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REVIEW: Bad Boyfriend by K.A. Mitchell

Dear Ms. Mitchell.

You’ve done it again. While Bad Boyfriend is perhaps not as perfect (to my mind) as No Souvenirs, I much prefer it to Bad Company. The book focuses on two fascinating men and their relationship with each other and with those that surround them. There’s no intrigue, no mystery. There’s just people trying to live life without getting hurt too much. Eli and Quinn just jump off the page from the first time they touch and they don’t let go until their book is done.

Bad Boyfriend	MitchellThe book opens with Quinn having sex with Peter, his boyfriend of ten years, for the first time in four months. The next day, Peter leaves him because he’s getting married to the woman he got pregnant two months prior. Not only is Quinn in Peter’s wedding to  Chrissy, who has no idea about Quinn’s history with Peter, but she asks Quinn to be the baby’s godfather. So the story really starts the night before the baptism. Quinn’s at the local gay bar with his friend:

“I’m not still in love with him if that’s what you’re saying.”

“So prove it. Put an end to this insanity with a big fuck you.”

“Like how?”

“Show up tomorrow with a drag queen on your arm and ask Peter if he thinks she makes your dick look bigger.” [This is totally one of the reasons I read your books, Ms. Mitchell, for lines like this. Beautiful.]

“I can’t do that.”

“Why not?”

“His family. They’ve always been good to me. I couldn’t—” He hadn’t worried about losing touch with Peter’s brother Dennis. They went back too far for that, had been through too much in the Academy together, but he’d thought losing Peter meant losing the rest of the Laurents too—cracking on pop culture with Peter’s sister Alyssa, war games with Peter’s dad, and worst of all, losing Peter’s mom. Claire had welcomed him, mothered him, from the first time Dennis had brought him home on their break from the Academy. Two weeks after Peter moved out, Claire had called to tell him her son’s business was his own, but as far as she was concerned, Quinn was still a member of her family. He couldn’t humiliate them in church like that. [This is the -- very believable because fully explained -- motivation for much of the story. Peter's family is more important to Quinn than Peter is by this point. They're the only family he has and they love him for who he is, whether or not Peter left him.]

But the idea of showing up with a date, a very obviously gay date, someone who Peter would have to notice, got entrenched in Quinn’s brain.

So Quinn finds Eli. Eli is friends with Nate and Kellan, the heroes of Bad Company (Bad Boyfriend stands alone but it’s a little bit richer if you’ve read Bad Company first). Eli is 22 (Quinn is 35). Eli has never not been out, he’s never been able to hide who he is:

Eli had always been out. He didn’t really know how to make it a question of what he was willing to talk about. People took one look at him and knew he was gay. Not for the first time he thought it was a lot harder to look like Quinn, stupid little ponytail and all.

So he works it instead:

Being fuckable was something Eli aspired to every second of the day.

[Not incidentally, this book is filled with "favorite lines" for me. At one point, Eli is trying to explain to Peter's very straight brother that Peter hit on him (Eli):

"[He's] A man whore. He hit on me.”

Dennis rolled his eyes.

It was Eli’s turn to fold his arms. “I’ll have you know most gay guys find me hot.”

Dennis looked like he was trying to figure out why.

Anyway…]

So Quinn approaches Eli to ask him to go to the baptism in the morning and somehow gets sidetracked into the hottest sex he’s ever had. The hottest sex Eli has ever had to. And something I haven’t read before in a m/m romance (although maybe I’m not looking hard enough):

He slid his hand down the muscle-ridged torso and landed on what he’d already felt rub on his belly. The fat length of Quinn’s dick stretched up to just under the waistband of his jeans. Eli stroked and let the inside of his wrist find the damp head pushing up past the denim.

“Ooo, Daddy,” Eli purred. “Is this all for me?”

Quinn didn’t stop smiling, but he looked like now they were both in on the joke. “Only if you’re a good boy.”

“Oh, I’m always good.”

Yes, Quinn and Eli get each other off with Daddy kink (I can’t find an explanatory link that’s not fanfic related). FWIW, Daddy kink is not in the slightest age-play or incest-play, or at least it’s not in this book. It’s an older, more dominant man with a younger, submissive man, using “Daddy” and “boy” as their sex-related nicknames. And in this book it’s completely fucking hot.

And…that’s really the book. Quinn and Eli have to find their way to each other, despite the hot sex, despite Quinn’s attachment to Peter’s family, despite Eli’s abandonment issues. Quinn has to appreciate the joy and heat Eli brings to his life, while Eli has to trust that Quinn will never let him go.

