Beyond, of course, the fact that I loved The Real Deal. (And please keep in mind that I’m not putting forth anything as “right”, just as my thoughts.)
Worst romances don’t get remembered. Out of sight, out of mind. Those puppies are packed off to the UBS or Goodwill at the first opportunity, perhaps unfinished. They’re dismissed. So when it comes time to declare a Worst Romance for the entire previous year, the brain flails around, trying to remember.
In AAR’s first set of interim results, on January 26, they list Forced Mate and One Dark Night.
The hilarious and snarky Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Novels put up their review of The Real Deal on Feb 7.
In the Feb 15 interim results, the Worst Romance category looked like this:
One Dark Night
The Real Deal
When Bruce Met Cyn
I haven’t read Forced Mate, but everything I’ve seen about it gives me the impression I’m only missing confusion and a good laugh. My neighbor raved about One Dark Night, but it’s still in my TBR pile. (I’ll go out on a limb here and say I wouldn’t be surprised if there are people out there who would like to slap the arguably most well-known ebook author back into ‘her place’. And don’t try to tell me there aren’t people out there with that much disrespect for erotic e-romances.)
As far as When Bruce Met Cyn, I totally disregard this book’s presence in the category. #1–the heroine’s a former hooker and the hero’s a preacher. Tell me THAT won’t push some fanatical buttons. #2–I see two groups of people online when it comes to Lori: those who are ardent fans and supporters, and those who at any given opportunity and for little or no reason, will launch into a flame frenzy that will singe the eyebrows off any surfer unfortunate enough to stumble onto the discussion. The online community seems to have less objectivity about her books than any others.
So, The Real Deal, which is a book being talked about a lot at the time, beats Forced Mate, which from everything I’ve seen is just a bad book, by ONE vote? Please.
Now, the Best Romances stay with you. Chances are, from where you’re sitting right now, you can actually physically see your favorite romances from 2004. They’re right there on your keeper shelf, aren’t they? You scan the spines, smiling a little as you remember your favorite parts. Then you agonizingly narrow it down to one book and plunk that title in.
I just can’t buy into the Worst Romance category. I think it has zero credibility, and the only thing it accomplishes is hurting the author. Probably in sales, but most importantly in her heart. I can’t imagine how Lucy Monroe feels sitting down to write these last couple of days. I know authors need a thick skin, but AAR’s pretty well-known and important in the scheme of things.
I think the worst-of’s get hashed around on the AAR message boards enough throughout the year. Why not simply recognize the best-of’s at the end of the year?
I was going to comment again, but it got too long so I took it back to my blog.
“Worst romances donâ€™t get remembered. Out of sight, out of mind. Those puppies are packed off to the UBS or Goodwill at the first opportunity, perhaps unfinished. Theyâ€™re dismissed. So when it comes time to declare a Worst Romance for the entire previous year, the brain flails around, trying to remember.”
*laugh* I used to generate threads every week on a RT board to get posters to chat about books. Whenever I posted these two popular threads: ‘wallbanger of the year’ and ‘best of the year’, the ‘wallbanger’ thread usually has about 30 posts more than the ‘best’ thread. Oh, yes, there are many readers who nurse grudges against some books [note: not authors] for not living up to expectations, and for failing to justify their hard-earned cash.
“I wouldnâ€™t be surprised if there are people out there who would like to slap the arguably most well-known ebook author back into â€˜her placeâ€™.”
How do you explain the success of M. J. Rose, MaryJanice Davidson, Angela Knight and the others? FWIW, ONE DARK NIGHT is not a book I’d recommend. But that is definitely not from wanting to ‘slap’ the author back into her ‘place’. I do like the book cover, though. It’s one of the best around, I’d say.
“I just canâ€™t buy into the Worst Romance category. I think it has zero credibility, and the only thing it accomplishes is hurting the author.”
Doesn’t this apply to authors who didn’t win ‘Best of ‘ as well? I mean, there must be an author who thinks, “Why didn’t my book win Best Medieval?” Then her feelings are likely to be hurt because her book isn’t just good enough to make the grade. It works both ways. If the Worst category has to be removed to protect an author’s feelings, you may as well to abandon the rest.
When – since I’m a reader – I cast votes, I don’t ever want to think about authors or their feelings. This is not what it’s all about.
