I'm a bit of a statistics nut. I was looking at the chapter-by-chapter download figures for LiaB, and they actually support something I've long suspected. I believe I did lose some readers as a result of Pat's "dark period" in Chapters 21, 22, and 23. Except for the recently posted Chapters 47 and 48, Chapter 23 is the least-downloaded chapter in the entire story, by a healthy margin. The download numbers rebound somewhat starting with Chapter 24, but never reach the level of the chapters before 21. Enough time has gone by for the comparison to be valid, and it looks like some readers did fly the coop.
My own take on the situation - and the reason behind the "dark period" - was that a character such as Pat, who wasn't crazy about going back in time in the first place, would have to go through a bit of a funk in order to fully appreciate the opportunity he'd been given in being allowed to re-live his life. I theorized earlier in this blog that many of us would probably mess things up to some extent if given a do-over in actuality. Most time-travel stories depict a character who far out-performs the first incarnation of him/herself, and perhaps there's a reason for that. Maybe my scenario is more realistic, but this is, after all, fiction. The point is for the story to be engaging, and realistic and engaging are not necessarily one and the same. As a writer, I'm still grappling with that issue.
Hopefully, those of you who stuck with the story after Chapter 23 (and thanks for doing so) understand now what I was trying to do. I also hope that the readers who gave up on the story back then eventually decide to come back and continue onward.
On another note: Chapter 49 is complete. It's in the hands of my editors, and will be posted very soon.