I have a very interesting and productive group of critique partners.
My first group consists of three women: one writes detective fiction, another writes women's fiction, and the third writes inspirational historical romance.
I belong to another group in which my critique partners are male. The ratio of males to females in the CBA market is very lopsided in favor of women, so it's an unusual privilege to find men in a critique group *at all,* let alone more than one of them. One of these men writes political thrillers; the other writes literary fiction.
My final critique partner is a wonderful woman I met online. She writes contemporary Christian romance.
My motley crew of critique partners is producing some fascinating and divergent responses to my work. The gender difference, in particular, seems to be profound.
The men aren't too fond of the romance-based chapters of my work. (Shock! LOL!) They like the dark, somewhat horrifying world of my hero, who works for a really bad guy.
Some of the women think that the hero's world is too dark and overpowering. They like the romantic chapters.
All of their commentary is valuable. My taste as a writer tends to be more similar to the men's, but I must not forget that I am writing for a female audience. When I step back to look at the big picture, I realize that there is weakness in my heroine's character arc, which is causing me to write more powerfully for my hero. That was not the case in novel #1, so the writing for both hero and heroine was more balanced. I haven't quite figured out how to solve this problem, but I'm looking forward to hearing everyone's opinions!