This book not only has the best one-liners; it also has some of the best, most deeply personal relationship-related lines:

Every game Eli had played, tied spread-eagle, a hand or paddle bruising his ass, a flogger stinging into his crack, nothing had ever forced surrender on him like this deep, gentle fuck from Quinn. Eli had thought he liked to give up control, take a break for awhile and let a man push sensation onto his body. This was different.

Terrifying.

Because this was what it was like to really lose control. To let Quinn inside, to let him make Eli feel so much more than the amazing sensations of bodies together.

And inside that surrender was safety. Quinn around him, voice in his ear whispering, “I’ve got you. Let me make you feel good, honey.”

But really, one of the best expressions of love I’ve ever read is when Quinn desperately tells Eli:

And even if you end up breaking my heart, I won’t mind, if I get to have you in my life for awhile.

::melt::

This review is much more about impressions than a solid narrative of my reading experience because that’s what it feels like to read it. I’ve read this book at least four times, and each time I read it I get a different, deeper impression of how Quinn and Eli fit together so perfectly, how they work perfectly, how they become better people together by becoming more themselves. It’s easy just to remember the kinky sex, but each time I reread it, the lines I go back to again and again are about the relationship, not the sex.

Problems? First, Quinn and Eli have the big scene in which they figure each other out, figure their relationship out, and then…there’s one last scene with Peter and his family. And while it was a necessary scene for finishing up the loose ends of the story, I vaguely wish the emotional climax (hur hur) finished the book instead. I see why it had to happen that way, and I usually love to see characters just being together with a full understanding of their love for each other, but Quinn had already had his “I feel nothing for Peter anymore” scene before the final two scenes, so this seemed a bit too much.

And second, Peter was just…so fucking selfish I don’t understand how Quinn managed to miss it for so long or how Peter managed not to be an asshole for long enough that Quinn stayed with him. I get that it’s stress that really brings out the worst (or best) in people, so we’re seeing him at his worse, but there needed to be some redeeming something to make me understand why Quinn stayed for so long.

But overall, I adore, once again, how you let the reader work things out for ourselves. You don’t force-feed us the characters’ motivations; you don’t even spoon-feed us. You let us figure it out as the characters do. And that helps me know, viscerally, that these characters are utterly made for each other.

Grade: A-

Best regards,
-Sarah

P.S. OMG, that cover’s brilliant. Those two men are perfect for Eli and his attitude and for Quinn and his smile.

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Sarah F. is a literary critic, a college professor, and an avid reader of romance -- and is thrilled that these are no longer mutually exclusive. Her academic specialization is Romantic-era British women novelists, especially Jane Austen, but she is contributing to the exciting re-visioning of academic criticism of popular romance fiction. Sarah is a contributor to the academic blog about romance, Teach Me Tonight, the winner of the 2008-2009 RWA Academic Research Grant, and the founder and President of the International Association of the Study of Popular Romance (IASPR). Sarah mainly reviews BDSM romance and gay male romance and hopes to be able to beat her TBR pile into submission when she has time to think. Sarah teaches at Fayetteville State University, NC.

41 Comments

  1. Mary G
    Dec 12, 2011 @ 17:42:44

    Oh Sarah
    Enjoyed your take as usual. I read this book through in one sitting. Just loved it! Loved that Eli was younger but was so wise. Yes Peter, love to hate him.

  2. Sunita
    Dec 12, 2011 @ 19:22:11

    I really enjoyed this as well. I actually found Quinn more appealing and interesting than Eli, but I’m completely prepared to be in the minority on that preference! I appreciated Eli as a character, but I enjoyed Quinn’s path out of his relationship with Peter. I didn’t find it that unbelievable that he was able to stay with Peter for so long; I think he was in love with the family more than Peter, and he didn’t want to lose that. So he closed his eyes to the rest.

  3. Merrian
    Dec 12, 2011 @ 19:37:19

    I loved this story too and agree that I couldn’t see why Quinn and Peter stayed together so long unless it was for Quinn’s attachment to the family? My quibble is that the family seemed to part of a conspiracy of silence about Quinn and Peter being a couple and not just room-mates when it came to Chrissy. I will read it again to see if I missed something but I thought the family knew them as a couple while they may not have been out to the world?

    I loved that there was no serial killer, that there was no great mis-understanding. The things to be overcome for Eli and Quinn as they moved into relationship were their own understanding of themselves in relation to the world. It is a lovely story about love and connection enabling two people to become richer versions of themselves.

    I also liked that the people who are honest in their interactions with others win through in this story. I think the final scene with Peter shows Quinn and Eli working out their own relationship with what will be their family (along with Kellen and Nate) and that Peter loses/has a long way to go because he is not able to be honest. Actually all he is, is a bundle of needs.

