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First Page: Romantic Suspense

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As soon as Paige laid eyes on Will McCrossin she knew he was not the man for the job. She didn't know what her business partner, Dan, had been thinking when he had recommended this guy. She knew that the two of them had served in the Australian Army together in Afghanistan a number of years back, but Paige could see nothing of the competent, professional soldier that her partner had described in the slumped figure before her. His head was propped up on the bar next to an empty glass tumbler that she guessed had been refilled a number of times. Paige brought the glass to her nose and sniffed. Scotch. His unshaven face was only just visible under the wide-brimmed hat pulled down over his eyes but it was obvious he was out cold. Paige sighed, pulling off her glasses to rub the bridge of her nose. A drunk. That was just what she needed right now. Thanks a lot, partner, she thought.

"Mr McCrossin?' she said. There was no sign of movement from the unconscious man. She said his name again-’louder this time. Still nothing. Paige tried to suppress her rising panic. Time was getting away from her and she really needed this guy to wake up. Now. She slammed the glass back down on the bar right next to his slack jaw with a sharp thud. The few other dozy residents of the pub jumped at the sound, as did the flies that swirled around her head in the hot heavy air. But Sleeping Ugly kept right on sleeping.

Paige wasn't one to mess about even on a good day-’and this was anything but a good day. She motioned to the bartender to refill the glass. He looked curious but did as she asked. Without ceremony, Paige tipped back the sleeping man's weathered brown hat and poured the contents of the glass all over his face.

That did the trick. The man who just minutes earlier she had foolishly hoped would be able to bring sense back to a world suddenly gone crazy snorted and sat up. Paige watched the amber liquid trickle down his stubbled jaw and under his shirt. If he was surprised or angry at being woken in such a way he didn't show it. He used the back of his sleeve to wipe over his face and then looked up at her, his eyes dark and piercing. "What can I do for you, sweetheart?' he drawled.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She 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

35 Comments

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    Nov 20, 2010 @ 04:38:27

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  2. Danielle D
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 05:13:16

    As a reader so far I like it, I have a feeling the hero is hiding some kinda pain.

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  3. sao
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 05:36:44

    I liked the opening line and the ending one. However, if I were Paige, I’d have walked out of that bar, and not tried to revive Will.

    Basically, you have to convince me that Will isn’t a loser, and that’s probably going to take more than his just being coherent now. I’ve got to believe that he isn’t prone to taking random binges and falling asleep in bars. If he’s supposed to be protection, he needs to be alert.

    If he (and the author) are just playing games and he’s been awake and aware the whole time, I’ll be pissed off at both of them.

    I’d like Paige if I didn’t have the suspicion that she was about to sign up for help from a drunken loser.

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  4. Ankaret Wells
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 05:37:12

    I really liked this and would like to read more. I love books set in Australia, and it sounds like the are going to be some real fireworks between the hero and heroine.

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  5. Pat
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 07:56:02

    I love the opening sentence. It makes me think of old film noir movies (and for me, that’s a good thing). However, right after that comes what strikes me as a rather awkward info dump:
    “She didn't know what her business partner, Dan, had been thinking when he had recommended this guy. She knew that the two of them had served in the Australian Army together in Afghanistan a number of years back, but Paige could see nothing of the competent, professional soldier that her partner had described in the slumped figure before her.”
    I think something shorter and simpler might work better, maybe something like
    “This comatose drunk was the competent professional soldier her partner Dan had recommended?”
    I hope that doesn’t sound as if I’m carping, because I really like the whole thing, and I would definitely read on. Good luck.

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  6. okbut
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 07:59:10

    I don’t know… made me wonder what kind of business this lady is involved with, to cause a ‘panic’ when the new guy is passed out cold in a bar?
    It is business, or something more nefarious? What’s the time crunch.
    I end up with more questions than needed on a first page, instead of wetting my appetite for more, I feel annoyed at the lack of information.
    The setting and voice are good as well as potential premise, if it is dramatic…
    Needs editing. Thank you for submitting.

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  7. Jill Sorenson
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 08:06:57

    I usually don’t read first page entries anymore (no time to comment!) but your first line really jumped out at me. I like this. Excellent job.

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  8. coribo25
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 08:24:22

    Please could we have the hero finding the heroine slumped drunk on a bar for a change? Now that would make me keep reading. Too many romances start with heroine finding potential hero drunk.

