HomeReviewsInterviewsStoreABlogsOn Writing


Apparently there’s a bit of a kerfuffle over Lori Foster including paranormal elements in her latest book, My Man Michael.

The problem is, the original series is a contemp, (which I’ve actually liked a lot so far) and so readers who love their contemps and are sick of paranormal this, and time travel that (Read: Me), are pissed off.

Check out the Amazon reviews, if you don’t believe me.

Man those people are beyond pissed.

This review by somebody called She Reads, made me chuckle.

I ADORE SBC Fighters books 1-3 because they each tell a tale of a different fighter falling in love, facing struggles, and pulling through with the help of fellow SBC men (and the women they love). It’s a great series and I have been looking forward to this for months!

Now I have My Man Michael in my hands and I am returning it after reading about 3 chapters. A warrior woman (clearly a virgin though that hasn’t been revealed at the point I threw the book) appears in Michael’s hospital room after an accident leaves him with only 1 good leg. She has studied his language and sayings for ‘this time’ so she may speak with him. She’s shocked by profanities, freaks out about a kiss, doesn’t recognize what the lifting sheet at his groin might be… yeah the super innocent thing was irritating from page 1.

I didn’t sign on for this Lori Foster! I don’t want to hear a tale of travel to the future to save her people where big men like Michael are no longer in existance- and where in fact- you want him to BREED WITH THE SUITABLE WOMEN. This isn’t Conan the Barbarian, and it’s so out of character for this series I’m in shock over here…

If you’re into time travel and want that kind of book then cool. Me? I’m way angry that I got tricked into it thinking I was getting an SBC fighter book. I can’t even finish this it feels so forced and so WRONG for this series.

Hehe, I had to laugh at the bit about the groin lifting, and the heroine not recognising a hard-on when she saw one.

This comment by R Hamilton was typical of some of the other reviews:

One chapter and 30 head-scratching, cover-checking, swear jar-contributing minutes later, I gave up. What happened LF? The book had nothing to do with the series AND your readers were never informed that we were going on unconvincing time travel.

Thanks to other viewers I learned how the book ended, and I commend those that were able to somehow finish this stinker.

So yeah, her readers are royally f*cked off.

I don’t blame them one bit.

In response to the reviews, Lori has a post up at The Goddess Blogs, where she talks about Disappointed Readers.

Apparently she didn’t expect anything like the backlash she got.

I love Lori like a long-lost Donna Karan dress, but surely she must have realised that when you introduce a paranormal element into what was a very contemporary series, without any kind of warning, the readers aren’t going to be happy?

Over at the All About Romance blog, Laurie Gold pipes up with some interesting tidbits about Foster:

Now that I am no longer in the public eye, I can add this: Lori Foster is among a handful of authors who dissed AAR for years. Indeed, whenever a positive review for one of her books – and one for another author, who shall remain anonymous – crossed my in-box, I would grit and bear it as it was posted and finalized. Why? Because AAR’s reviews were and are unbiased based on personal reactions to any author. To restate: No matter how much I personally dislike her writing or find her cry-babying obnoxious, I kept my opinions to myself. And that happened something like THIRTEEN times (that adds up to 13 positive grades for her short stories or romances during my tenure as AAR publisher)!

Curiouser, and curiouser…

Via the AAR Blog


  • I’m not sure if you are looking for discussion about this specific author, or about the general issue of how authors react to reviews, or about the general issue of whether authors owe consistency in a series (to stay in the subgenre) to readers. The last two are really good questions. The first is not liable to be productive, but I’ll add my tow cents anyway:

    In the thread you mention, Forster does accuse AAR of biased reviews.

    She also accuses Mrs. Giggles of being a “bully” and says she “feels sorry” for anyone who thinks Mrs. Giggles is funny.

    Clearly we have an author who has gotten bad reviews in some cases and really, really doesn’t like it. I personally prefer authors who don’t get into the mudslinging, and who remain positive and grateful that they are being read, period.

    But you know what? It’s a free country and just as AAR or Mrs. Giggles or Karen Scott can say what they want on their blogs, so can authors.

