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REVIEW: Dark of Night by Suzanne Brockmann

Dear Readers:

034550155101lzzzzzzzControversy sold me on this book. That and the 100% micropay rebate offered by Fictionwise. My last book was Gone Too Far. I got tired of the extended relationship arcs and I felt that the direction of the writing was more mainstream than I liked in my romances. Further, the future books were about people I didn’t really know and never invested in and so I felt good about closing the door on the Brockmann SEAL chapter.

I don’t really want to belabor the plot of the book in this short review. Essentially Black Ops team member tried to walk away from his job, but his handlers didn’t want him to and try to kill him. In an effort to protect his friend, Troubleshooter Lawrence Decker covers up his death and pretends to befriend his fiance (whom I think he had a thing for before the fiance and his friend hooked up). Sophie Ghaffari has lusted/loved after Decker for years and now that he’s turned his attention to Tess, she turns to her best friend, Dave Malkoff, for support and comfort. Dave has loved Sophie for as many years as Sophie has loved Decker. But the folks behind Nash’s death aren’t content to stop with Nash. They’ve got bigger secrets to cover up.

Brockmann presents a large cast of individuals, a complex suspense plot and at least three romances in varying stages of completion. It’s a book with alot of stuff going on. To Brockmann’s credit, she manages to introduce most everyone, bring in a bunch of former stars, without undue confusion to the reader. There’s payoff for the longtime reader and there’s enough for a new reader. That takes a certain amount of skill.

Brockmann is a good writer whose plotting and pace is tight. There is very little wasted space in the stories and it seems that every conversation, action, or exchange has meaning. I appreciate that but all of those things don’t add uip for a perfect read for me. The book stumbled in some small and major ways for me.

First, the suspense plot takes place in the United States. It draws on established governmental structures to create suspense (i.e., the Agency plays a big part) but it does not allow itself to be constrained by realism. This is a problem for me because I think the best contemporary suspense writers grapple with both. In order for Brockmann’s plot to take place she requires you to totally disregard the laws and the Constitution of the United States. She requires complete and utter suspension of disbelief but because she fails to work within the system when it is inconvenient for the storyline, the suspense began to peter out. After all, where is the suspense when you know that the author will disregard constraints so long as it suits the plot? As the suspense wore to the end, it actually lost momentum because the actions of the characters had no boundaries. I began to laugh at the over the top nature of the story.

Second, the romances are all a bit compressed. I as I stated earlier, there is a lot going on in this story and two romances are often difficult to carry off in one story let alone three. Dave and Sophie’s romance was lackluster for me, primarily because Sophie spent so much time it seemed trying to convince Dave that her love for him was real. And her arguments were less than convincing to me.

Decker and Tracy’s relationship was allotted about as much time as a couple in a novella or short story. Largely the reader’s belief in Decker and Tracy’s couplehood relies more on the reader’s desire to se the romance to a completion than anything in the story itself. Decker’s love for Tracy is based primarily on more physical compability than any cerebral connection.

Third, Super Dave. This is the area that I was most disappointed. Dave had insecurities in being a geek, a non physical part of the Troubleshooters. Part of his inability to believe in Sophie’s love for him had to do with his insecuirtiy. One of my favorite parts of this book was Ken Karmody’s speech to Dave about the attractiveness of geeks to the hootest of the hot blonds. Certinaly no one seems hotter these days that Nate Silver, geek boy esxtraordinaire. So to sell us on the greatness of geekness, I would have thought that Dave’s triumph would manifest itself in utlizing his geekness. Instead, Dave is made into as one commenter called him “Super Dave” thereby cementing the concept that only those males who are physically superior can be a hero in a Brockmann book. This would be fine as I have nothing against physically superior men. The problem is that it does nothing to allay Dave’s insecurities. He apparently has to prove to himself that he meets some kind of ideal rather than acknowledging that a man with a brain is just as hot as anything. It’s internally inconsistent.

