Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Old Beginnings 6

Romances today - including a paranormal, historical, suspense, contemporary, and erotic. Are you interested in reading more? ("I never read romance" is not constructive or relevant.) Sources are posted at the bottom.

1. Chains rattled on the rough stucco wall as Audrey stretched her arms. Hours must have passed since Sterling stripped her naked and cuffed her beneath the colonnade. When she rolled her head to work the kinks from her shoulders, her long dark hair tickled her waist. It was a small, sensual stimulation, one among a host. Florida's velvet night had long since swallowed the raging sun. Palms rustled in an orange-scented breeze. Insects creaked and chirped. Tiny lizards skittered across the springy grass as if it were skillet-hot. Fifty yards from where she stood, the pool cast a lurid glow across the lawn. Its surface skirled, the lanes lit but empty. Sterling had chained her here alone. He’d trusted she wouldn’t want to scream. Not that it would matter if she did. Sterling’s walled Coral Gables compound was huge. Plus, the nearest neighbours were his friends.

2. A bead of sweat took a slow path down his throat and into the neckline of his dark T-shirt. Pushed by a hot, insubstantial breeze, a weed brushed his cheek. Clint never moved. Through the shifting shadows of the pulled blinds, he could detect activity in the small cabin. The low drone of voices filtered out the screen door, but Clint couldn't make out any of the slurred conversation.

Next to him, Red stirred. In little more than a breath of sound, he asked, "Fuck, I hate waiting."

Wary of a trap, Clint wanted the entire area checked. Mojo chose that moment to slip silently into the grass beside them. He'd done a surveillance of the cabin, the surrounding grounds, and probably gotten a good peek in the back window. Mojo could be invisible and eerily silent when he chose. "All's clear."

Something tightened inside Clint. "She in there?"

"Alive but pissed off and real scared." Mojo's obsidian eyes narrowed. "Four men. They've got her tied up."

3. When Tess Newhart threw open her apartment door, Nick Jamieson was standing there - tall, dark, successful and suspiciously happy to see her, his pleasantly blunt face a nice human contrast to his perfectly tailored suit. She stared at him warily, fighting down the ridiculous jolt of relief, happiness, and lust that welled up in her just because he was back. Then he threw his arms wide to hug her. "Tess!" he said, beaming at her. "You look great!"

Tess looked down at her sagging, bleach-splotched sweats. So much for relief, happiness and lust. She rolled her eyes at him, all her suspicions confirmed. "Right." She slammed the door in his face and shot home both dead bolts.

"Aw, come on, Tess," Nick called through the door. "It's been a month. Actually it's been a month, a week and two days, but who's counting? All right, I'm counting. I miss you. I keep calling but you won't call me back. Is that fair? I think we should talk about this."

4. Stunned, Bride McTierney stared at the letter in her hand and blinked. She blinked again. It couldn't really say what she thought it said. Could it? Was it a joke? But as she read it again for the fourth time, she knew it wasn't. The rotten, cowardly SOB had actually broken up with her via her own FedEx account.

Sorry, Bride,

But I need a woman more in keeping with my celebrity image. I'm going places and I need the kind of woman at my side who will help me, not hinder me. I'll have your things delivered to your building. Here's some money for a hotel room tonight in case you don't have any vacant rooms.

Best, Taylor

"You sorry, sycophantic, scum-sucking dog," she snarled as she read it again and pain engulfed her so profoundly that it was all she could do not to burst into tears. Her boyfriend of five years was breaking up with her ... through a letter that he'd charged to her business account? "Damn you to hell, you filthy snake!" she snarled.

5. London, 1807

Phillip Maddox, Duke of Colster, walked through the crowded halls of Parliament not meeting the eye of anyone he passed. They made way for him. He was a duke, after all, and one with enviable power. Here and there, someone would nod, and murmur, "Your Grace," but for the most part, they waited until he'd gone by to speak -- and when they did, he knew they were talking about him and how Miranda Cameron had jilted him at his own betrothal ball. She'd run away with her lover while her sister Charlotte, a brazen, unprincipled woman, had openly defied him when he'd attempted to stop her.