    As for the change in subgenre, I do think it might have been nice to hint about it to readers, unless that would spoil the plot, but I don’t think authors owe ANYTHING to readers except to write the story that’s in their hearts, the best way they know how.


  • I can say that as a friend of Lori’s, I don’t get the ‘crybaby’ vibe from her. I’m not wading into the kerfuffle, but the comment from Laurie seems a little spiteful, IMO.

    Authors react differently to reviews-personally, unless somebody is using a review to attack an author *the AUTHOR, not the BOOK*, then I don’t get bent up over a bad one. That’s just how I handle it.

    I can see why those expecting a contemp are upset over the book’s direction-people like to know what they are getting.


  • I reviewed My Man Michael for RNTV and I did enjoy the book, but I feel the publisher deceived the public. In no way from the cover or the description on the back of the book did they mention this was a sci-fi/time travel romance.
    Did Lori honestly think there would be no backlash from her readers who were expecting a contemporary but got something so different instead?
    And those Amazon review are harsh because of the deception.


  • I don’t know whether I would say a writer “owes” readers anything, but there is unexpected and then there is out of left field.

    Right now there is plenty of controversy over Suzanne Brockmann’s Dark of Night and the pairings thereof. It’s clear that there were as many readers online involved in a set of pairings as there were in another set of pairings, and as there were who were simply happy to go along for the ride. Personally, my discontent with the book doesn’t lie on the purported deception but in the writing itself.

    On the issue at hand, I don’t read Ms Foster and I don’t know how she handled the issue (i.e., was she actively misleading about the TT thing?). I do know that sometimes authors don’t have that much say about how their books are marketed, to their detriment. (Jackie Kessler’s Hotter than Hell comes to mind.)


  • I’ve always enjoyed Lori Foster as a solid contemporary author, and as a long time online lurker, never really got the crybaby feelies from her either.

    I thought she made a savvy move when she pubbed the servant series under a penname, and kind of wish she’d done the same with MMM, since the blurb editor and the publishing house didn’t do a very obvious job as marketing this as a time travel. I understand an author wanting to try something new, but it came so far out of left field. It wasn’t just that one of the characters happened to be psychic or something…this was a whole new world.

    Unfortunate, since the cover is HOT. I linger over it at the bookstore even though I’ve already bought and read it :).


  • I’ve known Lori for many, many years. The LAST word I would ever associate with her is “crybaby.” That’s a load of bull. She might be forthright, honest and state her opinions unapologetically, but she’s not a crybaby. She’s not complaining, but she has every right to say if she doesn’t like something. That doesn’t mean she’s whining about it.

    She’s smart and savvy and clearly, any bad reviews given to her by AAR or any other site have made zero difference in her career. She’s super-successful and her readers love her…and vice-versa. I’ve seen her put herself out there for readers in ways that are staggering. She’s generous and caring…truly salt of the earth.

    I believe her when she says that she didn’t realize her readers would be so upset. I believe her because I know, based on the fact that she actively took a pen name for her other series, that she doesn’t want to mislead the very people who made her successful. I think it’s reasonable for her to believe that her readers would love whatever she wrote because she’s still giving them a core Lori Foster romance–vulnerable heroine with a macho hero. Is the setting really that important to readers? Apparently, it is. Now she knows.

    Maybe she should have realized it, but she didn’t, she explained and there is no need for this to be a kerfuffle.

    I haven’t talked to Lori about this at all, but I know her to be a genuine person and I don’t for one minute believe she deliberately set out to mislead her readers. Nor do I think that her right to rail against whatever she wants to makes her a crybaby.

    I get so annoyed over that attitude that authors just have to shut up and be thankful that someone read their book in the first place. I think if someone wants to be snarky in a review of my work, then I should have the right to be snarky right back if I want to–even if it isn’t considered “politically correct.” And trust me, I’ve contained myself many times just for the sake of my blood pressure, but I applaud the authors who speak up.


  • Leslee
    February 23
    4:54 pm

    I am a reviewer for Night Owl Romance. I was up next for Lori Foster when we got My Man, Michael. I was a little disappointed that it was time travel when I started it. But I went with it and didn’t really think of it as part of the SBC series. I liked the book and don’t think badly of Ms. Foster. As it was stated higher up, a lot of authors don’t have any control how their book is marketed. I will say though that I hope her next book is a contemp unless her publisher tells us up front.


