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REVIEW: Dark of Night by Suzanne Brockmann

Disclaimer:   So as to avoid the appearance of impropriety, Dr. S is “a  complete, utter, and unabashed FanGrrl” and has “a professional relationship” with Brockmann. Dr. S does not enjoy any monetary gain from the sales of the books.   We encourage you to seek out other reviews (or read a few chapters in the bookstore) should this review leave you with some questions about whether this book would work for you.

  

Dear Ms. Brockmann:

034550155101lzzzzzzzDespite your best efforts, the only way one would not know spoilers for this book is if one (a). didn’t care, or (b). lived in a dark, dank, cold, internet-less cave in the middle of a spooky forest surrounded an impenetrable   and very smelly swamp.   So while I’m going to try to review this wonderful book without too many spoilers, I’ll be employing the spoiler font with a very liberal hand.

You are famous (infamous?) for your innovative story arcs in which future primary couples not only meet in books previous to their own, but they actually start the relationship.   Gone Too Far (Book 6 of your Troubleshooter series) finished the overwhelmingly popular story arc of Sam and Alyssa (that starts in earnest in TS#2).   Flashpoint (TS#7), Tess Bailey and Jimmy Nash’s book, starts the arc of Sophia Ghaffari, Lawrence Decker, and Dave Malkoff.   Well, actually, it looked like it started the story arc of Sophia and Decker, while Dave was just a secondary character.   Dark of Night is TS#14, so this has been a long damn arc and Dark of Night provides quite the culmination.

The story so far: in Flashpoint, Sophia is the forced bride of a brutal warlord in Kazbhekistan, the fictional country that combines the worst of the post-war chaos of Iraq and the repressions of Taliban-led Afghanistan. She resourcefully escapes during the earthquake that the TS squad (Tess, Nash, Dave, Decker, and a few others) use as an excuse to enter the country, under the guise of humanitarian aide workers. Sophia, hunted and desperate, basically forces a blowjob on Decker, using it as a tool to try to distract him, at the culmination of which she tries to shoot him. Decker finally realizes Sophia is one of the good guys and manages to get her out of the country and set her up in an apartment and gets her a job with TS Inc., but he never forgives himself for not saying no forcefully enough and for, in his mind, adding to the overwhelming abuse she had already suffered. She hero-worships Deck over the next…five? years and bemoans her crush to her best buddy, Dave, who is completely and utterly in love forever and ever with her. It’s the kind of crush that everyone in TS Inc. knows about, and, in fact, they both almost lose their jobs when Decker refuses to be in the same city with Sophia.

The controversy, of course, lies in that despite the fact that both Sophia and Decker get their HEAs in this book, they don’t get them with each other.   Sophia, in fact, ends up with Dave. And Decker, well, Decker, super-SEAL that he is, Decker ends up with the ditzy secretary.   And this controversy is OMG!HUGE.   The online wank, it runneth over. Readers, we have been Betrayed! You, Ms. Brockmann, are performing character-ectomies! You’ve led us on for six, no, seven, no, wait! eight books! You’ve lied to us! Deliberately misled us! How dare you, you evil evil woman?!   Don’t you know we’ve got expectations, dammit!

I think this outrage gets at a core issue in the romance community, an issue similar to the condom-conundrum. Do we read romance for “reality” or for “fantasy”? Do we mind if our “fantasies” are interrupted with safe-sex? Do we mind if the romantic reliance on One Twu Wuv is derailed because, you know, sometimes someone will crush on the wrong person? Or does one fraught sexual encounter and some subsequent emotionally-charged, one-sided pining mean that these two people are destined for each other, no matter what?

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the outrage, even if I’m far from participating. I get how (intentionally?) misleading clues, both internal to the series and external in the meta-discussion (pairing Sophia and Decker in reader polls and your Extras Booklets), can lead to readers feeling betrayed. But, as a complete, utter, and unabashed FanGrrl (although, I like to think, not in the creepy or crazy-ass sense), and, full disclosure here, as someone with a professional relationship with you, I was willing to trust you to convince me that Sophia and Decker were better off without each other.

And, getting back to the review, you managed that 110%. As the author who made me like Mary Lou, Sam’s racist ex-wife, and made me believe in her love for and HEA with a non-white Muslim immigrant (Into the Night, TS#5), I trusted that you’d convince me that Sophia and Dave loved each other with a full, passionate, consuming love, and that Decker and Tracy, TS Inc.’s apparently ditzy secretary, could build a full, passionate, equal relationship.   And you did.   Boy howdy, did you.

You make us believe by not denying the very things that are causing the reader controversy in the first place.   Yes, Sophia absolutely goes into her relationship with Dave thinking that he is her second choice, behind Decker, and you don’t hide that. So readers who say “But how can we ever believe that Dave isn’t just a second choice?” are shown precisely how, because he IS initially Sophia’s second choice. Dave knows that Sophia thinks this and he’s (mostly) content with this. He’s just happy to be with her, even if he also KNOWS that he’s her second choice. You don’t hide that and you therefore manage to convince us when Sophia realizes that Dave is, and always will be, her first and only choice. Decker can’t see himself with Tracy anymore than any of us can, and you don’t hide that. So when we see him bemusedly fall for her, and her with him, we can believe it fully.   You don’t flinch, you don’t falter–in fact, you REVEL in the relationship expectations you’ve nurtured for seven books. And then you show us, without a shadow of a doubt, that Sophia and Dave, and Decker and Tracy, belong together, that there’s no way that they could be happily, passionately, fully in love with anyone else.   And therein lies your genius and why I keep coming back to your books, even when disappointed with some of them.

Another reader concern: this book is absolutely a romance. While some of your previous books in the Troubleshooter series seemed to be edging away from full-on romance into military suspense with some vaguely romantic themes, this one is 100% romance extraordinaire. There’s a suspense plot that’s seamlessly woven into the romance in that the characters would not be able to come to the emotional realizations they do in order to be able to grow and mature and deserve their happy ending without the suspense plot, but the romances drive the book and keep you reading. Or at least, they kept me reading.

As a super-extra bonus for your readers: multiple Happy Endings.   Generally, because your character arcs span four, five, seven books, this means that, although the main couple get their HEA, the secondary couple(s) are usually torn apart (Sam’s marriage to Mary Lou, for example), punished for not having their shit together enough to deserve their happy ending. No double or triple weddings at the end of your books, a la Susan Elizabeth Phillips, or, say, Shakespeare’s comedies. Your readers get one happy ending and one doom and gloom ending and you’ve said explicitly that you do this on purpose, not only to make the happy ending that much more precious and rare, but also precisely to elicit emotion from your readers. So to have two (or even, depending on how one counts, three! because Tess and Nash are finally fully happy) full-on happy endings is almost unheard of from you (well, except for Ric and Annie AND Jules and Robin in Force of Nature TS#11)   and so satisfying.

One last point, because this is my self-proclaimed area of DA expertise. Thank you for showing a safe and Oh so sexy D/s relationship. Thank you for showing a strong alpha male as a submissive. Thank you for showing that BDSM is an integral part of a person’s sexual identity and that acknowledging it, learning not to be ashamed of it, and exercising it will make a person healthier, happier, and, paradoxically, more normal.

I wish I had some niggles with this book, so that I could prove that I’m not a total, unthinking fangrrl.   I guess, if I were thinking hard, my niggles would all have to do with the bad guys: their apparent omniscience seemed a little over the top. And the figuring out of the WHY of the suspense plot — that is, who exactly is hunting the good guys and why — is a little bit of an info-dump, even if done in dialogue. But I like the reason. Its very mundane-ness makes a larger point than if it were a huge Plot of Terror. And why the final villain didn’t just cut his losses and run, I’ll never know. For what it’s worth, there are books of yours, especially TS Inc. books, that I would grade with a B or even lower, books that seem to be filler that gets us to the point of being able to complete the other, more important, story arcs.   But this one isn’t like that, of course, because it IS the end of a story arc. But I also think it does a MUCH better job than the other story arc endings: Gone Too Far (TS#6: Sam and Alyssa’s book) or Breaking Point (TS#9: Max and Gina’s book). Maybe that’s because Decker’s romance both starts and is rewarded solely in this book? I’m not sure. I just know that this book ranks, for me, with The Unsung Hero (TS#1) and Heart Throb (non-TS stand alone) as your most perfectly plotted, most brilliantly written books.