Despite the three issues, the book did not lag for me. If anything, SuperDave and the over the top suspense plot made me laugh rather than irritated me. The dialogue is terrific and I enjoyed, individually, all of the characters. They are a group of individuals with very common issues but they all come together to work to save one another. I’m not terribly interested in following more of the characters in the series, but as a semi “free” read, I was satisified. It’s a good way to spend a few hours. B-

Best regards,

Jane

This book can be purchased in hardcover from Amazon or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

28 Comments

  1. Margie
    Feb 01, 2009 @ 23:50:25

    Thanks for the review. I agree with your comments, especially the first issue. One of my favorite things about Suzanne Brockmann’s first six books in her series is that she stays (to my knowledge) within the relm of some-what believable US Navy situations. Some of the best conflicts came out of this structure. For example enlisted vs officers, time commitment of SEAL jobs, beaurocracy/red tape to make decisions, prejudice against women and LGBT. Now I feel like no matter what happens, a character can just become part of TS, Inc. and do whatever they hell they want.

    I love and cherish Brockmann’s early books in this series. I reread them often (to the point where I have whole passages memorized). Sadly, in my opinion the series has been streached a little thin.

    Oh, and in addition to loving Karmody’s ‘geek speach’ I also thought Sam’s Tom Sawyer impression was hilarious.

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  2. ShellBell
    Feb 02, 2009 @ 00:11:20

    I enjoyed DON. I wasn’t a huge fan of the ongoing Sophia/Decker story line so I was glad to see it resolved with the Sophia/Dave and Tracy/Decker pairings. I found it a little annoying that everyone was almost trying to tell Decker that he loved Sophia despite the fact that he had refused every opportunity Sophia had presented him.

    I loved Tracy and Decker’s relationship and felt that their secondary story line was actually much stronger than Sophia and Dave’s. Tracy really grew on me in DON, not that I disliked her in previous books but I think we were certainly given more insight into her character. I loved the way she said she would’ve been prepared to ‘tackle him to the ground’ to get an answer out of Decker and didn’t judge him at all … game on!

    I found Dave slightly annoying .. I think I’ll just call Doormat from now on. Reading Sophia’s favourite books and listening to her favourite music etc was a bit too stalker-like, freaky behaviour to me.

    I thought the suspense side of the story was a little muted compared to previous books in the series.

    Not my favourite book of the series, but not the my least favourite either.

    The one book I want is Izzy’s – there must be more to his story since we last saw him in Into The Fire.

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  3. jmc
    Feb 02, 2009 @ 07:36:50

    I enjoyed Dark of Night as I read it, but for several WTF?! moments during the action that stretched the bounds of believability. After finishing, though, little niggling things began to bother me, which you’ve hit on: Super Dave, plot that goes beyond suspension of disbelief to suspension of the rules of the world in which the book is set, etc. But I also wondered: how on earth can Troubleshooters Inc. be a profitable business when half of the staff is out on vacation or lost time for extended periods of time, and they all regularly participate in no pay actions at the behest of TBI?

    Also, although it was done fairly smoothly, there were an awful lot of POVs to follow. Sophia, Dave, Decker, Tracy, Tess, James, Jules. Am I missing any? It was a little distracting, although not as distracting as the 9 or 10 POVs in Ward’s last book.

    With respect to reappearing characters, I enjoyed seeing some of them, but others just seemed inserted to either begin the next story arc (Jay Lopez? Silverman? SWCC guys?) and others are just old. Sam & Alyssa? I know Brockmann’s next book is a suspense/mystery sort of thing with S&A as protagonists, but I’d rather they just went about their HEA and readers got to read other stories. Of course, that’s just my opinion, and I’m sure a lot of other readers want to read The Further Adventures of Sam, Alyssa and Ash.

    I’m not sorry to have read this book, but I think it will probably be the last Brockmann that I look forward to enough to pre-order it from the library. I don’t say that bitterly or angrily or as some sort of readerly retaliation for what some readers perceive as Brockmann’s “misleading” hero/heroine set up. What I mean is that I don’t feel invested in the newer characters, and I’m tired of waiting to read the stories of the older ones who still linger (Jazz).

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  4. Ellie
    Feb 02, 2009 @ 08:39:11

    I'm not sorry to have read this book, but I think it will probably be the last Brockmann that I look forward to enough to pre-order it from the library. I don't say that bitterly or angrily or as some sort of readerly retaliation for what some readers perceive as Brockmann's “misleading” hero/heroine set up. What I mean is that I don't feel invested in the newer characters, and I'm tired of waiting to read the stories of the older ones who still linger (Jazz).

