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One of my commenters, Karla, pointed me in the direction of this epic ranty review of Sarah Mayberry’s Amorous Liaisons.

The blogger, Zosia, starts:

There should be a law forbidding people from writing books or making movies about ballet unless they are or were ballet dancers, because it’s always so badly screwed up. I should have liked this book – it featured ballet and Paris, two of my favourite things – but I very nearly went completely insane instead.

Apparently Zosia worked backstage at the Sidney Dance Company for some of their productions, hence her annoyance at the inaccuracies in the book.

Zosia writes:

“She has her career to get back to as a prima ballerina of the Sydney Dance Company.”

That sentence sums up why this book got one star. I was practically tearing my hair out at how inaccurate it was.

This one just solidified that one star rating:

“She’d learned all the ballet technique phrases in French because she’d been passionate about her craft.”

Uh, no. Actually, ballet technique IS in French! Every ballet student – from France to Australia to America to Korea – uses French terminology for ballet steps.

The blogger then posts the two photographs below, one featuring an actual prima ballerina in full regalia, and the other featuring a dancer from the Sydney Dance Company (SDC). The two photographs are very different, the SDC shot showing what seems to be a contemporary routine.


Sylvie Guillem, Prima Ballerina


Dancer from SDC

She continues:

The Sydney Dance Company performs brand spanking new contemporary dance, and for most of its history was run by a man who went out his way NOT to include ballet in the repertoire. There is no corps de ballet, because it is not a ballet company. They don’t train in pretty ballet skirts and wear pointe shoes all day, because it is not a ballet company. They don’t dance Giselle or Romeo and Juliet or The Nutcracker, because it is not a ballet company!! The two companies are as similar as the Metropolitan Opera and Guns N Roses are in music!

Zosia then posts lots of photographs to illustrate her point. Lots and lots of photographs. All very pretty too.

Now, pray tell, how can one be a ballerina in that company? Apart from anything else, the title of ‘prima ballerina’ is reserved for only the best, the most famous international ballet stars. The term ‘ballerina’ can only be given to the stars of a company. Everyone else is a stock standard ‘ballet dancer’. There certainly isn’t a dancer alive who would be arrogant enough to call themselves a ‘prima ballerina’!

We keep hearing about how Maddy toured the world with SDC, dancing the leading roles in the classic ballets. WRONG.

Anyway, as you can tell, this broad aint happy about the inaccuracies in Mayberry’s book, but I have to say, as a reader, the fact that The Sydney Dance Company isn’t primarily a ballet dance company doesn’t bother me in the slightest. The fact that prima ballerinas are a rarity even in ballet, doesn’t stop me enjoying Maddy’s story. The fact that SDC dancers don’t train in pretty ballet skirts and wear pointe shoes all day, because it’s not a ballet company, doesn’t make me want to eat my own face. The fact that it would be impossible for a ballet dancer to stand en pointe for more than ten minutes doesn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the book. In other words, I really don’t give a flying fuck about any of the above points. You know why? Because it’s a fucking Blaze book, not War and Peace.

Of course these less-than-accurate details might bother me if I was a ballet dancer, or if I worked for a ballet company, but honestly, as an average romance reader, I really couldn’t give a monkeys. What was important to me, was the actual romance between the heroine and hero, and Mayberry got that bob-on, as far as I was concerned.

Having said all of that, you guys should go and read the review, it did make me chuckle no end.

So, would these inaccuracies bother you guys too, or not?

34 Comments »

  • Me? No. SM’s book is clearly a fictional story and not a fact based non-fiction book on ballet. While this Zosia chick is entitled to her opinion I couldn’t, as a reader, take it as credible by virtue of the fact it’s pretentious, anal and quite fierce in it’s nitpickery. Jeez, it’s a book about a woman who dances, has sex and falls in love. I don’t believe the Sydney Dance Company would give a rat’s arse that SM got some of it wrong – though dissing Neighbours is going too far.

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  • It all comes back to the author doing enough research because at one point a reader will call them out on it. But again it all comes down to the reader’s enjoyment of what they’re reading and they may not care about the inaccuracies.

    Have you heard how a PW reviewer gave Courtney Milan’s Unveiled a not so pleasant review because they felt Courtney didn’t have correct research? Well, the reviewer had egg on their face, because all of Courtney’s research in the book was correct. And yet, even if the research wasn’t correct, I still feel the novel was a wonderful read. But that’s just me.