  • SarahT
    February 23
    5:24 pm

    I think the animosity between Lori & Laurie really centres around the Robin Lee Hatcher fiasco.

    Love her or hate her – and personally I really miss her online presence – Laurie pioneered a lot of elements in the online romance community which we now take for granted. One of those is reporting news which is of interest to romance readers in an objective manner (i.e. not as a gushing fan girl).

    Had Laurie’s column about RLH appeared today and not several years ago, I highly doubt as many romance authors would have been up-in-arms about it.


  • I love LF’s SBC series so I bought this one without even looking at the back cover. I was confused, annoyed and disappointed at this book. I definitely wouldn’t have bought it if I knew what it was about ahead of time. I thought I was buying a contemporary sports themed romance and got a crappy time travel story instead. I certainly understand the ire of other readers who feel like they were tricked.


  • @Julie Leto

    I get so annoyed over that attitude that authors just have to shut up and be thankful that someone read their book in the first place. I think if someone wants to be snarky in a review of my work, then I should have the right to be snarky right back if I want to–even if it isn’t considered “politically correct.” And trust me, I’ve contained myself many times just for the sake of my blood pressure, but I applaud the authors who speak up.

    I may be wrong, but I don’t see this in any way, shape or form as a “political correctness” issue, nor is it a matter of author rights.

    From where I sit, it’s a matter of public relations. Handled well, good publicity. Handled wrong… there *is* such thing as bad publicity, regardless of what the saying says.


  • Louise van Hine
    February 23
    7:24 pm

    It sounds like the author was somewhat naive about why her fans read her stories. Readers enjoy work by genre, not by author primarily, and anyone who has ever written in two genres and found that the readership does not follow them experience this shock. The reason why readers stay loyal to an author is often due to wanting to read the same type, sometimes the continuing story of characters they have become attached to, and a change of genre from contemporary romance to futuristic is a gap too far.


  • I have to admit in light of the fact that Foster picked a pen name for her UF books, it really seems rather unexplainable that she would take her contemp series in this direction without warning and didn’t expect the negative reader reaction she got.

    Choosing the pen name indicated an understanding of genre and reader expectation that this move to time travel in an established contemporary series seems to be sorely lacking.

    I haven’t read any of the books in question, but I’ve enjoyed some of her Brava novellas.

    Since mislabeling is one of my pet peeves, it’s really regrettable that we have yet another incident that illuminates how important accurate labeling is to romance readers. One would really hope that reader reaction to being mislead in this fashion would eventually lead to authors and publishers abandoning this practice! It’s not as if we haven’t had this situation a few times lately with some authors getting kudos and others major bad press (Moning, Ward).

    I’m certainly one of those readers that Louise described above. I’ve abandoned every single one of my favorite authors when they went where I didn’t want to read. It’s painful and it lead to years of not reading any new romance, but fortunately I’ve found new authors I enjoy now.

    Julie, I don’t think anybody said writers aren’t allowed to answer criticism. It’s all about *how* that criticism is answered!

    In my unhumble opinion, writers want to sell books and if the writer’s behavior is seen as disrespectful of the readers, they will not buy again. That may be galling, if you are the one who feels unjustly attacked, but it’s a fact of this business. I’m sure that there are plenty of business owners who bite their tongues every day and quite honestly, I don’t see why writers ought to be excluded from the need for smart PR and good business practices.


  • sallahdog
    February 23
    9:00 pm

    I can see both sides of the issue, since I read all the links… LF probably did write her book not realizing that she was pulling a bait and switch (even I, who love both genres would have been a bit peeved, because I pick up a contemp when I want one, and a TT or futuristic, or paranormal, when I want one of those)…

    Some of her fans were upset (which is to be expected by those of us on the other side of the pen)and then the crap just keeps rolling down the hill..

    I even read the Laurie Gold thing, and can see that LF believed that her friend was being maligned, but could see how LG found her defense of her friend, to the point of maligning LGs credentials and website really annoying, and if it would happen to me, I would grit my teeth a bit too, over the years…

    Often what chaps my ass years in the future, is probably forgotten by the person who annoyed the crap out of me.. and vice versa… Don’t think anyone is “lying” just failing to see the other side of the equation..