For eight months he'd had to put up with this. He'd tried to carry on, certain some other scandal would come along to occupy idle tongues. After all, what had happened was his private business. But London was a town of gossips and, unfortunately, of matchmakers. They didn't show any sign of letting this matter go.

Old Beginnings 6

1. Velvet Glove - Emma Holly
2. Just a Hint, Clint - Lori Foster
3. Strange Bedpersons - Jennifer Crusie
4. Night Play - Sherrilyn Kenyon
5. In the Bed of a Duke - Kathy Maxwell


braun said...

Not a big fan of any of these, I have to say. And I'm not necessarily of the "I hate romance" persuasion.

Anonymous said...

I'm a fan of Cathy Maxwell, although I did not read this particular book.

However, I think this subtle bit about why he was jolted (fascinating 'cause he's a duke!) is an intriguing beginning.

Brenda said...

#3 is written by a Goddess Amongst Women Writers. One of my favorite books ever - Go CRUSIE!

Thanks, EE - now I have to go and whip it out and read it again. Which means nothing else will get done today. Once in a Crusie, I don't leave until The End.

Unknown said...

I could totally tell that was a Crusie. I need to readthat one. Everything else was either too Old Skool or Bodice Ripper for my tastes - I wouldn't read on.

Also, I don't like cowboys.

none said...

Your link to the Openings page in this post is broken. Kaput. Non-functioning. Knackered.

(word verification: eemaye. Indeed...)

Evil Editor said...

Fixed, Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I want to read #1 and #2! I read romance occasionally but not enough to recognize the books. There is an up and coming star among us, though. I really like what I have read of december quinn's work. -JTC

Is that 20 bucks worth, december?

Anonymous said...

#1 is sending me unpleasantly mixed signals. I could be interested if she's into BDSM and has gotten herself into this situation in order to enjoy it. I could, reluctantly, be interested if she's in trouble. But splitting the difference just doesn't work for me (the contrast between her long dark hair tickling her waist sensuously and her thoughts about how useless it would be to scream). I am left with the suspicion that this is going to be about bad things happening to her for the reader's titillation, an effect I loathe.

I would keep reading #2, though at the moment I mainly want to sic its characters on the situation in #1. (This must happen to editors too--adjacent entries in the slushpile which seem to interact with each other.) The names are almost ludicrously macho, though.

If I'd picked up #3 I'd keep reading; it moves along nicely.

#4 is overblown to me. Even though I'm sure people like her ex-boyfriend exist, I'm failing to believe in him. My emotional reaction is more like "I'm being bludgeoned to sympathize with her, but I don't wanna." This could be rescued by writing style but in this excerpt, for me, it isn't.

#5 would be the most likely for me to pick up, but that's probably more a reaction to genre than writing. It's rather a lump of backstory, though the details of how people avoid his eyes are well-drawn.

Anonymous said...

I guess #3 is the only one I really believe. I'd read more of that one. And maybe #2. But in all the other openings, the characters don't behave like real people.

1. Bah. A Florida night without mosquitos? Now there's a fantasy.

2. This one suffers from being right next to the lady with the mosquito bites. But I'd read more. I like the suspense.

3. Funny. I really liked this, I liked Tess.

4. Over the top. Way, way, over. Not funny any more, just silly.

5. Not bad. But I'm not thrilled, either. The Duke's problem is presented so awkwardly.

Ah, well. Now I'll go see who did these stories.


none said...

1. No. I am no fan of novels about how women enjoy abuse, which is what this looks like. She's been chained up for hours and she's relaxing and admiring the scenery. Riiiiiiiight.

(And she's only now thinking about why it's pointless screaming? What was she doing for all the preceding hours? Her nails?)

