Saturday, August 6, 2011

Too Romantic For Romance?

I'm talking about reviews today because I'm often puzzled by them.

Overall, most of the reviews of my titles have been positive, written by people who understand and enjoy the story. I thank all those who have enjoyed my work enough to give me a good review and I treasure those.  It's balm to a writer's heart when someone "gets" your story, understand and appreciates your characters.       

Sometimes, however, I get reviews that leave me scratching my head and wondering just what the hell book the reviewer read and thought it was mine.  Or curious as to whether or not the book was read or just skimmed.  And it's not just a personal quirk - I've had other authors speculate the same.

I'm not going to whine and moan here or name any names or sites.   My skin has grown in pretty darn thick and so the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune don't really sting.   They do, however, puzzle.

In recent days I've had two different reviews on two seperate books from different sites that seemed to think that my romance novels were - gasp - too romantic.   Reviewers have picked at the idea of love or bitched that the interaction between the hero and heroine is too sweet, too caring, too whatever.  Lines like "this book might please hopeless romantics" make me laugh out loud.  

See I had this wild, insane notion that people read romance because they believe in love....that they enjoy the sweet tenderness of a good relationship but, hey, maybe not.   Readers on the street don't seem to complain about this distressing idea - they like this odd notion that maybe people can love each other. 

Some don't see to get life out here in the fly over zone either.   Some don't seem to get the sassy Texas talk that my gal Cara spins in the Love Covenant series from Evernight Publishing or the depiction of life in these rural states that must be foreign to them like Missouri and Arkansas.

I always wonder when words are used when the woman who made Will a vampire centuries ago is referred to as his "sire".   Uh, that old word means "father".  In animal breeding, sire is the dad, the dam is the mom.   Sallie Hawkins is neither and just personally I don't think "sire" fits but oh, well, I'm just the author.

I've had readers who adored Will's Shakespeare quotes and reviewers who thought the quotes came from the Bible.  There are a few actual Bible quotes sprinkled here and there, not in a religious sense, and I had a reviewer who bitched about too many Bible quotes as if I tried to preach to them.  Believe me, I'm the least likely preacher or person to attempt to convert anyone to anything.

I'm not really bitching here but just wondering what goes into some people's minds and emerges as something else.

And the really funny thing is that although I love a good review and share them around, I don't really see a direct connection between readers who buy my books and reviews.   I know that as a reader, I may read some reviews but the real reason I buy any book is that it appeals to me.  I'm much more likely to buy a book based on an excerpt that intrigues me or because of a blurb that got me interested

There are a lot of people out there in this world and they all have different tastes.  We come from different backgrounds, varied experiences, and our preferences are never going to match.  Name any big best selling author and you'll find, easy enough, detractors who hate the author's work and make little of it.   Same goes for anything I could name - shampoo brands, fast food chains, fashion designers, televsion programs, movies, perfumes, shaving cream, soap, dish washing liquid, and so much more.

Example - I like Dawn dish soap.  I think it cleans well, cuts through grease, and so I buy Dawn to wash my dishes.   I have no doubt that some consumers out there hate Dawn, don't think it works and they buy Joy or the store brand or Palmolive.

I don't expect the world at large to buy Dawn because I use it and like it.   I also don't expect to be judged or put down because I do.

So I don't expect the wide world to embrace every book I write or story I tell.   I am under no illusions that every reader may not fall in love with my heroes or heroines or even understand them.  I know that how each of us feels about love varies from one person to another and a lot of that comes out of our own experience.

Linda Rondstadt sang a song with some lines that sum up how many feel, how most of us have felt at one time or another "I've been cheated, been mistreated, when will I be loved?"

I, however, truly do believe in the power of love.  I've seen it - I live it.  Maybe if I could let someone walk a mile in my moccasins or share some memories with a Vulcan mind meld like Mr. Spock of
Star Trek fame those who appear blind might see.  

Then they might experience love through the eyes of a thirteen year old girl kneeling in the rubble of her tornado destroyed home that watched her mother run down a gravel road to embrace that girl's father when he appeared, injured but alive.   Maybe they could weep with me when I read the letter from thirty years ago from an Irishman from Derry written in Irish that told me that he couldn't marry me for reasons that include the Troubles in the Six Counties but that it wasn't me, that he would never marry and remember.  He never has wed and I keep him in my heart, my thoughts, and my prayers.   They might not believe the high school boyfriend who told my husband "I love Lee Ann - I always have and I still do"....and he meant it.  I could write pages about real life love between relatives, friends, people I know, those I've seen.

Maybe you have to be a hopeless romantic to be married for 17 years and still love your husband.  There's the wild rush of first love but then there's love in the long haul, the kind of love that survives through all those things you mention in most wedding vows....trouble, poverty, loss of family members, and so much more.

So I believe in the power of love and I write about.

If people don't get that, maybe they shouldn't be reading romance after all.


  1. LeeAnn- I do reviews for four sites- and I read all the books completely, test the products or use the item. Then give an unbiased review. I also, as an author, have seen some reviews that make my mouth drop- You know the reviewer hasn't read the book-
    Dawne P

  2. Lee Ann- I've been there on the reviews, but the end of this brought tears to my eyes, as one believer in love to another, I say, GREAT POST!


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