in “Into the Night”.

    Anyway, just wanted to point out that in the vast universe that it is hard to break a cliche because chances are somebody beat you to it.

    maggie b.

  23. Carol says:

    Thank you AAR Sandy for the preview. I’m one of those disappointed Sophia and Decker fans. I have to agree with those readers who feel “jerked” around after waiting 5 years for their story.

    But I have to ask even though you didn’t see a connection between Sophia and Decker, is the Decker and Tracy pairing the same magic as Max and Gina? And do we get an explanation of why Decker never went for Sophia?

    Thanks again for the preview, but I think I will get this one from the library…too disappointed about the pairings for this book.

  24. cawm says:

    I’m surprised that everyone is so surprised. After enjoying Brockmann’s earlier titles, I stopped reading her after Over the Edge. When she didn’t conclude the Sam-Alyssa story in that book, I felt that she was playing games with her readers. I also felt that she was attempting to break out of the romance market and attract a mainstream audience. Since only romance demands a HEA ending, and Brockmann was moving away from romance into subjects that held no interest for me, I simply ignored her books from then on.

  25. trinity says:

    The difference with the sam/alyssa storyline is that they eventually GOT their HEA….not gonna happen with deck/sophia. Although I can dream..sigh..
    I too feel jerked around absolutely with the HEA for dave/sophia…have an exciting storyline sure, have the couple (deck/sophia) go through pain, trauma and misunderstandings yes. It all adds to the conflict & the excitement. Have the red herrings as it were, ie-daves continual infatuation. BUT then resolve it the way we were led to believe in the previous 4 books & 5yr wait..This is a romance genre after all. If there was to be no deck/sophia to come, finish up their storyline, have them be friends only & make it clear. I could’ve accepted it if that had happened books ago. Its the 5 yr wait and continual storyline that got me hooked on them and then to have it come to nothing….my disappointment & disillusion runs very deep…Its a shame because your review would have made me want to read the book (and I still will), however I cant look forward to it and wont enjoy reading anything about dave/sophia, It’ll spoil it for me no matter how good the writing. This resolution has also robbed me of going back & rereading some of the old books, knowing the sparks I saw between deck/sophia mean nothing & come to nothing…

  26. Leigh says:

    Sandy,

    I think it would be interesting to have two different reviews. One from you since you have already read it, and had taken a hiatus from Ms. Brockmann, and then one from a reviewer that has been following the series.

  27. stella_k says:

    For me, the Sam and Alyssa arc is a different animal altogether. They interacted, although not in a particular healthy way at times. They had actual conversations. They acted on their attraction, then fought their attraction then accepted and embraced their attraction.

    Like Sandy, I am on the fence as far as Deck/Sophia vs Dave/Sophia goes. Sexual tension and repressed love is not jumping off the page for me whenever Deck and Sophia are in the same scene. Nor is chemistry obvious to me between Dave and Sophia. Even the scene in ITS when Deck charges out to read the Seals the riot act where Sophia is concerned I don’t interpret the same as others. The other thing for me is if Sophia was so in love with Deck, why didn’t she just ask out? I mean, she had Dave telling her that Deck was in love with her, didn’t she.

    I am going to read Dark of Night with an open mind and will judge the book and its content after I have read it. We are likely talking about probably between 400 – 500 pages of text in which a good author can weave a fascinating tale, that by the time the reader gets to the last page, should leave readers thinking it all makes sense. A lot of ground can be covered in 400 pages. I have started novels where I was hard pressed to believe the author could, through dialogue and action, convince me that the HEA as written was as it should be, but, more often than not, I have been pleasantly surprised.

    I am sorry that the Decker/Sophia fans are hurting. Who knows, maybe I will be commiserating with the rest of you after I finish reading DON.