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  9. Melissa Cutler
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 08:26:13

    The first few sentencse drew me in, but there are a few kinks to work out before this page is perfectly polished. First, as a previous commenter mentioned, the glaring info dump. Secondly, if she wanted to revive the man, she should have asked for a glass of water or coffee, etc., not scotch. If she wants his help, why would she want him to reek even more of liquor? And does she have a cell phone? A logical next step might have been to call Dan and ask him some pointed questions. This writer did a great job. This is a solid beginning and the stikcking points are minor and easily remedied.

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  10. DS
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 08:45:15

    I’ve probably read a scene like this at least 20 times. I need to know why this is different from every story that begins this way.

    Unless it’s an Australian thing Scotch sounds a bit weird for someone to be drinking who is passed out cold in a bar. Of course I haven’t been in a serious drinker’s bar in years so that just may be me.

    Isn’t it a little early to drag in Afghanistan? I assume this is to telegraph that he isn’t just any drunk, he’s a drunk with a reason. But you might have saved that for a little later when it would have more impact.

    One thing I have noticed about these First Page thingies is the tendency to cram as much information as possible about the story on the first page. Just give enough to get me interested and I’ll follow your story the rest of the way.

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  11. dick
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 08:56:44

    It got me interested. Made me want to know what’s going on, which is what suspense is all about.

    ReplyReply

  12. Ell
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 09:03:51

    My first reaction is–Has someone seen “Cat Ballou” lately?

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  13. May
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 09:16:37

    I would actually like it better if you cut out the first two paragraphs and started with her dumping water on the passed out drunk. Then you’d have a bit more space on page 1 to pull me in and make me understand why I should care or keep reading. Perhaps a bit later you can explain about the partner, what’s so urgent, etc… I think it is self-explanitory that if you’re desparate to wake up a drunk stranger obviously something big/bad/life altering is going on.

    Lot of potential here – I love a good rom.suspense.

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  14. Cris
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 09:52:15

    I like it! I definitely want to read this book.

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  15. snethet
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 10:17:57

    I really liked it. I would keep reading, but I agree with Melissa. I wondered why she wouldn’t dump water on him. But this is a small fix. Sounds like you have the beginning of a nice story on your hands. Good luck.

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  16. Mary G
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 10:46:52

    I want to keep reading. Sleeping Ugly-LOL.

    ReplyReply

  17. Debra
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 11:13:00

    I would buy this book.

    ReplyReply

  18. evie byrne
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 11:20:22

    I really liked this page. I read through with interest, and encountered no stumbling blocks. Like others, I did wonder about tossing the scotch–primarily because I’m cheap and would never pay for scotch to toss in someone’s face! :) (Though if his glass was left half full at his elbow, I’d have no hesitation about using it. Just an idea.) But even that didn’t slow me down much, because for whatever reason I believed that this was a logical step for that character.

    I say don’t obsess on this page, it’s good for now–just keep writing.

    ReplyReply

  19. Darlynne
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 12:51:27

    I really enjoyed this and would definitely want to read an entire book. Thanks for contributing and best of luck.

    ReplyReply

  20. brooksse
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 13:05:02

    I liked this and would keep reading. The unanswered questions caught my interest: What type of business? Why does she need his help? Why is he drunk?

    I also like the Australian setting. I don’t think I’ve read a romantic suspense before that was set in Australia.

    ReplyReply

  21. Lori S.
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 13:35:11

    I think this has a lot of potential, but still needs a bit of tightening. Whittle down the info dumps, replace some of the telling with showing, and please have her use water instead of scotch (yes, I’m one of those).

    Also, I think you’d benefit greatly by deepening Paige’s point of view. As it stands, her POV is very shallow and it’s difficult to get much of a bead on her character. Just a thought.

    Thanks for putting it out there. Good luck!

    ReplyReply

  22. Karen
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 16:50:31

    *sighs*

    What are the chances that despite your hero being a drunk (and therefore a true loser, hasbeen), he still manages to retain his muscles+six pack that TRUE athletes retain only after HOURS of hard work at the gym? Alcohol has a lot of calorie in them, so knowing that when I imagine your hero courting a bottle of scotch 24/7, you can bet that I just as well imagine him pigging out with a bucket of KFC+Big Mac 24/7. Not sexy.

    Also, why is your heroine panicking when he didn’t wake up? Was she going to be under some kind of attack from which she was perhaps hoping the drunk guy would protect her? The drunk guy who is so hammered that he can’t even wake up? The drunk who can’t even walk a straight line even if his life depended on it? Is she dimwitted?