  4. Mandi
    Dec 12, 2011 @ 20:00:31

    Sarah..because of your review of No Souvenirs (I believe) I purchased some KA Mitchell books and finally got around to reading The Florida series and Regularly Scheduled Life this past week. I’m so in love with this author’s voice. I can’t get enough. I just started the previous book to this one and will read this one next. Thanks so much for these reviews:)

  5. Sarah Frantz
    Dec 12, 2011 @ 20:08:11

    @Mandi: Yay! I’m so thrilled that you tried her and even more that you love her. I really can’t get enough of her voice either. Yay. :)

    @Sunita: I think the thing about this book (and NO SOUVENIRS and other books I adore, like SEP’s IT HAD TO BE YOU and Brockmann’s HEART THROB and Cullinan’s SPECIAL DELIVERY) is how much I loved BOTH characters. That’s really what makes it stand out for me. I don’t think I could pick between Quinn and Eli.

    And there’s a slightly more…traditional (?) review of the book here (as in, covers plot and theme a bit more coherently than my impressionistic review).

  6. Sunita
    Dec 12, 2011 @ 22:00:08

    @Sarah Frantz: Good point, I know what you mean. And I love jmc’s reviews; this one is up to her usual high standards. :-)

  7. Frekki
    Dec 12, 2011 @ 22:38:07

    I loved this one too. I loved that Eli was a flirty little twink, but still so strong, and that Quinn was such a good match for him in spite of being so different.

    My take on the final scene was that it was about Quinn putting Eli firmly ahead of Peter’s family rather than Peter. I thought all of Quinn’s covering for Peter was so he wouldn’t lose his family too.

  8. Anne
    Dec 12, 2011 @ 23:58:43

    OK. Someone enlighten me.

    It is reviews like this which have me believe Dear Author is a shilling central for authors paying for reviews. I recently bought three K.A. Mitchell novels because of glowing reviews here and I rued every single cent I paid. There are few authors, even self-published ones, I consider worse than her and it’s not just me. I asked around among friends (including gay and bi friends) and their opinion is exactly the same. So it’s not just some personal quirk.

    The sex sucks, not in the good way, it is endlessly repetitive (you read one Mitchell sex scene, you practically read them all, at least I found nothing new or even just slightly different within some 800-900 pages!), very unsexy, without the merest amount of sensuality, it’s way too much (as if the author needs some device to fill pages) and has no bearing on the plot whatsoever. I’m not only not turned on, I get turned off and away. It leaves me with a crawling skin. Totally yukky.

    Her “voice” is incredibly vulgar, again not in any good way. It’s like reading the inside of toilet stalls. I’ve never been conditioned to avoid “dirty words” so my personal reaction is not one of arousal about anything forbidden. But even if that were the case, with countless “fucks” and “pisseds” and whatnot more per page, again what happens is complete overkill. I’ve talked to completely drunk marines who conversed like ivory tower college professors compared to Mitchell. What’s worse, there is no attraction at all in the general language either. She writes at a level of language of an intellectually very challenged high school girl.

    What kills me off are the shallow characters. There’s no depth, only marginal development, few emotions if any, so far all of them came over as lowlife vulgar semi-prostitutes unable to care or think any further than their dicks. Again if that much. Most of them came over as bitchy m/f couples written as male, which to me is the worst thing possible in an m/m book.

    Now, I’m not against stroking off material (that’s as far as I’d go with her books), far from it. I love that if it’s achieving the goal, but Mitchell’s books don’t do anything in that department either, because there’s nothing even marginally erotic in her descriptions. One really has to be extremely needy to stroke off a description which is so purely mechanical.

    So, someone enlighten me. Where’s what you all rave about? I can’t find it anywhere in those books.

  9. Lindsey
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 03:20:54

    Ah, you make me want to read this. I was going to save my money, since I absolutely despised Bad Company, and didn’t get where all the love was coming from for it (the first time that’s happened to me with a K.A. Mitchell book), but now I’m tempted. I wasn’t really pleased with the excerpt, since it started out with sex/breakup of Peter and Quinn, but Eli WAS just about the only thing I liked about Bad Company, so now I’m thinking I’ll have to give this a chance.

  10. annabeth albert
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 03:50:29

    I adored this book. I discovered this author because of sarah & i have devoured her entire backlist. I am probably in the minority but i loved this book so much more than no souveniers. Kim is my least favorite mitchell hero although he does improve on the re-read. What I love about Bad Boyfriend is that despite age & socioeconomic differences & kinky bdsm play this truly is a relationship of equals & of men who believe themselves equal. That’s pretty rare both in real life and in fiction.

