Monday, May 14, 2012


The winner of a signed copy of Rake With a Frozen Heart is...


Congrats, Angela! You will enjoy the story!

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: