Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sam and Alyssa, Alyssa and Sam...

I haven't read anything new since I finished Gone too Far last Thursday. I've got Out of Control and Flashpoint on my bed table, but I find myself unable to start them. I find myself feeling a little bit wistful. I read these books too fast, I fear. Because now I have to say goodbye to Sam and Alyssa. It's been a long and bumpy road, and I was right there with ya, guys. Best wishes and all that, but now I must settle for cameo appearances and mentions by other, less interesting characters. Ho-hum. I'm just not ready to continue on in a Sam and Alyssa-less SB world.

Yes, I'm afraid it's true, I'm now Suzanne Brockmann's bitch. It reminds me of J.R. Ward, where I can find so many things wrong with the books, yet I'm hanging on every word and desperate for more. I could nitpick these books to death (there were a number of small discrepancies and WTF? moments that took me out of the moment), I wasn't a big fan of the WWII subplots, there were times when the stories dragged, and a number of characters (see last post) that I wanted to bitchslap like Cher in Moonstruck ("snap out of it!"). And those were the characters I liked! Some of the love stories I found clunky. But Brockmann dragged me in. I lapped up every word, and when I finished one I picked up the next right away.

I've been trying to decide how to do this post. Every time I've been in the mood to blog this week, blogger hasn't been working, compounding the problem. So I've just decided to be my usual rambly, long winded, slightly unhinged self. This post will not so much be a straight up review as a series of observations. If you've read it, you'll get it, if not, hopefully your interest will be piqued. Or maybe you'll think it sounds like a pile of crap. Either way, I ain't going to sweat it. I'll provide links for each book for a better summary and excerpt, and if you're interested in reading more, you can find a 53 page PDF guide on the front page of Suzanne Brockmann's Website, which gives loads of info about the books. Is it just me, or should she really do something about her site? It looks like a middle school class project or something. Now, onto the books.

The Defiant Hero is the first one I read, but is actually the second one in the series. It is the story of Navy SEAL Lt.(jg) John Nilsson and translator Meg Moore, who once had a brief friendship (that didn't turn into anything more b/c of Meg's marriage), who are reunited under extreme circumstances. Meg's daughter and grandmother have been kidnapped by terrorists, and if she wants to get them back she has to grab a terrorist leader who is posing as a diplomat. Or something. I'm kinda fuzzy on the details. Did quite a bit of skimming on this one.

Observations: KristieJ warned me that Meg was her choice for worst heroine evah, and she is definitely a contender. I understand that she's been hurt in the past, and that she is in an extremely difficult situation,and determined to protect her family but her repeated refusal of help from Nils, who she had brought into the situation, started to grate. She kept flying off back into danger. Gee-zus, he's a Navy SEAL. They're, like, specially trained and shit. She? Is a translator. Maybe he could give her some tips or something, that's all I'm saying. John Nilsson is an archetypal Suzanne Brockmann hero: handsome, intelligent, capable, romantic and kinda masochistic. I'm serious. Brockmann's heroes seem to like being abused by mean women. To different degrees. There's a WWII subplot of course, because there are in all of these books for some reason. I find the WWII plots harmless, but not all that interesting either, and I just breeze through them to get back to the main plot. This one was decent, about Meg's grandmother and her brother's tutor and Dunkirk, but who really cares? I've spent enough time talking about this book, which was just ok. Let's talk about the most interesting stuff.

That's right, Sam and Alyssa. So we've got Ensign Roger "Sam" Starrett and FBI Agent Alyssa Locke, who got off on the wrong foot in The Unsung Hero, which I haven't read. Sam's a good ol' boy from Texas: arrogant, cocksure and loud (and foul) mouthed. Alyssa's somewhat too good to be true: in great physical shape, super intelligent and confident, ace sharp shooter and extremely beautiful (part African American, part Hispanic, part White). A former Naval officer herself, she resigned her commission, chafing at the restrictions placed on her due to gender. Now with the FBI, Alyssa comes off as cold and bitchy, pretty much because she's hyperaware that as a gorgeous woman of color, she's going to be looked at differently, and judged differently. She's got to show no weakness in order to be seen as the best of the best. Alyssa has dismissed Sam as a rednecked, bigoted idiot and despises him. Sam totally digs Alyssa, but then she needles him and he finds himself shooting his mouth off and completely playing into her preconceived notions about him. The sparks fly whenever these two meet, and, as you know, where there's smoke, there's fire, so after celebratory whiskey, you can guess what happens. That's right, handcuffs, chocolate syrup and hot, hot sex. And angst, regrets and anger the morning after. A totally, hot glorious mess, which saved the book for me. Alyssa comes off as a bit too mean and too bitchy (though I get where she's coming from). Sam can be obnoxious, but it's pretty clear that he's way into Alyssa and just can't help reacting to her. I love him (but more on that later) I don't even know why I loved this subplot so much. I mean please, drunken one-night stands betwen two people who don't like each other, but these two just grabbed me.

Next up, Over the Edge. Observations: This one was a lot better. Our intrepid hero and heroine are Naval Reserve Lt. Teri Howe, a pilot, and Seal Senior Chief Stan Wolchonok (what a great romance hero name), a strong, steady, very nice guy. Teri was a very different heroine from Meg. She's had a troubled past, but once she realizes that she wants Stan, she goes right after him. Stan the one resisting, because he's not that good looking or he wouldn't be good for her or some such hogwash. But I got over it, because everything just gelled in this one much better. The "action" plot was much better, a hostage situation on the plane. It kept me glued. I really liked Gina Vitagliano, the hostage who dealt with the FBI. Only a college student, she had an intelligence and grace about her, lacked that grating quality of some of SB's other female characters. We also get Max Bhagat, top FBI negotiator and Alyssa's boss. Intriguing character as well. I should mention Jules Cassidy, Alyssa's flaming gay partner, who in the great tradition of gay best friends, is a very nice guy and a good listener. Luckily for him and us, he gets his own romance down the line and I hear it's some good shit.

