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BellaOnline's Romance Novels Editor

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My Book Review Policy


Here is my book review policy for the BellaOnline Romance Novels site. I review Male-Female Romances and LGBT romances with lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered characters. Both types of romance include Young Adult fiction with characters in their teens and New Adult fiction where the characters are in their early twenties.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQs):

How are the books rated?

My predecessor used a rating scale of one to five Cupidís arrows similar to the Amazon.com star rating system, which you may see in her reviews on this site. Those new releases that got rated only one or two arrows, readers knew to avoid.

I have a different approach in that Iím not even attempting to evaluate the flood of new romance releases, which would be like trying to drink from a fire hose. I review new releases and older books, but I only take the time to review books that I like AND that fit this site. If I receive a book that is unsuitable for this site, I stop reading the instant that becomes clear. That way I donít waste my time reviewing something I canít feature as content on this site, the readers know that everything reviewed here is personally vouched for by me, and the authors donít need to worry about negative reviews because they either get a good review or no review at all. My goal for this site is to build up a resource of good recommendations for readers of LGBT romances and Male-Female romances. If a book is excellent, I will mark its link on my site lists with one star so you know to seek out. Books that have made a big impression on me are designated with two stars as a Must Read.

What about illegal file sharing?

Not going to happen. Those books I review, I archive to my computer. The books I donít review, I delete.

What do I consider a good fit for this site?

The book must be a romance novel. This means the relationship between the lovers is at the center of the book and the ending must be happy-ever-after (HEA) or happy-for-now (HFN). Other qualities that make a book work for both me and the site are hard to explain. Sometimes I might not personally connect with a book, but I can sense that many other romance readers probably would, so I will review it. Other times, a book might contain an element that doesnít bother me (for example, infidelity), but I know that most romance readers are not going to tolerate it, so I will choose not to review the book.

What if the book is not a romance but fiction that contains a love affair?

Romance novels have a distinctive feel that we fans expect. By contrast, womenís fiction and chick-lit fiction should be sent to the BellaOnline.com Womenís Lit site. Similarly, even if a book explores a grand passion between two characters, it might be a better fit for the BellaOnline.com Horror, Mystery, or Literary fiction categories.

What if the book is not romance but LGBT-themed fiction?

Send it to the BellaOnline.com Gay Lesbian Issues site.

What if the book is erotica?

A book full of sex scenes with no romance will not interest me. However I will review erotic romance, which contains a central romantic relationship.

Do I have preferences as to "heat level" or explicitness of sex scenes?

No. I will review anything from inspirational romance or young adult, which might have no sex scenes, to BDSM romances, which can be very explicit. But the book must be a romance novel.

Do I prefer one type of romance over the other?

No. I started publishing in LGBT (specifically gay) romance, but I read both LGBT romance and Male-Female romance. So far, I review more gay romance than any other type within the LGBT spectrum, but I hope that will change as more lesbian, bisexual, and transgender romances are published.

Do I have any strong thematic preferences?

I especially seek out romantic suspense, romances with humor, interracial and multi-cultural romances, and romances that feature an unusual location or interesting job, especially law or police work. I also like historical romance, paranormal romance, time travel romance, and Young Adult / New Adult romance. I wonít read anything that contains scenes of sexual violence. (BDSM between consenting partners is okay.) Also, I wonít read holiday romances other than Astrid Amaraís Hanukah books, which have never let me down. In general, holiday romances donít have enough plot for me. And I avoid books that have cliffhanger endings.

Where do I get my books for review?

From the library, from Amazon.com with my personal funds (especially if the books are free or at a discount), from NetGalley.com, and from authors and publishers seeking honest reviews. I am never compensated by authors or publishers for my reviews. As for book format, I prefer library books or e-books to reduce the physical clutter. I will read PDF and .mobi electronic file formats.

What should you do if you want to submit your book for review?

You donít need to arrange it with me. Just go ahead and email a .mobi or PDF copy of your book to romancereviewrequests at gmail dot com. Or, if youíre with a publisher, you can email me a widget with which to download your book from NetGalley.com. I look at every romance novel I receive. If it is a good fit for me AND this site, Iíll review it. If not, I wonít. Due to the flood of emails I receive, I canít communicate with you about the status of your book, but you can keep track of new reviews via the site RSS feed or subscribe to the newsletter. Please donít email me for my mailing address so you can send me a paperback.

Any further information about the BellaOnline Romance Novels site?

The traffic here is huge with a great many people reading the reviews and clicking through the buy links to Amazon.com. There are also a lot of views per post in the forum, though not very much interaction (lurkers, whenever youíre ready to post, you can be assured of a warm welcome). My reviews for Male-Female romance books and LGBT gay romance books get about equal page views per month. To access more information about the site forum and free weekly newsletter, please see the links on the upper right sidebar. And please give me your feedback in the forum by voting on what type of romances you like in the ongoing poll Romances You Want Me To Review. Thank you for reading!
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Content copyright © 2014 by Val Kovalin. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Val Kovalin. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Val Kovalin for details.

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