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  • No, it doesn’t bother me. However, I have had moments like the above as it pertains to Spanish. I don’t read and much less review any books in which either one of the main characters is supposed to be a native Spanish speaker from any Spanish speaking country. Coloquialisms aside, the Spanish use in those types of books is 99.9% of the time wrong. Unless the author herself is a native Spanish speaker, my experience with books in which a main character is supposed to be a Spanish speaker has been nothing short of aggravating. Since it is a huge to do with me, I just don’t touch them. That being said, I don’t expect other people to be annoyed as well. Why should they if the language is not a language they speak or are knowledgeable about.

    I have had moments just like Kasia’s to the point in which I did want to scream, main difference is that, at the time, I didn’t have my own blog yet and I ranted in the form of comments, not in my own blog. I fully sympathize with her. I think that most if not all readers have something they are very familiar about that if it is not depicted correctly, makes them want to scream on occasion and whatever it is is enough to kill what otherwise would have been at the very least, a decent reading experience.

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  • FiaQ
    January 25
    4:29 pm

    “In other words, I really don’t give a flying fuck about any of the above points. You know why? Because it’s a fucking Blaze book, not War and Peace.”

    So because it’s a Blaze, we should allow authors to get away with shoddy research? I don’t agree because it implies two things:

    a) Blaze readers are so thick-headed that they don’t care about stuff like that.
    b) Blaze romances are mindless trash so details like those aren’t important.

    It’s fine if you said you don’t give a crap about incorrect details regardless of where it appears, let it be War and Peace or a Blaze.

    Back to your question: I do care about the quality of research because a huge number of readers say they learn a lot of stuff from romance novels. Contemporary, historical or both. I get twitchy when I come across badly mauled Gaelic (Outlander, anyone?) or misconceptions about a culture.

    I’m fine with it if an author puts in a note that she used creative licence to make her story works. Otherwise it’s a fair game.

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  • willaful
    January 25
    5:47 pm

    It seems to me if writers are interested enough in a specific milieu to include it in a significant way in their books, they should at least make an attempt to get it right. When I read historicals which are just window dressing, I wonder why they hell the author wanted to write a historical, since they obviously don’t care diddly squat about the time period. How much harder would it have been to write the same good story but do a little research and get some details right? Or leave it out altogether if you don’t have time.

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  • So because it’s a Blaze, we should allow authors to get away with shoddy research?

    @FiaQ Honestly? If the book reads well, and let’s not forget that this book is fictional, then I don’t need finicky details that would only mean something to less than 1% of the readership. There are books that I’ve read that I wish were less well researched, because they made reading them clunky.

    @KB I heard about the Courtney Milan thing, and it did make me laugh a lot.

    @Mireya This is why I generally stay away from historical books, and prefer westerns. And the same reason Maili stays away from Scottish historicals.

    @Willaful I think the points that Zosia were making though wouldn’t have enhanced the reading experience for me. It would have made no difference to me if, instead of The Sydney Dance Company, she’d used The Australian Ballet School, or if instead of being a prima ballerina, she was just a plain old ballet dancer. And I’ll reiterate my original point, I’m not looking for War and Peace in a Blaze book, I’m just not. Some Blaze authors and readers may feel offended by that assertion, but they need to build a bridge and get over it.

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  • There should be a law forbidding people from writing books or making movies about ballet unless they are or were ballet dancers

    If somebody is going to toe that hard a line, then we would have to insist nobody but medical personnel write books featuring doctors or nurses, because TRUST ME… they get screwed up.

    Nobody but lawyers could write books featuring lawyers…because I know that gets screwed up-I’ve heard the rants from lawyers.

    Nobody but cops, etc, etc, etc…

    Now I realize this was possibly/probably mean figuratively. But if I know it’s likely a book’s going to have something that will aggravate me? I don’t read it-that’s why I *usually* stay away from books featuring medical stuff unless I know it was written by somebody in the medical field.

    I don’t watch shows like Gray’s Anatomy, (I do watch House, or did). I don’t want the irritation-doesn’t mean other people shouldn’t be able to enjoy them and I know plenty of people love medical romances.

    I do think it serves the author best to do some research if they are going to do get specific about something, like ballet, for instance. Also helps to get somebody who is a lawyer to read it, or a doctor…or a ballet dancer.

    But I can tell you, if it’s medical-it doesn’t matter if they research-mistakes will likely be made, if not in the technical details, then in the lingo or the environment, so to speak. If it’s ballet, and they research, mistakes can still be made, because no writer can be expected to know everything about everything-they just can’t.

    NOW…I will say, this doesn’t excuse huge, gross mistakes that can easily be found with the click of a mouse and a few googles.

