Jen and I have never done a buddy review in all the time we've had this blog, but after we did reviews for Into the Fire one day apart, we decided that we might try doing one together for Dark of Night. So here you go. Note: Contains multiple spoilers. Read at your own risk!
JB: I personally had no issue with the couplings. Dave w/Sophia and Decker w/Tracy worked just fine for me. Especially given Brockmann's explanation of Decker's issue when it comes to Sophia--specifically that he was troubled by how turned on he had been when she threatened his life. Not a proud moment for him--to admit that--and an obvious reason why he'd rather steer clear of Sophia. And, perhaps, why he--in his interactions with her through the last few installments--has been either domineering (to over-compensate) or withdrawn to the point of being mute. Through this one little window--into his hidden desire to be dominated--Brockmann made a whole lot of things suddenly make more sense.
LS: I didn't have any problem with the pairings, either. I loved how he slowly revealed his desire to Tracy to be dominated. And the "a-ha" moment for her? Wow. His internal struggle when he realized she "got it". Just great. It's a theme that often runs with characters like Decker - the desire to be dominated in bed, when they have to be so strong everywhere else, so in charge, and they want just one place where they can just give in and take orders for once. That shower scene was so perfectly written. And I loved that they were interrupted. I thought it was really hot. So true that Sophia just doesn't have that in her. And I'm so glad that Brockmann didn't try to force it on her.
JB: I'll just add an Oh Yeah here--Tracy's "a-ha" moment. Great, great turning point in the book--really opened both his and our eyes to the fact that he's met his match.
JB: This one got off to a slow start for me. Four pages into it, I got squeamish. Then spent too much time worrying about when we'd get back to those scenes. Then I struggled with the feeling that no one was in character. Looking back now, I'm sure that was just Tracy and Decker--Tracy because this is the first we really get to know her and Decker because this is the first time we get to know him for just him--and not through his relationship to Nash or Sophia. By book's end, no one felt out-of-character.
LS: You know, I remember mentioning it in my review for Into the Fire, and I know what you mean about being uncomfortable with the characters. For me, it's Sophia that makes me uncomfortable. I still don't understand what it is about her. I'm very glad that she ended up with Dave, because she makes him happy and she obviously could never have ended up with Decker, but I can't help thinking that he deserves a better heroine somehow. Someone more engaging, more... dynamic? ... interesting? Any discomfort I had stemmed from her, I think.
JB: Interesting. I'd have to agree on her character's blandness. She had so much depth when Brockmann introduced her (in Nash and Tess' book I think). Then, over the years, she acclimated to her relatively safe life in the States and just seemed to blend into the wallpaper. And though I hadn't thought about it, I agree with your point about Dave--he perhaps deserves better.
LS: I agree that when she was introduced, I thought she was really going to be a great match for Decker down the road. Thought she would be a wonderful Brockmann heroine. But she really did just blend into the woodwork and wasn't good enough for either of them, IMO. A shame, really. One of my few real disappointments with Brockmann.
JB: Not even Jules. Granted, he gave the appearance--more than once--of playing loose with the law and order of things, but overall, he behaved as I would have expected.
LS: For me, in the last few books, Jules has seemed out of his comfort zone, and it always takes him a while to get back into it. Maybe it's falling in love and realizing that there's someone out there who cares if he doesn't come home at the end of the day. I don't know. But although he was always touchy-feely, he was never that way "on the job", in the middle of an op. He was always all business. In the last few books, it's begun seeping into his work - while an op is in progress, not just in the down-time. That kind of bothers me, because I think it perpetuates a stereotype that perhaps a gay man can't handle a tough job like the FBI, which is so obviously untrue and so obviously not Brockmann's intention. I think I mentioned this in my Force of Nature review.
JB: Hmmmm. I don't remember him being ALL about work while on the job. Definitely more hard-nosed focused during the dangerous moments of an op, but still spending some minutes lamenting about his love life with Alyssa or fussing over Max. But I agree that it is more difficult for him now to balance work and personal interests--now that he has Robin. The personal definitely intrudes more, naturally. And it sheds a new light on the impression that he is operating outside the law he is supposed to uphold. Gives me the feeling that this is one of those intentional, whisper layers of characterization and conflict that Brockmann weaves almost transparently.
JB: Even though Decker and Tracy felt the most foreign to me, it was their scenes that finally set the hook. Hot and hilarious. This was the romance that hurtled me forward to the last page. Couldn't get enough of them.
