Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My Apology to Betsy Brannon Green

by Julie Coulter Bellon

I owe an apology to Betsy Brannon Green.

I am a big fan of hers and own all of her books. I loved Miss Eugenia and the people around her that starred in the Haggerty mysteries, but I picked up the first book in Betsy’s new series with an open mind. Hazardous Duty was something totally different. The book hooked me from the first page and I couldn’t put it down. I had to see how the hero and heroine would get together after suffering through the grief of a separation, with one of them being widowed and their daughter kidnapped, and the scars left after one of them was tortured in a prison. I was coming close to the end, with maybe ten pages left and I seriously wondered to myself, “how is she going to wrap this up in such a short time.” The answer was, she didn’t. She left us hanging for the first time ever. I kept turning that last page to see if it was a mistake or a joke, but it wasn’t. There wasn’t anything else there.

Betsy Brannon Green had become a cliffhanger writer and I didn’t like it. At all. I told my husband I couldn’t believe it. Every other book she’d ever written had a great ending, a closure ending. And she tricked me with this one being a cliffhanger.

Well, when the next one came out, for the first time ever, I didn’t rush out and buy a Betsy Brannon Green book. I waited to see what reviews it got and if the ending was satisfying. I had heard pre-release people say that it wasn’t going to be as big of a cliffhanger as the first, so I was hopeful. But then the reviews started coming in that said it was a bigger cliffhanger than the first and I was cranky about that. I told myself I wasn’t going to read it, then, until the third and I hoped, final, book came out. But that was hard. I wanted to find out what happened, but didn’t want to be left hanging. Every time I entered a Seagull bookstore the employees gushed over the book, couldn’t believe I hadn’t read it, and told me I needed to get it right away. My hand twitched on my purse, the urge to pull out the debit card so strong I didn’t know if I could withstand it. But I did. I waited until two months before the next book was scheduled to come out, and then I bought it. I sat down and read it in a day, smiling to myself that even though I knew the ending was going to leave me hanging, I only had two months to wait before the end.

Or so I thought.

The release date for the third book was put back twice and so my brilliant plan had not worked. But two weeks ago, Code of Honor was finally released and you can bet your boots I was at the store opening day to buy it.

I read the first chapters and smiled. Betsy had made it worth the wait. There were her trademark twists and turns, always keeping the reader off balance. Savannah, the heroine, took more of a take charge role this time, and the emotions and tension fairly leapt off the page. I was a tad perturbed when the hero seemed more prickly than usual, but really, it was more realistic that he was that way, I suppose. If I had one tiny criticism, it would have been to make Dane, the hero, just the tiniest bit more gentle, but I do understand why he wasn’t and the ending more than made up for it. It was sigh-worthy.

Code of Honor also showcased the supporting characters we've come to love. They were so endearing and while I’ve been partial to Doc in the past, this time Steamer stole the show with his fashion choices and quick comebacks from all the teasing he endured from the rest of the team. There were also two new additions to the team in this book, and Betsy made them fit in as though they’d always been there. It was a great ending to the series, with surprises throughout the entire thing. I definitely shut the book with a sigh and a smile.

But then I remembered my crankiness at the ending of the first two books and I felt sheepish. So, Betsy Brannon Green, if you are reading this blog (she probably doesn’t, since she's busy writing her amazing books, but just in case) I owe you an apology. I’m sorry for every cranky thought I had about you and your cliffhangers. You delivered in the end and I am so glad. Please never do a cliffhanger series again. But, if you do, I’ll try very hard not to let cranky thoughts enter my mind and remember that, in the end, it was all worth it.

Sincerely, Julie Bellon

P.S. Here is the backliner for Code of Honor. If you haven’t read this series, I heartily recommend it.

Savannah McLaughlin has every reason to be afraid of the obsessed man behind the surgical mask. The injuries she has suffered while jumping from a moving car are nothing compared to the anguish she will have to endure at the hands of Mario Ferrante. She knows she must escape from the man who has a seemingly endless vendetta against Savannah and Major Christopher Dane. What she doesn’t know is that Major Dane---who has always avoided commitment---has finally declared his feelings for her in a dramatic way by deliberately ransoming himself for her freedom.

Now it’s up to Savannah and Dane’s team of expert misfits to rescue Dane. But success will require more than brute force. So the team designs an elaborate plan to bring Ferrante to justice and free Dane. But will the recruitment of an unlikely ally doom the most important mission of Savannah’s life? Will a shocking secret keep Savannah from trusting the man she loves?

Full of twists and turns, action and romantic tension, Code of Honor will keep you guessing and cheering for Betsy Brannon Green’s unlikely heroine.

Published by Covenant Communications, 216 pages.


At 6/18/2009 3:20 PM, Blogger Anna said...

