Previous Mailbags:

Sept. 11, 2005

June 21, 2005

February 14, 2005

November 8, 2004

August 24, 2004

  The Reviews
July 16, 2006
Sandra felt PASSION crossed the line:

This is to warn anyone who might plan to read PASSION by Lisa Valdez, because they think it's a romance. It's not. Explicit sex scenes are common in romances, but PASSION steps over the line seperating erotica from pornography. I found the author's use of four-letter words offensive. If I want to read porn, I'll buy porn. Judging from the preview of Valdez's next novel in the back of the book, it will be even more offensive. I shall not be reading it, or anything else written by Valdez, ever. If you want really hot sex scenes that aren't offensive, read Lisa Klepas' SUDDENLY YOU.

Cheryl wasn't in agreement with our review of THE CRIMSON CODE by Rachel Lee:

Disagree completely. Enjoyed the book very much. Fast action, engrossing story, and the similarity to Dan Brown's book seems to be a common thread in several books lately, so that shouldn't automatically reduce the value of this story.

However, as I have recommended to several of my friends that they should always consult your reviews before buying a book, I do have a couple of complaints. Susan Crandall's On Blue Falls Pond and Kate Lyon's Hope's Captive, which received high reviews, were both tremendously disappointing. Vapid and boring are the two adjectives that keep repeating themselves. While the story lines were fine, and Hope's Captive was the best of the two, both were not worthy of your high scoring. On Blue Falls Pond was most disappointing. I don't buy books unless you have given them at least a 4 star rating, and this one was a weak 3 at best.

Mary wants to know:

I just wish you were able to review more 4- and 5-star books! It seems as though so many of the stories you review are substandard according to your reviewers, and I just know there must be plenty of books out there that are good. Where are they?

Ed.Note: Sometimes our reviewers wonder the same thing!

Stacey liked our review of THE SHADOWY HORSES:

Firstly I must say you did a splendid recount of the book, the book in question Shadowy Horses is my favourite book since I was in yr 9 (I am now in yr 12). I have read and reread this masterpiece literally 28 times, I never tire from the plot and the characters are so intricately created it makes them seem as real as you and me. I love Susanna Kearley's stlye of writing. Marianne, Splendour falls and Name of the Dragon are also just as aspiring. Anyone who hasn't had the pleasure of reading these masterpieces, I urge you read them! You will not be disappointed.


I wanted to tell you that I check your website to find great leads to many very good books & authors, but you have missed an absolutely wonderful heart wrenching love story! I just finished reading the above captioned book & found it to be one of the very best books I have ever read. It is definitely in the top five books I have read & I read at least 3 to five books per week. Carole Bellacera is a unique writer that tells the tale & keeps your interest throughout the entire story to the point of wanting not to stop reading & then wanting to stop because you don't want the book to end. The love story between Kaleigh & Eric will tug at your heart & what they went through to be together. I cried & laughed in the story, but most of all you really feel their love. After I read about Jaime in Diana Galbadon's Outlander series, I never thought I would enjoy a book as well as that, but I did this one.

Holly loved Nora Roberts's KEY trilogy:

I am an avid Nora Roberts reader, loving every book of hers I have read. However when I picked up the Key of Light, I was transported into the story, (not literally!). I can quite easily say that this trilogy makes up my 3 favorite Nora Roberts books. I felt a little of myself in the 3 main women characters and read the 3 books in 4 days, all that with a 3 year old running around! I need to go make supper, but wanted to let you know that there is another Nora Roberts reader out here that loves the wonderful stories she weaves.

Margaret didn't care for THE PENALTY BOX by Deidre Martin:

Ms Sova was dead on in her review of this book. Katie Fisher was annoying in the extreme and pretty self-centered. Her eating habits were totally unreal for someone who lost weight and had maintained that loss for some time. Sounds like she learned nothing. I also felt the plot was too contrived to be much fun to read. I could more readily believe Paul Dorn's wanting to relive his glory days as I've known athletes who can't let go of their past. I think the 2 hearts given by Ms. Sova was plenty. Better luck next time, Deidre Martin.

Elizabeth thinks we're too hard on Shannon Drake:

I want to comment on some of the review that have been posted for Ms. Drake's novels. Most of the reviews are negative and sarcastic, not giving the novels the justice that they deserve. If your reviewers had looked closely, they would have realized the amount of work Ms. Drake puts into researching her work, unlike some romance novelist. I applause Ms. Drake for her information (which I find interesting). If you read historical romance, part of the reason you read it is to have a good story with well researched background information, and the timeline at the end of her novel is extremely interesting and helpful. Next time someone writes a bad review make sure to include a good review also because these authors put a lot of energy into researching and writing their novels and deserve some credit.

