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Decent But a Little Bit of a Let Down
on March 23, 2011
I'll start with non spoiler generalities. Then I'll separate some spoilerish things below.
In general the book was well written with good pacing. The dialog was good as I've come to expect from SB. Both Izzy and Dan kept their male distinctive voices. This is of course not a stand alone novel and should not be read without having read at least the last 2 books before this one.
I feel a little bit let down after reading this book. Is it because I expected too much? I don't think so. Suzanne Brockmann can really rock my world with her writing and I continually reread novels in both of her SEAL series. The book is much more character driven than action driven. It is not nearly as suspenseful as others in this series. It's pretty much a book about people working things out. It's also quite a bit preachy about how gays are people too. (I expanded on that much more below if you want to read some spoilers.)
I think the biggest thing I had against it was that it lacked any "grand passion." There weren't any really big emotional moments in it.
Izzy has been my favorite character throughout the Troubleshooters series. I kind of think he deserved a better heroine than Eden. She was too young for him. Even though there was a bigger age difference between Max and Gina, (Breaking Point) it seemed to work better because Gina was much more adult. And there was passion there. Gina vehemently wanted/loved Max. Max was all angsty in love with Gina. Lots of passion. Maybe if Izzy and Eden's story had played out over several years instead of 8 months to allow her to grow up more I might have liked it better.
Danny was such a complex character throughout the series. I think he did deserve Jenni and she was great for him but he didn't really have room to shine here. I would have liked to see him have his own book.
SOME SPOILERS BELOW: I don't give away any action plot points just some thoughts on how relationships played out / were expressed. Still there's your warning.
Izzy spent most of the book not trusting Eden and thinking she was just using him so he just thought "fine I'll 'do' her until she leaves. I might as well get laid since I'm going to get hurt." I guess it lacked that 'never give up' component that I've seen in other SB heroes and I certainly expected from Izzy. So that Navy SEAL tenacity was just missing. Eden spends most of the book thinking that Izzy just wants her for sex.
We did get a much more in depth look at Eden's background and what made her the ways she was. So a few more years of growing and she would have been a much more interesting character. There's a much bigger difference between 19 and 30 than there is between say 25 and 36. When they did finally trust each other enough to accept the other loved them, the scenes were very short encompassing a few sentences, maybe 20 all told. They were pretty rushed also, mixed in the action scenes.
That's not a lot of emotional payoff for the reader who has stuck with this particular story for 4 years and 3 books. I think it's valid to expect a little more since in real life, when people figure out they love each other, there is usually a compulsion to go over the issue and past happenings with each other while applying the filter of the new understanding. There were also a few elements that were left dangling which pertained to their relationship during the time they were apart that seemed as if the author didn't know what to do with ideas she had set up in other books so basically glossed over them.
Danny and Jenni's story ended here also. I felt like they were given short shrift. Their thoughts and emotions were left up to the reader's imagination quite a bit. There were moments that I really enjoyed for example when Danny tells Eden that Jenni is training him to be human and kisses are his reward for doing that right things. Danny is still an ass but he does learn. Jenni is pretty much a cipher/straight man throughout the book. Here again, there was a lack of passion. I think we needed to see a bit more of the thought processes of the two of them. It was more implied than shown. Danny keeps proposing and Jenni keeps turning him down and you're pretty sure that Danny knows he loves her and you're also pretty sure that Jenni thinks he is only proposing because it's convenient. But I don't want to have to guess. This story line lacked the emotional punch it had in Hot Pursuit, the book where they met.
Danny and Izzy bury the hatchet. Parts were realistic and parts were a little too easy/magical.
There were two suspense plot lines here. Neither of which was particularly suspenseful. I know that SB can write better suspense. (Into the Storm) The bad guys were not developed well enough to make them truly scary. Just the fact that there were two suspense plot lines going diluted the story in my opinion.
Eden and Danny's little brother, Ben, was an interesting character but I think SB used him too much as a bully pulpit about how to treat gays rather than letting him shine as an individual. He seemed to have a lot of spunk and intelligence but he never really got to use it. I think he should have been shown using that intelligence rather than using most of his page time to spout the gay pride party line. I realize than part of the plot involved this anti gay camp and that's fine if that was the main thrust of the suspense but it really wasn't. It just seemed to be in there to 'teach' us neanderthals about gay people. The child slavery thing was more suspenseful and Ben could have used his ingenuity to help with his friend Neesha's dilemma. That's really were I expected the story to go and I think he could have been a strong element there. But instead, I was taught again about being sensitive to gays. In my opinion, there was too much emphasis on Ben being gay. I have three gay cousins and a transsexual cousin and worked for several years for a lesbian small business owner. Being gay/lesbian is not a major topic of their conversations on a daily basis. Their strengths and weaknesses are not based on their gayness. I liked Ben, I loved Jules, perfectly happy to read about them, but I'm not a gay basher and I'm a little bit tired of being preached to.
Maybe SB needs to write a Young Adult novel about Ben and just stick to heterosexual relationships in heterosexual romance novels. I think she could do a great job in a YA about Ben as long as the fact that he was gay wasn't the whole of the story, just as it isn't the whole of a person. If being gay was just a fact and the story was about Ben himself who seemed so real and resourceful when he was not spouting the gay party line.
Bottom line. I waited a long time for this book. I'm glad to finally have it. It wasn't as good as it could have been but it was certainly not a bad book. So definitely read it if you've read the others.