And as for your #2, I’ll ignore it because 1) I mean, your comment about Lori Foster’s book – that doesn’t make sense to me, considering the fact that, off my head, Laura Leone’s FALLEN FROM GRACE has a male prostitute, yet it won a ‘Best’ category, and Adele Ashworth’s WINTER GARDEN has an experienced courtesan for the heroine, yet it went on to win a couple of AAR awards, and 2) it’s quite an offensive thing to say. This implication that readers are too close to the monitor to be able to separate the author from her book when it’s usually authors who can’t do that. By this, I mean when an author sees a book, the author sees the whole works – the author, personal and professional, time spent on writing the book, etc. Some authors may imagine themselves in the Worst winner’s shoes, so they react poorly to negative criticisms or awards.
Yet I think with a typical reader, she usually bases her reaction on a book alone. No personal agenda involved. Well, usually, this is the case. We don’t want to think about authors or their feelings. I’m sorry, but why should we? I say this with sincerity.
Hm, looks like I didn’t ignore your #2! lol! Sorry.
Last comment [I promise!]: this thing about THE REAL DEAL. I think it should be categorised as the Most Disappointing Read, which seems to be the case here, but that said I think I can see what they are thinking: to them, ‘most disappointing read’ usually means ‘it’s an anticipated book failed to live up to my expectations’ and ‘Worst’ means ‘it’s a book that has been touted around as the Best read, but having read it, it’s not.”
Thanks, Shannon, for making me think. Cheers for that [and sorry about the length of this post].
Crap. I didn’t realise how long that would!! I’m sorry, Shannon!
*ggg* I don’t mind the length. But now I get to respond, so that’ll be long, too.
“*laugh* I used to generate threads every week on a RT board to get posters to chat about books. Whenever I posted these two popular threads: â€˜wallbanger of the yearâ€™ and â€˜best of the yearâ€™, the â€˜wallbangerâ€™ thread usually has about 30 posts more than the â€˜bestâ€™ thread. Oh, yes, there are many readers who nurse grudges against some books [note: not authors] for not living up to expectations, and for failing to justify their hard-earned cash.”
I still think there’s a difference between a discussion thread, and an email ballot. The discussion feeds the thought process, the conversation triggering memories of wallbangers. When it’s just you and a blank line, maybe you grasp at the most recent one.
“How do you explain the success of M. J. Rose, MaryJanice Davidson, Angela Knight and the others? FWIW, ONE DARK NIGHT is not a book Iâ€™d recommend. But that is definitely not from wanting to â€™slapâ€™ the author back into her â€˜placeâ€™. I do like the book cover, though. Itâ€™s one of the best around, Iâ€™d say.”
That’s a statement made in the heat of typing that’s a little harder to stand behind, I’ll give you that. (Maybe I should start doing drafts and revisions on my blog *g*). But I think there are a lot of readers out there who still don’t know how MJD and AK got their starts. And M.J.’s a publicity goddess. *g* Whereas, Jaid Black is the face and name of EC. A lot of people had some
“Doesnâ€™t this apply to authors who didnâ€™t win â€˜Best of â€˜ as well? I mean, there must be an author who thinks, â€œWhy didnâ€™t my book win Best Medieval?â€ Then her feelings are likely to be hurt because her book isnâ€™t just good enough to make the grade. It works both ways. If the Worst category has to be removed to protect an authorâ€™s feelings, you may as well to abandon the rest.
When – since Iâ€™m a reader – I cast votes, I donâ€™t ever want to think about authors or their feelings. This is not what itâ€™s all about. “
This is probably an agree-to-disagree issue. While an author may be bummed that her book wasn’t chosen as Best Medieval, that’s far different from a large online community pointing to you and saying “Your book is the worst all-around romance of the entire year.”
“And as for your #2, Iâ€™ll ignore it because 1) I mean, your comment about Lori Fosterâ€™s book – that doesnâ€™t make sense to me, considering the fact that, off my head, Laura Leoneâ€™s FALLEN FROM GRACE has a male prostitute, yet it won a â€˜Bestâ€™ category, and Adele Ashworthâ€™s WINTER GARDEN has an experienced courtesan for the heroine, yet it went on to win a couple of AAR awards, and 2) itâ€™s quite an offensive thing to say. This implication that readers are too close to the monitor to be able to separate the author from her book when itâ€™s usually authors who canâ€™t do that.”