    Completely agree on this.

    It was an entertaining book, but on reflection there are many elements that bothered me. I think as the cast of characters increased and TS could hire them all there was much more ignoring of reality. I think the earlier books had some realism problems but with the smaller cast of characters and at least the somewhat realistic background that confined the situation it wasn’t as jarring. Here, in addition to ignoring law and the constitution, there were just many plot points that made little sense. Why was the safehouse located where Robin was filming? Why did Decker want to bring Tracy there? If they were being watched wouldn’t it be far safer for her to return to work and stick with routine rather than disappearing?

    Another (hopefully) unrealistic thing i found jarring was the lack of professionalism. TSI is supposed to be this highly professional, respected business. Yet, Sophia and Dave have an argument in front of their boss. Coworkers give other coworkers relationship advice (Sam to Nash, Kenny and Tom to Sophia and Dave). Sam and Alyssa bring their baby to the safe house. As noted above noone is in the office. Tracy knows of the married couples there having sex in the office on a regular basis. I can’t imagine having a relationship with a coworker and bringing it to my boss’s attention, or receiving advice on it from my boss. And here these supposedly highly skilled, professional soldiers are doing that.

    I also found Superdave to be a bit much, and at the same time kind of pitiful—following Sophia around in a somewhat stalkerish way. He read her favorite books, went overseas to find out about her past without telling her.

    All that said, however, I did enjoy the book when reading it. It was suspenseful. And I enjoyed reading about the other two couples. It was great to finally see Tess and Nash deal with their issues. Tracy and Decker were fun, even if not fully believable. I like that Tracy called him on his behavior. And I enjoyed seeing Tracy come into her own.

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  5. Margie
    Feb 02, 2009 @ 08:57:35

    @ Ellie

    Your point about professionalism is an exact articulation of a vauge feeling I’ve been having about her books for a while! I feel like in her later books, Brockmann always stages fights/emotional situations in very public places where almost every other character in the book witnesses it. Often the fights aren’t even told from a main participant’s POV. It usually takes me out of the story bc I am feeling physically embarassed for everyone in that awkward situation.

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  6. Darlynne
    Feb 02, 2009 @ 11:42:35

    I enjoyed DON, primarily for the opportunity to visit characters for whom I have great affection. As someone who saw way too much baggage between Decker and Sophia, I was happy when that relationship didn’t follow the expected path; Decker and Tracy were much more fun IMO.

    I also agree with previous comments about the degree to which personal lives ran completely amok given the seriousness and danger of the situation. Granted, this wasn’t a TSI operation with a client where professional behavior would be required at all times. And if I’m ever threatened as these characters were, I’d be very grateful for highly-skilled friends with the training and resources to save me. But the personal vs. the clandestine vs. the professional still jarred.

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  7. Ann Bruce
    Feb 02, 2009 @ 12:19:25

    The extension of SuperDave from ItF into DoN and the plot of DoN made me laugh (most times not in a good way), but Tracy and Decker made DoN enjoyable. Sophia never grew on me as a character and I am so glad she and Dave will recede into the background after this book–or so I’m hoping.

    Dear Readers:

    What’s with deviation from norm?

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  8. Catherine
    Feb 02, 2009 @ 14:01:03

    Dear Readers:

    What's with deviation from norm?

    Maybe because in the last thread people requested she review it to get a different view? So she titled it to us because we asked for it? I really don’t know. I’m just assuming. I’ll stop… :)

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  9. Stephanie
    Feb 02, 2009 @ 15:23:12

    In cases like this, I think it’s a very good idea to have more than one review. This book seems to have polarized most of its readers. I don’t have an opinion about the couples in DoN, having only read the TS books that followed the Jules/Robin arc, but I will say that what interaction I saw between Decker and Sophia in (I guess it must be) Hot Target(?) did give off an “Unfinished Business” vibe. If other books contained similar moments between the characters, I can’t blame Decker/Sophia shippers for thinking they’d end up together or for being torqued when it didn’t happen.