    ReplyReply

  23. Castiron
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 17:02:31

    I like the voice and some aspects of the setup, but I agree with the folks who are asking why Paige is bothering with this guy when he appears to be the opposite of what she needs for this mysterious purpose. I’d keep reading, but I’d expect to get some good explanations soon; otherwise I’m going to write Paige off as a TSTL heroine being manipulated by the author.

    ReplyReply

  24. Jinni
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 20:43:31

    I loved this.

    I read these in my RSS reader and usually move on. But today, I clicked the link to write this comment.

    With some paragraphing to set apart the emphasized statement, it’d really have an impact on the printed page. So wanna read this!

    ReplyReply

  25. Nicola
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 21:28:22

    Phew! That went better than expected – hehe! I’m the author of today’s first page and I just want to thank everyone who took the time to comment. It is truly appreciated. I’m really jazzed that so many people wanted to keep reading. That’s the best possible compliment for a (wannabe) writer, isn’t it?

    In response to some of the comments:

    I agree with everyone that I should switch the scotch to water. In fact, I will do that as soon as I’m done here!

    I don’t know what Cat Ballou is. Am I missing out??

    I’m hoping Paige isn’t TSTL; she’s just in a crisis situation, you know? But I will keep an eye on it because I want her to be a pretty tough cookie, actually.

    I agree with what one commenter said about the tendency to cram too much into the first page and I can see that it is a bit info-dumpy. *flexes editing fingers*

    Again, thanks everyone!

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  26. Annette
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 21:29:14

    Wow, people are being pretty harsh on the supposed hero here. This is barely an intro. We have no idea why he’s drunk. It could be the first time in his life he’s done that, for all the readers know at this point. And he’s come highly recommended to the heroine by her business partner, so I don’t mind at all that she’s giving him a chance. Plus, we don’t know enough of her circumstances to judge her worries either at this point. I thought this was well-written, engaging, and I definitely want to know more about both of them. It sounds like a very fun set up, to me. Good luck with this.

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  27. Sandra
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 23:02:30

    @Nicola:

    Cat Ballou was a 1960′s Western starring Jane Fonda and Lee Marvin. Marvin won an Academy Award for his role as a drunken gunslinger. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat_Ballou

    You’ve made a good start here. Keep at it.

    ReplyReply

  28. Ruchita
    Nov 21, 2010 @ 05:49:01

    I liked the flow of words.Also the concise description. But have a query: if you were wakened so rudely wouldn’t you get really angry? I think he’d swear rather than drawl. That said, the heroine is really plucky and I liked her.

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  29. Jill Sorenson
    Nov 21, 2010 @ 12:05:10

    I actually like the scotch in his face. It’s more of a surprise, and packs more of a punch than water.

    The opening paragraph isn’t an infodump, it’s necessary information to orient the reader. You’ve repeated the word “know/knew” in the first three lines so you might tinker with that, if anything. The rest is fine as is IMO.
    Good luck.

    ReplyReply

  30. zoeg
    Nov 21, 2010 @ 14:13:33

    I liked that the hero didn’t wake up angry or belligerent; that was a nice surprise and kind of charming, really. I want to know more about him now.

    I think the author is off to a great start and I hope to read the full some day.

    ReplyReply

  31. Elizabeth
    Nov 21, 2010 @ 21:51:12

    I like it. Lots of questions I want to know the answers to — is this guy really a drunk, or has she caught him at a bad time? What kind of immediate life-or-death danger is she in that she’s desperate enough not to (as other commenters have suggested) walk right out of the bar? I’d keep reading as long as the answers didn’t completely disappoint me.

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  32. DS
    Nov 22, 2010 @ 08:12:16

    @Jill Sorenson:

    I actually like the scotch in his face. It's more of a surprise, and packs more of a punch than water.

    Yeah, but wouldn’t he be wanting to wash his eyes out at once? Alcohol is an eye irritant, and I think would burn quite a bit at 40-50%

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  33. Jill Sorenson
    Nov 22, 2010 @ 10:48:31

    @DS: Hmm. I’ve never taken a shot to the face (heh) but I think he’d be fine if his eyes were closed.

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  34. Daz
    Nov 22, 2010 @ 19:30:53

    I loved the first line and the last line, everything in between did not work for me. Who wants to know the hero is a worthless drunk right off the bat? Why did she even bother with him when he was so obviously inebriated and from the looks out it unconscious? Sorry, this just didn’t work for me.

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  35. DS
    Nov 23, 2010 @ 13:45:21

    We need someone to volunteer to this. Clearly an experiment is in order.

    ReplyReply

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