I'm not the biggest fan of cliffhangers. But if the story is good enough than I don't mind as much. The best cliffhangers though are ones that wrap up most stuff and slightly lead you into the next one. Finish it enough to satisfy, but leave enough open to curiosity.

At 6/18/2009 3:44 PM, Blogger Jennie said...

No fair, Julie. My copy is on backorder!

At 6/18/2009 4:57 PM, Blogger The Green Family said...

I'm not a fan of cliffhangers either! I'm so sorry Julie and all my other readers! But when I began this series I wanted to create a very complicated character (Dane) and in doing so I knew I couldn't resolve all his issues in one book and keep any credibility. I didn't consider Hazardous Duty a cliffhanger really - the relationship just wasn't resolved. And since I did an epilogue - leading readers into the next book - I hoped they'd forgive me. I got a lot of complaints about that and really meant to end Above and Beyond more completely (if temporarily). But when I reached the end - I just couldn't help myself. I am so glad that you felt everything was resolved satisfactorily with Code of Honor. It was such a fun series and even though I'm 'through' I've left a door open by introducing Dane's sister. We might delve into her life a little at some point in the future (and get an update on Dane and Savannah and Caroline and who knows who else???)

Thanks so much for your kind review, Julie. Coming from someone as accomplished as you - it means a lot.


At 6/18/2009 6:18 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Holy cow, Betsy Brannon Green left a comment on my blog! Thank you Betsy for being so gracious and I hope you accept my apology. You certainly don't have to explain yourself to me. You are such an amazing person and writer and I think you did create complicated characters that needed more than one book. You certainly gave your audience their money's worth! Although I'm intrigued by the sister idea now. I love the idea of an update on Dane, Savannah and Caroline. I'd love to know how they adjust to their new life. ;) Thanks again for writing such a great story and for commenting on my blog.

Jennie, I feel so sorry for you. Backorder stinks.

Anna, I agree with you. Have you read the Hazardous Duty series?

At 6/18/2009 6:46 PM, Blogger L.T. Elliot said...

Well would you look at that, Julie. Besty visited, loved your review, and you're both happy! This is possibly the coolest thing I've read all day! Kudos to Betsy for being so awesome about a review and Kudos to you, Julie for giving an honest (and interesting) review!

Cliffhangers don't bug me much because I love series. I love to know there's more coming. Sure, the wait is hard, but I always feel like I have that much more time to spend with a beloved friend. Write on, all you awesome writers!

At 6/18/2009 6:57 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

So, the question I have for you Julie, is whether the feeling of unfinishedness (?) gave you a greater need to get the next book.

Harry Potter books, for example, did not generally end in cliffhangers, but everyone wanted the next book to see how the story would go. It sounds like you experienced that same longing, but you really didn't need the uncertain ending, right? As readers (or TV watchers), who actually enjoys a cliffhanger?

I don't know. It doesn't seem like the bad feelings of your audience are worth the potential desire to read the next. (In my opinion. After all, I've sold exactly 0 books.)

At 6/18/2009 8:26 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Jon, I think that is what bothers me about cliffhangers is the feeling of unfinishedness. I like the feeling of closure at the end of the book. So when there wasn't one and I had to wait a year or more to get the next book, I was cranky. But I'm glad to get the final book in the series and feel that finished feeling finally, so yes, in that respect I did feel a need to get the next book. Very insightful of you!

L.T. you are such a sweet person. Thank you! And you know, come to think of it, it is nice to have more story with beloved characters sometimes, so maybe cliffhanger books could be worth it.

At 6/18/2009 11:41 PM, Blogger Anna said...

I've read the first two. Couldn't put either one down. I haven't read a book by Betsy Brannon Green that I haven't liked. There are some authors that you can buy the book and not have read any reviews and know you'll love it. She is one of them for me.

At 6/26/2009 2:29 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

I have to agree. I LOVE Betsy Brannon Green and I was shocked that she had a cliff-hanger ending. It was worth it though.

At 7/23/2009 7:06 PM, Anonymous Linda Weaver Clarke said...

Oh my! When I came upon this blog, I was so intrigued by it. I'm a definite fan of Betsy's. The only thing I can say is that these last three books in a series, the Duty series I think they're called, is one of her best works. Not that I don't love the others, but this one had something that way outdid anything she's written. Yes, it had adventure, romance, intrigue, but there was something in these 3 stories that really got to me. Betsy's development of her characters are great and her twists and turns were wonderful. Since the 3 books were so far apart, I had to read the first book again before I read the second. And I had to read the second book again before I could read the third. The only reason being that I couldn't remember all the important details that might be in the following book. I can tell you this. I loved each book even better after reading it a second time. I thought that was really something. I enjoyed reading this blog. It was great!


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