I promise this isn’t a post in which I whine about reviews. Much the opposite, in fact.

I really, truly appreciate it when readers take the time to write reviews of my books. You don’t have to. You certainly don’t owe it to me. Yet some of you do make that extra effort, and your reviews not only help guide potential readers but also give me a sense of what works and what doesn’t. And let’s be honest: good reviews make me feel good.

I like how reviews can remind me of how much tastes vary. Consider these two real excerpts:

  • It was a bit fluffy for my taste. I enjoy a bit more struggle and angst but I enjoyed it.
  • I found this book to be enjoyable but it’s pretty hardcore.

These are from different people’s reviews of the same book. And they’re both right because they’re both talking about what pleases them–and that varies.

Some reviews make me laugh, like the one that noted that characters in my books pee too much (do they?) or the one that complained that a Prius is a poser car and not really eco-friendly. Some make me give an evil laugh, like the ones that said I made them cry or kept them up way past their bedtime (mwah-hah-hah!). Some touch my heart, like the ones that talk about how something in my story was personally meaningful to the reader.

Some reviews are incredibly thoughtful, and I especially love it when I can tell a reader gets it, that some theme or allusion I wanted to make was clear to someone else. I also love it when reviewers find my books–or parts of them, anyway–funny. And of course I’m thrilled when reviewers say they fell in love with my characters, because so have I.

I know we’re all busy. Maybe some of you wrongly believe you don’t have anything useful to say about a book you’ve read. But really, do an author a favor–next time you read, leave a review. Thank you!

As a reader, do you find reviews helpful? What information is most useful to you?

2 thoughts on “Reviews”

  1. I do find reviews helpful, but I comb them for specific information. For instance, happy endings are essential, even if it’s just a happy for now. For many years, my romance needs were met by movies. Upon discovering gay cinema, it was readily apparent that the older films were shaped by the writer’s experiences, which meant tragic endings (when the things were watchable, mind). That experience with gay movies soured me on the genre for some time, plus it helps that I fell in love myself and married him. That was 17 years ago.

    Anyway. It’s important to me to avoid certain sexual kinks like BDSM, Dom/Sub, rape fantasies to name a few. So I scan the reviews for any indication of these things. Another example of what I look for is… well… I don’t enjoy reading about rich people, partly because wealth is written as some pinnacle of achievement in life and partly because I just can’t connect with that sort of thing. So if the blurb or cover indicate such content, I’ll scan reviews for that.

    As harsh as this may sound, I’ve found the readers of Amazon, or at least those who leave reviews, have rather low standards when it comes to their expectations for the sophistication of the writing and the skill of an author. As such, the star-rankings carry next-to-no value for me. In other words, neither their praise nor condemnations mean much to me.

    In short, I use reviews to suss out if there is objectionable content.

    That said, and while on the topic of reviews, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for writing Rattlesnake. I’ve read about a dozen romance novels this year and Rattlesnake one of the best two I’ve read in that time. You prose is next-of-kin to portraiture and the quality of your work is refreshing to the point that it gives me faith to keep looking for the roses among the thorns here at Amazon.

    Tales about two broken guys (who aren’t broken at all), two imperfect men who scratch out something perfect for them have always attracted me because these stories reflect my own. Rattlesnake does this easily and in a captivating way. Jimmy is complex and fleshed out. His story moved me not only because of how fleshed out he is, but also because I know what it is like to live without the support of the family into which one is born for as far back as memory extends. The kind of depth you layered into Jimmy is something to behold. This same charactization mastery is how I was able to connect with Shane. Even though I’ve no personal way in with him, the elegance with which you brought him to life bridge that divide in a way that made me feel what he was feeling.

    The entire world is rich with fascinating places, people and history that makes me wish I could visit Rattlesnake to soak in the atmosphere and get to know it’s inhabitants. And the way you brought the story full circle with that ending. I did not see that coming! When Shane started the music… The first line he speaks… I just fell apart. Glorious. As the kids say on Tumblr, I was not prepared! As crying goes, I’m an easy mark and cried with and for our heroes many times. But having to put the book down just for a moment to collect myself? That takes a special kind of writer. One who has the talent to brilliantly conceive and execute their ideas. And that’s you.

    Finally, I would just like to say that reading romance is a way of reminding myself of what I found 17 years ago, of what I still have today. Of just how precious this pull between myself and the man I love actually is. They remind me to never take for granted the life we’ve built together or the challenges we’ve overcome, of the beauty in the fusion of two people. That we are a team and we’re going to be OK no matter what comes our way. That as long as one of us has strength to get to our feet, the other will never stand alone.

    So, thanks again for helping me to keep that front-of-mind.

    1. Thank for taking the time to write such a thoughtful comment, Tommy! You made some great points about the value of reviews.

      And I have to say, I am so happy we’ve moved beyond the point where stories about LGBT people all have tragic endings. One of the points I try to make in my stories is that real, lasting love is possible for everyone, Not to sound too trite, everyone deserves a happy ending. And I’m so glad you’ve found yours.

      Thanks so much, too, for the lovely comments on Rattlesnake. Those people and places are very real to me, so it makes me wonderfully happy when they resonate for other people.

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