    And it’s a pity that a promising geek hero had to be transformed into an action hero in order to get the girl. I very much enjoy Ian McNab of the In Death series because he’s stayed a geek over the course of twenty-something volumes: he can throw a punch if necessary but his mad computer skills are what he’s best known for, and his girlfriend actually likes him that way.

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  10. Jane
    Feb 02, 2009 @ 16:31:30

    @Catherine Catherine has it right. I did this at the suggestion of the readers/commenters on the previous brockmann thread and thought, therefore, I would direct it toward the readers.

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  11. Sunita
    Feb 02, 2009 @ 16:52:24

    Thanks, Jane, for taking the time to do this review. Your reservations match some of the reasons I’ve shied away from the romantic suspense genre, even though I love spy novels and police procedurals. I want my mystery and suspense storylines to be plausible, and often times the romance genre requirements work against that. But Brockmann has such a diverse set of loyal readers, I’m really going to have to give one of the TS books a try. I think the Jules/Robin one is on sale at the Sony Bookstore right now …

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  12. Jane
    Feb 02, 2009 @ 16:55:05

    @Sunita: You ever read Karen Rose? I’ve found many of her books (although not so much her recent one Kill for Me) to be an excellent balance of mystery/suspense and romance. One of my all time favorite Romantic Suspense is Michelle Jaffe’s Bad Girl. I wrote a review of it for the blog once so if it type it into the search box, it should show up pretty quick. It should also be available in eform.

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  13. Arch
    Feb 02, 2009 @ 18:31:00

    I loved Dark of Night. I have always known that Dave and Sophia would wind up together. Suzanne has given me clues. One of the biggest clues came from Flashpoint, when Sophia told Tess that Dave is cute and the he would be her second husband, no make that third husband.

    Decker never loved Sophia. Sophia wasn’t Decker’s type. Yes, Decker has given in to her in Flashpoint and that’s only because Decker wanted to get laid. It could have been another woman and Decker would have slept with her.

    I know that Decker was suppose to be this loner guy. The only person he would mainly hang around with is Nash. Okay, if Decker truly was in love with Sophia. He would have made a move towards her way. Dave had to talk him into giving Sophia his time in Into The Storm. That righ there, showed me that Decker wasn’t in love with Sophia and to be honest, I am surprise that Decker even allowed Dave to do such a thing. No matter how close tight Decker was, it didn’t stop him from noticing Dr. Jo and look, how he connected with Tracy so fast.

    Dave has always been a hero, starting with Flashpoint and how he drove that bus to get those children. Dave is human. His insecurities make him real. He had a right to wonder if Sophia, really cared about him. It’s not like Dave is the only second choice person. Lindsey is a second choice too. Jenkins was crazy about Tracy and when he seen that he couldn’t get her, he turned to Lindsey. Yes, they have slept together, prior to him opening his eyes about Tracy. Does that means that Lindsey was his first choice, no. I am sure in private Lindsey probably compared herself to Tracy. Tracy had a body that a lot of men admired. Lindsey on the other hand, could have passed for a male.

    Sophia was never in love with Decker, the man. She was in love with Decker the hero. Suzanne had clearly told me that by letting Decker tell Sophia that Tracy sees him for who he is and not a hero, etc. I am not quoting her 100%, but still. It shows that Sophia saw “hero”, when she saw Dave. She didn’t see a human. Sophia was infatuated with Decker, the hero.

    Sophia’s love for Dave was real. That’s who she has been in love with all this time and that’s what Suzanne has told me in this book. Which, I have already known that. Dave wasn’t her second choice. Dave was her first choice. Sophia freely given herself to Dave. Decker had to get out of the room, in order for them to really connect. Mary Lou had to get out of the room, in order for Sam and Alyssa to really connect.

    Suzanne written a beautiful story.

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  14. Robin
    Feb 02, 2009 @ 19:20:58

    @Sunita: I recently reviewed the Roxanne St. Claire Bullet Catchers trilogy (there are more in the series, but these books are the most recent and comprise an umbrella plot arc, in addition to particular mysteries within the books). I don’t know if they will satisfy the mystery reader in you, but they really stood out for me because I felt the mystery parts of the book were as strongly plotted as the Romance parts. There was legal stuff I had to ignore, but I didn’t think the books had any real stupid moments.

