Unexpected Review – Cultivating Love

This was out of the blue and made my morning when I saw it on my WordPress blog feed this morning:


Gigi at Gay Book Reviews posted a review of my 2009 release at Loose ID, Cultivating Love. Go check out the nice things she says. Hint: she’s placed the book on her Goodreads “Fuck yeah, 5+ stars” shelf. 😀

Cultivating Love

6 thoughts on “Unexpected Review – Cultivating Love

  1. Yay, I’m happy for you! It’s well deserved, I love this book! I prepared a blog post for Thursday with a list of the best books I read last year and…Cultivating Love is on it! 😉

    1. Aw, thank you! It’s always broken my heart that the ratings average for that one isn’t particularly good. Not bad…just not as good as I would have liked. I’m glad you enjoyed it! 🙂 Seems like people either loved or hated it.

      1. I went to Goodreads to read some of the bad reviews. I find reviews really interesting and a lot of the times I’m like “Did we even read the same book? That’s not what I read at all!” Like the one we discussed for TLATC?

        I’ve noticed that readers sometimes don’t like when MCs are different and break the mold of how they’re supposed to act. Like they prefer to read about classical template characters. You know, like the big, studly firefighter. And in this case with cowboys that don’t act like stereotypical cowboys, maybe that’s why some people don’t like it? They expect the MCs to be in a certain way and when they aren’t, the readers reject the story?

        And also: it’s not filled with grand gestures and big declarations of love, but with those quiet romantic moments you write so well and I always gush over. Your characters find love and are in a relationship in a manner that’s believable for the character, not according to a rule how it’s supposed to be. Maybe that’s also off-putting to some readers, because when we read a romance we want a ROMANCE with roses and chocolate and the most mind-blowing sex of the characters lives, and not something that could be real life?

        My favorite scene in the book is when Joe tells Ed he’s more important than the farm. That reminds me of my own life, the kind of romantic gestures my husband makes. In 20+ years he’s given me flowers once, and my girlfriends gasp when they hear it and mutter that he’s unromantic. But he’s not, he’s actually super romantic. Instead he gives me presents with great thought behind, that show me he’s clearly got me in mind but that might not seem romantic at first sight. Like new earphones with cords that won’t tangle. That’s so much more romantic in my life (I listen to music ALL THE TIME and I hate when the cords get into a big knot!!) than a big bouquet of roses that’ll die in a week or two.

        That’s why I love this book, it’s filled with those kind of moments. But maybe what the reader wants is the romantic FANTASY, and in that case this book is not it.

        If it makes sense.

        I love it, anyhow. I’d love it even more if you gave it a new cover, but what the heck: I never look at the cover in my e-reader anyway 😉

        And haven’t you missed my super long comments? 😉

  2. I love your long comments, Nell! 🙂

    Yes, I think you hit it. It’s been a while since I’ve read through the Cultivating Love reviews, but what I remember about the less positive ones are comments about how they don’t know any guys that act like that. All I could think when I first read them was so what? I don’t personally know guys who act like most of the characters in the books I love. Alternatively I’ve had people tell me they know guys who are just like Ed & Joe. But my takeaway is that perhaps I could tweak things to better show their thought processes so more people could believe in their behaviors?

    I totally agree with you regarding the little gestures being the most romantic! I prefer subtle.

    The contract expires again on June 9. I usually get an email a month or so before to extend it. I was thinking of taking it down this time, perhaps giving it a minor overhaul (I love the story as it is, so it would only be minor tweaking), so it can have a go on Kindle Unlimited. I can’t decide whether it would be better to maintain a little diversity publisher-wise, or do that.

    1. You’re right, that’s what some complain about. It’s a very interesting thing to criticize I think, and specific to romance. Why is that so important to romance readers, I wonder? Is it because we so desperately want the happily-ever-afters to be true so we can’t deal with things that break the illusion? That we need to be able to relate to the characters so we can imagine them in our everyday life, and when someone acts outside of our preconceived notions it shatters the fantasy?

      It’s not like any of the reviews of “Silence of the Lambs” say “Unbelievable book, I don’t know anyone in real life that acts like Hannibal Lecter”. It’s like romance books are being judged on a different set of criteria than other books. Like the thing that surfaces now and then that women can’t write about gay men. Why wouldn’t we, if we do our research properly? It’s like saying JK Rowling did a piss poor job with Harry Potter because she’s not a wizard or that JRR Tolkien didn’t know what he was talking about because he wasn’t a hobbit. Or an ent. Or an orc.

      Ah well, I find it really interesting. I wonder if there’s a study on the topic, I’d love to read it 🙂

      Difficult decision what to do about the book. If it’s doing well with the current publisher, why change it? On the other hand, it’s a well known fact that KU is the way readers discover authors, so maybe you’ll get more readers that way? On the third hand, isn’t the JMS-books going up on KU now, so that audience might be covered anyway? Maybe you’ll see an effect of KU when it’s time for you to decide what to do in May?

      Argh, I don’t know. I don’t envy you the decision. 🙂

      1. I would read that study in a heartbeat, too.

        Yes, our books at JMS will soon be in KU. Cultivating Love is at Loose ID and if I were to pull it there, it would be to put the new edition at JMS rather than self-pub to get KU. I guess I’m a little lazy and would rather not have to deal with the self-pub headache. That would put all my eggs in one basket, but I’m not too concerned about that.

        Sales-wise. Loose ID is monthly for payment (which was nice), and I’ve only had a couple months since it came out with nothing. That said, it’s only auto payment to checking account if over $10, otherwise you get a check. I’ve been getting checks for years now, so although it’s not completely dead, it’s pretty slim. I don’t know what effect this review might have had across the board, but I did see a boost in rank at Kindle. Probably temporary, though, without the rejuvenation of a re-release plus KU. I’m leaning in that direction.

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