3 Out of 5 Ain’t Bad?

So what do you do when you get a review that is, shall we say, ambivalent?

Well, when it’s your first review, ever, written by one of the handful of people who has actually read your book, you have yourself a little pity-party. Then you crack open a beer. Or two. Or more. And then you try to put a positive spin on it, and see what, if anything, you can learn. The review below is by Lorraine at Raw Books. Or you can click on this link Please Review to read it in situ. 

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3 out of 5

I debated my rating on this for quite awhile. There were some aspects to Please that I enjoyed, and that were some aspects that I really didn’t.

I think that Hazel Hughes is a highly talented author. Please had a great flow to the story, making it easy to read. Characters were not only relatable but realistic. I wanted to smack Elizabeth on numerous occasions. I cringed at her naïveté but I could easily see someone getting caught in this whirlwind.

If I’m being completely honest, I was very disappointed in the ending. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll be vague and brief. It’s missing consequences. All of the main characters got off too easy. Though it is difficult to criticize because it is highly likely that this ending is what would happen in real life. But I don’t want to read reality.

Overall, I’m still torn about this book. I would love to talk to others who read this and get their perspective. FYI, this one has cheating. While it’s not a deciding factor for me, I know it is for some. I am looking forward to checking out others by Hazel Hughes in the future.

The Good Stuff

Hazel Hughes is a highly talented author. Well, awright. This, right here, tells me that while Lorraine may not have been head-over-heels for Please, it was because of what happened in the story rather than how the story itself was told. And that’s good. That means other people might very well love it.

Please had a great flow to the story, making it easy to read. This is major. Flow is what makes you want to keep reading. You want to find out what happens next.

Characters were not only relatable but realistic. I like to think of my writing as character-driven. But in the romance genre, you see so many cookie-cutter characters. I work hard on this. I also like that Lorraine could relate to the characters, because, let’s face it, the two protagonists are not exactly lovable.

I’m still torn about this book. I would love to talk to others who read this and get their perspective. Yes! A romance book that generates debate, and not over the quality of the writing or lack thereof? Unheard of. When I wrote Please, I wanted it to be unsettling. I wanted it to provoke questions, not just scratch an itch. I debated about whether or not I should even market it as a romance because it’s not exactly about love. It’s about control, desire and need. But it’s also about two people who think they are in love. Plus there’s so much damn sex, what else could I do?

The Not-So-Good Stuff 

I was very disappointed in the ending. Ouch. That’s why we read, isn’t it? To get to the end? And if the ending doesn’t satisfy our expectations, well, the whole book, regardless of how well-written and engaging it is, is called into question. I thought about different endings. But they didn’t feel authentic. Besides, this is not the end. There are two more books to come (Tease and Release).

I don’t want to read reality. Again, I’m butting up against that romance genre. Does anyone who reads romance want to read reality? Because that’s what I strive to write. Food for thought.

And The Omission

Lorraine didn’t mention Sebastian, the bad-boy actor who maliciously seduces married Elizabeth. While Elizabeth was the character I could most relate to, Sebastian was the one who compelled me to continue with the story. Who was he? Why did he do the destructive things that he did? What was he going to do next? That he wasn’t mentioned raises a big question mark in my mind. Did I fail in bringing the character in my mind to the page? Or was there another reason? He’s the narrator of the second book in the series, Tease, so this is important.

The Take-Away

One: I’m a good writer. Two: Maybe the romance genre is not my niche? Something to think about while I’m writing Tease and Release

Want to join the debate? Please is available in the Amazon Kindle Store for just $0.99 for the month of April.

When the Spice is Right

What does an erotic romance writer do when she’s not writing about sex? Read about it, right? Well, full disclosure, I had never even heard of the erotic romance  genre when I wrote my first erotic short. Of course, I knew about straight-up romance, but I was not a fan. As I wrote in my first post No Hearts and Flowers, I’m not big on riding off into the sunset or written in the stars.

But I’m also not into straight up erotica. The mechanical aspect of sex is a snooze, as far as I’m concerned, no matter how kinky it is. This stick goes in that hole, in-out-in-out, yawn. I like the psychology of sex. The seduction. Dare I say, the romance?

I wanted to read something that combined the complex characters and can’t-put-it-down plots of the books I read by authors like Emma Donaghue and Emily Giffin with some seriously titillating sex, but as far as I knew, that book didn’t exist. So I wrote it.

By the summer of 2011, I had written my first erotic novel, Please, but I didn’t know what I was going to do with it. I mean, I couldn’t publish it, could I? People would think I was a pervert. Besides, who other than me would want to read it? Then came 50 Shades of Grey.

Not to be critical, but I wasn’t too impressed with the writing. I only managed to make it through the first of the series, rolling my eyes with every inner goddess, oh my and holy hell. But its success was a revelation. People did read erotic romance. Lots of them. Maybe I was a pervert, but apparently, so was everybody else.

I decided that if EL James could do it, so could I. It was when I was researching how to promote Please that I discovered the world of romance book blogs, and through them, the wild variety of sub-genres of romance. Who knew that for every shade of grey there was erotic romance author with a different slant on seduction? Perhaps there were one or two out there that wouldn’t have me muttering “you’ve got to be kidding me” under my breath and skipping to the sex scenes?

Indeed, there are. I’ve had quite a few misses. Different strokes for different folks, and all that. But I’ve also discovered some authors who know how to blend story and sex in an incredibly compelling way. And I’d like to share them. Interested? Check out my I Like page.

Younger Man: What’s not to love?

movieunfaithful

I’m reading Callie Hart‘s Deviant right now, and I have to say, I’m hooked. It’s the perfect blend of story (dark story, which I love) and sex (dark sex, which I also love). If you haven’t read it, and you like the dark stuff, you should pick it up. There’s only one thing that’s gnawing at me, and it’s not specific to Deviant. In fact, it seems to be common to romance, and that is the age differential. Is it just me, or is the younger man/older woman pairing about as common as lobster at an all-you-can-eat buffet? And why is that?

Sure the younger man/ older woman scenario is not exactly commonplace in real life, either. But let’s face it, romance-writers, erotic or otherwise, trade in fantasy. As far as I know, there aren’t bucket-loads of billionaires contracting virginal young things as sex-slaves, either, but there seem to be plenty on the bookshelf.

My theory is – and it is far from original –  that sex is all about power. There are all kinds of power that our Alpha Males can wield – physical, financial, emotional, intellectual, social, and, of course, sexual. Age is power, too, perhaps the original, most primitive power. We are taught from day one to look up to those older than us. Respect. Obey.

In my erotic romance, Please, I try to tip the age dynamic on its head. My alpha male, Sebastian, is younger than his prey, Elizabeth. But the up-and-coming actor earned his sexual chops on the twisted streets of Tinsel-town. While she’s never strayed far from the missionary position, he has a list of conquests literally tattooed on his body and an all-consuming need to dominate. The naïve novelist’s got a lot to learn and Sebastian intends to school her, the hard way.

Please is available for the rest of April in The Amazon Kindle Store for just $0.99.

The photo, above, is from the movie, Unfaithful, a hot May-December reverso if there ever was one.

Have you read a younger man/ older woman erotic romance that you love?