  11. Sarah Frantz
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 06:49:56

    @Lindsey: It’s totally worth it. BAD COMPANY not my favorite either, but this one is up there. Hope you enjoy it!

  12. Christine M.
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 07:39:35

    @Anne:

    To each their own. I love KA Mitchell and you hate her. No biggie. No need, either, to trash talk the blog, the reviewer or the book like there’s no tomorrow. We all have our favs and Sarah likes Mithcell enough (and ehough readers here love Mitchell) for her to kindly remember those of us who don’t keep track that there’s a new book out and that it is lovely. I love everything by Briggs, I rec her as often as I can yet I’m not paid to do so and still I’m sure there are a lot of people who may not like her.

  13. CourtneyLee
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 09:26:00

    I loved this book, too. I love how Mitchell is able to construct a relationship between equals when they are so different in ways that would typically indicate drastic inequality. I also like that Nate and Kellan’s appearances in the book were functional to the plot.

    Sarah, you said, ” they become better people together by becoming more themselves.” This is precisely what I hope to find in every romance, regardless of genre or sexual orientation. One of my favorite books to have this was one of Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark book, the one with Holly and Cade.

    And Anne, I agree with Christine M. Just because this author doesn’t resonate with you doesn’t mean you should criticise others who like her or accuse the bloggers here at DA of being paid to say nice things. Interrupting our little lovefest of KA Mitchell’s books to insult us was pointless and rude. In the future, I recommend you vent your spleen elsewhere.

  14. Jane
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 09:29:30

    @CourtneyLee To be fair, disagreeing opinions are welcome so Anne can vent her spleen here we just wish she would refrain from the ad hominem attack.

    @Anne – I think what you see here is a reader who loves a particular author. I can see how non stop praise for one author, one whom you don’t particularly enjoy can lead you to wonder about the validity of the opinion. However, no one here at DA is paid to praise any one particular author.

  15. Sirius
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 10:07:42

    I have not read this book yet, but I purchased it, so I get there eventually. In general K.A.Mitchell for me definitely hit and miss writer, when I am reading her books, I am usually thinking something along the lines – can we have less sex and more character development, pretty please. However I like her storytelling skills enough to continue purchasing her books in hope that she will produce more books like “Something about Jack” (I hope I am not misremembering the title). I think when she actually writes about characters and the development of their relationship, she often does it well and more often than not her sex scenes actually do advance the story. I just do not want to read the story where the only way to show character development is through sex, even if it is romance. I actually liked Bad company, hopefully I will get to this one soon. Thank you for the review.

  16. CourtneyLee
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 11:20:00

    @Jane: I apologize, Jane. I should have worded my comment differently because I was refering to her ad hominem attack, not her differing opinion. I think I responded the way I did because her comment was rather vitriolic. The variety of viewpoints in the comments here are what make me come back to this blog over and over; I’ve read and participated in rousing discussions here at DA where everyone thought something different, which always end up being the best comments threads for thought-provoking insight.

  17. Lindsey
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 14:52:40

    @Sarah Frantz: I think I will end up giving this one a chance.

    @Anne: Let me re-frame your criticism for you. My friends and I really dislike Twilight. Despite that, there are blogs/websites/whatever devoted to the love of the Twilight series. I don’t think blogs that promote or obsess over it are shilling for Twilight. But my friends and I don’t like it! Why do all these other folks like it? Because tastes vary. I should hope that you don’t consider “my friends and me” a valid sample of what a population thinks about something, because it’s likely that the reason you are friends with these people is that you have similar tastes. It seems a bit of an extreme logical leap to go from “I hate this author and so do my friends,” to “DA must be accepting paid reviews.”

  18. SarahF
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 15:25:48

    @Anne: I’m sorry you feel that way. I obviously don’t. I’ve historically given Mitchell a B-, so it’s not all rainbows and puppies. I do try to say WHY I like or dislike a book so you can see if you might agree or not. I’m sorry that you bought a book on my recommendation that you didn’t like. Maybe our tastes just don’t match up: try one of the books I hated and see if you like that any better. :)

  19. Anne
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 16:01:20

    My comment was direct and not in the slightest sugar-coated. That *is* different from what you are likely to read else. I haven’t grown up in a culture of appeasement or coating criticism in honey. Sorry, but that is so in some places.

    I paid around 50 USD all put together to buy 3 K.A. Mitchell books based on the raving reviews here, and as I said before, I rue every single cent. I read them all, I loaned them to two bisexual male friends, I loaned one to another friend who happens to be an English teacher, because I myself doubted my take on these books. But the responses from those three people are pretty much the exact same as mine, so it really isn’t as if it was just my opinion. They and I are readers, not authors, no friends of authors, none of us have any axes to grind. I stated where I do not get this review, nor any of the others written for this author.