  • Jen
    February 24
    12:33 am

    In my unhumble opinion, writers want to sell books and if the writer’s behavior is seen as disrespectful of the readers, they will not buy again. That may be galling, if you are the one who feels unjustly attacked, but it’s a fact of this business. I’m sure that there are plenty of business owners who bite their tongues every day and quite honestly, I don’t see why writers ought to be excluded from the need for smart PR and good business practices.

    I agree with this so much. That said, I’ve read through all of the above threads and I can’t see where Lori Foster has been at all inappropriate in her responses. She seems genuinely surprised by the reaction she received, but her comments have been extremely mild and polite (and not at all the LKH-style meltdown I was expecting). She was even polite on the AAR blog, both in her response to LLB and in her responses to the other commenters. And I say this not as a Lori Foster fan– I don’t read contemporaries, so I’ve never read any of her books– but as someone who likes to lurk on blogs and read about authors behaving badly.

    Incidentally, shouldn’t the publishing house bear the brunt of the blame for the misunderstanding? Isn’t it the publisher’s responsibility to market the book clearly, rather than the individual author’s? It’s not as if Foster herself wrote the cover copy (I think- correct me if I’m wrong).


  • Incidentally, shouldn’t the publishing house bear the brunt of the blame for the misunderstanding?

    The author still was the one who wrote the book in the series and it does not look like the cover art was misleading.
    I would still expect the author to be able to warn her readers if there was a drastic change coming. I mean I have even seen authors warn of a well loved secondary characters demise and such.

    It does not sound like any of that was done at all.


  • Jen,

    when I wrote my above comment I had only glanced at the links and I admit I may have gotten on my hobby horse a bit due to a recent reader-disrespecting author episode. After I went back and read the whole thread on the Goddess blog, I agree with your assessment that Foster was reasonable (except possibly in the ‘AAR don’t like me much’ comment).

    I also agree that it’s the publisher’s responsibility to market the book correctly and I see an increasing number of books that are mislabeled as romance because the publishers think they can sell more that way, which irks me no end.
    (I also think it’s short-sighted, because many readers are like me and remember and hold grudges which translates into ‘no more sales’).

    However, in this particular case I think it might have been smarter (in hindsight) to not write this book as part of this series, since it was so well-established as straight contemporary. That sounds a bit like I want to tell her what to write, which I don’t, just that she could have avoided a lot of dissatisfied readers if she had refrained from framing it as part of the contemporary series. It probably would have worked fantastically as a standalone.

    I found it interesting that she felt the blurb was very clear in showing this as a time travel. I didn’t agree at all with her assessment on the bits she quoted.

    This is what Amazon lists and knowing that it’s a time travel, I can interpret a couple of phrases that way, but I wouldn’t have ever thought it was clearly indicating a paranormal, to me it sounded just like the usual hyperbole seen in backblurbs.

    “Knocked out in one world, he’ll take on another.

    On the verge of a title shot match, fighter Michael “Mallet” Manchester is injured in a car accident. And just as quickly as his career was taking off, it’s over. Then Kaylie Raine appears, offering him a second chance at becoming whole. Even though Mallet thinks it’s the pain medication talking, he accepts her challenge. And on an extraordinary journey with Kaylie, he’ll get a chance to fight again—to save the woman who has saved him.”

    Cynical self says it’s written deliberately this way so the publisher can claim there were key words in the blurb that would indicate its subgenre, but also deliberately vague so people who wanted a straight contemporary wouldn’t necessarily twig on to this not being one.

    I for one get het up about nothing as much as being deceived by PR, so I understand the reader reaction very well. While some of it is clearly over the top, I have to say I understand the intense sense of disappointment. The more people love a book/series because the writing is so good, the more upset they get when they feel something was promised that wasn’t delivered. Either because the writing didn’t measure up or because the PR was misleading.