Ed. Note: We review the book, not the effort that went into it, which we have no way of evaluating anyway. Our policy is to evaluate each book on its own merits, not "balance" reviews by forcing ratings on books. What would be the point of that? Read on for another opinion.

Suzy is enjoying our reviews:

I am just dropping a line to say how pleased I am to find your site- I agree absolutely with this reviewer about Feehan's longwindedness, and it is so great to find a review site that tells it like it is, instead of giving everything five stars, as if they are on commission! I buy a lot of romance, especially supernatural romance, but find it frustrating to wade through all the substandard stuff to find the really GOOD books, like Kellly Armstrong, Angela Knight and Sherrilyn Kenyon. I will be back!

Jennie has a question about THE DEVIL IN WINTER by Lisa Kleypas:

Why does it seem like I have read this book before?? I keep looking at the copyright year to make sure it is 2006...??? Is there another book that is very similar to this one?

Susan struggled with Jennifer Crusie's DON'T LOOK DOWN:

I've read about 20 pages of Don't Look Down and I have agreed with your review from page 2. I wish I had read your review before I bought the book - perhaps I would have bought it anyway, perhaps not; ever an optimist, I would have wanted to believe there were elements of the story that perhaps you didn't care for but I would enjoy. Alas, I fear that's not the case and it may be, since there are so many books and so little time, this one may get donated to the public library unread past page 20.

Marilyn liked DELICIOUS by Susan Mallery:

Delicious, Delightful, and Just Plain Delovely. I sincerely enjoyed Susan's book and would rate it at least 4-1/2, that's how good I thought it was. I think Susan's humor and sensual side showed through in this book. Secrets and lies, yes, all of the ingredients for a good book which takes place in a lovely city.

Ceann had this to say about THE SILVER ROSE by Susan Carroll:

Hello! I read the recent review for the Silver Rose by Susan Carroll and I must agree with the reviewer's opinion. I love Susan Carroll as an author. Her book, The Midnight Bride, is without a doubt one of my favorites. However, The Silver Rose left me vaguely unsatisfied. I thought she didn't let the story come to reasonable conclusion. There are too many loose ends. What will happen with Ariane and Renard? Or Nicholas and Gabrielle? Why are they so uninvolved in the story? Will they accept Simon as Miri's husband?

I also thought that too much time had past in between the last two books. Simon learned so many things in that 10 years that I would have liked to been there for. Especially seeing the catalyst for Simon when he begins to regret the past and have a change of heart.

I am inclined to agree that there should be a fourth story. I enjoyed all three books and would appreciate another to fill in the blanks.

Leechia liked MASTER OF WOLVES by Angela Knight

I loved this book too. You had a couple of issues with the Change, and why none of the bad cops disintegrated. I figure it's a matter of percentages. It would happen that the one innocent Changed would be in the wrong percentile. Go figure. And I don't think the bad cop/were was so much under the evil vampiress's spell so much he was really caught up in having sex with her.

Sue agreed with us on A GENTLEMAN BY ANY OTHER NAME:

Cathy Sova is spot-on regarding this book. I started it a few days ago and am having trouble staying with it. It's because, so far, I don't really like the lead characters, Chance and Julia, and because of this I fail to have much empathy for them. Add to that, Jacko the "butler" is totally annoying! I could do without him entirely.

The storyline makes little sense; Julia was hired to be the nanny for Chance's daughter, Alice, yet the moment they move to Chance's family home, the in-house nurse takes over, Julia is no longer the nanny, and now we have to deal with the new theme of the story, a "pretend" romance between Chance and his supposed mistress, Julia!

I personally am not and never have been interested in smuggling, and I wonder if I can get all the way through this book. Unfortunately for me, I already bought the next two books in her series and honestly didn't realize the three books were related! I simply bought them because, normally, I like Kasey Michaels, and when I like an author I keep buying her books. I think I might be in for some boredom for the next few weeks.

Author Lisa Kleypas wrote regarding our review of DEVIL IN WINTER:

I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed reading the well-written and thoughtful review of my latest novel "Devil In Winter". I noticed a couple of Mary's points on the research, and I hope I may be permitted to respectfully share some very surprising discoveries I made while reading up on Victorian medicine. There actually was a pamphlet published in 1720, by Dr. Benjamin Marten, an English physician . . . it was titled "A New Theory Of Consumption" and it contained an intuitive description of the "tiny creatures in the lungs" (what we now know as germ theory). Of course, hardly anyone took notice of it, but I still was impressed that Marten had managed to come up with the idea.