    But when you write a wide variety, we can’t know everything about everything. Just not possible. As much as I’d like to know about everything… O.o

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  • willaful
    January 26
    3:30 am

    “I think the points that Zosia were making though wouldn’t have enhanced the reading experience for me. It would have made no difference to me if, instead of The Sydney Dance Company, she’d used The Australian Ballet School, or if instead of being a prima ballerina, she was just a plain old ballet dancer. ”

    But it wouldn’t have detracted from it either, right? You wouldn’t have been less happy, but other readers would have been more happy.

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  • Patrice
    January 26
    5:26 am

    Yes incorrect facts would bug me, in any story, but in this example I wouldn’t have known about the Sydney Ballet Company. For subjects I do know about if there is a blatent error it bugs me and if the errors keep getting worse it throws me right out of the story.

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  • I know enough about ballet that the factual errors mentioned by the reviewer would’ve bugged me enough to rate the book DNF.

    I also don’t mind if some people think it’s OK to be factually incorrect because it’s just romance. But in that case, they shouldn’t be upset when others don’t respect the genre.

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  • Maddie
    January 26
    4:24 pm

    I have to agree with Zosia even though I love Sarah Mayberry and thinks she a brilliant writer.

    If you are going to write about something be it a romance novel or a any type of fiction genre do your research on the subject, (this is one of the reasons, I stopped reading Lora Leigh books) if I was a dancer and read this book I would be insulted that the author didn’t take the time to find out the simplest terms and steps and the what nots of the dance world.

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  • […] Scott posted to a link to an “epic ranty review” of Sarah Mayberry’s Amorous Liasons which pointed out […]


  • Mireya stole my comment :razz:

    Okay, kidding aside, I’m pretty much with her.

    If I don’t know anything about the subject and the book is well written, I’ll implicitly trust the author to know what the hell they are talking about.

    If I know a bit and find inconsistencies in the novel, I may look about for more information before ranting. This, by the way, is where an author’s note is a gift for this reader.

    If I am conversant in the topic (Spanish or anything to do with Mexico, for example) and the author gets it wrong, it may or may not bug me enough not to finish (that’s entirely up to the writing and the story) but I will certainly notice it *coughseehereandherecough*

    In the end, and as much as it pains me, I disagree with you, Karen. It doesn’t matter whether the book is “just” a Blaze or “just” a whatever. Readers have every right to take exception and to express it, however flamboyantly.

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  • I’d prefer to think writers did enough research to get in the ballpark of “right” with respects to most of the subjects that come up in their books. Because if research isn’t all that necessary, I’m trying WAY too hard at this writing gig :). I agree with several commenters that it doesn’t matter if it’s a romance or lit fic. I do read for enjoyment, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate detail and sweat equity going into a book.

    That being said, some things readers may get frustrated about are things a writer wouldn’t even think to research. I remember, years ago, somebody talking about how there’s a state in the US where you aren’t allowed to pump your own gas? And the reader was reading a book set in that state where the character pumped her own gas, which was SO WRONG, but how would the writer know to research that particular detail? Maybe if she had the extra money and time to visit that state, yeah, but that wouldn’t describe most writers I know *laugh*

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  • Um…seriously? There’s a state where we can’t pump our own gas?

    Now that’s something that would never OCCUR to me to research. Yikes.

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  • enc
    January 26
    6:16 pm

    Inaccuracies bother me when they distract me from the story. I once read a book by an American that was set in the UK the was chock full of glaring inaccuracies and anachronisms – from slang, to behaviour to overblown descriptions of wealth. I couldn’t make it past the first chapter – yet it had loads of positive reviews.

    I’m not a history buff but I had to stop reading historical romances when the characters started behaving in what I thought seemed like an inappropriate manner, or characters conveniently invented things like showers etc.

    I don’t think books need to be 100% accurate or whatever however there is only so far I’m willing to suspend my disbelief. If I read something and think (don’t know for sure) that’s not right, I’ll go on but if that happens too many times I’ll stop reading. If I do actually know something is not right I tend to stop reading a lot sooner.

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  • LVLMLeah
    January 26
    6:57 pm

    @Shiloh- NJ and OR are both states that don’t allow you to pump your own gas. Both states did so to keep jobs.

    But these are things like Jody says that if you don’t know to even check on it, you wouldn’t know.

    As a reader I wouldn’t get too uptight about something like that since it’s so obscure. But I spent years in Japan and if I read something, words used wrongly or Japanese characters acting in a way I know they would absolutely not, it registers pretty loudly. Still though, I’m not sure I’d go over the deep end about it if it wasn’t an integral part of the story.

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  • But it wouldn’t have detracted from it either, right?