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  15. Sunita
    Feb 02, 2009 @ 23:09:48

    Thanks Jane and Robin for the suggestions, I will add definitely them to my e-TBR. Which is even worse, in some ways than the paper TBR, because they’re buried in Calibre or on the Reader and the stack doesn’t *look* as ominous. But I’d love to find some crossovers (as I think of them) that work for me.

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  16. Danielle
    Feb 03, 2009 @ 10:35:47

    Jane, thank you for giving your review. I’ve read all 14 TS books and followed SB throughout many other single issues. There were problems with plot, couplings, backstory, foreshadowing in previous books, time spent on individual stories in this book. (I agreed with most of your points although I’m not happy with how Kenny was used) Even the stories or couples I liked did not get enough time to believeably work things out.

    And yet, I guess we should just gloss over that, be happy she puts words on paper and anxiously await shelling out another $20 in six months. No thanks. Its time for a serious break between this author and my money.

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  17. MB
    Feb 03, 2009 @ 15:17:47

    Wow! I feel so validated. Although I haven’t read “Dark of Night” yet, everyone’s comments are bringing out exactly what bothers me about these books. This is exactly why they stopped being auto-buys for me since “Hard Target”. (I was waiting for the paperbacks to come out, then read “Force of Nature” and gagged.)

    For me the problems have become (pick any, or all):

    -The improbabilty factor is way too high. I’m not watching a movie! I’m reading a book! I need plot and character development! I need what I used to get reading her books.

    -The relationships are short-changed or between people that don’t work well together. Jimmy and Tess are a case in point. As were Ric and Annie. While I respect what she did with Jules and Robin, I didn’t grow to like Robin and I’m not into M/M romances. Enough. I get it. It seems like she’s invested more time in this couple’s romance than in the M/F others.

    -The unprofessionalism! Yes! When you look at the way Tom Paoletti lost his command where he did the right thing and kept his personal honor and the respect of his men. Then he set up the Troubleshooters. Because of the great personal respect his people had for him, he was able to headhunt the best. WHY and HOW did he let it go down the tubes? Why isn’t he being the leader and setting the example like he did when in the Seal Team? Why are Sam & Alyssa allowing this unprofessionalism?

    - There are lots of holes in plots, stupid mistakes made, and lack of foresight. I don’t know if I’d hire these people! Their own personal drama seems to affect their brains. Like in “Into The Fire” where they’re running for their life with no cell phone??? What?

    - I miss the old couples. (Maybe this is a copyright issue?)

    -SB seems to be trying for a movie script or a tv show with all this improbable action. I don’t want a movie. I want a book.

    I hope she isn’t going to do a Laurell K. Hamilton thing and jump the shark. I had set the bar so high for her books…

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  18. Dark of Night « Jorrie Spencer
    Feb 08, 2009 @ 19:56:48

    [...] though. Dear Author has had two reviews which I’m going to go read now: Sarah’s A- and Jane’s [...]

  19. Sunita
    Feb 13, 2009 @ 16:43:18

    @Robin: @Jane:
    Thanks so much, Robin and Jane, for the romantic suspense recs. I read the first in the St. Claire trilogy and then went on to Bad Girl. I thought the St. Claire was good but not a keeper for me. The Aussie slang was really irritating, especially since he was the only Australian in the book. But apart from that I liked both the characters, and I thought the plot and the pace were well done. Definitely worth reading, and now I’m curious about the other two books in the series.

    Bad Girl I liked even more. It’s a keeper for me, and Jane, I can see why you think so highly of it. The balance between the extremely graphic killer storyline and the romance was really well done. I loved both the main characters and the dialogue was terrific. The plot had more twists than it needed, but I was willing to go along just because I wanted to keep reading about Windy and Ash.

    Great, now that I see what Romantic Suspense can do, I have yet another sub-genre to fall behind in. :-)

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  20. Jane
    Feb 13, 2009 @ 18:10:56

    @Sunita: I’m glad that worked for you. Windy is a superb heroine. The dialogue is great and one of my favorite scenes is her walking up the stairs in her leathers and Ash thinking she looks like a super hero.

