How often do you visit a book site or a blog to get a reading recommendation? And how many times have you clicked a promising headline only to discover there is no review?
For instance, the headline demands that you “Read These Books after Watching This Blockbuster Romantic Comedy” but the books listed are neither romantic nor funny. As far as you can tell, they were chosen because they had illustrated covers. Or perhaps you’ve clicked on a link such as “If You Love Jane Austen, You’ll Adore These Romance Novels” and find a long list of books with no review but a description of the books provided by the publisher.
There’s a lot of online media promoting romance novels but the contributors aren’t reading or vetting the books. They might use a bestselling author’s blurb from the book cover as a “review” or they’re using the talking points verbatim that were included in the media kit the publisher’s publicity team sent. How do you know they’re verbatim? Because other media outlets are using the same talking points.
So what is a romance reader to do? I recommend following these three book reviewers. They understand romance and what a reader wants to know. They also have sharp insights about the appeal of tropes and archetypes. Most of all, they love the genre and are romance fiction advocates.
Maya Rodale is a bestselling author of historical and contemporary romances. She also co-founded Lady Jane’s salon, a national romance reading series, and she wrote Dangerous Books for Girls, which examines the bad reputation of romance. Rodale reads a wide spectrum within the romance genre and shares her views every month on NPR. For example, in this column, she suggests that the enemies-to-lovers trope is a heightened version of everything we love in a romance novel. You can find a list of links to her reviews on her website.
Sarah MacLean is a historical author and her work has made the New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today bestseller lists. Her thoughts on the romance genre are often shared in mainstream media, whether it’s how technology is transforming our love lives and romance, or how a trailblazing romance author made an impact on the genre. Her reviews can be found at The Washington Post. She has a list of the reviews on her website along with a few short reading recommendations.
Maureen Lee Lenker writes for Entertainment Weekly. As the romance book columnist, she reports on any newsworthy events in the romance industry and romance fiction trends. About once a month she offers in-depth book reviews and includes a heat rating and a letter score. An example of her review can be found in this best of the year round up. Find her posts at Entertainment Weekly or follow her on Twitter.