Managing Bad Reviews


Cindy McDonald

Sometimes you hit
the nail right on the head, and sometimes you hit your thumb! Well, my thumb is
pretty red and swollen, and every time I find a new review posted on Amazon for
my book, Hot Coco, it begins to throb and ache until I find the courage
to read the review.

The fact is that HotCoco is what I call my love/hate book. Some readers love the book, and some
readers hate it, and when they hate it—they really really
hate it! Gulp!

Okay, so would
anyone despise this masterpiece of humor? *Sarcasm*

In my humble
defense: not one reviewer has complained that the book is poorly written. Thank
God! However, I do get complaints that it is degrading to women, that the
characters are just plain stupid, that (and this is a spoiler folks) Mike and
Coco never get together, hook-up, or become a couple. I even had one
reviewer complain that I talked about the horses too much—the entire series takes
place on a Thoroughbred farm…just sayin’. 
Another reviewer couldn’t figure out what genre I was writing in. Is Hot
chic-lit? Rom-com? Or just a hot mess tossed into the fiction
department? Ouch!

Deep breath…

Would you enjoy
this book? I have no idea. That said I will tell you that over the two years
that poor Coco has been available she has been downloaded (free and paid)
over 20,000 times. Yep, you read that correctly—twenty thousand! Hmmm.

True confession: I
have considered un-publishing the book because of the nasty reviews, but I have
decided that I must take the good with the bad—especially recently. In January
a rather big-time reviewer discovered my Unbridled Series. She read the first
book, Deadly.Com, and requested copies of the rest of the books. Yikes!

I was beside
myself! I didn’t want to send her Hot Coco because I thought for sure
that this, the second book in the series, would turn her off and I’d pay a very
high price. So I packed up the other three books and mailed them off to her.
Well, it didn’t work. She discovered Coco on her own, downloaded it, read it,
and absolutely loved it to the point of dedicating an entire week in April on
her blog to my Unbridled books. Additionally, she remarked that Coco was
her favorite and she laughed out loud through the entire book! What? Someone liked
Coco? Seriously?

 Very cool!

Out of the six
books that I have published Hot Coco is also my most reviewed book. The
other five books that I’ve published stand solid as 4.5 and 4.9 star-rated
books. Coco? Well…she is sitting pretty at a 3.4 star rating on amazon and…wait
for it…2.86 on Goodreads. Oh well.

Was it something
that I wrote? I sure hope so. The truth is I am glad and proud that I published
Hot Coco—and she isn’t going away anytime soon. She is a fine second
book for the Unbridled Series and the epitome of the well-used statement: you
simply can’t please everyone.

Things Are Heating Up at Westwood Farms … And Someone Is
Going to Get Burned
 Coco Beardmore is a complete klutz! Her driving skills
are a real bang—into Mike’s horse trailer. Her sultry seduction will set the
room on fire—the kitchen that is.
What’s more are her Thoroughbreds: one flips while being
saddled, one sits down like a dog in the starting gate, and then there’s the
one that’s an escape artist.  It’s enough
to drive a normally calm and collected Mike West to the very edge.
Mike’s not the only one having problems with women. His
father Eric has taken on more than he can chew, and he’s about to get spit out
by two women: One that he’s in love with and one who thinks he’s in love with
HOT COCO is the second book from the Unbridled Series by
Cindy McDonald veering from the murder/suspense genre into an action packed
romantic comedy. A fun read!
All of Cindy’s books are available in ebook and print on
Amazon, Barnes and Noble. To read excerpts from future books, view book
trailers, and keep up with everything that is Unbridled, please visit Cindy’s
website at:

About Cindy McDonald

Cindy McDonald
For twenty-six years Cindy’s life whirled around a song and a dance: she was a professional dancer/choreographer for most of her adult life and never gave much thought to a writing career until 2005. She often notes: Don’t ask me what happened, but suddenly I felt drawn to my computer to write about things I have experienced (greatly exaggerated upon of course—I’ve never been murdered!) with my husband’s Thoroughbreds and happenings at the racetrack. Viola! Cindy’s first book series, Unbridled, was born—there are four books to that series so far.
Cindy is a huge fan of romantic suspense series, and although she isn’t one to make New Year’s resolutions, on New Year’s Day 2013 she made a commitment to write one, Into the Crossfire is the first book for her new series, First Force.

