Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels


Or – how my dumb sentence came back to haunt me

By Lynne Marshall.


I know we’ve all said it a million times – don’t read reviews at that readers’ website.  We all know which website I’m talking about, but I won’t name it here.  Yet, I continue to troll “that website” and check out my books’ ratings.  Recently I cringed when I saw a 2 star review and, fool that I am, quickly clicked to read it.  I will preface this by saying the reviewer called out Harlequin right off – Harlequin books are “happy fluff” and the reader said she knew what she was getting when she chose to read my book. Inference – they’re all the same.bigstock-young-woman-relaxing-and-readi-26729552

Anyhoo, after she set up the parameters for reading out of the goodness of her heart, a book published by the fluff company, she zeroed in on one sentence out of the entire book.  And that sentence was enough for her to stop reading the rest. That’s fine.  We’re free to choose what we want and don’t want to read, right? No gripes from me. Life is too short. Free country, as we like to say in the US.  But did she need to review it in such a snarky fashion? It felt like a public shaming.  Shame on you Lynne Marshall for writing this stupid sentence.

Granted, the sentence was a klunker and I cringed when I read it.  My response: Did I write that?  Was I trying to be funny? Was that way back when I used to be intrigued by pheromones and the effects they have on women? All of the above. If it was so offensive, why hadn’t my editor deleted it?

The book in question was my first Medical Romance from 2006 which was recently re-released in e-book format for the first time in North America.  Many readers who’ve never had a chance to read it are doing so now, and I am pleased with the sales at Amazon and, for the most part, with the ratings at that website which shall not be named.

The reviewer, upon reading my klunker sentence had to stop reading right then and there, and she chose to share that information with anyone who reads reviews at the unnamed readers’ website.  Which made me think, if she’d been the least bit invested in the story—since that sentence occurs quite far along in the book—she might have overlooked that one “shameful” sentence. Maybe she would have cut me some slack if she’d enjoyed the book up to that point. But if one sentence ruins an entire book, I’m thinking she wasn’t really into me to begin with.  Remember fluff? So, no harm, no foul. I’m sorry I wrote a sentence so horrible that you had to close my book, never to read me again.  I won’t argue.  The sentence is pretty, well, I’ll let you decide folks.  I’ve kept you wondering all this time.  However, I’m stating in advance, it is a stinker of a sentence, so there – I beat you to it!

“She caught a whiff of his pheromones and almost felt her milk let down.”

Snort.  Yes, it is pretty bad, and if I could take that sentence back I would, but as the saying goes, what’s done is done.


So – authors – any klunker sentences you’d like to take back?  Have you ever publicly been called out for writing one?

Readers – have you read any klunkers lately and care to share?

If you’d like to read this sentence for yourself, here’s the book:

Her Baby’s Secret Father


And please watch for my next  and newest Medical Romance, which is part of the wonderful new London-based continuity – 200 Harley Street:

American Surgeon in London – available at the M&B website on April 1st, and in UK stores May 1st:

51ruoRIbL7L__AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-53,22_AA300_SH20_OU02_Seeya next time!




  1. OHHH THAT SITE. I was afraid it was Mrs Giggles… whose site I have recently discovered and which makes my little baby-author heart go into overdrive like alittle frightened baby bunny heart!

    When I get less than good stars(reviews), I like to look at the reviewers favorite books. If a certain series with a creepy vampire who watches this chick sleeps is in the list… I discount the reviewers opinion(Sorry to folks who love those books. I just don’t… so it mollifies me! I’m sure that you have books you hate that other people love, use them! Warning; The book needs to be popular to work in almost every occasion.)

  2. Commiserations Lynne. I don’t think its a klunker – I need to know the context first and as she didn’t put it any context how can anyone judge from that??

    I don’t have a klunker sentence – although I’m sure I *do* have many! – but a klunker of a spelling mistake. In Girl Least Likely To Marry I spelled Ithaca in New York as Ithica – with an i not an a. Quite a few reviewers have (helpfully) pointed it out. Along with other helpful suggestions about Googling and research! And I cringe every time I read a review that mentions it because I HATE that I made such a dreadful mistake – of spelling the name of an actual place wrong! It’s writing 101 for crying out loud – and there’s no excuses for it.

