I must admit the book did take a bit of a battering but that's okay - it actually did better than I thought. It is deliberately provocative and it is certainly not a sweet romance. I studied all the reviews to identify commonalities. In this way I could learn from my mistakes - which is a significant part of the process for me.
- I knew there were structural problems with the novel and if I were to do it again I would structure it differently. This did come through in the reviews. The readers made a valid point in this regard. Lesson learned.
- I took note of the criticisms about background information overload. Both protagonists do give a bio of themselves and tell the reader about the people closest to them when they are introduced. Perhaps I could spread the detail more evenly throughout next time, rather than have it all at the beginning - something to think about ...
- Repetition - I was concerned about this as I know that it can be tedious reading the same info more than once in a novel. It is deliberate; basically, as part of the narrative, both protagonists give their version of the same event - what differs is their interpretation. It is only done if and when it is significant to the main plot.
- Several readers remarked that they liked the diversity of characters (I take this to mean in relation to ethnicity and social class). I found that interesting. Admittedly 10 copies were offered for R4R and, to date, 7 have reviewed it, but the general impression that publishers give is that readers are put off by diversity, so I did not expect to find this to be a common plus-point. It's refreshing to discover this.
- Realistic is a word that came up quite a lot. This is true for reviews of my first novel, also. So it would seem that readers believe I portray teenagers realistically and I write realistic romance. I'm happy with that.
- Both sides of the story. Almost all of the reviewers commented on liking this aspect of the novel.
I'm glad I took part and I am satisfied with all the reviews - good and not-so-good. There were no trolls - all the readers were honest but kind in their delivery - which is much appreciated.