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Book Coverduck-do-a-book.jpgNow that the kerfuffle surrounding Suzanne Brockmann’s latest Troubleshooters book, Dark of Night has died down a bit, we thought you might be interested in a discussion Lynne Connolly and I had about the book right after it was released.

The discussion topics are in bold, our comments are separated by our icons.

Must I say that there are SPOILERS??? Because, of course, there are. 

Here’s a “who’s who” in this, our first (and hopefully not our last), DUCKS DO A BOOK entry:
csquareds-icon.jpg C-Squared (a.k.a. C2) – Review Duck, blogger, reader, all around good gal.
lynnec.jpg Lynne Connolly (a.k.a. LynneC) – author, blogger, reader, chief cook and bottle washer, Jack-of-all-trades, and occasional Review Duck.  Yet another good gal (we have lots of those around here).

Are the Troubleshooters books romantic suspense or suspense with romantic elements? What about the balance between romance and suspense?

csquareds-icon.jpg Definitely romantic suspense. No matter how suspense-y, Suz always gives us some romance. DoN was an okay balance but I wish it had been longer.  It all seemed a teeny bit rushed to me.  Maybe because I read it so fast.  😀
lynnec.jpg That depends on what you expect, I think. In the latest JR Ward story, the main comment was that she was moving away from romance and toward urban fantasy, and the romance took a backseat to the rest of the story. Some readers liked it. With Brockmann, I can easily see her books in a different section of the bookstore, and doing well there. I like it. It gives her more freedom to develop the storylines and the action. I don’t think every reader can get away with it, but Brockmann does.
But in this book, “Dark of Night,” the romance was enough for me. Sometimes I like lush stories that are all about the romance, but I don’t look to Brockmann for that.
The romances are developed individually, that is, we get how each character feels about the other, but often, time together is limited. I enjoyed that Sophia and Dave had some time to get to know each other as a couple, for example, so they had a basis for their relationship. I want more, and I want to see how they interact more.

Were you satisfied with final couplings? Was the relationship development believable??

csquareds-icon.jpg Very satisfied, actually.  I never could see Sophia and Decker together so all I can say is YAY that she put Sophia with Dave and Tracy with Decker.  Although a bit more familiarity with Tracy would have helped going into the book.Believable relationship development, too. It isn’t like Tracy and Deck had just met or anything.  They’ve been working together for a while…so maybe they just started paying attention.  And Sophia and Dave have been moving toward their relationship the whole time.
lynnec.jpg The HEAs were believable, on the whole, especially since Brockmann doesn’t end the romances in the books, they carry on. It’s a real pleasure to see Sam and Alyssa working out their relationship, and I did enjoy the Nash and Tess thing. She didn’t quite get hold of the BDSM power thing, though she definitely goes some way toward it (by the way, there is no actual BDSM content in this book, although there is a power relationship that echoes writers like Joey W Hill, but I think Hill does it better). This is just the book where the characters get together, and since she plans to write more TS books, we can be pretty sure we’ll see more of them.
I liked the way Sophia and Decker reconciled their relationship, and I think the reasons why they didn’t get together were explained pretty well. If they hadn’t had that scene in the bathroom toward the end, I wouldn’t have been so happy, but they talked it through and yes, I was happy with Sophia and Dave. Especially the Dave side. I actually loved the geek-into-spy thing, it’s a bit like a Cinderella story, and I really loved the conversation between Dave and one of my favorite characters, Wild Card Karmody. Geeks rule!
csquareds-icon.jpg Oh, I love Kenny! He’s one of my favorite SEALs. That conversation between him and Dave was tons of fun. LOL
lynnec.jpg The Transformation of Tracy from ditzy receptionist to smart, in control woman was a bit problematic for me. I went along with it, because I could just about accept it, but it didn’t quite work. I’m not sure why, perhaps because Tracy hasn’t been explored properly before.
csquareds-icon.jpg Yup, Tracy could have been developed a bit more in prior books. I don’t think I had a good sense of her beyond the secretary stereotype…there wasn’t time for any development in DoN, though.

