Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Reviews: the good, the bad, and the ugly

Getting a good review is a huge relief for us writers. It affirms that a) we can in fact write our way out of a paper bag, and b) that someone out there liked our stuff. At heart, I think most of us are pretty insecure and sensitive creatures. Why is it that negative criticism carries so much more weight than the positive? Even if the positive is 90% or more of the feedback you receive?

Just last week a writer acquaintance of mine stopped by for a visit, and we got talking about writing. He's not a romance fan, but he did read my first book out of support and maybe curiosity. Anyway, I'm sure he was trying to be helpful, but he went on to tell me all the things I could have done to make it a better book. It could have been he was trying to point things out to help strengthen my future projects, but really, why tell me all of that when the book's already been published and there's not a thing I can do to change it? It's not perfect, of course not! It was my first book, after all. But it also won an RWA published Laurel Wreath award for best romantic suspense of 2009, so it isn't awful.

In happier news, I have received several glowing reviews so far for Cover of Darkness. Trust me, I so needed some good news right now in my writing world, so they couldn't have come at a better time. I'm going to post a couple of lines here for future reference, when I might be tempted sometime in the future to strangle myself with my laptop power cord because my writing isn't going well :) And because I realize not all the feedback I'll receive in the future will make me feel all warm and fuzzy.

Dana Dean of Got Erotic Romance gave it 5 stars and said:

Wonderful. In Cover of Darkness Ms. Cross did exactly what a writer should do. Almost from the first page I wanted to be the heroine even when danger and chaos lurked around every corner. I admired Bryn’s dedication to a father she rarely saw, her strength and determination to do whatever it took to survive, and her compassion. Mostly, I envied her opportunity to be rescued by several hunky men. Although Dec is obviously and spectacularly the hero in this story, the other men who circle Bryn like satellites should not be disregarded. In fact, I suspect they won’t be. Cover of Darkness tells Bryn and Dec’s story, but it also drops tantalizing hints about the lives of several others and left me wanting more. I enjoyed this novel and can’t wait to see whose story is next. Well done, Ms. Cross.

Camelia at Long and Short Reviews gave it 4.5 books and said:

The many intriguing secondary characters and their motivations, the subterfuge, hate, and the love make Cover of Darkness a breathtaking and a heartbreaking story of life in a war zone and what it takes to survive. The price is sometimes high. The excitement, fear, and horror keep the adrenaline pumping at top speed as the story unfolds. How love survives and even thrives in such times is a mystery and a miracle.

Kaylea Cross’ writing style plunks the reader down into the middle of the action, traitorous deals, and the horrors of war as she mines the best and the worst of human nature to create a phenomenal love story.

Reese over at Night Owl Reviews gave it 4 stars and a "top pick rating". She said:

Kaylea Cross writes romantic suspense at its finest. She does an amazing job bringing to readers an exciting new Navy Seal romance. Dec was HOT HOT HOT. The details in the story were believable and there is a great blend between the romance and the military details. Readers will also be sucked into Luke Hutchinson's own personal problems. Cross is an author to keep your eyes on.
(Yay, because Luke is my favorite and I want everyone who reads my books to be sucked into his personal problems!)

And while this is not exactly a rave review, a reader from Nights And Weekends wrote:

At the beginning of the novel, I was tempted to compare it to Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series, which is also about Navy SEALs. But as the novel progressed, I saw that I couldn’t compare the two. Cover of Darkness is very pro-America and pro-military, whereas Brockmann’s novels are written from more of a liberalistic viewpoint, which doesn’t accurately portray the military mindset.

Unlike Brockmann’s “heroes,” Declan McCabe would never be caught dead questioning whether or not Americans are the good guys or why they were fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan in the first place. He might be concerned about, say, collateral damage, but he never doubts his mission. I will grudgingly admit that Brockmann is the better writer, but I feel more connected to Cross’s characters because they think more or less the way I do. I also think that Cross writes far more believable military men—men who think the only good “tango” (terrorist) is a dead tango. But Cross is also very careful to show “good” Muslims, the people who live their day-to-day lives by the actual teachings of Islam (there is one elderly woman who—despite grave danger to herself—shows compassion to Bryn) and not the more twisted fanatical teachings.

(Okay, I'm just tickled to be somewhat favorably compared to Suzanne Brockmann, one of my favorite authors of all time. Who'd have ever thought that would happen?)

That's it so far, but I'll keep my fingers crossed for other good reviews in the future.


Christine said...

I think your profession is very brave because your work is public and always 'critiqued' I'd be crying all the time.

But when it comes down to it, people read what they enjoy. I love your books.

I might mention that when I met Kevin he had not read a whole book except military manuals (don't know how he graduated English class). And his Mom a teacher and all.

I encouraged him to read more and although he reads mostly military fact or fiction, he devoured both of your books. That should be a huge compliment!

Kaylea Cross said...

Yeah, but he was probably checking for mistakes, LOL. Thanks for letting me know!