I can’t count the number of negative comments I’ve seen online about this book having a preacher for a hero. Whether right or wrong, that was an issue for this book. (And I, personally, think there’s a big difference between a contemporary hooker and a historical courtesan. *g*). As for #2–it wasn’t mean to be offensive. It comes from my experience with seeing conversations about/with Lori Foster and her books online. Sometimes they go well. A lot of times they’re train wrecks. And I agree that authors can have problems separating themselves from the book. But I’d also like to add the fact that YOU are an intelligent, thoughtful reader, and you know intelligent, thoughtful readers. Not everybody is. There are readers who cast a vote based on the author. There are readers who cast votes based on the author who haven’t even read the books. There are readers who want to have fun and vote, but don’t know what to put, so put the last book they remember somebody else mentioning. And there are readers who will cast a vote for or against a book they haven’t read because they 1–really like the author herself or 2–really dislike the author herself.
And maybe “Doesn’t live up to its promo” or something is more applicable. I loved The Real Deal. It’s on my keeper shelf, and I’ll read it again. But even I’ll say “Like a classic Spencer Tracy-Katharine Hepburn/Doris Day-Rock Hudson movie–but with plenty of steamy heat…” it wasn’t.
And you and I will probably come at a lot of issue from different sides of the table. Yes, we’re both readers, and we both plopped down $7-15 bucks for the book. But I can’t separate myself from the emotions of the author. That’s what I am.
I came back for your email address as I felt very guilty for taking up so much space. Your very well-reasoned response is too good to have it down along with mine. So I won’t grovel asking you to delete my response.
I have to admit that I do shy from any romances that feature priests or men of cloth as heroes, but not far enough to consider it an issue. So it’s interesting to see this is so for the others. Fair point.
re: contemporary hooker. OK, I’ll give you that. Let me give you this one — Judith Duncan’s STREETS OF FIRE [the heroine is a former prostitute], which won a few awards. But not one is, as far as I know, a readers’ award. It should be interesting if this book was reissued and see how it goes with current readership.
I think using Lori Foster as an example is a poor idea because she’s a special case! For many long-time posters, her name is a sore point. Because she’s worked hard to improve her online persona [and it’s greatly improved], I won’t rehash events that led to this point. I just think LF isn’t a good example to illustrate your point, not when I think you mean what I think you meant, e.g. she’s an innocent bystander. All that said, I do get what you’re saying and I agree.
It now makes me wonder if there are some who voted for their favourite authors, rather than their favourite authors’ *books*.
“There are readers who cast votes based on the author who havenâ€™t even read the books.”
This statement has me blinking twice. OK, that is something I hadn’t taken into account. Fair point.
“But I canâ€™t separate myself from the emotions of the author. Thatâ€™s what I am.”
Of course. And I have only just realised that I can’t quite seperate myself from the emotions of the reader, which is probably why I reacted to your blog entry. Looks like that I’m just as ‘bad’ as you are,
Crap. It’s occurred to me that what I’d just said has made my previous post a total moot point. *banging head on the desk*
No, it definitely didn’t make your previous post a moot point at all. You made me think. I made you think. I’ve enjoyed the discussion. (And believe me, if our comments here use up my space, my hosting provider owes me a ton of money *ggg*)
“I think using Lori Foster as an example is a poor idea because sheâ€™s a special case! For many long-time posters, her name is a sore point.”
Absolutely. And normally, I wouldn’t use her as an example because of that fact. But her being a special case is exactly why I have my doubts about the legitimacy of When Bruce Met Cyn being on the interim list for Worst Romance. Do grudges being held by those long-time posters color their opinion of the book? Enough for them to nominate her book just as a little pinch? I don’t know. (But no, I definitely wouldn’t bring her into the conversation if her book wasn’t on the list. *g*)
(A brief aside: Just in case it’s not clear, when I talk about a lack of credibility, or the legitimacy of a book’s presence on the list, I’m not in any way commenting on the behind-the-scenes work by AAR, or the way the contest is run. It’s a WHY of the voting thing, not a HOW of the voting thing.)
And I haven’t read STREETS OF FIRE, either! How have I missed out on all the hooker books? I’m going to look for it.
I wonder it’s less problematic to have a prostitute OR a preacher, but not both.