I have always admired (WARNING: long PDF biography of Brockmann) the innovation you bring to the romance genre. Its authors like you who keep romance alive and interesting.   I think the sheer volume and vitriol of reader outrage whenever you do something new is a testament to how well you manage to do this.

Grade: A-

Sincerely,

-Joan/Sarah F.

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

Sarah F. is a literary critic, a college professor, and an avid reader of romance -- and is thrilled that these are no longer mutually exclusive. Her academic specialization is Romantic-era British women novelists, especially Jane Austen, but she is contributing to the exciting re-visioning of academic criticism of popular romance fiction. Sarah is a contributor to the academic blog about romance, Teach Me Tonight, the winner of the 2008-2009 RWA Academic Research Grant, and the founder and President of the International Association of the Study of Popular Romance (IASPR). Sarah mainly reviews BDSM romance and gay male romance and hopes to be able to beat her TBR pile into submission when she has time to think. Sarah teaches at Fayetteville State University, NC.

91 Comments

  1. Tabitha C
    Jan 27, 2009 @ 12:07:57

    While I do thank you for your wonderful review of this book I am so saddened to hear about the actual couples that end up together…my initial reaction is to say “No! I won’t read this now!” at the same time I am curious to find out how Ms. Brockmann convinced the readers to accept the new couples. *sigh*

  2. Lorelie
    Jan 27, 2009 @ 12:29:44

    Dude! When I moused over the first spoiler font, I jumped up and down in my chair and flapped my hands like my 18 mo getting a cup of milk! (I’m at work, I had to find a non-verbal release for my OMFGing.)

    I have no clue why that pairing so absolutely delights me. Well maybe it’s the fact that I know Decker will be all sorts of twisted into knots because of it.

    So glad to hear it’s heavy on romance! And so cannot wait to find out who’s the subject of your last spoiler font!

    /squeeing

    One question – is there any appearance of Izzy and his almost-child bride? I have a friend who’s very anti that story line (its appearance lined up with a very bad point of her marriage) and is askeered of reading any of them.

  3. Sarah Frantz
    Jan 27, 2009 @ 12:43:40

    @Lorelie: NO Izzy whatsoever, so your friend can read with impunity.

    And, @Tabitha C, I promise, she makes you believe in these couples. Really and truly.

  4. Dawn
    Jan 27, 2009 @ 12:47:58

    BTW, this book is at 100% Micropay rebate on Fictionwise right now. That (plus this review) might actually get me to pay hardback price vs waiting for my library copy.

  5. Keishon
    Jan 27, 2009 @ 12:51:50

    I’m not reading the review because I want to form my own opinion of it so I will have to take a hiatus from visiting DA for the next week or so. I’m easily influenced, yep, that’s me.

  6. ms bookjunkie
    Jan 27, 2009 @ 12:53:39

    Great review, thank you Joan/SarahF!

    I admit I was somewhat concerned about the controversy (which I read about here at DA a while ago). Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I was going to trust Suz to know what she was doing (or, you know, to listen to her characters) and would only raise a ruckus after I’d read the book, if necessary. Sounds like it won’t be necessary. *VBG*

    I am so happy Suz has gone back to romance! (Although I have to say I found All Through the Night really satisfying in this sense.)

    Now, I am going to delete all this info from my brain and only access it when the paperback comes out. . . .Yeah, right, like that’ll work! *another VBG*

  7. karmelrio
    Jan 27, 2009 @ 13:04:21

    YAY DAVE!!!! (clapping furiously).

    And yes, I must second your “Heart Throb” love. This book is forever on my “Top Ten Desert Isle” list.

  8. lil
    Jan 27, 2009 @ 13:14:30

    Does the book stand alone? The last Brockmann I read was Gone Too Far.

  9. Sarah Frantz
    Jan 27, 2009 @ 13:23:46

    @lil Um, not really? These are totally new characters from GTF who’ve had 7 books of buildup. Brockmann does a good job of trying to clue in new readers and I think certainly for Decker’s romance, it’s totally new to the book, so it stands alone. And not much actually *happened* between Decker and Sophia and Dave (not like Sam and Alyssa in the books previous to their own), so you don’t have too much back story to have to understand. I wouldn’t want to try to read it as a stand-alone, myself, but I guess, as a culmination of a bunch of storylines, it stands alone more than the other culminations do.

  10. library addict
    Jan 27, 2009 @ 14:01:18

    Thanks for the review Sarah.

    I just finished, and while there were parts of the book I enjoyed, I'll just say Suz didn't convince me and leave it at that.

  11. Meriam
    Jan 27, 2009 @ 14:13:24

    Sarah, what a great review. I’ve never read a Brockmann (and never been tempted to, actually), but I love what you have to say about DoN. What Brockmann has done seems like a fun antidote to the increasing predictability (and consequent staleness) of long-running series.

    If it’s available in ebook format (and I see that it is) I’ll certainly give it a go.

  12. Mischa
    Jan 27, 2009 @ 14:27:53

    Now I definately have to read this book. :-)

  13. Darlynne
    Jan 27, 2009 @ 16:04:44

    Sarah, this is a great review and exactly what I was hoping to hear. Count me a fan girl, I don’t care, but my trust that Ms. Brockmann would make this work never wavered, was actually strengthened by all the online wanking. Faith, people, have a little faith in our best and brightest writers.

    As Lorelie did above re: the first spoiler, I had to clap my hand over my mouth although a squeak definitely escaped. Now that I’m most eager to read. Thank you!

    And I just have to add that while I agree with your choices about the best books in the series, Hot Target will always be my favorite.

  14. orannia
    Jan 27, 2009 @ 16:43:51

    Thank you so much Joan/Sarah F! I read all the spoilers because I am obviously one of those people who live ‘in a dark, dank, cold, internet-less cave in the middle of a spooky forest surrounded an impenetrable and very smelly swamp’ as I had no idea of the controversy :) That said, I’m actually hoping to start TS2 shortly – yes, I’ve only read TS1….although I have heard about Jules & Robin and I can’t wait to read their book (although I promised a friend faithfully I would read the books in order :)

    Out of interest, if this is the end of the TS series has Ms Brockman said what she will be working on next? Thank you!

  15. Marianne McA
    Jan 27, 2009 @ 17:59:28

    Meriam: I really like Brockmann, but I wouldn’t start with this book. She does fill in all the back story for readers who haven’t read the rest of the series, but there is a large cast in the book, and with three main couples, you don’t get much of a sense of who the peripheral characters are.
    I’d read Hot Target, or Out of Control instead.

    I’m still processing what I thought of DoN. I decided to read it back to back with ‘Into the Fire’ and I enjoyed ItF so much, that I think DoN suffered a little in comparison. I did, however, really like the way the pairings came out (was spoilt for one, but not the other – and the other really surprised me). I also agree that it worked well as a romantic suspense – the plot never felt clunky to me.

  16. Tae
    Jan 27, 2009 @ 18:03:32

    I’m very excited about this book since I’ve always been rooting for Dave. I thought a relationship with him was more likely for Sophia since we’ve seen them get closer and how she trusts him.

  17. dreamweaver
    Jan 27, 2009 @ 18:05:11

    I haven’t read the book yet, but I will be in the next couple of days. I’m looking forward to seeing how Decker and XXXXX’s romance plays out. I was never convinced of a Decker and Sophia HEA. No matter how hard I tried, I just didn’t see it. I think Dave deserves better than her, too, but maybe I will feel differently once I have read the book. All I can say is that if this book ranks up there with Heart Throb, then I am in for a treat! Heart Throb is not only one of my favorite Brockmann books, but one of my favorite romance novels of all time.

  18. Kaetrin
    Jan 27, 2009 @ 20:12:31

    Can’t wait to get my hands on this book! Great review. Thanks Sarah.

  19. Vanessa
    Jan 27, 2009 @ 21:09:23

    I am one of the ones screaming and crying in the corner, sobbing “Why Suz?! WHY?!”

