In my last post I mentioned doing some experimenting in ways to choose books. The first of these came from seeing the same books recommended in forums over and over. Some of these perennials are books I’ve read and about which I agree. For instance, The Outsider is truly a classic western romance and deserves to pop up regularly. Some of the others I disagree with pretty sharply because I know they’re the old rape romances (hero as rapist) that I despise.
There are some others, though, that I haven’t read and decided I should, so I started a list and looked them up on Amazon. Unfortunately a lot aren’t available for Kindle, and some are so overpriced I’m not biting (sadly IMO Penelope Williamson’s books for Kindle are an egregious example of overpriced digital versions of older books). However, I did find a few, and the one I’m going to use as an example now is Broken Wing by Judith James.
Keep in mind I’m only using it as an example of what has happened when I’ve deviated from my usual way of picking books by hearing about them, investigating the story description, and deciding yay or nay for myself. This is a book I got for my Kindle strictly because it was recommended so often in reader forums (and, okay, because I like the title). In fact right now there is a thread on the Amazon Romance forum titled something like The Best Romance Book Ever and this book has been mentioned by 3 out of 16 people so far. Where I usually saw it was in threads asking for recommendations of really emotional reads of books full of “angst.”
So what happened? I’d agree with everyone who says the book is well written and full of angst, but in truth I probably only really read something like the beginning 10-20% and after that began skimming and then skipping and finally, skimmed the last part and got the ending. The problem for me? I didn’t believe one single, solitary premise or plot point. The story was unrealistic to the point of silly to me, which pretty much kept me from feeling any angst or anything but “oh, for Pete’s sake!” So if I were an organized reader who kept track of who recommends what and got a feel for who I did and didn’t agree with, this method would probably work, but I’m kind of slap happy in that regard and have never kept lists of books read, summaries or anything like that. This book is only one of several failures along these lines I’ve had, so for me accepting someone else’s opinion on faith isn’t going to work.
I think in this particular book I was also affected by the fact that the first physical description of the hero was a turn off. I had that happen in a Lorraine Heath book that was a great story in every other way. Usually I’m pretty good at changing things I don’t like in my mind, but occasionally it doesn’t work and I get stuck with something that I just don’t find attractive and that’s that. The description of red fuzz on Jamie’s butt in Outlander had the same effect on me, just put him absolutely and positively outside the hero realm, although admittedly he wasn’t in it at that time. As a writer it’s kind of discouraging to know you can come up with what you think is a good story and one detail like that can lose a reader, but I know it happens for me, and from the reviews I read, I’m not the only one.
So I’m marking this experiment as a failure.
Did You See? Until June 15th Amazon has 600 books listed as Sunshine Deals, older books that are for sale in Kindle format at prices from $.99 to $2.99. They are broken down by category, and there aren’t that many romances, so it’s easy to skim the list. I only saw a couple I might investigate further, but I did see a couple. And I saw several I’ve bought in the past and will have to restrain myself to keep from checking to see how much I paid for them back when. 🙂