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A Tale of Two Reviews

So far, I haven't figured out a way to talk about reviews without having people think I'm obsessing over them. I give up, if you want to think I'm still obsessing over what people think of my books I can't stop you. But I can say emphatically that I am not. Take that for what it's worth.

One thing my devastating recent illness did for me was to push a lot of the petty day to day parts of my life to the back burner. Prior to all these hospital stays and surgeries I did spend a lot of time worrying over little things. Reviews and book sales among those things of course. After the hell of the last three and a half months I've pretty much given up on worrying about things like that. Heck, I didn't even look at GoodReads for three months!

Recently I detected two reviews for free reads I have listed on GoodReads. This is my story of how one irked me, and the other one didn't.

Let's start with the irking one. "The Magic of Lammas" is still my bestseller, even though it's not for sale. It still stays on the first page of bestsellers at ARe (in the Medieval category), and currently is my only bestseller at Dreamspinner Press. I like the story, but you know I'm biased. I read a review that said it was a romantic and loving story, but the reviewer gave two stars because they didn't like the authentic language. This irks me because if you think it's "romantic and loving" ...and it's a FREE story for heaven's sake, why give it two stars? If the language bothered you that much then dump it in your trash, it didn't cost you anything.

The other review was for a really old story called "If." It was offered once, years ago, as part of the GLBT Bookshelf fundraiser. This reviewer gave it three stars, and at the end of the day I'll take three star reviews. In my opinion, they're good. The reviewer claims they don't like "cheating" stories, but this one they've read several times. This gave me pause because I didn't remember it being a cheating story. Then it clicked, one of the guys is pretty much an alcoholic, and he admits to sleeping around on occasion. Well, the story wasn't about the fact that he cheated as much as it was about the men coming to terms with each other. It was very gritty, at least I thought it was.

But that brings me to my point. "If" was about a topic the reviewer didn't like, but they enjoyed the story anyway and gave it the coveted three stars. "The Magic of Lammas" had one flaw, and even though the reviewer appeared to enjoy it they only rated two stars. Kind of sucks if you ask me.

I'll close with a story I may have related before, but bear with me. While I was writing The King's Tale I took a break to read a book for research. It was a historical novel set in Wales, and featured a little known king. As the story evolved there grew a romance between the king and his wife, and an unrequited romance (so it seemed) between the king's manservant and the king. I think it was one-sided on the servant's part, but it was fascinating, and I enjoyed the book. Until the last few pages when it all went to hell between the three main characters and two of them were killed in a fit of jealousy by the third. I'd spent so much time with these characters I felt like they were family, and I was distraught for several days over the way it ended. When I finally got around to rating it...I gave it three stars. In my heart I wanted to give it one star, how dare the author kill these characters?! But I realized that up until that point I'd enjoyed the story, and I didn't feel it was fair to rate it any lower than three. Especially since if they hadn't died I might have given it four or even five stars since that's how much I'd enjoyed it.

I know everyone isn't like me, but I wish there were more people out there like my three star "If" reviewer. Those are the readers I respect, open about biases but willing to evaluate in spite of them.