    And yet, this review intrigues me. Not because of Sophia and Dave, because idk if I’ll ever get over pining for what could have been with Sophia and Decker, but because the idea of Decker and Tracy seems so crazy that I want to know what’s happening there. I won’t get started on my thoughts with Dave as a hero (weak! he just seems sooooo damn weak and second string!!! … I’m sorry, I’ll stop), but Decker always seemed like such a force of nature (hee hee) that I’m willing to come out of my negative cave and maybe, possibly give this a chance.

    I’ll probably still read this in Borders, cause I’m too early in my mourning period to shell out the hard cover money, but at least now, maybe, I won’t cry while I’m doing it.

  20. Gennita Low
    Jan 27, 2009 @ 21:23:17

    I’m heartbroken.

  21. Jane
    Jan 27, 2009 @ 23:04:44

    I think, Dr. S, that your “I trust Suz” is really intuitive because we all have different relationships with the authors of books and some people feel like that they can’t trust SB because she led them astray and some people are willing to say to the author, you can take me anywhere.

  22. Robin
    Jan 27, 2009 @ 23:22:26

    Another issue IMO is that authors who have notoriously accessible relationships with readers (especially online) add another layer of attachment to the book-reader relationship, because the author becomes part of that relationship through the sustained interaction *around the books themselves*. In some cases that multi-leveled attachment can be a real boon for the reader, but in others it can create stronger feelings of betrayal should things in the book not go the way a reader expected them to (especially if the reader believes that the author herself was going the other way).

    Fair or not, logical or not, consistent among readers or not, I think this kind of public controversy should not be unexpected in cases where the reader feels a strong connection to both the author and her books (especially where the author cultivates it). I mean, there are authors whose books have made such a bad impression on me — authors I don’t know from anyone — that I would be *extremely* reluctant to trust them with my money, time, and attention again. And then there are the authors whose books wow me until that one book that falls flat — oh, how cruelly disappointing that can be! So I can see how adding in a sense of connection to an author — good or bad — could amplify and complicate those reactions quite easily.

  23. Willow
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 02:04:30

    Wow, what a completely nonobjective review! Seriously, I expected more from Dear Author – this reviewer works with Suz on a professional basis and has admitted to being a fan girl.

    Why don’t you just have Suz review her own work????

  24. Willow
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 05:18:09

    I’m extremely disappointed with the review of Dark of Night. Joan/Sarah F is not only friends with Suzanne Brockmann by her own admission, she also has a working relationship with the author as well. I don’t understand how this was considered acceptable for Dear Author to publish her review.

    Readers like me actually use reviews to decide on book purchases. Do the Janes understand that? And to see such a blatantly biased review truly blows my mind. Reviews should be objective and there is no way anyone can argue that this reviewer is objective in the least….even the reviewer admits she is not objective. Not only is Suzanne Brockmann her friend she was also given additional insight in the book and characters and the why’s and how’s of the plot. A book review should be based SOLEY on the book itself, it should never take into account additional information that was given to the reviewer by the author (and if they had a conversation about the book and characters as Sarah admitted then that qualifies as additional insight)

    I’m am appalled by Dear Author who I’ve always held in such high regard. I do not understand the rational in having an author’s FRIEND and business associate write a review. Is this common practice on Dear Author?? Maybe I’ll ask my boss if I can have my friend do my performance appraisal this year!!

    I don’t expect reviewers NOT to be fans of a particular author or series. But your website has crossed the ethical line in this situation. And again, it makes me sad because I’ve always held your website in such high regard.

  25. Joan/SarahF
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 06:21:27

    @willow: As a trained literary critic (yes, occasionally, I can beat people over the head with my Ph.D., thankyouverymuch), I feel that I am perfectly capable of analyzing a text for any number of purposes without freeing my inner, squealing fangrrl. However much I think Jane Austen should have ruled the universe during her short 41 years on this Earth, I can see where her word choices or plot or character construction was slightly off. I could tell you that I thought Brockmann’s Breaking Point was a right royal mess when I first read it (although I don’t anymore because I understand its themes better now after a reread), or with all the will in the world, I can’t STAND any of The Bodyguard, despite its RITA-award winning status. Or that Into the Night (TS#5) was totally filler until we got to Sam and Alyssa’s book (TS#6).

    I could also tell you that while I received a galley of DON, I didn’t receive any inside information into a book, as if there were any such thing….oh, you mean when I say, “Or does one fraught sexual encounter and some subsequent emotionally-charged, one-sided pining mean that these two people are destined for each other, no matter what?” my discussion with Brockmann about this over email once. FWIW, which in your little world, is probably not much, I’ve never warmed to either of Sophia’s possible choices in this story arc, although I adore Decker, so for Brockmann to make me like either of the endings in this novel was a feat. And can I just say….hey, are you the “fan” whose been going around for the last six months or so on about ten different message boards and fan sites and completely trashing this book (and, I might add, Brockmann) without knowing anything about it? Because you sure as hell sound like her and don’t you have anything better to do with your life?!

    So, yes, while I do have a professional as well as personal relationship with Brockmann, that does not disqualify me from reviewing her books. In fact, NOT revealing that relationship would be more disqualifying, in my opinion. That lets readers like you jump off the deep-end about objectivity, but I think most other readers here understand that a reviewer is NEVER objective about a review and shouldn’t be. When Brockmann writes a stinker, I’m more than capable of saying so. But she didn’t. This book is a gem. YMMV, but I think if readers go into it with an open mind, then you might actually enjoy it instead of wallowing in venom and vitriol, which just sounds uncomfortable.

  26. Jane
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 07:32:18

    @willow – I don’t believe that any review is completely objective. I’ve talked about the issue of bias that goes both ways and all we try to do is be transparent. Dr. S told us in the review her relationship with Brockmann and therefore is not hiding anything. I guess my feeling is because she is transparent that you can choose to disregard her opinions based on her relationship.

    I am sorry that you feel misled in anyway.

    I read DON last night and it was a fun read. I didn’t have trouble tracking people and relationships despite having stopped reading the series at Gone Too Far but I would only have given it a B or B-. The suspense portion of the story was completely unrealistic. I laughed at the ending which seems to defy every possible law in the US. I also thought that Dave’s character was particularly obvious. He felt intimidated by not being a SEAL and so Brockmann writes these over the top scenes showing how strong he is. It made me giggle at inappropriate times.

    I did find that I didn’t recognize some people. Like the brief glances of the characters I had read before: Jules, Sam and Alyssa didn’t sound like people I had read before, but Lord, it’s been 7 books? since I last read about them.

    I liked Derek’s love story more than the Sophia / Dave storyline. I actually wasn’t convinced in their couplehood. Derek’s love story was fun and he was certainly the more interesting character but again the description of Derek as this unrelentingly grim person didn’t exactly match with his actions.

    One of my favorite scenes was Ken Karmody’s “in praise of the geeks” speech to Dave. Brockmann has a great hand at realistic dialogue.

  27. Sarah Frantz
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 07:44:44

    See, Jane, that’s why you’re the lawyer. I used a very liberal helping of suspension of disbelief with the suspense plot, but yes, Brockmann consistently has problems with those issues.

    Jules, Sam, and Alyssa have all grown up, matured, and become very very happy, and I think that’ll change the way they sound. I loved the line from Tracy’s POV: something like, everyone knew that Sam was such a softy he gets misty-eyed about bunnies falling in love in the spring. :)

    (Gentle correction: last paragraph I think you mean Decker rather than Derek.)

  28. Jane
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 08:38:28

    @Sarah Frantz Yes, of course I meant Decker. Heh. As for Sam, it’s hard for me to wrap my head around that kind of Sam because he was really the angry, brooding guy that Decker was supposed to be so seeing him so la la was weird.

  29. Jane O
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 09:32:55

    I have no doubt that Dr. S and others can provide objective reviews of books written by authors they know and like. However, it might have been better if this statement:

    as a complete, utter, and unabashed FanGrrl (although, I like to think, not in the creepy or crazy-ass sense), and, full disclosure here, as someone with a professional relationship with you,

    had appeared at the beginning of the review. It was pretty much buried where it appeared.

    Not every reader of this site is familiar with you, so I can understand Willow’s concern.