    I agree, if we aren’t passionate in our reactions, then clearly the book was only mediocre. If you read 2/3 of a book and *love* it, only to have it destroyed by a plot device that makes me incredibly upset/induces physical nausea every time I see it (like just happened to me with an old Signet Regency title), you cannot help but react passionately. In my case, passionately negatively.

    One thing that struck me about the Goddesses thread hasn’t anything to do with Foster’s reaction. I was incredibly taken aback by the PC attitude of ‘I never write negative reviews, cause that’s not nice’. Now, that kind of made me want to throw up on all these people’s feet, but that’s because I’m a really mean person… 😉


  • Julie, I don’t think anybody said writers aren’t allowed to answer criticism. It’s all about *how* that criticism is answered!

    I agree. And I think Lori has addressed this criticism with honesty and class. And frankly, I went back and re-read the old AAR thread and I think Lori was classy there, too. She had an opinion and she expressed it. I remember that brouhaha well and I was pretty much on the opposite side of the argument, but I respected Lori’s opinion then and I still do now.

    I guess my point is this–if she believes that AAR doesn’t like her very much, then she has every right to say so publicly. She hasn’t said, “AAR are a bunch of (insert insult here).” She said they don’t like her. That’s her opinion and she’s entitled to it, even if Laurie Gold or other people don’t see it that way. There’s nothing inflammatory or unprofessional about what Lori has said about AAR.


  • Michelle
    February 24
    3:14 am

    The one thing that irritated me was the thread on another website (romantic times) where people were discussing the negative reviews amounted to either-people were just full of hate, why waste your time writing a negative review when instead you could be reading another book, the people probably didn’t actually read the book, or lastly it is all a big conspiracy. Aaack, I am so sick of the whole don’t write a review unless you gush philosophy. (Not talking about a review that attacks the author that is different).


  • I guess my point is this–if she believes that AAR doesn’t like her very much, then she has every right to say so publicly.

    Sure, she certainly does, but what purpose does it serve? Those who don’t know the old history will go ‘huh?’ and those who remember may or may not agree with her stance on that issue.

    I was curious to see whether there was really a negative bias, so I just went and looked at all of the reviews of Lori’s work at AAR. The majority were Bs, some Cs, a couple of Ds and As. One F, but if you click on it, Lori’s story in that anthology actually got a C- grade and in a couple of anthologies where the overall grade was a C, Lori’s stories got higher marks (one an A-, one a B+).

    Not the slate of a favored author with only As and Bs, but I wouldn’t agree that it shows AAR doesn’t like her.

    So, we are back to what impression did that comment create with readers who were curious enough to check out the grades given to her by AAR?

    I don’t want to flog this to death, since my initial response was really more triggered by things that happened recently that had nothing to do with Lori, but I thought I ought to at least explain why I didn’t think that AAR comment was in Lori’s best interest.


  • May B.
    February 24
    5:44 am

    I think the point would be the readers knew about this (changed from contemporary to futuristic) before they purchased the book or not.

    For me, there is no problem. Although I did not like the direction of this series, I know what it is about before I make decision to purchase this book. I do not think it is the best kept secrets but you may not know based on the cover. You just need to search for information. And I think LF is quite frank about this.


  • Riley
    February 24
    8:11 am

    I think Lori Foster has handled this controversy wonderfully. She’s been classy and respectful even in the face of her sharpest critics. I’ve never read her books but I am super impressed of how she has handled this scandal.

    I think there are 2 perfect examples of how authors should handle reader backlash. Foster’s is an example of how to handle it and Suzanne Brockmann is an example of how NOT to behave.

    But in general publishers really need to start listening to their readers, particularly as our willingness to part with our money shrinks in this economy. They need to be upfront with us and properly label what category and genre the book is in, regardless of what came before it.

    However authors also need to take responsibility. They are responsible for how they themselves personally market the book by what they say on their message boards and blogs like this one. For example, if JR Ward’s latest book is like her last one, a 100 page romance within a 550 page book, and she proclaims it to be a romance and super hot etc. Well, she’s going to experience reader backlash. Again.