    And I can’t even go on any review site anywhere and defend myself because it is an *inexcusable* mistake and if I did, well then it just becomes a whole other thing. I can’t say, actually I spent a lot of time on the internet Googling Ithaca and housing around Ithaca and Cornell – so much I think I might have been put on some CIA watch list. And I still spelled it wrong. I cant say I had not 1 but 2 US authors read the book and they never picked it up. I cant say I had a UK author who had *lived* in Ithaca read it and she didn’t pick it up. I can’t say it went through several stages of editing and copy editing and they didn’t pick it up.

    Because while they’re valid, the point is, *I* got it wrong. And I’m always going to cringe about that.

    So take heart – as you say, if I could take it back I would and we are going to lose some readers over these kinds of things. But hopefully most will be able to look past them!

    I, for one, am willing to overlook things from fav authors and you are one of my favs!

    1. Hi Amy – as a person who regularly embarrasses myself on Facebook with spelling errors, I know what you mean.
      Consider your “mistake” a fluke, (where all the safety nets failed) and I’m sure nothing remotely close will ever happen again. It does seem odd the copy editor let is pass.

      And thank you for the lovely compliment, which I’ll boomerang right back at you!

  3. Lynne, when I am asked to remember stuff like that my mind goes BLANK but I just wanted to say I read that book back in the day and enjoyed it. I LOVE the new cover!!

    1. As I read Pregnant on Arrival by you back in ’06, and loved it, Fiona. I much prefer my new cover, too. So when is your first Medical Romance book coming out in digital?

      Thanks for backing me up. 🙂

  4. Lynne, I am absolutely sure that I have written some real klunkers in my time although I can’t recall any of them at this very second. I do remember the letter I received from an elderly lady in Florida remonstrating with me because I used the word “floor” instead of ground and should have called the path my couple were walking along “a sidewalk”. I wrote back and thanked her for her advice (she definitely wasn’t being snarky -great word!) and that was that.
    As for your so-called reviewer, well, dare I say that she obviously has an axe to grind. Is she a failed author? Someone who has tried – and failed – to get a book accepted by good old “fluffy” Harlequin? Hm, I’d put her comments down to disappointment in her own life and just carry on writing some more great books.
    Looking forward to reading the Harley Street series,

    1. Hi Jennifer – My favorite “fan” letter was from an elderly Australian lady who enjoyed my book but didn’t understand why I had to put sex in it. I wrote a respectful letter back thank her for reading my book and in a polite way suggested she skip those parts in the books, if she enjoyed reading them, because the editors wanted those scenes included. Yes, I blamed the editors! LOL.
      Human nature is funny. We all think our way is the only way to say things.

      I’m looking forward to the Harley Series, too!

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  5. Lynne,
    At least you can see the healthy side of the issue. We all write bad sentences and say bad things to people. The thing to do is to try to do better the next time. I know you have done that.

  6. OMG! I remember that sentence! But instead of thinking it was a klunker of a sentence I snorted my iced tea out of my nose. Is it an unusual way of expressing lust, interest, attraction? Yes, but it made me laugh then and it makes me laugh now. So stop cringing, Lynn. It really wasn’t that cringe worthy and know that other readers might have gotten a wee bit of joy from the unusual statement. 😉

    1. Bless you, Nancy! Knowing me, I meant it with tongue in cheek. LOL It’s been a long time since I wrote that book, so I’ve been a little foggy about it. You’ve helped me remember that the editor who bought me said she loved my light and bubbly voice.
      How cool is that for you to remember your reaction.
      Thanks so much for chiming in. 🙂

  7. Hi Lynne, Nancy’s reading of your sentence sounds much more in keeping with the way it was intended – I would have read it as a tongue in cheek statement too and had a laugh! One of the things which keeps me from going through the published editions of my own books is Klunker-Dread, so I’m afraid mine is one that was pretty quickly picked up and deleted from my first book – but it did make me laugh when I found it. It’s an ever-popular mistake – ‘His eyes dropped to the floor’. (Nooo, Annie, it was his gaze…. Having your eyeballs drop out and roll around on the floor isn’t the stuff of romance!)

    1. LOL – Annie – you’re right, rolling eyes are not appealing.
      I have stopped reading my books wants they arrive in print. I did for the first 8-10 or so, but not anymore. Why give ourselves extra grief, right?
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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