Were the villains believable?

csquareds-icon.jpg This was a not-so-much for me. The villains seemed a bit too all-knowing. Especially for such a small group. I know a small group of crazies can accomplish a lot but jeez…
lynnec.jpg Okay, so one thing does bother me a bit. Most Brockmann stories take place in the US, and yet the bodycount is pretty high. We never hear any kickback about that, as in, who deals with the bodies on the streets? Aren’t there any enquiries or arrests?
What I could do without – the skimming over the realities. I want to know how TS Inc, which is, after all, a private organisation, deals with all the laws it breaks, not least the killings. But there are B and E’s and other transgressions, too. That’s why I made my Dept 57 part of the CIA, consultants and affiliates to the major government security forces, but even then I do dispose of the bodies!
csquareds-icon.jpg As far as the skimming over realities goes – I don’t mind so much. How would she ever research super-secret government organizations? And even if she found out exactly how they do their super-secret stuff, either they wouldn’t let her share it OR no one would believe they really run like that anyway. I guess that’s why I never thought about the body count, clean-up, etc. Since it mostly wouldn’t be her characters doing that, I don’t mind it going unexplained. And, really, unless it is something huge, I don’t think those things get a lot of play in the news here. Of course, I’m not a big news watcher so I could be totally wrong. A friend is a federal agent, though (not FBI or anything fancy) and there’s never anything about stuff she’s involved in – at least, nothing that is attributed to her office directly.

Fan grrl level?

csquareds-icon.jpg Not psycho stalker fan level…just enthusiastic. Seriously, she’s one of my very, very favorite authors.
lynnec.jpg Big fan. I have all the books, and they all have to be keepers for me. I was in the minority in enjoying the last book in the series, but it wasn’t because of the Izzy story, as I just plain didn’t like him, and Vinh was a bit off, but the story was kicking.
csquareds-icon.jpg Now, moving on – you don’t like Izzy? Awww. I love Izzy! The last book was not my fave (Hot Target is!) – I don’t know what I was expecting for Murphy’s story but that wasn’t it. The Izzy story was the more interesting part, I thought. But the action/suspense part was good.
lynnec.jpg What I really, really love and why I’ll read anything Brockmann puts out – Her men. They aren’t alphabetised, they’re not supermen, Brockmann’s heroes are real. I love that she gave Tom Paoletti early male-pattern baldness, I love that not all her men are over six feet tall, perfect of feature and their inner thoughts sound like women. They don’t angst all the time, and articulate that angst perfectly, some of them have a lot of problems articulating how they feel, and some bottle it up. But they are real people, and that is why she can write a large cast of characters and give them all life.
csquareds-icon.jpg I am SO completely in agreement that the guys totally make the books – she’s admitted that she struggles a bit with female characters and I think she’s improving but the guys are excellent! Totally, totally how guys are. Good and bad. LOL
lynnec.jpg Her deep third point of view. Very few writers can really delve into characters the way Brockmann does. You live and experience with them. Her pov switches are instantly recognisable because they’re another voice. Each character has his or her own way of looking at things. I’d love her, just as an exercise, to describe the exact same event from several points of view. Sometimes she does this in the books, but the views tend to overlap slightly, instead of running parallel.
csquareds-icon.jpg The deep POV thing – what you said is almost exactly what I said in my review. Great minds!
lynnec.jpg The romances are developed individually, that is, we get how each character feels about the other, but often, time together is limited. I enjoyed that Sophia and Dave had some time to get to know each other as a couple, for example, so they had a basis for their relationship. I want more, and I want to see how they interact more.

So, any other topics you think we should discuss?

lynnec.jpg Can’t think of any. Except what happens next. If the next book concentrates on Sam and Alyssa, I’m all for it. But I want more Jules, and if he’s moving from the FBI to TS, where will he fit in? Maybe share XO duties with Alyssa as TS expands? Jules is such a great character, I love his voice!
csquareds-icon.jpg Jules is my very, very favorite character! I want a Jules of my own. :o) Sam’s my second fave. I wouldn’t mind having a Sam of my own, too. 😉
I’m thinking Jules needs to move to the LA FBI office, at least – good for him, being close to the TS gang, and good for Robin’s career. Or, if Jules does end up with TS, Inc. – maybe he could be their liaison person with miscellaneous government agencies? He can be very diplomatic, after all. Smooth out the ruffled egos, etc. Regardless, any book with Sam and Alyssa is going to have at least a little Jules and Robin – and probably a lot. And maybe LA needs its own branch office of TS. Hmm. Suz will work it all out for him – I think Jules is her fave, too.

What about you, readers and fellow Ducks?  What trips your trigger about the Troubleshooters books, or romantic suspense in general?  What IS IT about Brockmann’s books that is just so dadgum readable?  What do you not like about them?