Y’know, I remember the bad books–the really, really bad books–every bit as much as I do the really, really good ones. The all-time worst book I’ve ever read, Desire’s Blossom (which I mentioned in my review for The Real Deal) has stuck with me, even though I wish I didn’t. The ones I tend to forget are the mediocre books, or the ones that I enjoyed but but didn’t like enough to keep–in short, the Bs and Cs. I’m still shocked The Real Deal got voted Worst Romance; I have been unable to find ANY negative reviews of it (even on Amazon.com) except mine. To tell you the truth, I felt kind of like a freak (what am I missing that everyone else “gets” about this book?), but I figured my review provided sufficient details on why I couldn’t stand it. I didn’t bother to vote in this year’s AAR Reader Awards; I never have and probably never will because I rarely read enough current releases to vote properly, so I wasn’t the one who pushed The Real Deal over the edge . I doubt my review affected any kind of outcome, either–our site was barely a week old at that point and the referrer logs showed that almost all our hits came from porn sites and people Googling for keywords like “bitches who love big cocks.” I think part of the reason why The Real Deal was voted Worst Romance was because LLB’s recommendation meant lots of people picked it up–and lots of people didn’t like it. I know I picked it up because I read about it on At The Back Fence.
Did disappointed expectations lead to my intense dislike of it? I seriously doubt it. I’ve been let down before by high expectations, but they’ve usually resulted in me feeling kind of blah about the book, not a “Good GRIEF this is horrible!” kind of reaction. But then I’m only speaking for myself; other people very well may use the Worst Romance category as a “Failed Expectations” category.
As for getting rid of the Worst Romance category–I’d argue it may be useful if only because it allows readers to gauge which books to stay away from. But then tastes are so tricky to gauge. Personally, I rarely depend on awards to inform me what to read, listen to or watch. I can name any number of award-winning books, musicians and movies I can’t stand, and I can also think of lots of schlocky stuff I really enjoy. I find the AAR Reader Awards interesting because it provides me with a gauge of what my tastes are like vs. what other people enjoy. The author’s feelings shouldn’t play a part in these sorts of things, in my opinion–arguing that a Worst Romance category doesn’t belong in a poll seems like one short step away from saying negative reviews of a book shouldn’t be posted. But perhaps I’m engaging in some slippery-slope reasoning here.
While I never underestimate the speed with which good snark spreads, even I have to admit that seekers of bitches who love big cock probably aren’t AAR voters.
It could be a coincidence, or as you said, LLB’s glowing review making more people read it. Plus, if I remember correctly, it was released later in the year (Sept?), and at trade price, perhaps more people were just getting around to reading it. I just find it hard to believe that a jump from not being listed on Jan 26th to winning (losing?) the category in a short amount of time could be wholly based on that many readers reading the book AND declaring it the worst romance of the year.
And I certainly wouldn’t want to see a ban on negative reviews, but then again, I gravitate toward review sites that tend to be brutally honest. (Even though reviews don’t factor into my buying decisions very much–although I’ve got a strange urge to get my hands on a copy of Desire’s Blossom *g*).
I think the difference lies in the fact that–generally–when you get a bad review, you get a WHY. In your review of The Real Deal, you catalogued the things that didn’t work for you. They all made sense. (Those things just didn’t bother me all that much.) There just doesn’t seem to be any accountability with AAR’s Worst Romance category.
I’m not saying there could be. Or should be. That’s just why -I-don’t like it.
Good grief, I re-read my post, and really: could I have repeated the word “gauge” often enough? Ha!
Anyway, fair enough, I agree that declaring a “Worst Romance” without any explanation is substantially different from an actual negative review. But we can agree to disagree on whether a “Worst Romance” category has any usefulness in the annual AAR awards .
And I think everyone should read Desire’s Blossom; if nothing else, it provides an example of how NOT to write. (But on the other hand, Cassie Edwards has been in the biz a long, long time so obviously people like her enough to keep buying her books.) At least my negative opinion of Edwards’ writing doesn’t seem completely out-of-the-norm; she’s gotten nothing but Fs at AAR from a bunch of different reviewers, which has to be some kind of record. If you do read Desire’s Blossom, let me know what you think of it. In its own way, it’s the Plan 9 From Outer Space of romance novels. Years from now, it’ll be hailed as a cult classic.
I don’t think I’ve actually read any of hers. Maybe I’m missing some vital rite of passage here. *g* I think I was going to once, but the hero reminded me of those old, old cowboy movies with the white actors dyed to look like Indians.
I’m definitely going to get a copy of Desire’s Blossom. It’s bad enough I missed the whole Dr. Who movement.