2. No. Who is "he" in the first paragraph? Clint? Someone else? Opening with careless confusion like that gives me no confidence in the writing. Sorry. Also, obsidian eyes? Yeuch.

3. I might. It's fun. I like the way she repays his trite compliment by slamming the door in his face. We get a sense that there's a history between these two.

4. Don't think I would. The letter doesn't ring true, and Bride seems more upset at having to pay for it than at its slighting, insulting tone. Doesn't convince me that we have believable characters here.

5. I might, if I was in a brain candy mood. I read Georgette Heyer sometimes cos it's so undemanding. Again, though, I don't have much confidence in the writing. We get told the guy is a duke twice in a very short space of time, as if we have no memory to speak of, and surely it wasn't only "his" betrothal ball? If that is typical of his attitude, no wonder the bride-to-be decamped. The info-dump approach to backstory is clunky, too.

Dave Fragments said...

Maybe this isn’t the place to admit this but I despise romance novels. I mean just gag me with a spoon, dear and remove any activity from my brain. My chest heaves, my heart palpates and my manhood just shrinks like a deflating balloon (with the funky noises) and hides at the thought of all that lust crammed between the pages of any book. But, but, but,

#1 Stopped at the chains. I would continue only if this were a voodoo zombie novel or a Cthlulu gothic pile of nuttiness but not a replay of Justine by DeSade. Whips and chains give me the giggles and my giggles aren’t romantic.

#2 A western, I hope. I might read to the end of the first chapter. I have this thing about westerns – horses and dust and desserts and cactus all right now. Somehow I can read heaving bosoms and pulsing man tools and all that dialog in a western and not get the giggles.

#3 Tess Truehart, uh sorry Newhart – Sorry, Sorry, Sorry, that ended that, right there. Unless you have massive and sarcastic fun with the name Tess Newhart – I ain’t reading anymore. I read Marjorie Morningstar as a teen and I still carry the scars.

#4 – I should have broken up with my third ex-wife this way – I must make a note of how practical FEDEX can be.

#5 – A historical romance, Ah Dudley, unhook my corset, oh Wesley sneak a peek below my petticoat, Heathcliffe, I Cannot love you anymore, your stiff upper lip has sagged into puffy, pouty amorosity or amourousness,
… ARGH - - I’ll settle for a good murder mystery.

Thanks y’all - I’ve had fun with these today.
And finally, I haven’t read the titles yet or the comments.

Anonymous said...

1. Ick. She's chained up naked but enjoying the scenery and the little tickling sensation of her hair. I can tell that this writer thinks a bunch o' stuff that I find offensive is titallating. Not my cup of tea, and I'd close the book, but it's only an issue of personal taste.

2. This shows some promise, some nice tension and a promise of action, but it didn't read well immediately after the beginning before it. Another woman tied up; hmm. Well, at least this one's mad.

3. This is intriguing. I want to read on to find out what suspicions have been confirmed.

4. I thought this one quite good, up until the last sentence. That overwrought flash of malice killed my sympathy for Bride pretty effectively.

5. I'm curious, but only mildly so. Is this guy going to do something, or just whine about everyone gossiping behind his back?

Anonymous said...

I am unfamiliar with most romance writers, but I did enjoy these snippets.

#1 I see a thriller in the making here - I'd be looking for a bang-up rescue of some sort. I like the descriptions, but I do think Saralee has a point about the mosquitoes. And chaining someone naked to a stucco wall and then leaving them - presumably untouched - just sounds hinky.

#2 I like this - I want to know how they are going to do the rescue here. It sounds hot and dirty and like there's going to be a real shoot-em-up and a brassy dame involved.

#3 I am lukewarm on this - I don't understand what's going on and the characters just aren't compelling to me. I would put this one down unread.

#4 LOL! I like the business Fed Ex account part - but the break up sounds unnatural to me, forced, a contrivance to get the story started. I don't think I'd read on.

