Writers are sensitive creatures. We want the love and accolades, but don’t always take criticism well. One thing I’ve learned is to listen to or read feedback and reviews with an open mind. I have been fortunate that people who’ve been leaving reviews have been gentle in their critiques. And while it isn’t always fun to hear the negative, if I’m open to what is being said, I can learn from it and improve my writing and story telling. That leads me to today’s post.
I got a review recently for Old Flames Never Die book two in the Valentine series that said it wasn’t as good as the first and that the problem was that there was “too much back and forth between the main characters” and “I thought the trust and walking out on each other had been resolved in the first book”. Admittedly, I was concerned there was too much angst and discord in this book, but at the same time, I didn’t think Tess and Jack were at the level of smooth sailing by the end of the first book. Clearly, Tess made gains in Deadly Valentine. She learned to let go and allow love in her life. But I don’t think she was at the point where she was completely free of her baggage. She grew up with rejection, had the fiasco with Brad, and was even rejected by Jack in book one. I don’t think you let all that go in an instant. So book two tested her faith in love and I think she did a pretty good job.
Jack too had his issues. The problem with alpha males like Jack is that they can sometimes come off too perfect, which is boring. Jack has many great qualities, such as his unwavering love for Tess. But he’s also a man used to getting what he wants. Sometimes he needs to push, and push hard to get it. We saw it a little in book one and a lot in book two. The problem is, the more that Jack pushed, the more Tess questioned their love. So Jack’s journey was about learning to let go and trust too. He couldn’t bully Tess into loving him the way he wanted her to love him.
Fortunately, book three, With This Ring I Thee Kill, doesn’t have all the angst. Tess and Jack disagree and occasionally squabble, but the relationship is now set and at the place the above reviewer hoped they’d achieved in book two. With This Ring I Thee Kill sees even more growth in Tess and Jack, lots of great banter and play, and passionate love. Oh… and of course murder and mayhem.
With that all said, if I have to explain myself in a blog post, it suggests that I didn’t do my job in the books, which is something I need to work on. On the other hand, everyone gets something different from books. I’ve read books that have out of this world reviews and I couldn’t figure out why. And I’ve read books I’ve loved that had a few bad reviews, and again, I couldn’t understand why. In the end, reading is subjective. I just hope that readers who like romantic couples embroiled in mystery enjoy my work, because I sure enjoy writing it!