    If I take this question at face value, then what I can say is, if Mayberry had stuck to the letter of the law with regards to ballet dancers not being able to stand on their toes for more than ten minutes, she wouldn’t have included one of my favourite scenes, where the heroine stands and poses for the hero.

    Also, accuracy is only a good thing, if the author knows how to include it in the story, without clunking it up. I’ve read a couple of books where it was obvious that the author had done extensive research on the subject matter, and I have to tell you, that hasn’t always been a positive experience.

    I’m sure Mayberry would have been fine writing a book that was far more accurate, but she’s a good author. Not every writer is a good author. SDC to Australian Ballet School wouldn’t have affected my reading experience, but perhaps may have enhanced somebody else’s, but some of the other points may have led to scenes being removed, which would have been a shame, and may have led to other scenes that weren’t quite as powerful, ergo affecting my overall perception of the book.

    And yes, I still expect less from Blaze books than I do from other romance lines. And I feel the same about most category books. Which is why I’m so pleasantly surprised when I come across the ones that are extremely well-written. And if readers are really honest, I think that more people feel like that, than are willing to admit it. Authors may indeed sweat blood and tears over category books, but honestly, from a readers point of view, the sweat and tears aren’t always obvious, judging by the content alone.

    It’s more PC to take the attitude that every reader expects every romance book they read to have the same depth and accuracy as, To Kill A Mocking Bird or The Satanic Verses, but is that really the truth? When you have category books with ridiculous titles? Honestly?

    But in that case, they shouldn’t be upset when others don’t respect the genre.

    The thing is though, I’m one of those people who doesn’t give a flying monkeys what people outside the genre think though. I don’t have the same burning desire for acceptance that others have.

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  • Ridley
    January 26
    7:45 pm

    What a profoundly stupid title. “Who gives a fuck?”

    Zosia did, clearly.

    I wrote a much longer answer over at Dear Author on this. In short – inaccuracy turns readers off, ergo a book is diminished for it. You may not give a fuck either way, but lots of people do.

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  • Hi Karen. I’ve been reading this discussion with interest, and thought maybe it was time to pop in with my two cents. First up, thanks for your kind words about my books – glad you’re enjoying the work.

    In general I think it’s over to readers to respond and discuss the work as they see fit once it leaves my desk. Also, Zosia has been very supportive of my other books and you pretty much have to take the good with the bad in this biz.(and her good has been very generous!)

    But since the discussion has expanded a little I would like to put it on the record that I did A LOT of research for this book. Hours and hours and hours. The problem is, when you’re on the outside looking in at an industry you haven’t personally experienced, you simply don’t know what you don’t know, and sometimes you don’t even know what questions to ask. In a perfect world, it would be great to get a ballet dancer to proof my work, but I don’t personally know any, and I don’t make enough from my books to pay one to read my work for me.

    Some people might argue that that should be warning enough to stay away from an area or industry, but I have always loved dance and this was my attempt to pay homage to something I admire and respect. I apologise for the inaccuracies, especially since they obviously ruined the reading experience for at least one reader. I’d like to think I got a lot of stuff right, and some of the mistakes were simply bad turns of phrase( I am well aware that the language of ballet is French, for example).

    I do hope that the romance of the story still works for readers who aren’t in the dance world. I care about my work, and I put a lot of time and effort into crafting my books as well as researching their backgrounds, and I would like to believe that Maddy and Max’s emotional journey both individually and as a couple is worth reading despite the inaccuracies of some of the background material. Certainly I hope that I captured Maddy’s deep sense of vocation and her very real loss at being forced into retirement.

    I guess, in a very rambly way, what I’m trying to say is “yes, I f**ked up, but not through lack of trying”. Right. I’m bowing out now. Happy reading everyone!

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  • What a profoundly stupid title. “Who gives a fuck?”

    God sometimes I hate commenters who float in from other blogs via links.

    You, Ridley are a profoundly stupid person. How does that grab you?

    Moving on, thanks for that Sarah, muchos appreciated.

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  • A.
    January 26
    11:04 pm

    o_O Ridley is a “profoundly stupid person” for pointing out that there are people that actually DO “give a fuck” about inaccuracies in romances? WOW. To each his own, I guess.

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  • No A, you cowardly troll, Ridley isn’t profoundly stupid for pointing out that there are people who do give a fuck, she was profoundly stupid for coming onto this blog, and calling the title of this post, profoundly stupid.

    Everybody else has managed to disagree without resorting to name-calling or pissing me off. That’s pretty much a no-no on here. Only myself and Aztec are allowed to do the name-calling here at KKB. Anybody who doesn’t like it can go and rant on their own blog. Or they can simply just fuck off. I don’t care which.