  30. shameless3
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 09:45:04

    @Joan/SarahF:

    Hi, I am a first time commenter here but have enjoyed reading both reviews and comments for some time now.

    However, reading that comment by Joan/SarahF pretty much blew my mind – this person is a professional (as she said a phd and “trained literary critic”) and a reviewer for this site and yet she responded in the manner of a 10 year old in a sulk (or a typically rabid fangirl – one in the same apparently!). After reading her comment to someone who had a legit concern over an extremely gushing and impartial review was incredibly inappropriate and I doubt that I will be reading anything further from her.

    Again to say “in her little world” is demeaning and pretentious – how dare you look down on somebody who does not agree with you. As for her being “the fan” who is posting over all of the boards – I suggest you actually go to some of these boards and read the hundreds of readers that are posting the same comments and venting their disappointment in an author who previous works indicated a completely different book.

    I do have to say that I have/had been a fan of SB for several years, but have also noticed that her writing has gone downhill and therefore don’t buy her books anymore and only read them from the library. I have read several comments on other boards from people who have read the book and posted actual quotes from the book to back up what they are saying – and it seems incredible that SB has rewritten several of her characters so that she can try to force readers to love Dave.

    Tara

  31. SarahT
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 10:20:56

    I can only echo what Tara said.

    The thing that bothered me the most was Joan/SarahF’s condescending response to Willow’s post. So what if she’s a trained literary critic? I also have a PhD but I don’t think that makes my opinion any more or less valid than a reader with (or without) a High School Diploma.

  32. Darlynne
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 10:26:05

    But your website has crossed the ethical line in this situation.

    @Willow: This is a review. Of a novel. It’s also a blog. And while I’ve always found DA, SarahF and other reviewers to behave ethically, there is no law that says they must (although I think SarahF did). I do not believe a sacred trust has been broken here as your message more than implies.

    I have no idea where your outrage is coming from or why you were still holding on to it three hours after your first post (#23 and 24). Whether you intended it or not, the impression I am left with is that any positive review of this book would have set you off.

  33. Janet W
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 10:27:09

    I very much agree with Jane O’s comment. Altho many members of the online community are aware of the connection between the reviewer and the author, I think I can safely assume many are not — imo the disclosure should come at the beginning and certainly not “under the cyber fold” so to speak so that if a reader didn’t choose to “open” the review, they would not know of the connection.

    Thank you Lawyer Jane for your mini-review — I’m hoping my library copy will arrive today — I agreed with many of your perspectives.

    Added thought: I do agree that “trained literary critic” was a rather unfortunate self-descriptor in an informal blog setting — was it necessary to add that when we’re already aware that she’s a professor? Perhaps I’m overly sensitive but it was a bit … again, imo … put down’ish.

  34. Jane
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 11:12:09

    @Jane O I’ll put the disclaimer at the top. Thanks for pointing that out. It’s true that it could easily be lost in the midst of the review.

  35. Jane
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 11:14:35

    @shameless3 I didn’t find Dave lovable or unlovable but I did find him to be fairly colorless. His lack of self confidence was wearing over time and I thought Brockmann’s attempts to make him more SEAL like actually served to diminish his character even further, as if someone who is not physically strong is not good enough to be a hero in these books.

  36. Jane
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 11:16:24

    @SarahT I agree that we don’t need literary degrees to have opinions about books else everyone but Dr. S would be in big trouble on the blog. I thought Dr. S was pointing out her degree in support of her opinion, not to invalidate someone else’s opinion as we at Dear Author believe that every reader has the right to express her opinion about a book she has or has not read.

  37. Willow
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 11:25:31

    Sarah F;

    You claim to be a professional yet your post to me was rude, disrespectful and childlike. See Jane’s post and maybe you will learn something on defending your work in a polite and respectful manner. And no I’m not the fan going around ‘trashing’ the book and Brockmann (see you really aren’t objective are you? You are taking criticism of Brockmann very personally) I’ve posted here and on AAR.

    Your post was unbelievably rude and you are only reflecting poorly on the author and negating your defense of being able to write an objective review.

    Thank you for letting us know you have a PhD and are a ‘trained literary critic’ That was extremely condescending of you and did not add to your defense in any way. But maybe that’s just me, I am after all in ‘my own little world’

    This is not about what you said about DON – I would have the same response if the situation was the same and we were discussing Stephen King’s newest release. This is not about DON, this is about you relationship with the author and how that fundamentally prohibits you from giving an honest review.

    Perhaps everything you said above is correct…..but how can I be sure? Should I trust you as ‘literary critic’ even though you have a professional relationship? Do you receive financial gain from the success of Brockmann and her books? Would a negative review have prohibited a future business arrangement with her? And thus limiting future financial gains? There is no way for a reader to be able to answer these questions and given your snarky response to me I don’t think you will find too many readers willing to ‘trust you’.

    I’m sorry I didn’t make the distinction between a blog and a review site, apparently blogs like Dear Author don’t need to adhere to any ethical standards even when their reviewers are ‘trained literary critics’

    You accuse me of ‘wallowing in venom and vitriol’ and yet I’m not attacking the book – again this about you not about DON although I understand that by attempting to paint me as some crazed ex-fan with an axe to grind against the author you hope to disqualify my complaints about YOUR ethics. Or the lack thereof.

  38. Willow
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 11:34:14

    Jane,

    Thank you for your response. I agree that no review is COMPLETELY objective – we all bring things into a review, whether that review is between friends, published review sites, or by ‘literary critics’ on blogs. That’s not my issue.

    The problem I have is a reviewer who has a business relationship with an author and then writing a review. Why not have the author just write their own reviews? While as Sarah’s colleague you may feel comfortable with her being about to write an honest review, why should I as a reader feel comfortable? And after reading her response to me I think trusting her to be objective is pretty much out the window – she personally attacked me and accused me of being someone else!

    Why not just have someone else write the review? And avoid any appearance of impropriety? To do otherwise, I believe is misleading to readers and gives the impression that this site can be an extension of any authors marketing strategy.

  39. Robin
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 11:46:14

    On reviewing the work of “friends” and/or acquaintances, this is done all the time in the academic realm; in fact, it’s part of the culture there. Consequently, the controlling notion is not “objectivity” but rather *transparency* and analytic integrity. When academics assess the work of others, it’s always clear where they stand because of their own views, so the integrity and honesty of the work comes in how the reader measures the analysis based on the stated positions of the two critics in conversation.

    So when it comes to reader reviews, I think transparency and analytic integrity is enough to sustain a review, although I understand not everyone will feel that way. One of the reasons I do, though, is because I feel strongly that authors should not feel a taboo in reviewing the work of their peers, and currently many of them do. I really wish we could get beyond that taboo, because IMO authors who also review (think of the wonderful — yet apparently abandoned — Paperback Reader) have such a wonderful perspective to contribute to the community of reviews. And let’s face it: the Romance community has become so incestuous and connected, even in the most superficial ways with blogs and messageboards, that I don’t think it’s possible to have pure objectivity. Just the passing contacts we all have with authors make an impact on our psyches, even if they don’t substantially affect the way we read an author’s books. However, I do believe we need to be transparent in our reviewing, and IMO SarahF. did that here (although I’m very glad Jane repeated the disclosure up front).

    As for the “professional relationship” SarahF. has with Brockmann, I just want to point out that she’s not financially benefiting in any way from DON, if anyone is concerned about that. IMO “professional relationship” is an extremely broad term, and again, one that can cover a multitude of connections which do not necessarily impair the analytical integrity of a review. Ultimately, a review is merely an opinion, and IMO the value of that opinion is whatever a reader finds in it. One of the things I value about the DA reviews is that they all, IMO, provide ample evidence for one to understand how the opinion is arrived at, but still, they are all mere opinions.

  40. shameless3
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 11:57:27

    I do not have a problem with authors reviewing their peers (well, some reservations) but I thought the review was nauseating…not because of the book (because I have read other favorable reviews) – but because of the gushing by the reviewer. I could, however, get by that as I have seen similar gushing reviews in the infrequent past.

    However, I think my problem now is that the reviewer showed how infantile and inappropriate they were with the response to one persons critique and by belittling them with their supposed superior intelligence and education – obviously showing that an educated person does not necessarily mean a smart person.