  • Amanda J
    February 24
    9:17 am

    I just purchased the book simply because of this kerfuffle. I was never interested in this series, but this book sounds like my cup of tea. Goes to show that any publicity can be good publicity. Having said that, had I been unimpressed by Ms Foster’s handling of this situation I wouldn’t have purchased at all. I wouldn’t put a single cent into the bank account of someone I don’t respect. In this situation I think the author was classy and I’m selfishly glad of the issue coming up because it introduced me to a book I expect to enjoy.


  • If Lori Foster never cared about reviews why in the world would she have posted fake ones (even if, as I think she claims they were from ‘other sorces’) on amazon? That doesn’t fit the never cared about bad reviews…

    If Lori Foster had no idea suddenly writing out of style wouldn’t annoy her fans why create another name to write horror, I mean urban fantasy, shit I mean paranormal romance (which it isn’t but I will let that fall to the publisher). She went far out of her way to create LL Foster to do something new and different and not piss off her contemp fans, something I thought grand of her. And the marketing push she did to make sure her fans knew about it was good.

    So to turn around now with MMM and go ‘omg’ you are upset? Silly me… gosh who knew, wish I had thought of it before but you know stick with me kid I am only gonna fuck you over with this book, back to contemps with the next. So it isn’t even taking the series Paranormal just one random book…

    Wasn’t that fun!

    If she was a newbie, sure I could buy the stupid ass mistake. She has what 1000 books under her? And to come out and blame her publisher and not even have the balls to own it and say my bad I screwed up. But to take the easy way out and blame the label?

    ok sure maybe she really is that stupid but I seriously doubt it, for everything I have seen she is a very smart lady and knows her shit

    and the lori vs laurie thing vs giggles vs any mean ol reviewer makes it seriously hard to read her and is something that takes a book or two to get over EVERYTIME she pulls this shit

    Do I think she cares? No, do I think it hurts her sells? No. Do I think maybe this time I will learn my lesson and stop reading her. Could be. All I know is forever ago when I first got online that ‘readers’ loved her ‘online readers’ couldn’t stand her.

    And this is why… hasn’t hurt her sells yet and I doubt it will.


  • Mora
    February 25
    5:55 am

    I hate that she took a perfectly good contemporary series and inserted random paranormal events. Sure, the muse may say “write book X,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea. Maybe her muse was drunk that day, who knows?

    If she wanted to write a TT, that’s fine. But why make it part of the SBC series? That’s the problem I have–the book makes absolutely no sense within the context of the universe she’s already created.

    I mean, if I pick up a Dresden Files book by Jim Butcher, and in it Harry doesn’t do any spells, and no vampires, werewolves or fairies show up, I’m going to be pissed, right? I read that series expecting paranormal elements, not a regular detective story.

    This is the same thing–I pick up a contemporary series expecting to read a contemporary series.

    And no, I don’t buy that LF is too stupid to understand reader expectations. I think it’s a bit disingenuous of her to act like it’s such a shock that some readers are upset.

    I’ll buy her books used or from the library from now on. No sense in wasting what little $$ I have when I can’t be sure what type of book I’m going to get.


  • Misty G
    February 26
    12:07 am

    It took me years before I even picked up one Lori Foster book after the whole RLH/AAR/Mrs Giggles thing. It was more than what the author is making it out to be, and honestly both sides pretty much acted childishly (myself included). I finally read one book by her two years ago and thought it was okay. I picked up this last one, and honestly didn’t get it. The writing wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t my thing. Now this again, kind of brings back why I probably won’t buy her anymore. But hay, I said the same thing about Diana Palmer, but I still buy her stuff ever once in a while when nothing else is out there.


  • Just stumbled across this and have to say, I think one of the more foolish things an author can do is pull a bait-and-switch with respect to genre. Readers feel VERY strongly about which genres they enjoy, so making them think they’re getting one thing and giving them another is simply not good. Not to mention it’s really jarring to think you’re reading one type of book and find out partway through that it’s a different type altogether—it pulls the reader out of the story. I have no idea why Foster and her publisher wouldn’t simply make it clear on the cover that this book is different, so readers who wanted it could find it and others wouldn’t be left going “uh, what is THIS?!”

    It’s like thinking you’re eating a cracker, only to taste a sweet cookie. It might be a GOOD sweet cookie, but if you were expecting saltiness then your first reaction will probably be negative.


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment