COUNTDOWN #2 – Reviews

So reviews are funny things. On the one hand we’re told to ignore reviews – they’re one person’s opinion, critics have agendas, etc. On the other hand, we write in a vacuum and we’re desperate for pats on the head, validation, and yes, slavish praise, and we’d do just about anything for it.

The problem is, if you believe the good stuff, think it’s gospel, then the bad stuff must be true as well. And trust me, there’s no writer alive who doesn’t remember the nasty reviews and rejections far better than the praise. I can still quote a rejection letter from 1982 (“this is an example of some of the worst writing in the genre”). Of course, I’m healthier than most, so I r
emember a kindly rejection letter from 1979 (“her writing is a huge leap above the average genre writer”). And there was my absolute favorite rejection letter from the early 1990’s, when a current uber-editor, who wanted to publish my romantic suspense, turned down the latest offering (which ended up a RITA finalist) by saying “my respect for Anne Stuart is undimmed.” Meaning “despite this utter pile of crap I still think she might be talented.”

I remember when I got a starred review from PW – I screamed and burst into tears, just like Miss America (it was for BLACK ICE, a book and series I adore). And my second favorite review for the previous book, INTO THE FIRE, another dark book that’s a special favorite of mine, even though it disappeared very quickly. PW said my protagonist’s relationship was twisted and the tale was troubling. Yes!

So I’m sort of in a combination of the two for RUTHLESS, the first of the House of Rohan trilogy. The PW review harked back to INTO THE FIRE. The funny thing is, I thought my hero wasn’t nearly as bad as he liked to think himself, and I was concerned that the sex was too tame.

They call it dark, intense and sometimes unsettling, which is way cool My writing is crisp and quick, and my characters are finely and memorably drawn, but my hero’s often violent and predatory treatment of the heroine goes beyond what most readers will find acceptable. Ha! The reviewer doesn’t think he can be reformed, but it’s otherwise an enjoyable and powerful story.

I kinda think it’s the same reviewer.

But then, God bless RT Book Reviews, with a top pick and the most wonderful review possible. If I could have dreamed of the perfect review, this one is it.

The House of Rohan series begins with a scintillating, titillating, wickedly dark and sensual tale as Stuart brilliantly draws you in like a black widow spider. Intelligent characters swirl around a beautifully rendered, complex plot. The erotic overtones—one masterful scene after another—and dark hero simply add to the delicious story that captures the heart and soul. 4 ½ stars – SCORCHER – TOP PICK!

Now in this case I know the reviewer for PW was simply a fragile flower (almost every reviewer on Amazon says “Anne Stuart isn’t for everybody.”) I don’t write nice books. They’re intense and extreme, and not everyone wants that kind of ride. I wish they did, but I really can’t write any other book but what’s in my heart. When I try I fail, and I’m miserable.

So for now I’ll simply have to go with my own belief in the books. I’m the first to pick apart what works and what doesn’t, but three books work, from the opening of the first to the great last line of the third. And whether I’m … or …, I can be secure in the belief that, for me at least, these books are the perfect fantasy.

PREQUEL ALERT!!!

The prequel for the House of Rohan series, entitled THE DARK HOUSE OF ROHAN, will be available, absolutely free, on eHarlequin.com, Amazon.com and Anne-Stuart.com. I’ll have a direct link next week, but I promise, it’s a treat and you can’t beat the price. Ten thousand words of a decadent hero and a stalwart heroine, sex and forever after commitment. When I’m good I’m good.

So tell me. Do you guys read reviews? Do you care about them? I go online and check Amazon reviews when I’m considering books, and I probably shouldn’t, considering how often they’ve been wrong about me.

Do they make a difference to you?