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

And I loved it.  Seriously.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Sandy AAR

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