    I have seen similar responses on SB’s message board – which as it is owned by her is expected….I did not expect to see such disrespect on a public blog by a reviewer.

  41. Terri
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 12:02:39

    “FWIW, which in your little world, is probably not much….”

    OUCH! Painful to read such a response!

  42. Sarah Frantz
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 12:22:41

    Willow, I apologize for my response. No “buts,” no “for making you feel that way,” no reservations. I apologize for the tone of my response, especially most of the second paragraph and the end of the third.

    As justification? excuse? reason? does my gushing over Anah Crow’s “Uneven” invalidate how good the book is? What about the fact that I have now established a personal (albeit) online relationship with her since I reviewed her book? Would you have the same response if I felt DON sucked? Is the only problem that I, with a personal, professional, non-monetary relationship with Brockmann, gushed over what I felt was a great book? If I gushed over Hearth Throb, which I read way before I was even on her board and still think one of the best books I’ve ever read, would my review not count as honest? Do you want me to post a review of The Bodyguard to make up for this one?

    Just for the record, and this goes out to everyone, not just to Willow: I was a fan of Brockmann’s book for a while before I came to her Message Board. I have been active on her board. The first personal interaction I had with her was when she sent me an ARC of Gone Too Far so I wouldn’t miss its release while I was in Officer Candidate School for the National Guard. I met her at one of her reader weekends. I wrote a biography of her, that was solicited from an academic source (the Dictionary of Literary Biography for a volume that fell through) and finally got published on an online, academic journal (link above in review). Brockmann answered my many questions about her life and writing and lent me some of her backlist (which I returned), but did not solicit the biography, and neither she nor I received monetary benefit from it, except in that I can use it for my tenure review b/c it was finally published in an peer-reviewed journal (which means that OTHER anonymous scholars recommended it for publication). I can NOT, I hasten to add, use my DA reviews for my tenure review–not academic enough for the Ivory Tower. That is the current extent of my personal and professional relationship with Suzanne Brockmann. I consider her a friend, but a distant one, and I thank her for helping me with the biography–she didn’t have to, and other authors for whom I was also scheduled to write a biography did not. I reviewed DON rather than one of the other DA reviewers because I received a galley and had the most knowledge of the TS Inc. world. I do not think this relationship “fundamentally prohibits” me from giving an honest review, I really don’t.

    FWIW, and here, sincerely, not much I guess, I do feel that this review was as objective as possible. I felt that this was a return to much of what I loved about Brockmann’s past books–the emphasis on romance, the seamlessly (IMO) interwoven romantic and suspense plots. I have been disappointed with others of her books in the past (as I said in the review), but not with this one. I feel that my literary training is important in that respect, b/c it is training and does help me find “faults” in a text. I just didn’t feel that there were many in this particular book.

    I’m sorry Jane had to run interference for me. I’ll try not to let it happen again.

  43. Lori S.
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 12:28:44

    Funny, after reading all of these posts, I’m getting the distinct impression that Willow has some sort of personal ax to grind with SarahF. Willow shot out of the gate in full attack mode, rudely questioning the reviewer’s honesty, integrity, and professionalism. Now Willow is insinuating that SarahF will gain financially from the review. She does, IMHO, give the impression of “wallowing in venom and vitriol.' If I were said reviewer, my response would have been far less diplomatic.

    I see no problem with SarahF noting her credentials. Willow is, after all, questioning her abilities as a reviewer so I completely understand why she felt the need to note why she is qualified and capable of delivering said review.

    Personally, I don’t have any problems with this review. She disclosed her connection with the author at the beginning of the review. As an adult with a fully functioning cerebral cortex, I certainly had no problem taking that into consideration when forming my own opinion.

  44. (Jān)
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 12:34:43

    @Willow: For what it’s worth, we all choose our own books to review here. We decide, write up the reviews, and post them. For instance Jane, even as site owner, never knows what I’ll be reviewing before it’s written and in her hands.

    In this case, Sarah did ask all of us about the ethics of this situation, and we felt that as long as she was transparent about her relationship with the author that the readers could make up their own minds as to whether or not the review was worth considering.

    I can understand why you’d prefer a review by someone else. However, I personally feel that the review is objective enough in describing the book and why it worked for Sarah that I was able to make up my mind about buying it. In this case, my decision is that it’s not for me. So while it doesn’t work for you and you’ll want to look elsewhere, that doesn’t mean that the review doesn’t work for anyone else, nor does it mean it is unethical.

  45. Sunita
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 13:07:26

    My two cents: I have no dog in this fight, not being a Brockmann reader, but I read this review and the previous 100-comment thread on DoN. I frequently read posts and book reviews of authors others “get” that I don’t to try and understand the disconnect. In the case of these books and the SEAL books, I think my primary problem is similar to Robin’s. I rarely want my romance mixed up with contemporary politics about which I’m professionally informed. I also find it odd that people will slam historical authors for writing wallpaper but be fine with made up “xxxxStan” countries and stereotypical villains. But that’s another comment thread, I think.

    I have no problem with Joan/SarahF writing this review and DA posting it. I just don’t find the review all that helpful, since the 100-comment thread pretty thoroughly demonstrated J/SF’s take on the book. For people who didn’t read the thread, the review is probably more useful.

    About people who are hugely attached to a particular author or series reviewing the books: they are welcome to review them, but I’d still want a review by someone who is less invested going in. An example: I’d love to see a piece by Janine telling me her views on a book by Sherry Thomas or Meredith Duran, because I’d appreciate those insights. But I’d still want a more typical review by someone who wasn’t as close to the author. In Joan/SarahF’s case, the review, the comments in the previous DoN thread, and the professional article clearly display her admiration for Brockmann and her attachment to the work, but their lack of critical assessment leaves me a bit unsatisfied (and yes, I read the journal article). This has nothing to do with any ethical lines being crossed; I don’t think they were here.

    I’d love to see a second review by someone who has comments more along the lines of Jane’s take (hint, hint). But I know you select your own books and have way more to review than the time it takes to do them!

  46. Willow
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 13:16:46

    Jane,

    I saw the new disclaimer at the top of the review and I believe it resolves the issue enough for my satisfaction in this particular instance.

    My problem is not about DON or even Sarah F. As a reader I don’t expect reviews to be 100% objective because I don’t believe that’s really possible. But I do expect the person conducting the review not to have a business relationship with the author. To me, reviews and sites like this, would then become an extension of the marketing strategy for authors and their new releases.

    Step 1 – Finish book and plan book tour
    Step 2 – have friends and co-workers write reviews for all popular romance blog sites

    Sarah F explained her business relationship and no, she does not profit financially from Brockmann. But that was only understood after she went into details. Simply stating they have a business relationship implies a financial incentive (whether now or in the future) because over 95% of the time a business relationship is ‘quid pro quo’ = something for something.

    Again, as her co-worker you have the ability to judge the situation more thoroughly, but to someone browsing this website the entire thing is much more murky then transparent.

    It probably wouldn’t have even bothered me that much if it had been on another site but I’ve always liked Dear Author because you tackle the sensitive topics i.e. plagiarism. And then to read a review by someone who was seemingly profiting from the author?

    Is it not fair to expect reviewers to be objective (or at least free from business entanglements)? To want to trust the website and it’s sources? To want a line drawn in the sand?

  47. MB
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 13:23:55

    Well, I’m going to stay out of this firestorm and just comment on the review.

    I’ve been reading Brockmann’s Troubleshooter series since the beginning and have enjoyed them very much. I do feel that they have gone downhill somewhat in the last few books. I especially hated “Force of Nature” which read, to me, more like a movie script and seemed totally improbable and annoying.

    However! She is an extremely good author and, I feel, head and shoulders above most of the genre. Her books are almost always on my “to buy” list.

    I haven’t read “Dark of Night” yet although I hope to get a copy soon. I am actually happy to hear that Decker and Sophia DON’T get together. I hated and found distasteful the thought of them as a couple and was waiting unhappily to see how SB arranged for him to get over his “drama queen” antics and rudeness and for Sophia to grow a spine and get over her masochistic crush.

    So… Yay! I’m glad this particular arc is going differently. Now I’m more anxious to read it than I had been before this review.

