Notes from a Drama Queen

COUNTDOWN #2 – Reviews

Monday, June 28, 2010

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.


The prequel for the House of Rohan series, entitled THE DARK HOUSE OF ROHAN, will be available, absolutely free, on, and 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?


Blogger Mary Stella said...

I saw the RT review when my magazine arrived last week and squeed on your behalf.

Lately, I mostly read reviews of books by authors I like which, I guess, defeats the purpose of reading reviews because I'll buy the book regardless of what the reviewer says.

If I've heard other buzz about an unknown-to-me-author's book - positive or negative - I'll read reviews to see what else is said. Over the last couple of years, I've discovered more new-to-me authors from online buzz. Thank God for web chatter, or I'd have missed some truly terrific books.

8:49 PM  
Blogger Carla Swafford said...

I wish I could say I ignore all reviews, but some do catch my attention. A friend of mine's first contemporary was trashed in RT and I LOVED that book. In fact, I loaned it out and decided to read it again and bought another copy. So you're right. Some reviewers have a hidden agenda.

Like Mary Stella, I was so happy to see you received 4-1/2 stars. And when I saw "SCORCHER," I thought...of course! The ad Mira did was beautiful too!

Cannot wait to read them all.

9:07 PM  
Blogger Lizzypoo said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:48 PM  
Blogger Lizzypoo said...

Reviews don't sway me. I read a book because I like, not because someone else said it was good/bad. And if I'm a fan of the author, reviews definitely do not matter. I'll read any books they publish whether it's their best or not so great work.

With that said, you're still Queen of the bad boys for me. I have yet to read another author's work that depicts bad boys as well as you do. Every time I read a historical romance where the hero is a suppose to be a "rake" I think, "This guy really has nothing on Killoran..." I really do enjoy the dark tone of your books. There are plenty (tons, really) of lighthearted romances out there, but there just aren't enough dark, intense, and suspense filled ones.

I think I might just have to go reread some of your books again since reading your post made me start thinking of some of my favorites ones.

10:51 PM  
Blogger Brittany said...

Reviews are hit and miss with me I might glance at what readers (hardly reviewers) have to say but in the end it has no affect on what I decide or don't decide to read. I tend to like authors that write dark stories and are viewed as gamble reads. But not all of them are truly wickedly exciting. Sometimes I think they are not quite dark enough(yikes).

I agree with Lizzypoo that you are the queen of bad boys! Some authors try to write bad boys but rarely succeed. What I do love about your bad boys is that they never apologize for being bad which could not be more sexy.

Absolutely nobody compares to you as a writer, your untouchable in my book,lol. So good reviews or bad reviews I'll continue to read your books perhaps in a mysterious,dark cafe to set the mood;)

12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


3:53 AM  
Blogger lora96 said...

Honestly, not really. Of course I've nver published anything--I've no doubt any reviews of myself would be of morbid interest to me. If I read the jacket copy or like the cover and the first few pages, I trust my judgment. I would hate to take an amazon reviewer's opinion to heart and then find out her favorite book was Twilight or something. :P

4:06 PM  
Blogger chai.now1102 said...

I have been following your blog for several years already. I can saftley say I've read almost all of them, but I have never commented before now. I have also read almost every book you have written in the romance genre and I have LOVED every one of them. Your books are the only romance novels I have ever been able to read. Your heros are dark and your heroines are firecrackers. No matter how many times I try to get interested in another author I cannot. There is not enough conflict in most romance novels and most heroines give in too easily to their heros. The thrill of the chase is lost early on in the story.

Basically I just want to say, ignore the nasty reviews and continue to do what your doing because you are a master.

9:36 AM  
Blogger royallyeffed said...

I don't read reviews until after I've read a book. I've tried, in the past, but they usally are so far removed from my experience. Not to mention they can often interfere with a good read, because those perceptions taint the wonder of reading a book for the first time. The reviews seem to reveal more about the Reviewer than the book.

I got a notice from Chapters and "Ruthless" shipped today!!!!!!

10:26 PM  
Blogger Ref Pat said...

Okay, I'm a reviewer and must weigh in here. As a reviewer I hope to make my likes and dislikes known so that readers can then say, "I always agree with her, so I want to read any book she likes/loves" or the opposite--"She's always wrong, so I'll buy this book she hates."

As I see it, that's all the reviewer's job is: to be consistent enough that readers can decide whether to buy or not buy a book from reading the review and knowing the reviewer.

(An aside, I'm enjoying Ruthless so far and have no reason to believe I won't enjoy the entire book. Why did I buy it? A reviewer I usually agree with loved it.)

10:34 PM  
Blogger Robena Grant said...

Krissie!!!!! I read Ruthless on the plane ride home from RWA National (had a three hour wait in Dallas) and have to say it was entirely too sinful. Your hero was a true hedonist, and reading about him, getting to know and understand him was a real treat. You managed to redeem him, which I think was a masterful feat. And I loved the last line and how it wrapped back to earlier scenes. You are the queen of dark romance. I loved it. Can't wait for the next one.

7:21 PM  
Blogger c21joanne said...

Read all of your Rohan books and love them so much. When will more be coming out?


1:29 PM  

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