And of course, Sam and Alyssa. Sam's been pining for Alyssa for the last six months. Alyssa is wracked with guilt and shame over sleeping with Sam, and is none too pleased to find that she's still attracted to him. So she's gets drunk with some Brits and booty calls him late at night!! Kind of a bitch move, but again, a hot scene. More regrets and recriminations the next morning. Poor angry Alyssa. Poor sad Sam. After a conversation with the gay and therefore wise Jules, Sam decides to tell Alyssa about his feelings. Just when it seems that these two crazy kids might stop with the misguided (but really, really awesome) sex, and work towards a real relationship, we all get blindsided. In an effort to forget Alyssa, Sam had engaged in a brief affair with a dumb, stacked SEAL groupie. Oops, she's pregnant! Sorry Alyssa, Sam's going to do the right thing and marry this girl, who he doesn't give a damn about. WTF!!! WTF!! Stupid, stupid, stupid! Stop it Sam, just stop it! Seriously, this should all have me clawing out my eyes in anger and frustration, but instead I was verklempt. Brockmann has me totally buying into the "love story" of these two, which so far is just a case of good chemistry and drunken sex, pretty much. Damn you SB, for making me love them.

Oh yeah, and there's a WWII subplot about Denmark and the Nazis. Is there anyone out there who really loves these subplots? Who feels that they bring something to the table? I can't be bothered. They aren't bad, but they're taking up valuable page time. I'm going to stop here, because I wrote way more than I was planning to. What a surprise. Will pick up tomorrow.


Nicole said...

What number book is this in the series? I have a few of them, but I have been weary of starting the series. I've heard great things and bad things about the series. So hmmm, we'll see.

Rowena said...

I feel your pain, there were plenty I didnt like about this series but not enough to stop reading them, and not enough to love them to death...LOL. And I totally know how you feel about missing Sam and Alyssa, not a day goes by that I wish I could read their story all over again for the FIRST TIME! *sigh*

Although, you haven't read Out of Control yet? Girl get on that one, it's a good one...Wildcard is HILARIOUS and she totally redeems him from Over the Edge, LOVE Wildcard!

Kristie (J) said...

Unfortunately I didn't get to the hot sex scene between Sam & Alyssa in The Defiant Hero - either that or I was in too much pain from Meg. I had to laugh reading your reviews of these one 'cause even though it's obvious you love them, just hearing about them pushed so many of my buttons. I know Brockman is universally adored despite her really bad website and up until TDH I was in that number, but man oh man, Meg did such a number on me. And then I read not long after that that Meg was one of Brockman's favourite heroines and I couldn't help but thinking WTF? She just got on every last nerve I had. Yes - I know she was doing what she was doing 'cause she was out of control worried about her daughter, but Nils/John (and I found that weird to - 2 different names) was a SEAL for pete's sake!! A SEAL who specializes in JUST THAT VERY THING! I thought she was brilliant the way she got him to help - and then completely ignored every thing he did to try and help her!! I do have Out of Control and Over the Edge but still haven't been able to bring myself to read them. And the little bit I did read of Alyssa - she was just too angry for me and Sam - he was just a prime jerk!

Mailyn said...

I've heard of this woman but I've never read her. From your review I don't think I could without throwing the book across the room. LOL :-)

C2 said...

I agree with you on sooo many points. :o) Yes, there are things that just completely jar or are annoying when reading Suz's books but I love them all the same! LOL And Sam...oh how I love Sam! Alyssa? Well, she grew on me. I almost always like Suz's heroes better than her heroines and I'm not sure why. Her supporting female characters don't annoy me but...well, I won't ramble and take up comment space.

Briefly - I don't usually like the WWII subplots (except in Hot Target, which you haven't read worked quite well, I thought). And I LOVE Jules more than I can explain!! There might be some people who can vouch for that...I might have mentioned it sometime. :-D

Devon said...

Jazz--I reviewed 2 & 3. Never read 1, but I never felt like I should've. This is definitely a love'em or hate 'em series. For me there was just something really compelling about them, despite the fact that I thought there was a lot of stupid stuff.

Dylan--I skipped Out of Control, b/c it wasn't at the library when I looked, and I just couldn't wait for it. I have it now and will definitely be reading.

Kristie--Meg's behavior was just absurd after awhile. I just don't understand how she could think that John/Nils wouldn't be of any help, being a Navy SEAL, trained to deal with counterterrorism. Hmpf. Over the Edge is tons better.

Mailyn-Something tells me that you'd throw these books across the room, too. :) But I guess you never know, b/c I didn't think I'd like 'em.

C2--There's just something about these books isn't there? The whole time I was reading the Sam and Alyssa stuff, I was like, why do I love these two so much? But I just do. I have loved every single SB hero. I think that SB sets out to write strong, independent heroines, but they can come off as abrasive or, as Holly suggests, having penis envy instead. Just a little too angry or too tough, where it comes off as obnoxiousness instead of strength.

dancechica said...

You really are on a SB glom, aren't you? :-P

Well, I have the first in her Navy series in my TBR pile but something just keeps stopping me from picking them up even though I hear so many people love her work. Like something in me just keeps saying I won't like them. lol. Ah, well. I got the first book from the UBS so if I don't it that's okay...

Oh and it's not just you about the site. I won't even go there 'cause it makes my computer freeze up!

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