  48. Sarah Frantz
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 13:25:45

    To clarify: I never said “business relationship,” I said “professional relationship.”

    And Willow, what we might have here is a fundamental contextual difference in vocabulary. As an academic, “professional” means just that: I know Brockmann in a professional context through my academic work, as well as in a personal one. To those in the business world, however, “professional” probably means “business” and therefore monetary. It absolutely does not in academia. So, I’ve never had “business entanglements” with Brockmann; rather, I’ve had, as I said originally in the review, a “professional relationship.”

  49. Jane
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 13:26:19

    @Willow I’m going to answer the last question because it’s the only one that I feel equipped to answer (or that even have an answer). We all do this out of love for the genre. We aren’t paid to do it and it’s actually kind of time consuming. We self select our books. In other words, the books come in or we buy our own copies and then decide what is to be reviewed individually. (This is one reason we have a greater number of B reviews because we are hoping to read/buy what we like). I’ve never wanted anyone who is part of the blog to have reviewing be a chore.

    Dr. S did come to the group and tell us of her relationship with Brockmann and we felt that so long as it was disclosed that it would be something readers could take into consideration when weighing the value of the review. No one else intended to read the book. I haven’t read Brockmann in an age and no one else was interested. I thought it would be good to post a review of a book rather than none at all. Maybe that was the wrong decision and I do hear where you are coming from. But in weighing the “no review” v. “review plus disclosure”, I sided with the latter.

    I would tend to side on the “review plus disclosure” again, if I had to.

    I ended up getting my own copy (it was a 100% micropay rebate at Fictionwise) and maybe like Sunita suggested, I’ll write up my own review. I’d still give it a recommended grade, but my nit picks and enjoyments are probably quite different that Dr. S’ who has been a devotee of the series for a long time. I.e., I couldn’t give any insight as to whether the build up was misleading and then failed on the follow through.

    I hope that this answers your questions. We actually do have ethical standards here at Dear Author and if you read our past archives, we really take that seriously. Your charges of us being unethical are pretty serious accusations particularly when we feel we go to great lengths to be up front about everything. Our ethics are thus: we try to give the most honest review possible providing you with any information that might be perceived as a bias so that you, the reader, can determine what weight to give a review.

    We do not have an editorial director nor staff to consult with on pre publication issues. We are just a bunch of readers trying to contribute to the community that we love in the best way we know how.

  50. Tina
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 13:31:06

    Well, I am scratching my head in puzzlement. The reviewer, in the body of the review, discloses that she is a fan of Ms. Brockmanns’s and then gave a positive review of Dark of Night. Would the review have garnered the same outrage if it had been negative? Does somehow prefacing a positive review with “i normally hate this author…” or “I have never heard of this person in my life…” give the review more legitimacy?

    I am seriously confused by the issue. It seems, well, like a non issue. Seriously. Read the review, consider it, take it for what you consider it to be worth and go on to the next review.

  51. Jane
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 13:33:21

    @Willow I commented before I saw your last comment. I understand your concern re: any financial involvement btwn a reviewer and an author. It’s why when Sony donated all those Readers to us, we told everyone here at the blog, so that people knew that there was a financial connection between Sony and DA. We don’t hide those things and we never will.

    I totally appreciate that you want to be able to trust the website and it’s sources. We just did a bad job of explaining the context of the relationship but I hope you can understand how we might feel taken aback by the accusations of being unethical.

  52. Wendy
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 14:04:26

    I don’t think there is an issue with Sarah writing the review and I can’t believe this has engendered its own kerfuffle. Willow has been complaining about this review over at AAR, and I don’t think she wants to open that can of worms. I wouldn’t be surprised if the reviewers there have far more extensive connections with authors than Sarah’s with Suz. I remember going to RWA many years ago and someone pointing out Melinda Helfer hobnobbing with authors. The romance world is a small world, and as an English professor, Sarah probably has more strategies than most for discussing a text while simultaneously looking at it with a critical eye.

    Dark of Night happens to be a pretty good book. It’s a good suspenseful read, the characters are interesting, and it’s a hell of a lot better than 90% of the dreck on the market right now. Suz usually puts a different twist on things while still allowing for a HEA, which I appreciate, having lost my patience with Nora Roberts after realizing she writes the same 6 (excellent) books over and over again. Once I’d read 12, I realized I was done with her.

    There are other issues for long-term readers that may or may not affect their reading of the novels. If you fell in love with the idea of Deck and Sophia, yeah, maybe this one wouldn’t work for you. At least Suz is trying something new while still giving a HEA. That’s pretty difficult to do in a world with a gajillion romance novels.

  53. Willow
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 14:27:18

    Wendy,

    I created a post over at AAR asking other people’s opinions on whether having friends and business associates of authors write reviews was ethical. Then I posted about Sarah’s response to me. So I really don’t know what you are referring to with your can of worms comment but don’t try and bully me. And I haven’t said anything critical about the specifics of the review, frankly I could care less about DON at this point, it’s the relationship b/w the author and reviewer that started this all off.

    I am entitled to my opinions just as you are and everyone else on this board. Some of whom are also talking about this subject on other sites.

  54. Joan/SarahF
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 14:30:02

    Dammit, messed up the spoiler font there for a second. Should be fixed. Sorry if anyone was spoiled.

  55. Jane
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 14:33:32

    I don’t want this to turn into a DA v. AAR thing because there is no competition here between posters here or at AAR (at least I hope there is not). Having said that, I wonder if we can table the issue of the reviewer/author relationship. I promise that I will blog about it in three weeks (I have articles set for next Tuesday and the following) and open up the floor for all opinions on that topic. I will also write a separate review of this book and post it on Sunday evening after the tech article and the another reflection on the Sony. Sound good?

  56. Wendy
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 14:42:29

    Willow, pretty much all of your concerns, particularly the really offensive point about Sarah somehow financially benefiting from her review, have all been shown to be invalid. That Jane is opening up the forum for discussion of your issues is pretty cool of her, but personally I believe it to be unnecessary.

  57. Willow
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 14:46:12

    Jane, I would love to have a discussion about reviewer/author relationships, I think it will be an enlightening discussion. I look forward to it.

  58. Willow
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 14:49:48

    Wendy,

    I think it’s a valid and important discussion and this is further validated by the discussions now happening on other websites over this very issue. (with the exception of AAR I didn’t start and am NOT participating in) If you don’t like it you are free not to participate.

    My concerns about Sarah potentially profiting financially (now or in the future) from her review or relationship to Brockmann was only shown to be invalid AFTER I brought it up and additional information was THEN disclosed.

  59. Jane
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 14:57:27

    @Willow My last comment on this, I promise. I think that the reason that Dr. S didn’t saw she was not going to profit financially because a) she wasn’t and b) she would never disguise that if she was (and we probably wouldn’t have posted the review if she was). So it probably never even occurred to her because “professional relationship” is something very different than a “business relationship.”

    I don’t believe that Dr. S did anything unethical. We really do have standards here and try to uphold them. But if the ethical standards by which we abide aren’t up to snuff to some readers, I completely understand and for that I am glad that the online romance community is a big one so that we may all have places in which we comfortable and safe.

  60. SarahT
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 15:05:08

    I went on a Suzanne Brockmann glom a few years ago and got as far as Sam and Alyssa’s book. Is it possible to read and enjoy DON without having read the last few books in the series? Or would I be missing out on essential back story?

    BTW, I noticed that the mass market edition of DON will be available in the summer. Is the release of the MM so soon after the HB a new trend?Karen Rose’s ‘Kill for Me’ will also be available in MM in July and the HB is only coming out next month!

  61. dreamweaver
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 15:10:49

    I can’t believe that what could have proven to be an interesting discussion on a newly release book has turned into a discussion on ethics. Sarah disclosed her relationship to the author and even her fan girl status (which is far from a conflict of interest). Why are we continuing to flog a dead horse? This is one review among many, many reviews. Perhaps we can get back on topic, which is Dark of Night, instead questioning the reviewer’s integrity.

    I think Jane is being far more indulgent than most would be in this type of situation. But hey, perhaps she will write that bad review that has so far been elusive and that disgruntled fans have been waiting for.