    Where for instance is that equality of characters in her books? Where the male voice? She consistently has a femme partner in them all, and a butch one. In Collision Course for instance Aaron is not just the bigger, the taller and the (alleged) Dom of the two, he also exclusively tops, right up to the end, over a guy who is too insecure to walk straight and behaves like a girl, complete with a propensity for calming toddlers and changing diapers and wanting babies. Or Regularly Scheduled Life – where we have a jock lording it over a slim latino who behaves more like a latina, a jock who forces his boyfriend out of the closet without even asking him. Equal? Not in the slightest.

    So if you do not even notice these things, and instead allege it is the other way round, and this is really easy to spot and easy to find, then I think doubting and challenging your neutrality is not exactly unreasonable. You have to concede it’s a tad curious. Especially as it doesn’t stop with the above point.

    Where for instance is the sex relevant to the plot, where is it hot? Could you point this out somewhere?

    I counted not more than 3 maybe 4 scenes in each of the books I read which were necessary, either to the plot or to the character development. All the rest were not sustained by anything within the basic story.

    Now, I don’t mind PWP. I stated that. But I counted over 3 dozen sex acts in e.g. Collision Course which were all identical, give or take a word or two. Identical, as in described the exact same way. That was the same for abovementioned Regularly Scheduled Life and it was the same for Life, Over Easy. In fact, most sex scenes are freely interchangable between books, not just from page to page. They read, neutrally read, as if they were programmed into the word processor and could be entered with one keystroke. Just adjust the names and you’re done. I don’t know a lot of people who consider reading the same thing over and over again hot after the first repetition.

    BTW, I got tired real fast by the lube-up-1-2-3 thing. As much as with people using condoms, but then unconcernedly rimming without a dental dam, or smearing each other with semen, jerking off into eyes, swallowing semen and doing condom-free orals. Either you guard against HIV and STDs, or you don’t. You can get HIV from unprotected rimming and BJs just as much as from contact between semen and other mucuous membranes, whereas the whole finger routine isn’t something which is needed unless the recipient really has a problem with doing it in the first place. I’d really expect mention of something like this, it belongs in a review, especially when you elsewhere state how oh so correct and proper the whole thing is described. This sort of thing can squick people, especially those knowledgable or having friends/family who died of AIDS and it’s really not something gay men wouldn’t at least know about.

    As I said, I could keep going with what would be pretty basic points, nothing which is beyond simple analysis of a text and has very little to do with tastes.

    It would be quite easy to point these things out and still state one’s squee over this author, though of course a neutral grade then would be rather different. At least it might give people like me, who take your reviews at face value and expect some basic neutrality (as per the various statements on this blog), a chance to see past sheer personal likes.

  20. Sirius
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 16:39:43

    @Anne: Sorry, but in my view unless you have proof, accusing the reviewer of getting paid for praising a specific author is something else than not sugar coating said criticism. I have learned a LONG time ago that my and Sarah’s tastes do not match way too more times than they match, and yes, I have learned it by trial and error. She seems to love books which tend to have much more sex than I prefer to read about for example, and no, I do not always feel that said sex advanced the plot a lot either. But anything that you offered about KA Mitchell books really can be interpreted both ways, cant it? I mean the characters looking butch and femme I guess cannot be interpreted differently, but they can still *act* as equals, cant they? I have read Collision course long time ago, do not remember the details and do not want to reread it, but while I do not remember how Aaron and Joey looked, I certainly have a very lasting expression that Joey was no roll over and that stunt that he pulled at the end, certainly was not an action of a person who is less equal to his lover in my opinion. And what can be more subjective as whether sex scenes advance the plot or not? It is even more a matter of personal opinion IMO. I am sorry you paid a lot of money for the books you ended up disliking, but how is it Sarah’s fault?

  21. cs
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 16:47:46

    @Anne: First off can I say that I can totally agree where you are coming from in some instances. I am a fan of K.A. Mitchell, and I think she’s a very good writer. I have to say I do agree with your femme/butch comparison. Not in the sense you probably said though. I think the author just tries to represent all different types of gay guys, but she does go through the same formula. Joey from Diving Deep got his own book, then Eli from Bad Company got his own. I have to say her supporting characters bore me to death.

    Sex scenes are boring to me full stop. In the instances of Bad boyfriend it was all sex. I read probably two, and skipped the rest. I don’t think you can blame Mitchell for writing boring sex scenes. 99% of the authors I read do the same thing.