#5 This sounds like fun - a duke, jilted! A costume drama, with maybe some political intrigue? (Mention of Paliament - maybe a dust up in the House of Lords?) I'd read on out of curiosity!

Bernita said...

I'd read 'em all.

Kathleen said...

#5 is the only one I would keep reading.

Stacia said...

1. Yes!

2. No.

3. Yes.

4. Maybe, if I really liked the blurb. The opening didn't grab me but I didn't hate it either.

5. Probably, but again I'm checking the blurb.

Stacia said...

JTC, you make me blush! There's a lot of writers here--I'm sure most if not all of them could write me under the table.

Not that the compliment didn't make my day. :-)

Anonymous said...

#1: It took me a minute to realize this was erotic, and that this woman isn't just being stoic in a bad situation--which I would have found more interesting. I would read on, at least until the point where the first-pages-polish is gone (a lamentable condition plaquing many, many books these days).

#2: Clint, Red and Mojo? The next few pages had better be stunningly good if they're gonna distract me from those unfortunate monikers.

#3: The name initially threw me. The whole Dick Tracy Trueheart/Newheart thing. But I really like her already. It's neat the way the thing that precipitates the door-slam is a smiling compliment. This guy must be a piece of work.

#4: Bride McTierney? OK, so I can get past that. I can even get past my incredulity that there are guys out there who pull crap like this. But the dialogue is unconvincing. Change "filthy snake" to "shit-eating fuck-wad" and I'd read on.

#5: A brazen, unprincipled woman? You just know the duke and Charlotte are going to end up in bed. But hell, unless the writing totally tanks, I'd read it. Got a soft spot for this genre.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like EE has some pretty racy things on his bookshelf at home.

Anonymous said...

Number 3 works for me--and I recognized the author right off. No one--absolutely no one--writes dialogue with the wit and wisdom of this writer.

She's hugely popular and deserves to be.

I also like #5. I guess I'm a sucker for Dukes.

Numbers 1, 2, & 4 pushed too hard. I know openings are supposed to grab--but I prefer it not to be by the throat

writtenwyrdd said...

I read #2 and #4 and probably #3 sometime since Spring. Since I can recall very little about them, the books themselves didn't stand out for me. The beginnings were what got me to buy them, though.

#1, I would stuff this one back on the shelf unread. Lots of details, and, as keeps being mentioned, nothing happens. All I can think about reading this is where are all the mosquitos? In this situation she should be tortured by mosquitos, even if she isn't bothered by being tied up naked in the great outdoors for hours.

#3 Humorous. I'd read on to find out why she's slamming the door in the face of someone who flattered her.

#5 I love Regencies, especially Georgette Heyer. However this one I'd rather light on fire than read. First of all, the language is stilted and sounds to be someone's idea of how a hoity-toity Duke would speak. It sounds fake. Second, the horrible, horrible info dump! My eyes are bleeding!

If the story begins slowly instead of in the middle of the action - and this isn't unusual for romances - I prefer to be seduced into it by a verbal trail of bread crumbs until I'm hooked.

Gerb said...

#1 Um, no. Lovely descriptions of the scenery, but the whole woman in chains thing? Ick.

#2 OK, I'd bite. Maybe.

#3 Dunno. I might, depending on the mood.

#4 (Rolls eyes) See, this is why romances get a bad name. Unbelievable set up, letter and dialog. And she growls her lines. TWICE. Meh.

#5 Used to like Regencies. I might read this one just for the nostalgia.

Anonymous said...

Commenting again without reading others (or checking who wrote these yet). And I am one of those who don't read romances typically, so for a fresh look.

1. Hated it. Can't stand the thought of a naked woman chained for hours as being anything like romance. I don't believe she'd be noticing the orange-scented blossoms or the skittering lizards.
Noted interesting vocabulary-"skirled" especially.