  28. Jacqueline says:

    Sandy,

    Carol posed two great questions that are also weighing heavily on my mind as well. Could you please give us some insight into this-I don’t feel as if it will give the plot away and we all (here) know the couple result. So will you please answer if we get an explanation why Deck never went for sophia and did you see any great sparks with Deck and Tracy like you felt with Max and Gina? Maybe if we know if these type of issues are addressed it may take a bit of the sting out! Thanks!

  29. arrowboxer says:

    I too would like to know if we get Decker’s POV on his relationship w/ Sophia. And does Decker/Tracy have chemistry or is it just another bed hopping soap opera that is “to be continued”?

  30. Carol says:

    Hi Cawm,

    I came to the Sam and Alyssa story late and read GTF first and then played catch up. But I have to agree with you, I should have seen this one coming, given what happend with Max and Gina and Molly and Jones, there is a pattern.:-) But even with the long wait, I still knew they were getting a HEA…eventually.

    I remember when Lisa Kleypas wrote Devil in Winter, we got a scene with Cam and Daisy. But when LK went to write Daisy’s story next, she found their chemistry wasn’t right and paired Daisy with Matthew. This is what I love about LK, she was honest about this and explained in advance…none of these “games” about wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t know who the H/H were going to be.

    Thanks Jacqueline and Arrowboxer, I hope Sandy answers our questions, I think it would help a lot of readers understand.

  31. Avalon says:

    I’m 100% in support of an author writing what they want to write, telling the story they want to tell, but to me this really isn’t an issue about that. I think you get into some shakey ground with your readers when you start a storyline that you drag on for years then change at the end. As an author, especially as an author of multiple book storylines and series, you ask your readers to invest, and invest heavily, in your characters and your storyline – why else would they bother to buy your books and keep following along? There is most definitely a covenant between author and reader, and once you break with that as an author, I think you cross a line that I’m not sure you can uncross. I have a real feeling of “betrayal” with this – it’s not a matter of getting what I want, or getting my way – it’s got nothing to do with that. I didn’t start out particularly “wanting” Decker or Sophia to be or do anything. It’s about expectations being met. I have been invested in these characters for a long time now, and I was led to believe that they were a couple – I didn’t couple them up, Suz Brockmann did. I didn’t throw them together, or create a bond between them – she did. When I picked up Flashpoint, I had no expectations of anything. But over the course of 5 years, I’ve built expectations based on the story the author has told me. Granted, I may have received it differently than someone else, but it seems to be in a way that a great many other people received it. In my mind, discussing those two things – an author having the right to write the story their way, and readers being pissed off over the way DON apparently unfolds – is comparing apples and oranges. They’re two different subject altogether. All along, I thought the author WAS writing her story her way (who the hecks story was it, if not Suz Brockmanns?), and I was happy to be along for the ride – after all, I didn’t create the characters of Decker and Sophia, nor did I couple ‘em up, I just followed along and was stupid enough to get attached to them. Now you want me to buy that I was delusional, that I saw things that didn’t exist, and that what was never was? But in the meantime, what did exist was what? Written in invisible ink? I needed a super spy decoder ring to decipher it? And you’re doing this because you want to give me a surprise that I never asked for nor wanted? You decided, in your infinite wisdom, that I needed to feel jerked around? Why on earth would an author do that? And, quite frankly, how dare you do it and try to make me feel bad for objecting? If there was never a desire on the part of the author to pair Sophia and Decker, why not make that obvious from the get go? To keep the main characters of a book 5 years in the future a “secret”? That’s ridiculous, and if that was the sole reason, then I think I’m even more annoyed than I was before. I feel, as a reader who’s invested a lot of my time and money into this series, completely screwed over. It’s not a feeling I like, nor one I was expecting from an author I’d previously had a lot of respect for.

