Friday, April 8, 2011

Reader Expectations

We all have them. Every time we open a book we expect a certain experience and to feel a certain way after we're finished. That's why so many of us have genres of choice, because we're used to those kind of books fulfilling whatever our particular needs are that day.

Sometimes we're pleasantly surprised, and if I had to guess, those books that exceed expectations are the ones we never forget. Occasionally they completely blow what we thought we wanted from a certain book totally out of the water.

One of those books for me was Tina Donahue's EC release In His Arms. That is one hot cover and it's definitely a sexy story. But it's also extremely emotional and at times even nerve-wracking. The story is about a young girl being kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery, basically every mother's worst nightmare. I wasn't sure if I'd like the story. And I didn't just like it. I LOVED it. I've recommended it to everyone I know. It actually made me cry and that never happens. As heartwrenching of a book as it was, I couldn't have been more pleased when I finished the book and set down my e-reader. As authors those are the reactions we hope to elicit in our readers and Ms. Donahue definitely succeeded.

But what happens when your expectations aren't met? I read a great story last week. Or I should be more clear…some of the story I read was great. I loved the hero and thought his motivations for doing some pretty questionable things were well-explained. If it had just been a book about this hero, I would've known that going in and would've felt I'd gotten my reading experience's worth. But it wasn't. This was supposed to be a romance, and with the bulk of the storytelling in the hero's POV and short shrift given to the actual face time between the hero and heroine, by the time I got to the end my predominant reaction was HUH? There was a Happy For Now ending. There were a few sweet love scenes. But the huge skew between how much I knew about the hero and how little I knew about the heroine really left the book feeling off-balanced.

That said, this was a series and I did go back and buy the first book. I liked the author's voice and really enjoyed the hero. Plus I kinda hoped this was just a one book aberration. I'm hopeful the romance in the book I just purchased will be more fully developed.

Then again, who's to say the romance in the book I had trouble with didn't work for some readers? I'm sure it did. That's the great thing about reading and why I'll always love books more than movies - we embellish things the way we want in our heads, make our own pictures and ultimately take away what we want from the words on the page.

What books have exceeded your expectations lately? Looking forward to seeing what everyone has to say when I get home from the day job tonight!

And since it's Friday, here's a little eye candy to help you slide into your weekend. I don't know his name but that's okay by me...


Marie Rose Dufour said...

I love that book by Tina Donahue. It is one of my all time favorites. As readers, we do have expectations and most of the time our authors come through for us. I like that you like books more than movies. I think a true reader always does. We can imagine more in our heads than they can put up on a movie screen.

Molly Daniels said...

Tina's book is already on my TBB list, and I'm always happy to know other readers enjoyed it:)

My expectations got a shake up when I first began reading Quickies from EC. The 30 or so pages of Meet, Sex-for-hours, HEA left me with the 'HUH?' reaction. I wanted more...and then (head slap) someone pointed out the purpose of the quickies. I understand!

I've also been disappointed with another author's work, which I thought was romance. She has a 'series', which consists of four, ten-page 'books', and not at all what I would term romance. After reading the first three, and being impatient about the premise and length, I finally opened my eyes and READ the info on the website: NOT romance after all. How did I manage to miss that? Her other four books WERE romance. I'll still finish this 'series', but will also be more cautious about this author in the future.

Harlie Williams said...

Right now I'm reading a book by an author that I have read before. I was disappointed in the first book I read from her, so I decided to take another shot at her and so far I've been amazed. Its like a complete 360 with this author. Its been a great joy to read this book and I can't wait to finish it tonight.

Great post......

Harlie Williams said...

BTW, Tina's book made me cry, too!

DL Thomas said...

I've not read that book by Tina and to be honest, I don't know if I will...I hate to cry. I very rarely cry. I have read a couple books that had me crying and....nope..not again...if I can help it. The books were Great! though.

I am more of a book lover then movie lover, but if I know there is a movie coming of a book I want to read, I will watch the movie first, then read the book.

As for expectations. I have been disappointed in some books and very pleasantly surprised with others.

I love your point of views and feel the same about most of them.


Tess MacKall said...

I have a bit of an issue with books that make me cry these days. But I love Tina, and In His Arms is on my list. Right now I have no time to read. lol

I love it when a book just shakes me, though. When you put it down you just can't stop thinking about it.

Jen B. said...

What book has exceeded my expectations lately? Bitter Melon by Cara Chow. I read it for a book club. I would have never picked it out on my own. It was beautifully written and a fabulous read.

Taryn Elliott said...

Ooh....I've been having this happen a lot. Authors that I've loved for years have been disappointing me left and right. It's like a little knife to the heart. You grow to love them for a reason, then you start to wonder if it's your perceptions or their writing.

But then you find a new one...or 13. LOL (Thanks Kindle)and you fall into books you never thought you'd like in a million years.

Most recently, it's been menages.

Never thought I'd go for them. But yep--I've tripped into quite a few of them that I've loved...mostly thanks to you, Cari.

And I do trust your judgement, so I'll just have to give Tina a try.


Cari Quinn said...

I'm finally here after a long Friday. Thanks to everyone who commented!

I'm with most of you who say they don't want to/aren't used to crying when they read. Truthfully those aren't the sorts of stories I seek out either. But if a book moves me that much - especially if I don't expect it - then I'm a happy reader.

Thanks also for the book recs. I'll be sure to check out Bitter Melon.

And Molly, it took me a bit to get the hang of what Quickies were all about too, LOL.

Oh and as for books over movies...oh yeah, big time. Probably because I'm a control freak who likes coming up with my own vision for the story. :)

Happy weekend everyone!