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REVIEW: Love Notes by Avis Exley

Dear Ms. Exley:

I bought this book because I have read several about a male singing star but not a famous female one and I wanted to see how successful the reverse worked. Erika Fenn is an American based pop star who retreats to England, her homeland, for a mental health break. There she runs into an old lover, Aiden Thirstan (an unfortunate name because I kept thinking of Thurston Howell from Gilligan’s Island). Aiden and Erika connected before she became famous but their budding romance was cut short when Erika caught Aiden with another woman. Aiden confesses that he sought out other women because the strength of feeling he had for her scared him.

Love Notes Avis Exley
Erika’s heartbreak translated into albums of winning material and she catapults to fame. while the other rock romances I’ve read feature a successful male artist making offers the non famous heroine can’t refuse, there is no role reversal here. Instead, Erika is portrayed as an emotional fragile woman who is so weak that her life is totally run by her manager. He dictates what she eats, with whom she associates, what she sings, where she stays, whether she drives. The only thing he doesn’t do is beat her, yet essentially that is how she is portrayed – the quintessential battered woman. Problematically, I don’t think the book recognizes this is her portrayal.

Aiden approaches Erika at her retreat with evidence that he has obtained through illegal hacking (don’t even ask) that her manager has been systemically cheating her and ferreting away money in off shore accounts. Lucky for Erika her money isn’t spent like most embezzled funds are. Aiden arranges for Erika to meet him in London to go through more evidence, introduce her to a bevy of lawyers, and assist extricating her from her manager.

This process is stymied by Erika’s own passivity and unwillingness to stand up to her manager. She won’t or can’t even obtain a phone on her own or use the hotel’s phone or anything. Her inability to think on her own or act on her own isn’t ameliorated through the story. Erika, sadly, just trades one controlling man for another. But apparently because Aiden loves her this will all turn out.

Aiden is a complete mystery as a character. He is wealthy. He is apparently magnetic. He has a hard time keeping his dick in his pants. He’s been stalking Erika and obtaining a lot of information about her illegally. Other than that, I didn’t know him at all. He was a placeholder character and I guess the reader inserts her own creation to her liking?

I found the story to be very dull as opposed to angsty and I found myself bored by Erika’s predicament. There is quite a bit of push and pull between Aiden and Erika as one wants to move forward, the other would retreat. Rinse and repeat ad nauseum. Erika does grow somewhat of a backbone toward the end of the book, but I felt it served to emphasize Aiden’s fraility, his inability to be without a woman for any period of time. Maybe if Erika had been even the tiniest bit more proactive, this would have worked for me but she was about emotionally and intellectually mature as a five year old. And that might be an insult to five year olds. D

Best regards,



Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Avis Exley
    Oct 18, 2012 @ 13:48:12

    Dear Jane,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read Love Notes and to give so detailed a commentary on it. I’m at the very early stages of romance writing so every bit of feedback is valuable to me.

    I’m really sorry it wasn’t to your taste but that’s the great thing about reading – everyone thinks differently. I’ve often read books that have received many five star reviews but yet thought they were awful. I’ve picked up several valuable points from your review and will be certain to act upon them in future. Hopefully, someday, there’ll be a book of mine you enjoy more.

    In the meantime, happy reading – Avis

  2. Anthea Lawson
    Oct 19, 2012 @ 01:28:32

    How to kill a comment thread, in one easy step… >.<

  3. Rosario
    Oct 19, 2012 @ 04:51:51

    @Anthea Lawson: Exactly. It’s the very sort of response authors are often encouraged to give to a negative review. And yet, what could have been an interesting comment thread is now completely dead.

    Apologies to Ms. Exley if it feels like we’re piling on what’s a perfectly nice and classy response, the context is this discussion.

  4. MrsJoseph
    Oct 19, 2012 @ 09:26:43

    @Anthea Lawson: Yeah. :-(

  5. SonomaLass
    Oct 19, 2012 @ 14:17:51

    Shoot. I would have loved a book about a female rockstar who had the kind of agency that the male ones have.

    Is this the same book someone mentioned on Twitter, where the heroine didn’t really want to sing popular music, but was trapped somehow (by the money and fame, maybe?) so that she couldn’t sing what she wanted (opera?)? You can tell that my memory of the conversation is fuzzy, but I wonder if here could really be two new female singing star books.

  6. Lori
    Oct 19, 2012 @ 14:36:37

    Thanks for taking the bullet on this one, Jane. What a shame, because I’d love to read a story featuring an empowered female rock star.

    And kudos to the author for a very classy response. Because of your professionalism, I’ll consider your work in the future instead of placing you on my Authors I Refuse to Read list.

  7. Avis Exley
    Oct 19, 2012 @ 14:51:52

    Sorry I killed the discussion everyone – that wasn’t my intention at all.

    Rosario – thanks for the link to that very interesting article. Sonama Lass – the book you describe sounds like Love Notes and I’d be interested to know whether it received a negative press on Twitter. Lori – thanks for saying you’ll read me at some stage but be sure to check out all the reviews before you dismiss Love Notes. This review is, so far, something of a lone voice.

  8. Kaetrin
    Oct 19, 2012 @ 17:40:09

    Ouch. Ms. Exley, you may have won Lori but you’ve lost me. Although perhaps Lori may change her mind after that last comment.

  9. Ridley
    Oct 19, 2012 @ 19:11:46

    @Avis Exley: Poor form, Avis. Poor form.

    Never do again what you’ve done in the comments here if you don’t want to kill your writing career before it gets off the ground.

  10. Anthea Lawson
    Oct 19, 2012 @ 20:41:24

    @Rosario: Except that authors should never comment on their own reviews. Ever. Because that immediately changes the equation to ‘the author is watching.’ The quantum physics of the review, and any discourse that might follow, is irretrievably altered.

    Sure, the author probably *is* lurking (shh) but for heaven’s sake don’t come out and make it obvious.

    A better choice, if you have to respond, is a private email to the reviewer. But even then, not recommended.

  11. jane_l
    Oct 19, 2012 @ 20:47:44

    @SonomaLass: Yes, that is the one. I was thinking maybe this is Leanne Rimes (sp?) and Eddie Cibrani (sp?) because their morals seem to resemble the ones in the book. Neither seem particularly to care about hurting innocent third parties in the quest for their sexual satisfaction.

    @Lori: Yes, I had hoped for a woman with more agency. I was dismayed at how weak the heroine was portrayed. It was kind of a wonder that she could dress in the morning by herself. I mean, that she could not even figure out how to avoid her manager to make a phone call or just even tell him to leave her alone was disappointing. Toward the end, she says that she needs more mental health care (for sure) but it’s told to us in summary fashion. We don’t actually see her growth.

    @Avis Exley: I don’t mind being the lone voice.

  12. Lori
    Oct 21, 2012 @ 11:27:01

    @jane_l: Blech. Definitely not the book for me, then.

  13. bam
    Oct 22, 2012 @ 09:17:33

    This review is, so far, something of a lone voice.

    *rubs eyes* Dude.

  14. Ladysplaining the Value of A Literary Culture for Commercial Fiction
    Oct 23, 2012 @ 04:02:25

    […] REVIEW: Love Notes by Avis Exley […]

  15. Shelley
    Oct 24, 2012 @ 12:31:24

    Authors commenting on reviews = creeps me the fuck out

    Probably won’t read both for content and stalkerish author behavior.

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