    I don’t think I’ve read anything, anywhere that’s saying that people want to control who or how Suzanne Brockmann writes. What I have seen an awful lot of people saying is “Hey, wait a minute – where did that come from?” And it’s a good question – where did it come from? I’ve reread the entire story arc that began with Flashpoint twice, and there is no way anyone can convince me that all roads led to Sophia and Dave and Decker and Tracy as couples. Right. Where would that have been written in the stars? Was it when Decker and Tracy had one weird exchange while she sat on her vibrator? Because that always spells happily ever after to me. Or would it have been obvious when Sophia cast Dave in the roll of best friend and confidant and spent hours and hours and days and days over lunch after lunch (Dave himself said something about this in one of the many books that make up this long story arc) discussing her deep feelings for Decker? Because again, that so obviously says she’s in love with Dave. Sorry, but I’m just not buying it. And the preview I read that gave details of Dave and Sophia together creeped me out – not something I thought I’d ever say about a Suz Brockmann love scene. A good point was made here too that, for an author who supposedly wants to push the envelope, pairing the ditzy company receptionist with a big wig in the company isn’t exactly breaking new ground – I have about a hundred Harlequin Romances from the 80s with exactly that same storyline. I can understand that other readers are happy with this pairing, and it’s nothing against any of the characters – in and of themselves, I like Dave (I actually like him a lot and I think he’s been cheated), I like Tracy (of course, I already liked Tracy with Izzy when they slept together in Into the Storm, but that’s another issue altogether), but to throw them all into a blender and see what comes out? How inspired. All that’s needed to make the soap opera complete is a long lost missing twin with amnesia.

    I’m just one reader, and this is just my opinion. If I wasn’t invested in the storyline, perhaps I’d be able to buy the book, read it, and sit back and say it was well written. But I’m not that reader. I’m the reader who got invested in the story Suz Brockmann was telling, and I think DON will be a betrayal of that. The story it tells is not one I’m interested in hearing, because it’s not one I was lead to believe would be told. I read for enjoyment, and this author has crossed the line into annoying me beyond belief with this little trick (and that’s what it feels like to me – a trick). What reason she could have for wanting to do things this way escapes me. I had been anticipating this book and the long awaited end to the Decker and Sophia story arc for a long time. I’m no longer even remotely anticipating reading the switcheroo. The responsibility for that lies with the author. I don’t tell her how to write her story, but I do expect her to finish what she’s started. I don’t buy used books, I don’t borrow books, and I don’t take books out of the library. I purchase pretty much every one of the books I read, because I want the authors I enjoy to continue to write and prosper and tell more stories that I’ll fall in love with. I want them to be successful and to be able to grow in their craft. But there are hundreds of great authors out there who I don’t feel are playing games with me and jerking me around. Those will be the ones I support going forward.

  32. AAR Sandy says:

    Carol et all, here are my thoughts.

    Yes, there is some resolution between Decker and Sophia in that they have a really honest conversation.

    And, no, I didn’t feel that the Decker/Tracy pairing was on a level with Max and Gina, but I understand it and like them together. Really.

    I agree with somebody (not sure who) who posted that the Decker/Sophia pairing was all very high drama. What you have here feels more real to me and more like the kind of relationship you can sustain in real life considering all the high drama that goes along with daily living.

    But, keep in mind, my Brockmann lull. As others here have pointed out, I really think that made a BIG difference in my reaction to this book.

  33. LizA says:

    I actually like untrustworthy narrators. Never a dull moment!
    I would go even further than saying that Decker and Sophia were high drama – they felt really unhealthy to me. Too many issues between them! In the end of the book were they meet, I felt that what Sophia needed was therapy, not a job…. so I never rooted for them either.

  34. library addict says:

    Avalon sums things up quite eloquently.

    Avalon says: Now you want me to buy that I was delusional, that I saw things that didn’t exist, and that what was never was? But in the meantime, what did exist was what? Written in invisible ink? I needed a super spy decoder ring to decipher it?

    I would still be upset if there was ONLY the books. Because I still firmly believe the connection between Sophia & Decker IS there, on the pages of the books Suzanne Brockmann wrote.