People are always asking Cindy: do you miss dance? With a bitter sweet smile on her lips she tells them: Sometimes I do. I miss my students. I miss choreographing musicals, but I love my books, and I love sharing them with you.

For more information, book trailers, and excerpts for all of Cindy’s books please visit her website:

The following excerpt is taken from Chapter 5. Coco has invited Mike to her home for dinner after she had accidentally wrecked her Escalade into his horse trailer that afternoon…

While waiting on the steps of Coco’s brown stone townhouse, Mike hoped his evening would be worth the trashed trailer and rather acute case of heartburn that he was anticipating. He cocked his head when he heard what sounded like a large dog growling and barking from behind the lavishly, beveled front door. He looked around at the meticulously landscaped townhouses with sporty Mercedes, Porsches, and BMW’s parked in the driveways before glancing over his shoulder at his pickup parked next to Coco’s wrecked SUV. When the door finally opened the Cocker Spaniel sprung out to circle his legs while sniffing, barking, and snarling at him.

“Booger, behave.” Coco looked like forgiveness wrapped in a little black peel-me-off when she appeared in the doorway. “Don’t worry, he doesn’t bite. Come in, Mike.” She said like a spider coaxing a fly.

She guided him through the foyer into a living room decked-to- the-hilt with stylish, French provincial furnishings. Booger sniffed and nipped at Mike’s legs while following close behind.

Beautiful paintings hung on the walls in ornate frames. Mike knew exactly one thing about artists or artwork: Jackshit. But it was obvious, even to him, that these pieces had come from a gallery, rather than a retail store. The vibrant colors splashed across the canvas were thick, and sweeping, and perhaps a little angry, that much he could appreciate—kinda.

A large, gilded mirror hung on the wall behind the sofa. Crystal framed photographs of Coco and her father filled the coffee tables. Classy.

“Make yourself comfortable. I’ll be right back.” She slipped through the doorway into the kitchen.

Mike buried his hands into the pockets of his Levis and studied an abstract work of art on the wall. What the hell is that supposed to be?

Booger’s growl thinned to a low grouse. His curly ears perked, and he stomped his paws against the white carpet.

“What’s the matter, boy?” Purring cautiously at the spunky spaniel, he patted Booger on the head, and then turned his attention to a photo of Stanley Beardmore, with his arms wrapped around Coco. Booger sprung at him, clamped his little body around Mike’s leg. Wagging his tiny tail, he humped and panted erotically.

Holy shit. Mike’s eyes widened. Shaking his leg frantically, he danced around the room while trying to free himself from the dog’s nirvanas grip. He braced against a table while kicking his leg, but Booger, enjoying the ride, hung on tight.

“Booger, that’s not nice.” Holding two full wine glasses, Coco trotted toward them. After hurriedly setting one of the glasses on the table, she slapped Booger on the top of his head, during which the wine in the glass splashed down Mike’s white shirt. Booger shrunk away from his leg with a yelp and scampered out of the room with his tail-tucked between his legs.

“Oh Mike, I’m sorry!”

Hoping that he wouldn’t only have to envision this butterfingered beauty naked tonight, he took a deep breath. He truly hoped that it would be an evening of pleasure worth the abyss of calamities that seemed to suck her in.

“Quick, take that shirt off, and I’ll soak it in seltzer water.” She fumbled with the buttons until she opened the shirt to reveal his muscled pecks and tight abs. Her fingers fluttered over his shoulders and down his strong arms when she slipped the shirt from his torso. Blushing, she averted her gaze to the red stain on his shirt. She wet her pink, full lips and looked into his eyes. Good God, he’s setting me on fire. Can I make it through dinner?

Smiling, she brushed a wisp of his dark hair away from his brow. “I’ll be right back.”

Listening to her trot up the stairs, he found his thoughts going to Ava’s cat. He hated that cat. She was an evil little thing. He wasn’t exactly in love with Coco’s Cocker Spaniel. Go figure.