    I’m a ‘fan’ of Mitchell. I however hated, Bad Boyfriend, Collision Course and No Souvenirs with a passion. Sarah likes this author and is probably going to review all her books. Sometimes being a fan can make you biased, but then to avoid that it’d mean you’d only ever be allowed to read one book from that author. Sadly, no one is going to do that. If you like someone’s book, you’re going to want to read the next one, and probably become a fan. It’s up to the reviewer to make their review clear. However, if the reviewer didn’t find anything wrong in their perspective it doesn’t make their view wrong either.

    P.s. if you review M/M books I’d love to read them (and no I’m not being sarcastic).

    After that, it shows you how different perspectives can be. I really didn’t like this book. The only thing I liked was Peter. Quinn and Peter’s relationship was so far-fetched. I’m not sure why Quinn loved his family so much (yes, yes the sob story) but they where just as bad. I also didn’t like the dig about Peter suddenly putting on weight after the break-up. I doubt Peter will get a book, but his emotional damage would be an epic read.

  22. Sirius
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 16:48:11

    Sorry, just wanted to add that I guess my main point that there is no such thing as completely neutral review in my opinion – review is more often than not the combination of how reader feels about the book and how reader evaluates the book literary merits. When I for example review a book by Tamara Allen, based on past experiences it is highly unlikely that her book will earn less than a five stars from me. I am prepared to stand by every word I wrote in the reviews of her books, but I am sure there are readers who may or will interpret her books completely differently than I did. And if somebody will tell me that I am getting paid to praise her books because they disliked her books, trust me, I am about to say something very not sugar coated in response :). To each their own indeed.

  23. cs
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 16:58:48

    @Sirius: I can understand Anne’s frustrations. I think we’ve all been in the position where we’ve been let down. I have been really angry at reviews as well in the M/M genre. At that I have never bought a book based on a review.

    Though, as you said Sarah is not to blame for Anne spending her money. Just because someone writes a favourable review doesn’t mean you’re going to like it. I bought the Twilight books because of the hype. I’m not going to blame those who liked it, for duping me into spending my money. I’m with you my tastes do not match Sarah’s either, but I am always interested to see what she has to say about M/M books she reads.

  24. Sunita
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 17:00:14

    @Anne: I reviewed Life, Over Easy along with Sarah in a joint review and I recommended Regularly Scheduled Life in a Pride Week post back in June. I’m sorry my recommendations didn’t work for you.

    I don’t remember Life, Over Easy all that well at this point, but I’ve read RSL more than once. I definitely think the sex was integral to the plot and character development, especially as a form of communication. In the beginning of the book it reinforced the “perfection” of the relationship; before the shooting, the protags were pretty complacent about what a great life and relationship they had. Taking away the sex after the shooting took away one of the main ways in which they interacted, and it illustrated and reinforced their growing separation. As the story went on, I felt that the sexual episodes were one of the few ways in which they were still able to communicate, and they tried to keep their sex life the same even though everything else was different (to me it was almost desperate in its intensity at that point).

    I’m not speaking here about the writing, or the explicitness of the sex. Like Sirius, I’m partial to less rather than more explicitly described sex scenes. But m/m readers expect a fair amount of sex in their stories, so I know it’s going to be there. I’ll often skim through the scenes and move on. But I do note when I think that these scenes are integral to the story or not. In RSL I thought many of them were, and that it would have been a different book without them.

  25. Sirius
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 17:08:12

    @cs: But see, as somebody who is a reviewer also (unpaid one) and nowhere near Sarah’s eloquence and never will be, I feel quite sad when I read it. Trust me, I fret every time when I write my reviews that somebody would be steered wrong by my reviews, that is why I try my hardest to put up all possible warnings in the world, all qualifiers – you may not like this, if you like that, etc, etc. I am a reader first and foremost, avid reader, I write reviews because I love to talk about the books with other readers, love discussions, debates, even heated arguments sometimes. I am not *interested* in selling you or anybody else any book, when I write my reviews author is not entering into equasion at any time, you know? I would imagine that most reviewers write reviews for that reason first and foremost, including Sarah, even though I never talked to her besides commenting on her reviews, so I cannot be sure. No matter though how hard I try, there is absolutely no way that my tastes will match every other reader’s tastes. I often rely on the reviews (more than one often enough, or even one if I know that my tastes and the reviewer’s do match) to buy the books and I still buy a lot. Was I disappointed? Sure I was and more than once, but I always tell myself that reviewer does not stand near me with gun and threatens me to purchase the book. It is my decision to buy or not to buy and IMO to blame the reviewer for your dissappointment is just not fair. Right, I mostly read her reviews because they are so well written, sometimes I find a book I want to research and very rarely I do buy after reading her review, but most of the times she is definitely not a reviewer based on whose recommendation alone I will buy the book.