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  21. Jennifer
    Feb 16, 2009 @ 12:55:52

    I love Suzanne Brockmann and waited to read this review until I read the book. I agree that she’s gotten away from the romance. I miss the concentration on one central romance. The romance felt too scattered. Suspense still rocked, but I read her for the romance.

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  22. Tabatha Gottschalk
    Mar 06, 2009 @ 22:47:47

    First of all that review was total crap, how could you say that you didnt want to give away the story and then do just that.
    Second,everyone says that the romance is scattered, what book were you guys reading. Because it wasnt reading the same book that I was. For the people that actually keep up with the story line and roles that the characters played that book made perfect since.
    Are for the improbality of some of the character getting together, thats total crap to. The whole point of making it hard for the characters to be together is the point. Relationships are hard and if you dont work on them they only get harder. If theres dishonestly, like with Tess and Nash, it wont work hence the story line, for those of you to dence to understand that.
    As for Decker and Tracey, I loved that arc. Why? Because it finally gives peace to a character that has been put through, quite literally, in this serious. It finally gives the reader the insight into Deckers messed up head. You finally understand why he pushes Sophia away. Why he feels like he has nothing to live for. For those of us actually paying attention. We have seen Decker come unraveled, now we know why. Whats so hard to understand?
    Then you have Sophia and Dave, or super Dave. You say he should have saved the day using his brain and not his muscles. I guess you werent paying attention to the part where Wildcard tells Dave he knows that he could pass the BUD/S with his hands tied behind his back. The nerd thing is just Daves insecurties. Not who he really is. Which he realizes when Sophia calls him safe and boring. REMEMBER? I did you even read the book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  23. Tabatha Gottschalk
    Mar 06, 2009 @ 23:04:28

    Now I understand why Brockmann closed her message board. Because people are taking characters that she has dedcatited her time and her heart to and people are tearing them to shreds. No wonder she got tired of hearing it. I only read one review and Im already tired of hearing it!!!!!!!!!!!

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  24. Arch
    Mar 06, 2009 @ 23:05:31

    Nerds are super heroes too.

    Wildcard is a nerd and Navy Seal.

    Peter Parker = Spiderman

    Clark Kent = Superman

    Dave has always been a super hero.

    I guess a lot of people didn’t care for Dave, because they don’t like nerds. To them, nerds aren’t worth looking at.

    Another things, some people found it strange that Dave never wanted to be a leader. Question: What’s wrong with not wanting to be a leader?

    Dave and Sophia makes a perfect couple. Dave was always Sophia’s hero. Decker was never her hero. Yes, he was the leader during the mission in K-Stan, but it was Dave that really rescued her. Thanks to him knowing who she was, although he didn’t know her name right then and there.

    Oh, don’t get me started on Dave and Sophia.

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  25. Arch
    Mar 06, 2009 @ 23:39:18

    I’ve just found out myself a few minutes ago that Suzanne closed down her board.

    I know how people can get stupid on the internet. The characters aren’t real and people need to realize that.

    I hope that Mrs. Brockmann’s heart can heal and it will with time.

    Ugliness would never come from a true fan.

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  26. Vita
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 08:16:46

    Johnny-come-lately that I am, I am just dying to post my reaction to Suzanne Brockman's Dark of Night. All the controversy surrounding this particular title, the 14th in an immensely popular series, of which I had heard but never read, piqued my curiosity, especially as another author whom I admire, Carolyn Jewel, had observed on her website over a year and a half ago that fans should have faith in the story that Ms. Brockman would eventually deliver. Her long-ago comment stuck with me, as I, too, have always felt that you should trust a (beloved) writer's instincts.

    So, I picked up the last three titles, Into the Fire, All Through the Night, and Force of Nature, to get up to speed in order to find out how Ms. Brockman would eventually resolve the ongoing love triangle.

    Having not read the entire multi-novel story arc between Decker, Sophia, and Dave, I must admit that I wasn't as invested in Deck and Sophia falling in love, as, indeed, many longstanding fans are. Yet maybe I felt this way because I had already read the spoiler, the prologue, that revealed Sophia winds up with Dave, whose portrayal, to me from those few novels, was of a man who was willing to remain forever unrequited so long as he was allowed to be Sophia's emotional support. He quietly, deeply loved her. And, for me, coming so late to the party, that prologue, released in advance of Dark of Night, made it a foregone conclusion. Dave got Sophia.