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  • New Year’s Resolution No 2 in full force people.

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  • Oh yeah, and Ridley was also profoundly stupid because the title of the blog post wasn’t “Who Gives A Fuck?”. Something she would have known had she read it for herself instead of assuming.

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  • I was about to point out that the problem with Ridley’s comment stems from reacting to a post title that, simply, isn’t. Well, that and her blasting away with both guns over it.

    Hence, her getting blasted in return.

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  • A.
    January 26
    11:37 pm

    Aww, aren’t you a touchy one. Getting all bent out of shape because Ridley called your post title “profoundly stupid”. As for me being a “cowardly troll”-although I don’t see how I am either-at least I’m a polite one. I was merely trying to understand your reply to Ridley’s comment, under the assumption that it was because she though other people did in fact “give a fuck”. Yet you are the one name-calling with almost no provocation, I see. It’s okay though. I’m not easily offended. I’ll be the “cowardly troll” if it make you feel better. ?

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  • A, I get bent out of shape about all sorts of things on here, trolls are a particular nuisance. You are a troll.

    No provocation? I hate you passive-aggressive ‘Why can’t you be polite’ types. Give me somebody who has the courage of their convictions and doesn’t hide like a coward, any day.

    Now why don’t you do you and me a favour, and fuck right off my blog? It’s quite clear that you have nothing useful to add to the conversation.

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  • The thing is though, I’m one of those people who doesn’t give a flying monkeys what people outside the genre think though. I don’t have the same burning desire for acceptance that others have.

    In that case, I respect your stance that research doesn’t matter as much for you since it’s just romance. :-) I just don’t care for people wanting it both ways.

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  • In that case, I respect your stance that research doesn’t matter as much for you since it’s just romance. :-)

    @Nadia My point was actually that I don’t expect as much from Blaze books, or category books in fact. I’d expect more from other romance books, but I still hate books that are so intent on accuracy, that they forget the story-telling element.

    And like somebody on Twitter commented, facts don’t always pass the common sense test.

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  • eggs
    January 28
    12:29 am

    These full immersion, extensively researched books that readers want already exist in abundance, but they are not category length novels, and they do not sell at category novel prices. Extensive research = lots of time = costs more money.

    Complaining about the depth of research in category novels is akin to knowingly walking into a burger joint, insisting on paying hamburger joint prices, but then complaining when you are not served up a 5 star gourmet dinner involving expensive ingredients and prepared by a chef with years of training.

    I love a good burger and chips, and I love fine dining, but I understand that these are two entirely different products with entirely different price points. I enjoy a good blaze novel in the same way I enjoy a good burger and chips. It’s fast, it’s fun, and it’s tasty – and I expect the cook to put about 15 minutes into preparing it. If I want something that’s had more preparation time put into it, and requires years of experience to prepare, then I pony up the money necessary to pay for that something extra I want.

    Why do people understand these economic realities when they are choosing what to eat, but demand economic realities be ignored when choosing what to read? It seems so … profoundly stupid.

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  • sallah
    January 28
    3:31 pm

    ” Readers have every right to take exception and to express it, however flamboyantly.”

    HECK YEAH! Here is the thing, this review, although karen disagreed with it, stirred up reaction, chatter and argument.. Hence its a successful review all around. Think about it, its successful for the author, because it piques the interest (and as someone who has bought more than one book on the basis of a bad, but entertaining review,embarrassing to admit, but the badder the better) and will probably sell more books.

    The reviewer is expressing her pet peeve about inaccuracies in this particular book, and does it in a way that created buzz, which draws conversation and traffic to her reviews (again, a good thing)..

    and Karen, Piss OFF!! (lol, sorry, just had to do it, so you can call me a troll, I never get called that anymore, and it makes me sad..) (said with love, because I enjoy Karens pissy nature)

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  • shelleyannsmith
    January 28
    4:15 pm

    I thought these two blogs were very interesting and laughed uproariously at both. I love SB but haven’t read this particular Blaze yet. I will say I do get a little bit bugged when the most rudimentary research isn’t done. Just Google it for god’s sake! Maybe this is the first time I’ve EVER read anything about ballet and maybe this would make me want to learn more. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Blaze or some other dippy romance novel. Just do a teensy bit of research. I’m not a ballet aficionado but even I knew French was the language used.

    I work in a medical school and yes, I get crazy when I see some doctor shows or read a story set in a hospital and see glaring mistakes BUT for the most part I can blow it off if the rest of the story interests me.

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  • Passive aggressive much Rosina Lippi?

    You still writing by the way, well more to the point, are people actually still buying your books?

    *Smooches*

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