I am proud to announce my first 1-star review for Dunham, which you can find here. But I will quote it in its entirety for your convenience.
This book contains some shocking and gory scenes of violence that, for me, were difficult to get past. It seems more like historical fiction masquerading as romance, which isn’t my preference as a reader. I found little to recommend the heroine (she decapitates someone in the first scene), and the hero’s introspection was clouded by odd lines that were stream of consciousness? Bad poetry? I’m not sure what it was, other than that I didn’t like it. I’m surprised that kind of thing got past an editor, as it should have been punctuated or scrapped entirely. In all, I just didn’t like the book–it seemed a little too in love with itself and was weighed down by too much needless dialogue that I couldn’t be bothered to wade through. This one was a DNF for me, unfortunately.
(bold is mine)
I am absolutely and utterly delighted and thrilled with this review. Why? I will tell you.
I wrote the first scene, where Celia mutinies her captain by beheading him on the first page, almost 20 years ago. It was not then, nor was it for many years afterward, warmly received by any critique group and/or would-be beta readers (except one total stranger who loved it). It was, apparently, “not heroine-like. Your hero could do it, though.” (That’s a quote.) (By a male.) In fact, it was insulted, reviled, and generally all-around “WTF do you think you’re doing? WOMEN DON’T DO THAT!”
And that’s why I kept it. Through all the naysayers and insults, I knew what I wanted to do and I never wavered. I meant to write a female pirate and I’d be damned if my female pirate didn’t act like an actual pirate.
Even when that wasn’t fashionable.
Regardless, that scene (as does every opening scene in every one of my books) serves as a litmus test for me and the reader. It tells the reader, “If you can’t make it through the first few pages, you really aren’t going to like this book, so don’t waste your time.” It’s a public service, really.
But if you can carry on in spite of its opening, you’re in for a real treat.
As for this: “It seems more like historical fiction masquerading as romance,” well, that’s probably true, too, although I never really looked at it that way because I consider myself a romance writer.
But you know what? What this tells me is that it will appeal to many people, not just romance readers who like strong females and want something different. Because I’ve been vindicated. There are plenty of people who like Celia because she decapitates someone in the first scene.
I like a good beheading in the morning.
PS Please please please go upvote her review because that’ll help me sell more books. CONTROVERSY!