    Therefore my interest was totally wrapped up in trying to guess who Decker was going to be paired up with. For my money's worth, it seemed like Jo Heissman! Just like in a soap opera, there was tension, and attraction, and undercurrents every time these two got together. During his unwanted therapy sessions with Dr. Heissman, Decker would be surreptitiously ogling her, while she would be professionally rattling his cage and getting him to discuss some painful issues. And, IMO, the fact that Decker suspected she was an Agency plant just ratcheted up all that underlying sexual tension. Don’t forget, a lot of romance is built around that old adage that there's a fine line between love and hate.

    But the real clincher was that wonderfully illuminating scene where Decker, out of the clear blue sky, confronted Jo late at night in her hotel room. When he barged in on her, he was intrigued by the fact that she was reading a vampire romance. . .and she was wearing a sexy pink nightgown, not the flannal pajamas he’d expected. The ultimate outcome of their exchange was: Decker again got rattled by the good Dr., he cried, and then he gave her a full-body-contact kiss–as in a prelude to sex. But Dr. Jo Heissman, ethical to the bitter end, didn't let it go any further than that hot clinch. After crying like a baby, Decker fell asleep on Jo's–the woman he constantly wants to keep at arm's length by suspecting she's a spy–couch.

    At the end of the book, Jo leaves her post as the Troubleshooters shrink, and, during her goodbye to Decker, she says one of the reasons she's leaving was because of that kiss. She tells him that it was a defense mechanism on his part, and that, if she were to remain with TS Inc., it would never be allowed to happen again. But her wording very definitely left me with the impression that since she was no longer his therapist, Jo was now ethically able to be involved with him. It was an invitation to resume his pursuit. But, again, that's just my take.

    So, to cut to the chase, I eagerly started Dark of Night expecting to find Decker drawing closer to Jo Heissman. Instead, he became involved with immature Tracy Shapiro, and her giant green dildo named George! Uggghhh There was even the scene in the truck where Decker was weighing his attraction between Jo, the older woman, with intelligent eyes and smoldering depths, and ditzy prattling motor mouth Tracy. Disappointingly, poor Jo was forced into the filthy floorboard while skanky Tracy got to cuddle up to Decker.

    Yet all hope did not seem lost because Decker, as in the previous book, again went to confront Jo at her own home, where he repeated that whole “do I or don't I trust her”, “do I or don't I find her attractive”. This is a terrible thing to admit, but, while I read, I kept trying to figure out ways of getting rid of Tracy–I wanted her to be a traitorous leak at TS Inc, and I even hoped that the villain would kill her at the end of the book! If she would have wound up with Jay Lopez–and there was some shading that that was possible–I would have be more forgiving of her.

    I don't think I imagined all this tension between Lawrence Decker and Jo Heissman. That makes me feel very, very dissatisfied that they didn't wind up together. I have never believed that an author should be dictated to by outside forces, namely the fans. But, from this experience, I do feel that an author should deliver on what has been promised. If you establish emotional connections, they need to be honored, not treated like red herrings in a mystery to throw the reader on the wrong track. I think Jo Heissman–and myself–were cheated!

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  27. Jane
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 08:22:10

    I understand what you are saying. On the one hand authors want us to read all the nuances they are putting in there and trust them to work it out satisfactorily. On the other hand, they want the leisure of changing their minds and creating new relationships.

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  28. Giovanna
    Apr 12, 2014 @ 17:56:55

    @Arch:

    I’m with you. I love DON so much, I have read this book like 15 times. I love the fact a lot of people doesn’t like Tracy, but she is so honest and smart, I know how is that feeling that people thinks you are a dumb only for the way you look. She made mistakes, yet she is funny and really push Deck to his limits. After reading Braking the rules I can totally imagine Tracy and Eden as friends, and that would be so funny to read.

    That was the thing with Sophia, she was so delicate and quiet, Decker was so afraid for her all the time. Suzanne made a great work with this book, she connected the perfect couples for Deck and Sophia. And Dave is all a hero, since the first time, I really think he was awesome. And Sam talking with Jimmy was one of the best parts.

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