    Though it would have been a tough sell, I could maybe buy that listing “Sophia and Decker’s story arc” info under ‘Secondary Relationship’ rather than ‘Secondary Romance’ in her guide to the series could be a clue. [Though I would argue why link their names together at all if Decker only ever felt guilt and Sophia’s love was all in her imagination? And why not list it as Decker, Sophia, and Dave’s story arc? Or just Dave and Sophia’s story arc? As I said, a tough sell].

    Suz went undeniably over the line is listing Sophia & Decker as a couple, not just once, but twice in the poll she set up (as Scout pointed out earlier in these blog comments). That same poll has Adam listed with Jules and Robin, so if she truly wanted us to buy Dave’s love for Sophia was real, she could have had the poll read Decker/Sophia/Dave under the “multi-book story arcs” question and left Sophia & Decker off the “favorite secondary (subplot) couple” all together.

    But even without the Readers’ Guide and the poll, the books themselves did make Decker and Sophia a couple.

  35. library addict says:

    Sorry, my point was the readers didn’t “dream up” Sophia and Decker as a couple destined for a HEA. Suzanne Brockmann did.

  36. stella_k says:

    I’m wondering when Jenk is going to dump Lindsay and get with Izzy. I mean, Izzy and Jenk were listed as a secondary relationship as well. That book should be interesting.

  37. trinity says:

    stella_kSya:
    thats fair enough what you posted, and you’re right. However does this mean there will also be an official TS poll listing izzy/jenk as a contenders for favourite (secondary) couple??? does this mean I will find 4 books (that state they are izzy/jenk arcs), written over 5yrs with various longing/wanting/sexually tense scenes between them??? If no I have zero problem giving up the dream of a little boy on boy action, if yes I expect them to meander off into the sunset brokeback mountain style like every other long arced & written as romantic couple SB has ever written..

  38. library addict says:

    LOL, yeah I don’t figure that Jenk will leave Lindsey to run off with Izzy.

    It’s just that in the guide, every other COUPLE that is listed as having a “arc” is an actual romantic couple regardless if their names are listed under “Secondary Romance” or not.

    My point was why list them in any of the extras as a couple at all if we’re meant to now believe they never were? It’s not as if Dave & Sophia were given equal mention. It was done deliberately on the author’s part to mislead her readers.

  39. ELaine Prince says:

    Hi Sandy,
    I have read all of suz’s books. and to be honest I wasn’t going to buy this one. Not because of the hero or herione, but because of all the drama surrounding suz herself and her board and politics. I kinda got tired of it. But I am seriously rethinking that decision. Is there any way you would email me more spoilers…I know I ask a lot…pretty pls…

  40. Carol says:

    Hi Avalon and Library Addict,

    I totally see where the both of you are coming from and it is very frustrating for a reader to have the expectatin that Sophia and Decker would eventually get “their” story…only to have it be something else entirely.

    Maybe Suz initally did want to give them a HEA, but for some reason when she started to write the book…it just didn’t work out…chemistry wise, story wise…something.

    She mentioned before in Over the Edge that she orginally planned to have Gina killed, but Gina “spoke” to her and would not be killed off. Maybe this is what happend with Decker and Sophia…no matter…its still very disappointing. I totally commiserate with you all.

    I think this is the start of Brockmann lull for me and maybe in a few years, I will come back…or not.

  41. library addict says:

    Carol,

    I would like to believe that. But Suz has said multiple times this is the ending for these characters she always envisioned. So, either I believe her and she deliberately misled us or she changed her mind mid-story, in which case why insist otherwise?

  42. Tee says:

    library addict wrote: So, either I believe her and she deliberately misled us or she changed her mind mid-story, in which case why insist otherwise?

    My response: Exactly!

  43. Carol says:

    Sorry library addict and Tee, I forgot that point. You are right, I guess she really is the TEAS.