2. Wow. This sounded like a thriller or murder mystery. At least this tied up woman is pissed off. Noted phrasing- "obsidian eyes." Very nice.

3. This is okay, but who cares? So far I see a woman in sweats and a honey-tongued ex at the door begging to come back. Sorry, get this in my work (as a divorce lawyer). Not romantic. Wouldn't keep reading.

4. Sounds like something I read recently from or about one of Kristin Nelson's authors. Break up by fed-ex-a little interesting. Noted word-sycophantic. Maybe I'd keep reading.

5. London 1807. Loved it. A jilted guy who is suffering from gossip in a historic setting. Talk of betrothal balls. This stuff appeals to me, even if the genre is romance!

EE, I had hoped for Jane Austen, the original (English) romance writer. Oh well. Of to check who wrote these.

McKoala said...

1. No. I don't get why she is interested in sensual stimulations while chained to a wall in fear for her life (I'm assuming that its fear not multiple orgasms that's making her want to scream). Not realistic.

2. No. I think that the start is clumsy. Is 'he' Clint? Or somebody else? I don't trust the writer now.

3. No. I don't care what their surnames are and although I'm a fan of long sentences that first one is just garbled. Some cliches too. No thanks.

4. No. I don't care about the break up, because I don't know who they are. Surnames again. She needs to take a break to breathe or something between curses and pain. Dialogue is unconvincing. (The scenario reminds me of a minion's start via a dumping phone call, though - so maybe the minion was on to a good thing - this is obviously publishable).

5. No. The first two paragraphs are excellent. The breathless back story turns me off. It could have been revealed more gradually.

That was interesting - this is the first time that I've said 'no' to every single one. I guess that the conventions acceptable in romance area are not acceptable to me as a reader.

Beth said...

I don't often read romance, so none of these was familiar to me.

1. Ugh. No. And I kept waiting for the part about the mosquitoes eating her alive.

2. First paragraph is iffy--no name, and there's a step out of POV with that remark about the dark T-shirt. When we do get the name (and why not use it up front instead of waiting?), it's a bad choice for a Western, IMO. But after that, it's not bad and I'd read on.

3. I hate the names--can't explain why, I just do--but otherwise this is breezy and promises some humor. I'd keep reading.

4. Overwrought, melodramatic. Beginning with a character in a state of anger or fear or grief almost never works. I don't know enough about the character to feel anything but distaste.

5. Too much backstory. And it's boring.

EE, I hope you will consider doing some "Old Beginnnings" from sf/fantasy at some point.

Anonymous said...

1. Ugh, no. Not my cup. It reads like bad fanfic.

2. I thought it was well written, but not what I want to read.

3. Well, yes, but I recognized this book, I've read it two or three times. When I originally read it back when it was first issued in 1994, I probably bought it because of the back cover blurb. I've since then read and re-read all of the author's other books many many times.

4. Cute, but a little over the top. I probably wouldn't read further.

5. I'd read more. I'd probably read the first chapter or two in the bookstore before deciding to buy it.

Anonymous said...

They were all klutzy and unpromising. There was a time when I consumed a lot of Regencies, and I might have read #5 then, but not without inward griping.

Anonymous said...

I do read the occasional romance, but most of these didn't appeal to me. The subject matter in #1 was such a turn off that I can't really evaluate the writing. But I like that the reader knows immediately what's in store, so they can close the book cover or keep reading).
#2 - My eyes glazed over with the first sentence.
#3 got interesting when she slammed the door in his face. My favorite of the five, the only one I wanted to keep reading.
#4 was an interesting situation but the writing style didn't appeal (overblown).
#5 Too much backstory, made me yawn.

Anonymous said...

I'd check out the beginning of the second chapter of #5 - there's a good chance it's part of a set and the whole first chapter is going to be infodump in case you didn't read the others. The rest of the book could be fine. It's like picking up #4 in a mystery series, the whole first chapter is "the friend she made investigating the case of the missing clock..."