  62. Robin
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 15:11:22

    I went on a Suzanne Brockmann glom a few years ago and got as far as Sam and Alyssa's book. Is it possible to read and enjoy DON without having read the last few books in the series? Or would I be missing out on essential back story?

    I’m in a similar position to you, and what I’m going to do is read Flashpoint, which is the book in which Sophia and Decker move onto the stage and then shoot forward to DON (as Jane said, it’s 100% micropay rebate at Fictionwise, which for me makes is like 0% risk, lol). Also, IIRC, Sandy at AAR indicated that she had not been reading the series currently when she picked up DON, and since she gave it a positive review, I’m assuming that means the break is okay.

  63. rebyj
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 15:14:54

    The reviewers at DA along with SBTB and others are so much a part of the romance community that I often assume they know the authors of books they review. I still trust the reviews because I’ve read here so long that I kind of know their tastes and how it relates to my own taste in books.

  64. Willow
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 15:18:28

    Jane, this will be my last post too I promise :-)

    the additional information has cleared this all up….but at the time I stand by my opinion that it seemed shady. To me a professional and business relationship are very similar and can imply a ‘quid pro quo’ although not necessarily financial.

    Going by the information given at the time it seemed like this review was part of an authors marketing strategy. You in particular have been very kind and very professional in your explanations which had made this situation much more transparent. I don’t believe there was any intent by the reviewer to be misleading in her review but I do believe that what was written at the time justifies my criticism.

    OK I’m done now! Have a great day y’all

  65. Janine
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 15:30:29

  66. Jane
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 15:31:52

    @Robin I haven’t read a Brockmann book since Sam & Alyssa’s and I picked up the book after much of the discussion regarding the book in the past few weeks. I wasn’t confused by the characters although there are tendrils of plot lines which clearly existed before this book but it didn’t interfere with my understanding of the plot (which was good albeit totally unbelievable) or the romances (of which I thought the Decker / Tracy pairing was far more interesting than the Dave/Sophie pairing).

  67. Robin
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 15:57:06

    Thanks, Jane; that’s good to know.

    Nothing like controversy to get me to read a book, lol.

  68. library addict
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 16:34:31

    I'm in a similar position to you, and what I'm going to do is read Flashpoint, which is the book in which Sophia and Decker move onto the stage and then shoot forward to DON (as Jane said, it's 100% micropay rebate at Fictionwise, which for me makes is like 0% risk, lol). Also, IIRC, Sandy at AAR indicated that she had not been reading the series currently when she picked up DON, and since she gave it a positive review, I'm assuming that means the break is okay.

    The characters featured in DON are mostly introduced in Flashpoint. Decker has a significant roll in Hot Target. The group takes center stage again in Into the Storm, where another major character is introduced. And again in Into the Fire, which sets up the mystery in DON.

    Yes, you could read Dark of Night as a stand alone novel. But without the background of the other books you won't have the complete background for the characters IMO.

    Actually, I don't think most people who read the books knowing how it all shakes out will even understand why many of us feel the story arc didn't deliver on its expectations. I think readers will be looking to assign other motivations to the characters' actions and interactions due to the knowledge of how it ends, knowledge we didn't have when we read them and thus got behind the “wrong” couple, anxiously awaiting a HEA that was never to be.

    It’s possible I could have liked DON if I had read it as a stand alone novel and had never met the characters before. Because I feel they were pod people walking around with the names of characters I used to know but no longer recognized. Just my 2¢

  69. Pfeifbe
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 16:39:25

    @Dreamweaver

    Why are we continuing to flog a dead horse? This is one review among many, many reviews. Perhaps we can get back on topic, which is Dark of Night, instead questioning the reviewer's integrity.

    Hear hear and amen !!!!

  70. library addict
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 16:42:05

    Role not roll. As far as I know Decker eats no rolls in Hot Target

    Why do I never sees these things before the edit time is over?

  71. West
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 16:57:48

    @SarahT- No, you need to read most of the books that take place *after* GTF. Flashpoint, Hot Target, Into The Storm and Into The Fire all contain necessary backstory for DON. Breaking Point, Force of Nature and All Through the Night can be skipped, if you really don’t want to read them, they don’t contribute to the story arc.

    And my opinion? The review was exactly what I felt after reading the book. My only complaint? Too much Dave/Sophia, not enough Decker/X, and I would have loved for it to be a little longer.

  72. Wendy
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 17:02:53

    Decker likes scones, people!

    I don’t look at it in terms of “I don’t recognize these characters any more.” (Though I will confess that SuperDave was a bit much. But by that point I wasn’t reading for them.) I look at it in terms of we see these characters mostly through the eyes of other characters. We don’t know as much as we think, and the purpose of the books is to learn more about them. Sam? Was on the surface a racist asshole who thinks with his dick. But I have no problem with unpeeling the layers and finding out more about him. It’s the process of falling in love with someone, really. Who out there is really WYSIWYG?

  73. Dark of Night - Suzanne Brockmann (Pt. 1) « My Thoughts On Nothing Much At All
    Jan 28, 2009 @ 17:31:30

    [...] thoughts running through my mind since then. First off, I can totally understand some of the very positive reviews of this book. If it weren’t for my previously formed attachment to a Sophia/Decker [...]

  74. Caoimhe
    Jan 29, 2009 @ 02:10:00

    I used to be a fan of Ms. Brockmann’s Team Ten books, and regularly read reviews to see where her storylines are going. I still read the odd book for the Jules/Robin relationship, which I have enjoyed, but I feel like her writing is more “TV Drama” than “Romance Novel” and it’s not what I’m usually looking for. There is certainly romance, but also a large cast of characters in and out of the books and long storyline arcs with the odd “cliffhanger” ending thrown in there.

    I think the disclaimer is a good idea and all that’s required. I am capable of reading a decent (not-Harriet K-style) review and saying “hmm… that part isn’t going to work for me so this book isn’t one I will bother with.” It’s not an investment in the Decker-Sophia relationship that put me off this one, but rather my complete lack of interest in reading about Dave. I tried to read the prologue / first chapter when they were posted and couldn’t get past the first few paragraphs, that’s how much I can’t see Dave as a romance hero. I did have hopes for Decker’s relationship when I read the early spoilers, but the spoiler that Dr. S reveals here is something that I know won’t work for me. This review has done exactly what a good review should and given me enough information to make my own decision. (And I NEVER bought Mary Lou’s supposed redemption!)

  75. nici
    Jan 29, 2009 @ 08:34:48

    Jane,

    you reviewed Megan Hart’s Dirty

    And you later said this when Lauren Dane commented:

    Ms. Dane – I do know you are being honest in your opinion on amazon and everywhere. It's just, well, because you are such good friends, it's hard to take the recommendation seriously. I think if my BFF wrote a book, I would think it was the best thing ever too.

    and this:

    Ms. Dane – I really am not trying to be offensive. I think its great you disclosed your relationship. As a reader, though, I tend to view those type of reviews something akin to cover quotes. I mean if Jayne ever wrote a book (not that she has any plans to do you Jayne?), I don't think anyone would take my recommendation seriously.

    http://dearauthor.com/wordpress/2007/01/11/dirty-by-megan-hart/

    So, I will take SarahF’s review seriously. But not that much since I know she IS a fangirl and has said so.

  76. azteclady
    Jan 29, 2009 @ 11:18:24

    Oh well and yikes–apparently my post at Karen’s yesterday was much more timely than I thought.

  77. dreamweaver
    Jan 29, 2009 @ 11:33:57

    I realize the issue that has taken over this thread is an important one, I am just disappointed that a potential discussion of the book itself has been diverted. It would have been nice to have seen a discussion of the book that was not monopolized by unhappy Decker/Sophia fans. I sympathize with those individuals, but there are other readers of SB’s books who had either formed no expectations or were Dave/Sophia fans.

  78. Robin
    Jan 29, 2009 @ 12:31:42

    @nici: See, the fact that all of us here can have different ideas about books, reviews, and other aspects of the Romance community, and that we can disagree, is just one of the reasons I think DA’s such a valuable resource. Jane doesn’t force her views on any of the rest of us reviewers or DA’s readers.

