Friday, May 11, 2012

Marguerite Kaye is Reviewing the Situation…

Marguerite Kaye is one of my lovely Harlequin Historical friends, and I invited her to my blog so you could meet her and learn about her stories. She has a free read and we're holding a drawing, so please read to the end!

I think I’d better think it out again, Fagin sings in the musical Oliver, while he’s reviewing his situation. I’ve had these words going round in my head over the last few weeks as I’ve been reading the reviews of my current book, Rake with a Frozen Heart. 

People have been saying great things, by and large, and I’ve been thrilled to bits reading them. As every writer knows, it can be very lonely, locked away in your writing den with only your characters for company. There’s usually a long gap too, between finishing a book and seeing it in print. Lots of time, in fact, for doubt to creep in, and Rake with a Frozen Heart was a long time in the making. It was written, re-written, abandoned and re-written over a couple of years. By the time I got to the proof-correcting stage, I frankly had no idea whether it was any good or not. 

So to say that the first positive reviews were a huge relief is a bit of an understatement. But after I’d got over the initial glow, and stopped counting up the stars awarded, and toasted my hero and heroine umpteen times, and bored my friends silly by reading out the good bits, I began to notice the other things reviewers were saying. The bits that suggested I could do better. So like Fagin, I reviewed my situation, and it was a very enlightening process. 

Several reviewers mentioned the fact that I make important points several times over. I say something. Then I say it again in another way. And then I say it again, just in case the reader missed it the first two times. Slapping the reader around the face with a wet fish, was the way one writer later described this tendency to me, which made me laugh, but it’s really not something I want to do to my readers, so I’m going to be working very hard to make sure there’s none of that in my next book. 

Historical inaccuracies, I find it difficult to forgive myself for. I addressed my hero, who has many titles, by the wrong one. Bad, bad, bad. I called spectacles lorgnettes at a time when lorgnettes were apparently opera glasses. This sparked a bit of debate on my Facebook page, and it turns out I might just have been able to get away with it, but I should have checked. From the same reviewer I discovered that ‘mauve’ was a Victorian colour unknown in the Regency. Something else I won’t forget. 

But the biggest thing I learned was that if you’ve got the right hero and a heroine, then readers are willing to forgive you a lot. My heroine, Henrietta, has a habit (as my mum says) of opening her mouth and letting her belly rumble. Henrietta says what she’s thinking when she should just hold her tongue. But she’s also a very strong young woman with a very determined mind of her own, and though she loves my dark and brooding hero, she won’t sacrifice her principles for him. I wouldn’t say Henrietta was universally loved, but she was picked out for comment by almost every reviewer. 
I’d always assumed the hero was more important than the heroine. Henrietta has made me realize that it’s probably the other way round. And that’s had serious repercussions for the heroine in my current work in progress, who, I realized after thinking about those reviews, had far too passive a role in her journey toward her happy ever after. 

Of course, there are some reviews, thankfully few and far between, that you can’t learn anything from, especially those dreaded one-liners that say, I hated this, without any explanation. I take a deep breath when I read those, and repeat (through gritted teeth) ‘you can’t please all of the people all of the time.’ Which is true, but I’d like to know why I didn’t! 

The best thing of all about reviews though, any reviews, is the simple fact that they tell me there are people out there reading the stories I’ve written – because honestly, there have been times when I’ve wondered. Reviews, emails, or comments on Facebook or Twitter, knowing that my book has given someone else has enjoyed what I’ve written gives me a lovely wee glow. 

Thank you to Cheryl for inviting me along. 
I have a signed copy of Rake with a Frozen Heart to give away so one of you can decide for herself what you think. Just leave a comment.  

Visit Marguerite's website
Read her exciting free on-line read, Titanic: A Date with Destiny
Order from Amazon: 



  1. "The best thing of all about reviews though, any reviews, is the simple fact that they tell me there are people out there reading the stories I’ve written – because honestly, there have been times when I’ve wondered."

    Amen to this, Marguerite! And don't the positive reviews simply bring joy to your heart? It's enough to float along on for a good while. :)

    Thanks for the reminder I'm behind on my review karma.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  2. Have never had the pleasure of reading one of Marguerite Kaye's books but I really enjoy sampling author's whose works I have never read before. Rake With A Frozen Heart sounds like a story I would truly enjoy. Even if I don't win, I definitely plan on picking up a copy. Plan on reading the free online read also, Titanic: A Date with Destiny.

  3. I often feel that I would like to review books that I have read and while most of them would be very positive, I have difficulty putting the right words on paper. Doesn't mean that I don't like the books just cannot think of how I want to compliment the authors.

    These look wonderful and will be reading the online read starting tonight.

  4. I've been reading the free online daily read right now. And I just ordered A Rake with A Frozen Heart.

    It's good to hear from an author that takes the readers comments to heart. I review books for lots of various publishers. I don't get paid a dime to do it other than the fact I'm not spending money on books I'd be buying anyway. I try really hard to tell the author what I loved about the book or what I didn't like. I also try hard to not be too critical. I can say I've only ever given a one star rating to one book and in my review I explain my reasoning for giving it that. Because I feel that I can learn from constructive feedback as well as anyone. I've written some fan fiction (not finished at all) and the feedback I'd get that helped me the most was the ones that told me "hey this is good but if you change this here it'll sound even better." Or "that's an American phrase you're using and it's not referred to that in England."

  5. I would love to read this book it sounds good. I am enjoying the Titanic book. Thank you.

    griperang at embarqmail dot com

  6. I have not read any of your books yet, Marguerite but i'd a few of your books in my list reading and hope i can read them soon :)

    as a reader, i always hope that i can make a review after reading author's book because i think this is not just help the author to let other people to know their book but it's help other reader to choice the book they want to buy and read and sometimes i just can't make a bad review even sometimes i dont like the book because i always thought that being a writer is not easy and this is a great talent :)

  7. ups.. hi cheryl,

    looking forward to read your books too :)

  8. I still haven't read Marguerite Kaye's book yet. I enjoyed this review and looking forward to reading this book. It's looks wonderful and i like cover book to.

    filiafantasy at gmail dot com

  9. I have read your Scotland books and I must say I love the way you describe the view of the places. I read one of your book about sheikh and it is quite good though I must say I live your book about Scotland better :). Wish you all the best with your new book! I love heroine who loves to speak her mind . It is very refreshing to see the heroine takes charge in the historical era, arethazhenATrocketmailDOTCOM

  10. I like the cover of this book and want to read about Titanic.
    Thanks before.
    Btw, this giveaway for international or not?

    ekafony at gmail dot com

  11. Hi Marguerite, this is an awesome giveaway. Have to admit, I haven't read any of your book before. But I'd love to.
    Your book, Rake with a Frozen Heart sounds great, and I love the cover.

    And about the review, after I had finished reading a book, I'll try to make a review. To express how I felt about the book and to appreciate the book itself.

    Thank u for this awesome giveaway :)

  12. Hello Marguerite, I must admit have not read your books before but like the way you tell your thoughts on writing for us. I guess your little gal has to unthaw this Rake's frozen heart - has to be an interesting story behind this. I am anxious to find out.
    I too do some reviewing for publishers and love to tell what I have thought of a book after reading. research is important but I dont think I would stop reading because something might not be just right. Thanks for sharing today.
    Paula O(

  13. Hi everyone. Thank you all for taking the time to comment. Looking forward to hearing from Cheryl who the winner is. marguerite

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. Hi Marguerite,
    I'm a huge lover of romance novels and I would love to apply for the giveaway if it's still open. I'd also write a review for the novel at my review site and my email is
    please check it out!
    The Romance Reviewer