    But you guys are right, maybe if only she was a bit more honest about Decker and Sophia and acknowledged some fans would be disappointed earlier things wouldn’t be so bad.

    I stopped buying the hardcovers after Hot Target, couldn’t take the teasing. But then we got ITS and then I thought…finally…but no.

  44. Claire says:

    Since this book has generated so much contoversy before its even been released, I think it’s a great idea like the poster who suggested you have an additional reviewer, review the book. I’d like to hear what someone who hasn’t followed the series has to say about it and also someone who was into the Sophia/Decker possibility, what they have to say. I haven’t read SB since before Flashpoint so I’m really curious!

  45. stella_k says:

    I honestly would prefer an objective review, one that is written by, as you suggested, someone who has not followed the series. I would not want to read a review written by either someone who was into the Decker/Sophia possibility or the Dave/Sophia possibility. I thought Sandy wrote a very thoughtful and balanced review, which may have been aided by her having taken a break from the series for awhile. I want to read a review that is based on the book’s content, not preconceived expectations of how the book should have unfolded and the story should have concluded. I am in neither the Decker/Sophia nor the Dave/Sophia camp. I will decide if I, as a reader, am satisfied that the right guy got the girl when I close the book.

  46. leigh says:

    How is it objective, when the individual doesn’t know the history of the character? That is why I suggested both type of reviews. Sandy has already said that she is not writing the review. I thought it would be a nice balance to have someone who didn’t know the characters, didn’t know the history, judging the book as a stand alone. However this book isn’t a stand alone, since we have had five years building this story arc.

  47. Scout says:

    I agree with Leigh, I would like to see a review by someone who has been following the series and the characters all along. There will be plenty of ‘objective’ type of reviews i.e Publishers Weekly.

    Although for those of us who have been following the series, how helpful or useful is a review that states “well if you haven’t been reading the series or aren’t invested in the characters you will like this book”

  48. [...] Dark of Night is finally lifting. I have to say that reading people’s comments (on different blog posts and message boards) has helped lift my spirits. Who gets this upset over a book? Well, I know [...]

  49. Beth W. says:

    I gave up on Brockmann a few books ago, for reasons I won’t go into here. I’ve been reading some of the DON threads just for curiosity. I must say, I don’t regret giving up on her based on what I’ve read.

    The biggest problem is the promise that Brockmann seemingly made to the readers. Not just in the books themselves, but in the other online/extra content. THAT seems to be what makes people so angry. To be promised something and then at the last minute not getting it, with nothing but a “I really planned this all along” really smacks of deception.

    I compare this to Eloisa James, who also has some long multi-book arcs (though not as long as Brockmann). She is very sly about whom will end up with whom, and she makes no promises to her fans. There is a lot of speculation on her boards, but even a couple who seemingly MUST end up together (i.e. Jemma and Elijah), she is able to cast a shadow of a doubt. Will many of her fans be mad if Jemma and Elijah don’t end up together? Sure. But she has never promised it, either, and that I think makes all the difference. I think this is the smarter way to go. Not only does it give her room to change her mind over the course of the books – which IS an author’s perogative – but it can’t come back to bite her in the end like this kerfluffle is with Brockmann.

    So, in other words, an author doesn’t necessarily “owe” anything to her fans, and she should write the book, the couple she wants. But she needs to be careful that she doesn’t promise something that she then can’t/won’t deliver. If you’re not 110% positive that a particular couple will get their HEA, then DON’T promise fans that.

  50. pjkupka says:

    I never did like Sophia and Decker together. Given their beginning and all of the drama, it seemed way too much to overcome without a lot of work that neither of them seemed to want to do. Besides, over time the drama became tedious. Both of them need to move on. Writers should write what they feel and what their characters feel, and if the fans don’t like it, the fans should move on. I will keep purchasing her books because as one earlier person said, they are her comfort books. I keep going back to these books and read them repeatedly because I take comfort in them and I don’t care what genre they are categorized in.

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