    I remember getting so angry after reading Something Different for example, because that book mostly will stand in my mind as a book which demonised or portrayed as stupid every single female character in the book. Was I dissapointed? You bet I was, even if I paid only 99 cents, but it never entered my mind to blame Sarah for me purchasing the book based on her review.

  26. Jane
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 17:10:21

    @Anne No. We have plenty of commenters who are unafraid to speak their minds. Further being considerate isnt a form of appeasement nor does it require sugar coating.

    Obviously Sarah’s reviews aren’t working for you and spending a lot of money only to be disappointed is obviously frustrating. I doubt I would read Mitchell either. In doing a liveblog with a couple of gay friends of mine, mitchell’s novella came off poorly for me. http://dearauthor.com/book-reviews/dasb-liveblog-of-custom-ride-by-ka-mitchell

    However Sarah’s review seems detailed enough to give readers a taste of the writing. Sometimes it takes time to see whether your tastes jive with the reviewers.

  27. Mary G
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 18:44:51

    The things that Anne hated – grittiness & characters – are what I loved. That just means KAM is not for her. She also mentioned excessive & repeat sex scenes. I never once while I was reading thought, “Oh, she said that before.” Doesn’t mean I’m an idiot, it just means that I like KAM’s voice. I’m in Canada and books cost more here so I do lots of research before I buy books. Although I’ve loved everything I’ve tried that Sarah recommended, it doesn’t mean I buy everything she recommends. I read excerpts like crazy to see if the author’s voice suits me.

    On protected sex: Once the couple (no matter the genre) has mentioned being tested and cleared & are exclusive, I’m good with protection not being used. If they use it throughout, I don’t need a paragraph each time on the mechanics of it putting it in place – takes me out of the story. But that’s just MHO.

  28. cs
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 19:11:54

    @Sirius: No, I agree no one should blame a reviewer because they bought a book based on their review. At the end of the day, reviews are opinions. That’s why I never use one to buy a book. I don’t need reviews to buy books. I, however think because Dear Author is a big representative of book culture, that people have a lot of expectations of it. Dear Author whilst has a lot of stigma attached to it as well but is a well-rounded place. So, yes when you read a review here you expect a lot from it. Obviously Anne has not found that, and has been let down and she’s entitled to feel that way. I can understand her on a level. I think the tone of the comment, and the accusation of being “paid” to write reviews was taking it too far.

    I have to say if I love a book, I’m really vocal about it that people should read it. I think when you rate books as A or B’s people assume that this book HAS to be good. I’m not saying the reviewer is saying go buy it. But there is an attachment to those ‘letters’ or ‘numbers’ that make people think, “well this has to be good” – again it’s completely your choice if you go and spend money on it. Not anyone else’s.

    I agree with everything you said though. It’s a tough spot as a reviewer. I think even more when you’re reviewing for such a popular site. As I said in my first comment, the only way not to be biased is to only ever read one book from every author you read. That’s never going to happen. Sarah is entitled to review every book of K.A. Mitchell’s and give them all A or B ratings.

    I guess my point was I can understand Anne’s frustrations on some of K.A. Mitchell’s work, but not her anger against Sarah.

    Like you I enjoy reading her reviews as well. I read this one because I had bought this book too, and wanted to see her opinion on it. Totally differed from mine, and 99% of the commentators who commented about the book. I mean between Sarah and Sunita, Sunita is the one whose tastes match mine. I enjoy reading Sunita’s reviews more because I’m always like nodding my head. Sarah not so much, but her taste is really different from mine – but the fact I still read them shows that I value the way she writes her reviews. I like the discussion and the differing POV’s.

    ETA: Where do you review your books? I like reading reviews, and since you’re one of the commentators I enjoy reading here, I’d love to read your views on books.

  29. Sirius
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 21:17:48

    @cs: Looks like my post got eaten, oh well. Here is the short version, yes my tastes much with Sunita much more closely, but even with her it is not a 100% match and IMO such match does not exist. However yes, I know that if I were to buy after reading Sunita’s review alone, I am more likely to end up being happy and satisfied with the book.

    Oh, the only reason I mentioned that I review too is because I wanted to be clear about what perspective I am coming from, I did not mean to imply that you should look at my reviews. However, I am not hiding it either – I am one of the reviewers for JesseWave’s site.

  30. Sunita
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 22:17:42

    @Sirius: Slightly OT, but I really enjoy your reviews at Jessewave. I find them very thoughtful and useful, and even when I don’t see the book the same way, I like reading your take on it.

    @cs: I look forward to your comments, whether we are in agreement or not. Which is one of the points you both are making, that reviews can be still be informative when the reviewer has different tastes.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve definitely bought books based on compelling reviews and then found that they didn’t work for me at all. But on balance, it’s worth risking the mismatch to get the gems.

