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First Page: Duncan, a Paranormal Romance

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Why didn’t the Fomhoire ever just walk up to him and tap him on the shoulder? They would be so much easier to kill that way. Duncan tossed back his fourth Macallan and signaled for another. The bartender gave him a calculated look before grabbing a clean glass for a refill. Duncan glared back and shoved the empty shot glass into the collection before him on the bar and glanced around at the gyrating bodies and clusters of drunken men trying to pick up equally drunk women. He had no doubt a few would manage to complete negotiations before the night was through. The teeming bodies surrounding him gyrated to the heart-pounding music with a bass so loud and strong it hammered through his chest. He hated this. The people, the noise, the overwhelming desire to refuse Dagda and his future be damned.

Five more minutes. Then he’d leave, try again tomorrow. The sentinel system rarely delivered false information so he knew that sooner or later, his prey would be here.

The bartender gave him a questionable look. “Think you’ve had enough, buddy?” When Duncan only stared, the man shook his head and set the glass before him.

If the man only knew how close he was to the truth.  He was lifting the glass to his lips when the hairs rose on the back of his neck. Turning slowly to face the door, he watched the woman enter the place. He felt her as she made her way through the crowd to the other end of the bar. She took a seat and signaled the bartender, ordered something then swiveled toward the dance floor.

Duncan studied the petite woman. Dark hair that fell down her back, he couldn’t tell the color of her eyes from where he sat, but he saw by the way she took everything in that she was very aware of where she was. He hadn’t been told when he talked to his contact that the demon was a woman, but no, he didn’t sense that from her. The Fomhoire had a certain something Duncan could sense and this woman didn’t have it. What she did have was much more profound and for a brief moment, it touched something deep within him he thought had died centuries ago.

She must have been drinking something similar to his. Same color, same initial amount in the glass, but she didn’t take it all at once like he did. She sipped it slowly. And he watched the muscles in her throat work as the liquid slid down it. Seeing the way her skin slid over her throat. A throat his lips could follow down to her shoulder and lower still…

He shook his head to clear it. He didn’t need any complications and she had the option to be a huge one. He needed to find the demon, kill it and get back to his solitary life.

Away from humanity.

Away from the complication at the other end of the bar.


Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. kali
    Oct 08, 2011 @ 09:06:37

    This is competent: the characters introduced, the setting fully described, and conflict established–everything you need in a first scene.

    While it flows well, I wouldn’t read on. There are too many standard PNR tropes in this one scene to make me curious about what happens next. I might read on if the blurb reveals something about the plot and characters that breaks with the conventional, but otherwise, no.

    Nit: be careful of the word “something”–substitute it out for a stronger and more specific noun.

  2. Tara Lynx
    Oct 08, 2011 @ 09:40:51

    The set-up seems interesting (though it’s hard to judge from such a short excerpt). I see some problems with word choice–for example, you have forms of “gyrate” twice within three lines, or a “questionable look.”

    I like the vivid descriptions, and you’re introducing both halves of your couple on the first page (at least I strongly assume these two are the ones who’ll end up together) and hinting at the obstacles that stand between them, which is an excellent way to open a romance.

    Best of luck!

  3. Daisy
    Oct 08, 2011 @ 09:45:21

    The first few paragraphs could be edited to get rid of some of the repetition (gyrating bodies… the bodies gyrated; The bartender gave him a questionable look… The bartender gave him a calculated look). The layout of the scene confused me: “teeming bodies surrounded him” had me picturing people jostling for space at the bar and no delineation between the bar and the dance floor, but when the woman arrives there’s clearly some space between the two (there’s enough room for her to get a seat and turn to watch the dancers).

    I like the writing very much and I’d read on, if only because I’m interested in whether he’s wrong and she is the demon contact he’s supposed to meet.

  4. Deb
    Oct 08, 2011 @ 10:03:20

    The BOC didn’t grab my attention – nice scene setting, but didn’t seem that important at this juncture
    For me, the real story began at “Five more minutes…”
    I think this would also engage reader more
    The excellent scene setting could be put in after the woman arrives. The number of drinks could be indicated when the bartender asks if he’s had enough (Although, I’m unsure you really need to take up space with the bartender at all – just indicate character knows he has a lot, why and that’s he’s pushing the boundaries, which can probably be accomplished in one sentence – maybe when you mention him noticing what she’s drinking)
    Also, since he can sense the Fomhoin, not understanding why he wishes it would come up and tap him on the shoulder. His sensing is his tap on the shoulder.
    Maybe will make sense later, but the sudden attraction to this unknown woman (without any reason why especially), given his mission, seems contrived to me.
    Great ending line – builds suspense and quickens the pace. That would make me read on a page or two to see if what plot is really about, as at this point I’m not really sure.
    Best wishes with your work

  5. Renda
    Oct 08, 2011 @ 11:10:26

    I don’t read paranormal, but I might read this. That’s about the best thing I can say about anything.
    I quite liked it.

  6. DS
    Oct 08, 2011 @ 11:16:24

    Oh my vision again, I thought he was wondering why the farmhorse didn’t just tap him on the shoulder.

