You have to be a savvy reader these days, don’t you? Especially when it comes to erotica and erotic romance, where there’s just so much out there now. I used to take reviews as mini warnings: a lot of the gripes were usually things that would make me crazy as a reader, so even for a book with 500 five-star reviews, I’d put more stock in the one-star reviews. That’s where I found out how dumb the heroine is or how boring the sex is.
That’s changed since You-Know-What came out. I haven’t read it in its entirety because I know it’s not my thing, and I don’t have a lot of time to waste on books I won’t like when I could be reading something spectacular, but I’m damn grateful that this book exists. It’s made it so much easier for me to find books for me. In the wake of You-Know-What ,you got book blurbs that read “hotter than …” or “if you liked …” all designed to suck the reader into dropping their money on a clone of You-Know-What.
For the most part, readers aren’t stupid. They know that reading a book by ABC probably isn’t going to be the same experience as reading a book by XYZ, and they’re perfectly fine with taking chances as a reader, but every so often you get the reader who takes that “hotter than …/if you liked …” as something more than a marketing ploy, and these are the reader reviews I keep an eye out for.
Take, for example, Kristina Lloyd’s Thrill Seeker. It’s been endlessly entertaining reading Kristina’s Facebook posts about people who are utterly shocked by the content. At first glance you might think it’s right to assume the outraged readers have every right to their ire, given how just about every erotic novel these days is being marketed, but those readers can’t be forgiven their oblivion. If a reader is savvy enough to have a blog to post reviews, they are certainly savvy enough to Google a book to see what it’s all about. Regardless, if these same readers were to take to their Good Reads accounts, they’d leave one and two stars littered all over the place with the common theme “It’s nothing like You-Know-What.”
And this is the review I look for, because I don’t want You-Know-What.
(Aside: Kristina Lloyd’s book was the best I’ve read in 2013, not just out of the erotica I’ve read but out of all the books I’d read in 2013. It’s been a very long time since I’ve read the last chapters of any book at the edge of my seat, but at the climax – pardon the pun – I actually swore loudly and happily.)
I didn’t buy Thrill Seeker because of any reviews. I bought it because of this excerpt. Since I follow Kristina’s blog and follow her on social media, the book was bound to land on my radar. Not so much with the book I decided to sample last night: Maya Cross’s Locked.
No offense intended, but until last night I’d never heard of this author or her book. If I hadn’t been avoiding the task of filling in promo stuff for my next Xcite release, I probably wouldn’t have been on Amazon at all. And, because I’m a giant whore like that, if the cover wasn’t so stunning I never would have clicked on the book page.
Also, I’m incredibly cheap, and the first installment is free.
So anyway, I click because of shiny pretty cover and freebie, and the first place I went was to the one-star reviews. The first one I read determined that, in spite of my aversion to series, I was going to give this one a whirl. The reviewer in question was utterly outraged by the hero doing something wonderfully filthy to the heroine.
Oh God, I must own this …
Next bad review had an issue with voyeurism and spanking.
Why must I be Canadian? Making me go to the Canadian store is preventing me from owning this immediately!
Another review explicitly complained that this wasn’t You-Know-What. How dare it not be You-Know-What. How dare the hero not be the hero of You-Know-What. How dare things in this book not be the things that happened in that book.
Just send it anywhere! iPhone, iPad, it doesn’t matter! Gimme!
To be fair, this book has hundreds of positive reviews and is apparently an NYT Bestseller, but I’ve read enough shitty books to know that either of those things, either combined or on their own, means nothing. It’s the bad reviews that nabbed me, and they’re even more wonderfully caustic on Good Reads. (Did you know that dominant men must all be sensitive snowflakes on the inside? That they are not allowed to like to just spank some asses every once in a while?)
I can’t say whether Locked is going to be the good read I anticipate it will be (though what little I sampled last night is promising, and I do love a dom who is a dom because it’s fun being a dom) but it’s the best example of how the way I buy books has changed in the wake of the erotica/erotic romance glut. It shows that whether you’re looking for the next You-Know-What or you want to avoid the next You-Know-What, reviews are the most important tool in a savvy reader’s arsenal.
(For more doms who are doms because it’s fun being a dom, check out Alison Tyler’s Banging Rebecca or Those Girls.)