  31. Kaetrin
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 01:01:03

    I’m reading Bad Boyfriend now and I’m loving it. LOVING. IT. I won a copy from Sarah on Twitter but would have bought it otherwise. I have (bought and paid for) all of KA Mitchell’s other books and generally I love her writing. I didn’t love Bad Company all that much (I think I gave it a C from memory- which, compared to the usually high grades I give her was a big dip).

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE Regularly Scheduled Life and No Souvenirs. Personally, I don’t think there’s too much sex and I see plenty of character development. KA Mitchell’s writing suits my taste and, lucky for me (but not so lucky for my wallet), Sarah’s tastes in m/m often (but not always) jibe with mine.

    Anne might think I have no taste, but frankly, I don’t care. I love KA Mitchell’s writing. May she write many more. I’m happy to spend my money on her work. I’m also happy to read Sarah’s reviews.

  32. Kaetrin
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 01:05:18

    @Sirius – I loved Something Different by SA Reid. Looks like our hot buttons are different :)

    I’ve read a few of your reviews over at Wave’s and have found them helpful. As long as a review says what they liked and didn’t and why, it’s all good for me.

  33. cs
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 11:18:08

    @Sirius: I reviewed for sites as well, until it got too much of being a “job” – I asked because I do enjoy reading reviews. I only ever comment here (only because I’m lazy, heh). I never knew you reviewed for JW. I read the site as well. I like how you guys section off what worked for you and what didn’t work for you clearly.

    @Sunita: Well-rounded reviews are always going to informative. You can’t blame a reviewer for liking a book and you didn’t. It’s not fair on the reviewer. It’s a shame Anne felt like she wasted her money. I know a lot of people base some of their purchases on reviews, even reviews that hated a book. It’s your choice at the end of the day. I do enjoy reading your reviews, and as Sirius said match can’t always be 100% – but your reviews are really enjoyable to read. Looking forward to more of them :)

  34. Sirius
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 13:47:48

    @Sunita: Thank you and Kaetrin thank you as well.

  35. Sirius
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 13:52:00

    @Kaetrin: I did not have a problem with main couple, but yes, I definitely had a problem with how every single female character was portrayed. So yes, in this case, our buttons are different :). When I read stories like this one, I usually have a lot of understanding for the readers of m/m who would prefer not to have women in the stories they read at all. Usually I completely disagree with such argument, because I have no interest of reading the story where the guys exist in the artificial world without women around them. I am not saying I care about seeing m/f sex in them, although if story warrants it (past relationship, whatever), I do not mind either. But after reading stories where all characters are portrayed that way (stupid, silly flirt, evil, or just lacking the empathy), I am wishing for no women story, I would rather read story like that, truly. Yeah, one of the buttons definitely, can you tell? :)

  36. Sirius
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 13:53:51

    @cs: Thank you :).

  37. Kaetrin
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 15:45:52

    @Sirius I actually had a bit of a different take on the female characters in SD – I don’t want to take the comments off track (further off track! :D) so I won’t go into detail here. If you’re interested in my thoughts, you can read my review on my blog. I won’t be offended if you’re not interested or if you are and disagree!

    (Dear Jane/Sarah, hope it’s cool to refer people to my blog in this context; it’s not something I usually do in my comments here).

  38. jmc
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 15:50:44

    @Sunita: Thank you!

    @Sarah Frantz: Great review, I think. :) And now all about me rather than the book — are my reviews traditional? Going through my archives, I’ve observed that my reviews are much less thoughtful and much shorter than they used to be. I still take a lot of notes, mark pages, dog ear paper books, etc., but somehow that stuff just doesn’t make it into my posts. Part of it is that the further away I get from reading, the less likely I am to post at all, and it’s easier to sit down and type out the shorter format review than the longer, more analytical one. And the rest is business/laziness.

  39. Sirius
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 21:08:13

    @Kaetrin: Thank you, I did, I found your blog, I talked :).

  40. Sarah’s Best of 2011 List
    Mar 04, 2012 @ 04:00:25

    [...] Class and SUBlime. Haven’t reviewed them yet, but I will! Next on my list! K.A. Mitchell, Bad Boyfriend. Grade: A- Damon Suede, Hot Head. Grade: B+ A.L. Turner, I Just Play One on TV. Grade: A- S.A. [...]

  41. Fantasy and Ivory | cute girl discount
    Jun 12, 2012 @ 21:09:57

    [...] chapters of the first book on Amazon, I have zero desire to read the damn things. Not my kind of (hot, same-sex, well-written) porn. Which is [...]

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