Regarding the practice of bloodletting, it was definitely a wildly popular practice, so Mary was right in viewing the characters' attitudes as somewhat anachronistic. However, not everyone approved of bloodletting, and even in the 1700's there was a strong anti-bloodletting sentiment among the common people (who usually had limited access to these kinds of treatments anyway). So I thought it was farfetched but not impossible for an aristocrat to be suspicious of the treatment--especially when it was his own arm on the table.

As always, I love visiting The Romance Reader site, and thank you for the kind and smartly written review.

Jeanette liked ALL NIGHT LONG by Jayne Ann Krentz:

I totally agree with the five heart rating of this book. It was refreshing to read a book where the main characters are not hiding things from one another. I loved that they were honest with each other from the start. Both characters were very likeable.

One reader isn't happy with the high price of books:

I refuse to buy the romance paperbacks in the $12-$15 range. I don't know why this has become so popular. The publishers are losing money, from me anyway, because I buy far fewer books now. I wonder if other readers feel the same way?

Sue was unimpressed with Nan Ryan's THE SHERIFF:

I have little to argue with when it comes to Wendy Crutcher's review of this novel, which is a shame since Nan Ryan is normally one of my favorites. But I did want to add one thing; calico cats are virtually always female, unless they are a genetic anomaly. But in The Sheriff, Kate's beloved, large TOM CAT is an overweight calico. Perhaps Nan should have done a bit more research into cats before writing this book?

Oh, and proper editing would have been nice. I had to laugh over the miners lying PROSTATE all over the ground after they'd danced for hours. Amusing, hm?

Sharon liked SEND ME NO FLOWERS by Kristin Gabriel:

Send Me No Flowers by Kristin Gabriel is the FUNNIEST and most wonderful book I have ever read! I couldn't put it down and most of my friends where I work have fought to see who gets to read it next. I have read it three times myself and laughed myself silly every time!

It may not be realistic in some people's regards, but who needs reality on a truly depressing day of the year for some of us who are never appreciated as we should be and spend it alone with a tub of chocolate ice cream and a bowl of strawberries for company?

If you can't enjoy this book and laugh along with it, you have no sense of humor, and I would suggest a cat scan at your earliest convenience.

Sandra didn't care for STILL LAKE by Anne Stuart:

I just read Anne Stuart's Still Lake. Romantic suspense? The identity of the killer could hardly be more obvious if he carried a sign saying "I did it!" As for 'romance', the 'hero' is a jerk, and the 'heroine' is TSTL. I guess she inherited her mother's brains. It didn't occur to Grace that if she pretended to be senile, her warnings that Doc was dangerous would be dismissed as demented paranoia. The one thing I did like about the book was that Sophie wasn't the usual skinny supermodel.

Margaret liked THE PREGNANCY TEST by Erin McCarthy:

I enjoyed this book almost as much as Ms. Hurzeler. Based on it, I ordred all the rest of Ms McCarthy's books that I could. 4 to be exact. Good thing I got gift certificates as they pretty pricey for paperbacks. I do like the size tho. I rarely by hardback as they are difficult to read while in bed. My favorite reading spot. And you can tuck them in your purse. I neve leave the house without my cell phone and a couple of books.

So I, too, give "The Pregnancy Test" high marks for entertainment. Love both the h/h. Anybody who reads romance novels know that isn't always the case. Love the humor, the romance and all that is included within the cover. It's also gone into my keeper stash. Enjoy!

Jane had this to say about a recent Christine Feehan release:

I noticed that Christine Feehan’s new book “Night Game” has been published in an awkward non-standard, non-trade size. Supposedly “easier to read”, the book price is $9.99. This is simply an unacceptable attempt by a publisher to pass on significant price increases (40% to 60%, depending on the cost of a regular sized paperback), when there are, in fact, no cost increases or real benefits to the reader to justify the price increase. I encourage readers to boycott the book and similar attempts by other publishers to take advantage of readers in this way.

Darlene liked A FINE PASSION by Stephanie Laurens:

Excellent book!!!! As always Ms. Laurens delivers. Her books are like onions, layer upon layer of subtle meaning. I love reading a line or paragraph and just allowing my mind to ponder the various textures of meanings.

I read and re-read, and re-read her books. I've read the Cynsters from book one thorough the current one time after time, after time, after time. Her characters are distinctive and the family connections a real delight. I recommend Ms. Laurens books to every reader with whom I talk.

And finally, Diana commented on our Readers Helping Readers section:

Thank you so much for posting my question. The answer was indeed the correct one and now I happily have in my hands a copy of one of my very favorite girlhood reads. I can't thank you enough.

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