    Had to look the Fomhoire up and find out I knew them as Fomorians. Then I had to look Macallan up. If it’s as good as it is expensive I’m surprised he’s worried about supernatural beings. I would think a Scotch connoisseur would be after him for downing it like shots of Kentucky Gentleman Bourbon. $41.99 vs $8.99.

    It feels a bit weird to me, the Scotch, character named Duncan and the mythology with names that generally relate back to Ireland.

  7. Lynne Connolly
    Oct 08, 2011 @ 11:29:19

    Macallan is a fine whisky, not for throwing back like that. It did make me wince a bit. You roll good whisky around your mouth, because there are a variety of flavors. The point about it is that it’s rich and packed with flavor.

    Anyway. This is well written but I’ve read it before. It does need some tidying up. As well as the issues others have mentioned, there are some overlong sentences that could be trimmed.
    All very Gaelic/Gallic, which has also been done before, but if you have a new and interesting twist, bring it on because I am so there!

  8. jch
    Oct 08, 2011 @ 14:24:04

    I liked your first line, and think it illustrates Duncan’s impatient mood from the start. Also makes his distraction with the woman more relevant — I get the feeling such distraction is unusual, that not much would normally sway him from his purpose? And maybe his casual consumption of the expensive Macallan supports that characterization, in a way? Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but maybe that’s a good thing — you’ve given me enough to make me wonder about him.

    I’m not one who needs to be tossed into nonstop action right at the start, so I appreciate the building momentum, and think you do it well here. You have a flair for authentic description, and it creates a vivid atmosphere. I would want to know what happens next, and would definitely keep reading.

    Thanks for sharing your work; I hope you keep going with it! :)

  9. Darlynne
    Oct 08, 2011 @ 16:45:22

    I’d keep reading for the simple reason that you did NOT wax poetic about the woman’s eye color. Finally, someone who knows that eye color is not discernible across a room, whether well- or dimly-lit. I agree with the previous comments, but still enjoy the voice. Good luck and thanks for posting.

  10. wendy
    Oct 08, 2011 @ 17:38:46

    Thrown out by trivia – not meant to reflect on the story.Dog called Duncan and a husband who drinks the Macallan or Macallans not Macallan.

  11. Maili
    Oct 08, 2011 @ 18:56:45

    Confusing. The Fomhoire is Irish. The Dagda is Irish. The Macallan is Scottish. Duncan is commonly a Scottish name. Buddy seems American (“Think you’ve had enough, buddy?”). A mish-mash of these casual details don’t tell me anything about the setting.

    If Duncan is indeed of Scottish ancestry, it would make much more sense to spell those words the Gaelic way, not the Irish way. It’d make him appear Scottish through and through, rather than a fake or stupid Scot who acts as if Gaelic doesn’t exist. But this is based on my assumption that he’s a Scot, though.

    In spite of that, I think I wouldn’t read on because I suspect this story will continue to ignore the differences between Irish and Scottish cultures/mythologies. One of my serious pet hates, which was developed after coming across this genre’s disregard too many times in similar romances that raided Scotland and Ireland’s mythology cupboards. Heh! :D

    But I suspect there are a lot of readers who love that sort anyway, so good luck!

  12. the author
    Oct 08, 2011 @ 19:47:42

    I wanted to thank all of you for your comments. You’ve given me a lot to think about.

    I admit, I cringed when I saw all the repetition. I know better than that. I have no excuse.

    I’m sorry some of you thought this was Irish/Celtic mythology. It’s not. I did a great deal of research into the Scots mythology which is never used because I wanted to do something a bit different. Thus the difference in the spelling.

    I have work to do to be sure. So again, thank you all.

  13. Daisy
    Oct 09, 2011 @ 08:49:05

    I’m Irish and not hugely up on Scottish mythology, but I thought “Fomhoire” was the Irish spelling and “Famhair” the Scottish/Gaelic one? Could be totally wrong on this…

  14. SAO
    Oct 09, 2011 @ 09:38:37

    I hated the first para, but thought the rest was pretty good.

    1) “Why didn’t the Fomhoire ever just walk up to him and tap him on the shoulder? They would be so much easier to kill that way.” Yes, because those who are hunted always want to make life easy for the hunter.

    2) 5 shots of scotch is a lot of alcohol. He’s not legal to drive, unless he’s had the first shot more than 5-6 hours ago and/or he weighs 300 or more pounds. If he’s expecting a fight, he’d be dumb to drink half that much. No one’s reflexes are improved by scotch.

    3) I never found out who Dagda was.
    4) I didn’t much care about the negotiations between the drunk men and women. If Dunc has a serious and challenging job in front of him, I’m not sure he does either.

    Anyway, those were my problems with para one. The rest was pretty good, but you could tighten the whole thing by making us feel more that he was focused on his job.

  15. Valky
    Oct 10, 2011 @ 14:00:32

    I like the writing style overall, repetitions be damned. I was a little thrown by “she had the option to be a huge one”. Were you attempting to avoid a cliche? It reads better as “potential, to me,and it threw me to read “option” there instead.

    I would’ve read on, until the instant attraction set in. I personally hate that trope, and it takes a lot to convince me to work past it, outside of categories.

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