I was also raked over the coals on Saturday for a short story I was quite proud of. Its the first short story that I actually got a personalized rejection letter for. The problem is, it's about pirate/raiders...fictionalized Vikings, more or less. I tend to write realistically, as I have mentioned before. I was writing a tragedy, how the protagonist's need for revenge brought about his destruction. He's one of these guys killing, raping and pillaging island villages. Guess which one ignited a firestorm? I'll give you a hint, it's not the killing and it's not the pillaging.
There's n saying when it comes to critique groups: if everyone mentions something, pay attention to it. Another one is: if half the group loves and half the group hates it, you've got a winner. Half the group thought the raiders were too much and half though they weren't bad enough. To my mind, they were men of their time and culture. They certainly didn't think of themselves as monsters.
I'm sending that story out again. There's another saying: if you don't believe in your work, no one else is going to.