    For me it all comes down to this: take what’s valuable to you, leave what’s not, because we all have the freedom to do that and enough diversity of viewpoints here to provide for lots of debate.

  79. Jane
    Jan 29, 2009 @ 12:41:33

    @nici: I don’t see how that’s contradictory. I think I’ve said that the point of transparency is for you to be able to weigh whether the opinion has validity for you the reader. Lauren Dane’s opinion of her BFF work didn’t carry much weight for me. Sunita commented that Dr. S’s opinion didn’t carry much weight for her.

    That’s totally appropriate and I completely respect, support, encourage your right to disregard a review because you think that the reviewer’s opinion might be too greatly influenced by anything.

  80. GrowlyCub
    Jan 29, 2009 @ 13:07:17

    It would have been nice to have seen a discussion of the book that was not monopolized by unhappy Decker/Sophia fans.

    You’ve said that twice now, but I’m still waiting to see your take on the book. If you want to discuss it nobody is keeping you from doing so!

    If find it kind of ironic that you want discussion but obviously only the opinion of people who like this book will be acceptable.

    I think it’s too early for lots of discussion because many won’t have read it yet. I’m still waiting to get this from the library, but then my opinion won’t interest you because I’m one of those unhappy people.

    I’ll post my take here as soon as I’ve finished reading the book.

  81. Joan/SarahF
    Jan 29, 2009 @ 13:15:22

    @GrowlyCub: *I* would be very interested in knowing your opinion of the book, TBH. I don’t think I’ve actually read a sustained review from a Decker/Sophia fan yet, and I have been looking. If you can point me to them, I’d be interested; otherwise, I await your review. I’m really interested to see what you think of the book!

  82. Willow
    Jan 29, 2009 @ 13:22:51

    Dreamweaver, if you go over to Suzanne Brockmann’s message board, they will definitely have discussions more in line with what you are looking for.

  83. dreamweaver
    Jan 29, 2009 @ 13:27:05

    @GrowlyCub

    Thank you, Growly, I will be posting shortly. I never said I wasn’t interested in the opinions of those who are unhappy with the pairings, I’m just interested in hearing what the other side has to say as well.

  84. Wendy
    Jan 29, 2009 @ 13:35:06

    There’s a review of DoN by a S/D fan here.

    Did I think Sophia and Decker were going to get together? Yes. Was I surprised to learn they didn’t? Yes. Was I upset? No, because I figured Suz had thought about it. If I read it and thought it was a half-assed rewriting, I would be upset, but I don’t think it was. I felt that Decker’s reaction to Sophia was very well explained. Do I believe that he would fall for Tracy? Sort of. But I could see why he wouldn’t pursue Sophia.

  85. library addict
    Jan 29, 2009 @ 15:16:13

    @GrowlyCub: *I* would be very interested in knowing your opinion of the book, TBH. I don't think I've actually read a sustained review from a Decker/Sophia fan yet, and I have been looking. If you can point me to them, I'd be interested; otherwise, I await your review. I'm really interested to see what you think of the book!

    There are several reviews of the actual book in the book thread at AAR
    http://aarboards.com/viewtopic.php?t=4536

    Yes, you have to wade through some conversation, but there are posters there from all sides of the fence: Dave/Sophia fans, Deck/Sophia fans, Decker fans who dislike Sophia and are quite happy he ended up with X, people who didn’t care, etc. The more detailed ones are on pages 10, 14, 15, 20, and probably beyond as more people finish the book.
    Contrary to what some people might think, we've been having quite an interesting and entertaining discussion. It's not all crying in our pretzels simply because some of us didn't get the couple we wanted.

    There's also the LONG earlier thread from when the spoilers first came out through the release of the book in which we discussed many of the books and other couples in the series. http://aarboards.com/viewtopic.php?t=4228 Granted, there are some angry and sad posts within, as well as some cheeky ones (SarahF's not the only one who can do “snark” – LOL). And for a few (okay probably dozens) pages there are more upset Decker & Sophia fans, but all sides are represented.

  86. KarLynP
    Jan 29, 2009 @ 17:56:32

    I am one of the crazy few who actually did not read any spoilers prior to reading this book, and I am so glad for it!! I finished the book a few hours ago and am now reading all the spoiler threads I’ve been avoiding for months. (It’s funny reading them after and not before reading the book! Some of the spoilers were simply just wrong!)

    I LOVED this book for all the reasons Joan/Sarah F did. I too felt Decker’s storyline was especially satisfying. DoN is easily one of my favorites in the series.

    Warning – Spoiler alert:

    One particular strong point of this book is that Brockmann writes yet another amazing storyline regarding sexual preference — including one’s inner struggles and confusion with trying to be normal. This time she touches on BDSM, last time it was homosexuality (Jules/Robin/Adam). I am not into BDSM books at all, but OMG it was HOT. Bravo Brockmann!

  87. Joan/SarahF
    Jan 29, 2009 @ 21:59:39

    @library addict and @Wendy Thanks for the links!

    @KarLynP: Yes, yes, yes! That’s the thing above all that I loved about this book. Decker has to learn to accept that side of himself as “normal” for him in order to make sense to himself, in order to be whole and healthy.

  88. Kimberly
    Jan 31, 2009 @ 22:17:49

    I was so surprised!! I did not read any spoilers before it was released. I purchased the audio version for my drive. I love her writing. Traci & Decker YEAH!!! Dave & Sophia YEAH!!

    I have not been disapointed. Reading other boards ~ you gotta just go with the author.

  89. Suze / Dawnell
    Feb 04, 2009 @ 19:06:36

    First, a few words about the the connection of the reviewer and the author. Well, I think an author connecting with readers, editors, reviewers and reader is a good thing. On a professional or personal level, or even connection thru the book – a connection is something that is remembered – be that connection good, bad or indifferent.

    In the early 1980′s – I was SO moved by Roberta Gellis’ Roslynde Chronicles that I wrote her an fan letter filled with my enjoyment of her historical details and realistic descriptions of feudal Europe. Ms. Gellis wrote me back. She thanked me for her letter and told me that the only feedback she had was the sales numbers, unless a reader wrote to her and that she really appreciated the specifics of my letter. Needless to say, I felt and still feel a connection to Ms. Gellis.

    Now – 20 years later I am still reading historical and romantic ficiton.

    So, I am not bothered by the connection between the reviewer and the author – but I do appreciate the disclosure.

    I am always interested in good fiction, but hadn’t read Ms. Brockman’s work. So – off to the library I went. I am 3/4 of the way of Gone to Far (the first one my library had on the shelf).

    The book is well written, but I certianly feel that I have missed a LOT (okay, 5 whole books).

    But low and behold – Ms. Brockman has a 56 page Reader’s Guide to the books with terms, characters, plot summaries and useful tidbits to keep me from being confused (well, help me at least).

    There are a lot of characters – who are already well established with lots of history and previous interactions. I get the definite feeling that this book is continuing plot and story arcs from previous books, but but the book IS well written and while it does not quite stand on its own, the Reader’s Guide helps a lot ! So, I’ll keep reading for awhile yet.

    I gotta say, tho ..that thinking about all the comments about the “connections” – I wondered if I wanted to get into a long term relationship with these books. *chuckle* — Cause that is what it feels like.

    And I am already in a relationship with Christine Feehan and Laurell K. Hamilton and Mary Blalogh, and Charlaine Harris… and so many others.

  90. Dark of Night « Jorrie Spencer
    Feb 08, 2009 @ 19:53:16

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

  91. February Recommended Reads | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary
    Dec 17, 2009 @ 12:58:50

    [...] Dark of Night by Suzanne Brockmann. The long-awaited culmination of the Sophia and Decker story arc. The controversy, of course, is that although they both get their HEA in this book, they get it with other people. Controversy aside, however, this book is Brockmann at her best. The plotting is satisfyingly tight, the suspense suitably suspenseful, and the romances (yes, multiple!) form the absolute heart and soul of the book. With Brockmann’s trademark humor and with appropriate-to-the-plot cameos from favorite characters, the book is funny, charming, and sexy. And at the end of the book, it is certainly possible to firmly believe that Sophia and Decker are 100% happy and 100% with the right person. A- Recommended by Joan/Dr. F [...]

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