When he spied the glass on the table, he drank down the remaining wine to wet his dry mouth.

He heard her footsteps on the stairs, and she reappeared with a shirt draped over her arm. She held up the over-sized nightshirt, which she helped him slip into. Although it was over-sized for her, it was a quite taut for him.

Stepping back to take a look, she giggled.

He looked down and groaned. The shirt was brown with pink lettering that read: “Chocolate and men, the richer, the better.”

“Well, it’s better than nothing.” She felt how the shirt clung to his firm torso and outlined every detail of his pecs and abs. “Although, nothing would be fine, too.” Her hands traced his shoulders, down his arms, through his fingertips, and then lightly across the crotch of his jeans. “Come sit at the table,” she whispered. “Dinner’s almost ready.”

Mike was feeling the heat, but he managed to ask, “What are we having?”

“It’s a surprise.”

“I can hardly wait.”

She led him into a spacious, gourmet kitchen. The stainless steel appliances gleamed in the bright lights. The white cabinetry swooped around dark, granite counters.

Mike took a seat at the table, which was dressed in white, satin linens and delicate, fine china. The light from the crystal chandelier glinted off the silverware. Booger scooted under the table to mope.

The kitchen was most impressive, but when he sat at the table with a fresh glass of wine, it wasn’t the cabinetry that he was admiring. Christ, she looks so damned tasty in that tight little rip-it-off-me-now dress. He took a big gulp of wine and swallowed hard while trying to keep other hard things under wraps.

Coco carefully placed several pieces of meat into a skillet. It spit and sizzled in the hot oil. She cradled her wine glass in her fingers. “Your shirt should be ready for the dryer after dinner.”

“That’s fine.” He felt the squeeze of the dog latching around his shin again. Sonofabitch. He kicked. The dog yelped. He grinned.

Coco was attracted to this handsome man sitting at her table. She was more aroused by the fact that he didn’t cancel their dinner date after she had smashed his horse trailer. He’s definitely a gentleman cowboy. How sexy is that? Her lips curled at the thought. With a sultry gleam, in her sapphire eyes, she strode toward him.

More than the meat was sizzling.

Mike knew what that look meant. Oh, yeah, no imagination needed. The ballerina is about to do her little dance.

She leaned over him.

While she paused to take in his hazel eyes, he could feel her breath on his face.

“I wanted to cook something fancy,” she whispered, “because it makes me feel fancy,” Her lips crashed against his. Her tongue searched his mouth.

He ran his fingers through her hair. Cupping her face in his hands, he kissed her back with passion.

The meat crackled in the skillet.

She ran her hands over his chest and down to his hips. Her fingers found the outline of his erection pressing against his jeans. She groped at his belt.

Kissing her neck, he slipped a sleeve of the dress off her shoulder and nipped at her shoulder. Tasting her skin, he made his way hungrily down her chest.

Crunch! The force of a body wrapped around his leg broke through the lust. Booger humped and pushed, which made it impossible to ignore.

Damn it. Mike’s eyes popped open. He attempted to kick the dog, but he was fastened on tight and going at it strong.

Abruptly, he became aware that Booger’s love connection to his leg wasn’t the biggest problem at hand. Smoke billowed from the skillet. Flames leapt from the stove. Greasy fireballs ignited dish towels. The curtains were already ablaze.

Shoving Coco onto the table, Mike sprung to his feet.

Her face lit up with intense desire. “Oh Mike, you are naughty,” she gasped.

“Coco, where’s your fire extinguisher?”

“You wanna be a fireman?” Coco was giddy.

Booger was rapt.

Mike was exasperated. “No, your fire extinguisher, where is it?”

Flames shot across the counter top. The smoking skillet spit sparks and fire like a cannon.

He snatched the tablecloth from under Coco and ripped it off the table. China, glassware, silver, crashed and broke against the wall and on the floor. He beat the flames while dragging the horny, Cocker Spaniel, still humping his leg, across the room with him.

“Call the fire department.”

“Wha—” Coco stammered while trying to get a grasp on the situation.

“9-1-1,” Mike shrieked while thrashing the flames, kicking his leg, and cursing her calamity.

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