Reviewer Spotlight with Ms Romantic Reads

Posted by Holly Gunner on 31st July 2015

Here at Totally Bound we work with a range of talented and supportive reviewers and review sites.


We speak to Michelle from Ms Romantic Reads about what it takes to be a reviewer.


Hello lovely readers! My name is Michelle, and I'm a book reviewer/blogger in the adult (erotic) romance genre over at It's such an honor for me to be featured here on the blog. When I first started blogging and reviewing around four years ago, Totally Bound was the first publisher to take a chance on a new blogger, and I discovered a few authors who are still favorites to this day. 

Sierra Cartwright comes to mind. I discovered Sierra while participating in a blog tour for which I received a review copy. That book was With This Collar, the first book in her Mastered series. I loved it, and while going through her backlist, I came across her name in two BDSM anthologies I already owned but hadn’t read yet—The Doms of Dark Haven. Since then, I have read all three books in her Bonds series, and I’m currently following her Donovan Dynasty series. 


Why I got into reviewing... 

The short answer is that I wanted to meet people with similar tastes in books. My friends in real life don't read the books I do, and if they did, they'd never admit it. However, as the years have gone on, I've found my reasons have changed a little. It has become increasingly difficult to discern honest reviews from fake ones. Even I am more likely to trust a friend's review over that of a complete stranger. So now I review more for myself as a reminder of what I liked and didn't like in a book, and to keep track of ever growing TBR book pile. 


What I look for in reviews... 

I still read reviews by strangers, but I usually start from the bottom up, meaning from the lowest rating to the highest rating. I have often found that I got a more accurate, i.e. truthful, assessment of a book. I don't bother with five star reviews because the reader obviously loved it and had no complaints. When I read a book, I hope to end up loving it so nothing they say would help me make a decision about a purchase. Therefore, by starting with the negatives, I'm more apt to find things that I might consider a trigger or a deal breaker. A few sentences that are overly enthusiastic or sarcastic and rude don't usually contain any useful information or give me a reasonable argument to part with my money. I believe in reviewing what you've actually read, not what you wish the author had written. 


How I review… 

After four years, I have recently made a big change to my reviewing habits and style. Most bloggers in my preferred genres review the same books around the same time, therefore I have cut back my ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) requests in favor of reading books I’ve purchased but never had the time to read. I’ve also developed a taste for doing series reviews. If there’s a series I’m really interested in, I’ll read all the books and compile the reviews in one post. I try to keep things short and too the point while still giving a reader a decent overview of all aspects of the books.  

I always begin my reviews with my impressions of the two main characters followed by the romance aspect of them as a couple and then the suspense (if warranted). When I write my reviews, I want my readers to know if there were plot holes, inconsistencies, well developed character arcs; were there too many errors that were a complete distraction? A book with poor editing and execution despite a great plot will not receive a high rating from me. I think what sets my reviews apart is that I’m not shy about saying what I didn’t like about a book, and therefore I post reviews across the whole range from 1 (didn’t like it at all) to 5 (I loved it). As a reader myself, I want the whole picture, not just what makes both the reviewer and the author comfortable. I always strive to ensure that I remain respectful while being completely honest.


What makes me choose a book in the first place... 

The book cover, then the blurb, and then the reviews. In that order. The latest covers to catch my eye have been the Donovan Dynasty series covers by Sierra Cartwright. The colors and the men in suits convey power, which matches up with the blurbs. And, as a Texan the Texas State flag naturally drew me in. The blurbs are concise and clear. Nothing turns me off a book faster than a blurb that just goes on and on, or one written in the first person from the heroine’s point of view and full of angst. 


What I would like to see more of... 

More politeness and professionalism, less drama. Sometimes it would be good for reviewers and authors alike to take a step back and take a deep breath before putting something out there that could harm their reputation. Don't say anything you wouldn't say to that person face-to-face. 


What are you looking for… 

Erotic romances with BDSM or BDSM-lite elements and contemporary romantic suspense, and paranormal romance are my preferred genres to read and review. There are always ways to make it easier for a reader to narrow down choices. If you visit my blog, you’ll find reviews sorted by rating, book series, author name, and one that seems rather popular: Men by Theme. If you’re looking for a tattooed hero, a pierced hero, or a cunning linguist (= dirty talking hero), I have a list for that. If you’re looking for heroes and heroines within a certain age range, I have lists for those too. *whispers* For really racy reads, you might want to check the MasterB8 list ;)



About Ms Romantic Reads: 

Michelle spends hot Texas days reading even hotter romance novels. When she's not reading, she can be found in a secluded corner with paintbrushes or a drawing tablet. She's a devoted Navy wife, girl gamer and self-proclaimed nerd. Her favorite genres are romantic suspense, erotic (BDSM) romance and paranormal romance with characters in their late twenties or older. You can find her on her blog at, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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