Book 360: #First Impressions #Second Chances – Heidi Belleau

Belleau, Heidi - First Impressions, Second ChancesI grabbed a copy of this book for free from the Riptide Publishing website. I did this before I had an interaction with Riptide that left an incredibly sour taste in my mouth and has pretty much guaranteed I won’t read any of their books again, but I’ll save that for the end of this post (after the recommendation).

This novella’s synopsis (Amazon Affiliate link) was just too cute to pass up. You get a second chance with your first crush and they happen to be gay too? Add in the techno-crazy insta-celebrity age and of course it’s going to be adorable. This rings especially true if you’re main character is a somewhat neurotic shy guy who has gone out of his way to avoid social-interactions in person, but has a large online following. I mean come on librarians and bookstores, let’s just go ahead and create the sub-sub-genre “Socially Awkward Romances.” I’d be all over that.

Seriously! Maybe it’s just because I’m awkward, but I love me some awkward romances.

“Actually, I’m too inexperienced on the whole dating…thing to ever have had to worry about boundaries before, but I understand the concept.” (Loc. 287)

I mean I’m pretty sure I had that exact response (internally) before I ever dated.

If I had only one complaint about the novella, it’s that it’s TOO short! Belleau wrote two great characters that could’ve been fleshed out over a longer period of interactions and dates. The novella lasts about three weeks with the majority of interactions glossed over, but I really wanted to hear the awkward re-getting to know you conversations they must have had, because her dialogue, internal and external was great when we were able to read it.

“He’d spent so many cynical lonely years telling himself that kissing wasn’t like movies or photographs, that it wasn’t glossy and beautiful and life changing, while simultaneously falling into the fantasy that it was all those things. The reality was so much more profound, so much more complex. Both more mundane and awkward—and more sweet and heart wrenching—than he’d ever imagined.” (Loc. 555)

The only other way to really improve the novel would be to incorporate social media into it. There were definitely hashtags included at the beginning of every chapter and I was proud of my Tumblr knowledge enough to know that you could have spaces in your hashtags.

Recommendation: Obviously you should read it. It’s a short novella with a big kiss for the reader. I enjoyed it and it was a great palate cleanser.

Opening Line: “Jonah uploaded his Outfit of the Day selfie—taken with his iPhone a few minutes ago in the full-length mirror behind his dorm room door—and hit post.”

Closing Line: “Funny, but it seemed slightly less scary with Sebastian at his side.” (Whited out to avoid spoilers.)

Why I probably won’t read Riptide Publishing after this
As I mentioned above, I had a bad experience with Riptide Publishing about the same time that I downloaded this book from their website. I’ve never had any issues with Riptide before and have actually praised them for going out of their way to provide copies of books that get messed up in the NetGalley transfer process.

I’m not looking a gift horse in the mouth, Riptide has provided numerous galleys and I’ve overwhelmingly enjoyed them. However, I was recently denied two galleys and out of curiosity alone, I emailed Riptide’s marketing email and asked if there was a particular reason I was denied as I double checked their preferences and I more than qualified.

I’m not upset about being denied galleys, that’s within every publisher’s rights, I’m upset about how it was responded to. It is not my fault when someone else is inefficient and cannot do their jobs properly. The first galley I was denied for a legitimate reason, the release date was in the past and thus the book should have been archived (see above about doing jobs properly). Okay fair enough, you’re not doing your job so I’m getting my hopes up about an interesting book, I get it and I wasn’t upset. I’ve even had similar issues with this in the past via NetGalley and The Hangman’s Tale. But again, I want to reiterate it’s not my responsibility to help you do your job. Your inability to maintain your galleys is not my problem and I even politely acknowledged that I understood without asking why I was more than likely denied the galley proof.

Where I got upset was the response to the second galley. I have reviewed fifteen books for Riptide Publishing. I have sent every response, as required, back through NetGalley. AND in addition, I posted on this site, I have pumped them out to my Social Media networks and posted my reviews on Goodreads. I’ve received great responses from the authors on social media AND their personal websites.

When I got the canned response from Riptide Publishing I was floored. The respondent clearly had not gone in to NetGalley to verify I was who I said I was or that I have provided feedback for every one of the fifteen titles I have received. I was up front about having completed all my reviews and proactively mentioned that I had read their entire prefernces section on NetGalley and yet their canned response didn’t acknoweldge that.

“At this point in time we are in the process of limiting the availability of our ARCs. The best way to stay on the list is to review every title requested on the NetGalley site. Also, be sure your profile is complete and links all your references. That doesn’t eliminate errors don’t occur from time to time.”

I mean I completely understand limiting availability of ARCs, you want people to buy your books not just read them for free, but you also have to appeal to different audiences. From the few other reviews and what not I’ve seen they’re all by female bloggers (go you!), so why wouldn’t you want a male perspective? But this goes back to the NetGalley preferences, if you’re limiting galleys be proactive and mention it there. Don’t just assume everyone will know and understand. I did appreciate and understood, the acknowledgement that “errors occur.” But it felt like such a catch all. It felt like, oh we were blindly rejecting everything and yours got caught up in the clicks, so tough luck.

So when I finally got to the end of the email and they offered a copy of the requested galley, I replied with a no-thank-you and was honest about the entire experience leaving a bad taste in my mouth. I told them that I’d read the final book I’d downloaded (this one) and that I probably wouldn’t be going out of my way to read Riptide authors in the future, which is sad because I’ve really enjoyed quite a few of them.

Hopefully, I’ll find a new M/M romance publisher and if not my life will be a little more empty, or I’ll finally get off my ass and write the ones I want to read.


7 thoughts on “Book 360: #First Impressions #Second Chances – Heidi Belleau”

  1. I’m sorry you had such a bad experience! I agree that publishers can reject who they like, but at the point that you’ve reviewed 15+ of their titles in a timely way, I think they owe you a big thank you and more considerate treatment than you received. This makes me feel bad about them as a publisher who doesn’t seem to properly value blogger support.

    Liked by 1 person

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