LS: Agree 100%. Loved it. Their dynamic was great. I loved that he recognized her intelligence, and let her know that he recognized it, too. And how interesting that when they finally did have sex for the first time, it was a quickie, and he was completely in charge.
JB: LOL, yeah, that scene was fabulous. And oh-so-funny when Jules gave Decker pointers on setting his office back to rights.
LS: Oh yeah. That was hilarious. A bit squicky, though, when the first thing he noticed was the smell. An ewww moment for me.
JB: Thought this one was very much like the last--Into The Fire. With a bazillion storylines all happening within or under one threat. As opposed to previous installments that featured one primary romance against the backdrop of a historical romance. I like it either way.
LS: Now, see? I felt that this one was far more controlled than Into the Fire, with far fewer storylines happening. Yes, there were several different threads happening, but they were all working toward the same goal. With Into the Fire, I felt like I never had a clue as to what anyone was working on, or how it tied into the main goal for the team. Here, I always knew what the main goal was, and where they were headed. I felt like I didn't need to even read the headers at the top of the vignettes that tell you the place and time. I could follow it that well. SO not the case with Into the Fire.
JB: True, true. In that sense, this was more cohesive than Into The Fire.
JB: Have to say I missed Izzy here.
LS: I was ok without him, because I think had he made an appearance, we would have heard about Eden, and lord knows I could have done without that whiny baby. And I do mean baby. LMAO! Yeah, Into the Fire left a bad taste in my mouth, obviously.
JB: LOL! That is one challenge I'm looking forward to--watching Brockmann either turn that relationship upside down (emptying it out) or making it work, for Izzy, Eden and readers. As one reviewer (at DA) pointed out, Brockmann extends some pretty damn long story arcs, and Izzy's is one of those I'm particularly fond of. And, like that of Decker and Sophia, there is no telling how she will unfold this SEAL's HEA.
JB: Also have to say I prefer the international threats more than the domestic ones. Whack jobs in the role of serial killers or cult leaders seem like they should be small potatoes for Brockmann's SEALS and Troubleshooters. And the Agency? Not convincing. Far too much like the formulaic constructs I see in Kent or Croft's books. Just there to serve other plot points in the book(s). Meh.
LS: Agree here, too. I mentioned this one in my FoN review as well. I like it when they have to go wheels up. Agree about The Agency, too. It seems far too cloak and dagger 'bad guy' for Brockmann. Her bad guys are in your face terrorists who are out to get the US. Bottom line. And once again, that's what makes me miss the SEAL stories. Although I have to say, because this one seemed a lot more relationship-driven, I didn't miss them as much as usual. Didn't you think this book seemed a lot more relationship-driven and less action-oriented? Yes, they're all relationship-driven, but this one seemed in particular to be a grown up relationship book. And I was so happy to see Jimmy and Tess finally be settled, too.
JB: Agree--much more about the relationships here. All of them, LOL. Sam and Alyssa. Jules and Robin. Nash and Tess. Dave and Sophia. Decker and Tracy. I leave anyone out?
LS: Nope. Got 'em all, I think, LOL.
JB: SuperDave worked for me too. Just fine.
LS: Yup. Agree. Although I read a review (can't remember whose) that said his internal conflict and insecurity went on too long. Yeah, I thought that maybe he should have let the Decker thing go sooner, but I thought he was pretty secure about who he was internally. It was Sophia that needed to get on board with who Dave was. Have I mentioned that I'm not a huge fan of Sophia?
JB: LOL, errr, you might have mentioned it once or twice.
JB: Sam worked real well for me too. It was a real pleasure spending time with him again.
LS: It was great seeing him, and listening to his "Sam" words of wisdom. I found it interesting how little interaction we actually witnessed between him and Alyssa, though. Didn't you find that odd? I mean, she was there practically the entire time. Maybe Brockmann felt they would take the focus off of Jimmy and Tess if she showed them together, but still... I found it strange that we saw them together hardly at all.
JB: I didn't notice that. Guess I made the unconscious assumption or decision that she was all about work while there. She with the more perimeter concerns and him with the babysitting duties--watching over both Ash and Nash.
JB: Oh, there is one more thing. Brockmann's use of profanity. I love it, LOL. Just love it. And remember my faves, like when Decker thinks to himself "...sure as double-fuck not going..." as opposed to the old "...sure as hell not going..." These guys all carry that extra dose of latent adolescence and profanity that makes me laugh. And never offends.
LS: Totally agree. Never offends. Love words like Absofuckinglutely. It's a staple for these types of characters now. And the genre is better for it.
So there you have it. Our thoughts on Dark of Night. We could have gone on forever. How do they jive with yours?