First Page Feedback – It’s a Love Thing

More Special Edition entries! @LeeKilraine has some good ideas in her opening…

It was the binky’s fault. If Gabriella had been a thumb-sucker Arden would be free and clear by now, instead of facing down her worst nightmare. No. Correction. It was only her second worst nightmare. Her worst nightmare stood over six feet tall and had a history of making her shed her clothes with one hot glance. Standing behind her was her worst nightmare’s mama.

If she was very careful and kept her wits about her, she might just escape town as quietly and quickly as she’d planned. She wrapped her hand around the fallen pacifier and tucked it into her front pocket while she figured out how to tell the biggest lie of her life. No. Correction.

Second biggest lie, if God tallied up lies of omission. Speaking of God, she could use some divine intervention right now.

Arden sucked in a lungful of cool Texas morning air and stood, squaring her shoulders. She turned, glancing at the dark window tint on Grandma Daisy’s Volvo station wagon. It was designed to block the hot summer sun, but could it withstand the cool inquisition she was hoping to avoid? More importantly, could she? Just to be safe, she tried to take up more space, blocking the view into her back seat.

“Hello, Mrs. DeLeon. It’s wonderful to see you.” Not. Mrs. DeLeon had known her since she’d brought her son over to apologize for cutting one of her pigtails off in the fourth grade, aka the year she got a pixie. The woman was a human lie detector. Look her straight in the eyes. Bluff like your life depends on it. Arden had to kink her head back to meet the gaze of Billie “Boom Boom” DeLeon, who at six feet tall was almost the height of her sons.

“Arden Summers, I heard the rumor you were in town, but I didn’t want to believe it on  account of you hadn’t come to pay me a visit.” Billie lifted her oversized sunglasses up to rest on her brassy red Texas-sized hairdo. “Surely that was an oversight.”

“To be honest, Mrs. DeLeon—”

“Arden, baby, you’ve got to call me Billie or I’ll start feelin’ old and take to my bed.”

“B…Billie, I didn’t plan of visiting anyone. I’m a little short on time and only came to town to take care of some legal matters I’ve been putting off since my grandmother passed away  last year.”

Billie shook her head. “She sure is missed. It was a lovely service, by the way. Shame you couldn’t make it, but most everyone in Maverick attended. Everyone loved Daisy Mae.”

It was true. Everyone had loved Daisy Mae. Arden most of all. Her Grandma Daisy had raised her after her mama had died giving birth to her. It had broken Arden’s heart when she couldn’t attend, but it was only one of many things she couldn’t change about her life. Whoa, Arden. Stop. Stay focused and get the heck out of town.

First Page Feedback from Carly Silver

The premise of this book could make a great Special Edition. I love the idea of the heroine returning to her small hometown to settle her grandmother’s estate. When she comes face to face with an old “foe”, there’s excellent tension that bodes well for a good backstory to come.

However, I felt that this excerpt was bogged down by too many extraneous details being lumped in the first page. Within just the first paragraph, the reader learns that the heroine has a daughter, her pacifier is lost, she’s in front of her second-worst nightmare, and her worst nightmare makes her want to take her clothes off. Whew!  

I can see you’re trying to lay the groundwork here–a secret baby? This woman is the child’s grandmother? Arden hasn’t told the father and she doesn’t want to see him again? But it can be exhausting for the reader to keep up with all of this in the first little bit.

I would suggest spreading these details out, rather than overloading the reader with them at first. Let the reader settle in to the town and setting; you can pepper your scenes with some details, but you don’t need all of them at once. Though I am now intrigued by this sexy hero!

And some nice turns of phrase/dialogue that emphasizes the setting.

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Comments

  1. Jennifer

    I really enjoyed this opening. I love the setting, the nod to the matriarchs in the families, especially since this is the south. I think the opening line is catchy and engaging. I didn’t find myself feeling bogged down with information and instead was disappointed that I didn’t have more to read. Well done.

  2. Lee Kilraine

    Thank you for the valuable feedback, Carly! This was very helpful. You’ve given me some specific things to look at and consider as I revise the rough draft. I appreciate all the editors at Harlequin taking the time to do this. It’s been a great learning tool! Many thanks!