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First Page: Unnamed Contemporary

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Misogyny has been very, very good to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a woman hating woman by any means. I love my sex (although not in the bedroom sense: totally hetero in that arena) but I’d even go so far as to say that I believe in most things, excepting upper body strength and math, women are generally superior to men.

So how has misogyny been my friend? Well, have you ever heard of Jackson Horner? Yes, the same author whose Dodge Hart series is the biggest load of feminist bashing, Neanderthal male propagandizing piece of crap to ever find a publisher. It might come as a surprise to learn: I am Jackson Horner.

Actually I’m Terri Mitchell, 34 years old, single, and aspiring romance author. At least that’s what everybody thinks. The truth is that Dodge Hart has paid for my house, my car (although it is a used BMW) and he continues to pay my way. If the teenage boys and potbellied armchair warriors knew that it was estrogen and not testosterone that drives Dodge, there would be a severe decline in my standard of living.

I really, really like my standard of living.

So on an ordinary Wednesday I expected nothing more than to sit in my kitchen drinking endless cups of coffee and browsing blogs on the internet. I knew I really should start working on Dodge’s new adventure but I’d grown a little tired of Dodge. It’s hard to sustain a relationship with a man under the best of conditions but Dodge wanting to take over Washington, DC is hard to get my mind around.

The doorbell is a wonderful excuse to momentarily run away from my laziness based guilt. And when I’m lucky it’s the UPS man and I get the pleasure of brown shorts and nice legs. UPS really is the best company in the world. I once suggested that they should use a new slogan: We Deliver – Your Fantasies, but the UPS driver I suggested it to just said "Sign here ma’am" and otherwise ignored me.

It wasn’t UPS at my stoop but rather a nice package in khakis and a button down shirt (top buttons open just enough to give a glimpse of chest hair), navy blue jacket stretching nicely over broad shoulders and a scowl just scowly enough to make his Prince Charming face appear much more Shrekish.

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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

49 Comments

  1. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 08:15:18

    Good voice. I don’t generally like first person, especially with contemporary romance, but I liked the voice and I wanna know what Prince Charming is going to have to do with the story.

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  2. Sarabeth
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 08:21:11

    If there were problems in the writing, I didn’t notice it because I was so wrapped up with her voice and what Prince Charmimg was delivering. Nice job. Can I read more?

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  3. Jill Myles
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 08:34:56

    The voice is great, and I’m intrigued by her double identity. I’d keep reading. :)

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  4. S.W. Vaughn
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 08:39:05

    I have a serious hate for novels about novel writers. Seriously…

    But this is great stuff. You won me over. I’d definitely keep reading (damn it, why’d you stop there? I wanna know what Khaki Man has to say!).

    You win the Internet! :-)

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  5. Shannon Stacey
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 08:55:44

    Like Shiloh, first person isn’t my favorite, but I was totally sucked in. I hope, when this is published, you find a way to let us know because I want to keep reading.

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  6. shenan
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 09:00:11

    —–Misogyny has been very, very good to me.

    Nice first line. Piqued my interest right away.

    —- Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a woman hating woman by any means. I love my sex (although not in the bedroom sense: totally hetero in that arena) but I’d even go so far as to say that I believe in most things, excepting upper body strength and math, women are generally superior to men.

    I’m confused on the “but.” I expected that what followed would refute the “I love my sex” assertion. Instead, it supported it.

    —-So how has misogyny been my friend? Well, have you ever heard of Jackson Horner?

    Little Jack Horner?? Does he sit in a corner, eating his Christmas pie?

    —– Yes, the same author whose Dodge Hart series

    I’m not a car aficionado, but I read that as Dodge Dart the first time around. ;)

    ——Actually I’m Terri Mitchell, 34 years old, single, and aspiring romance author. At least that’s what everybody thinks.

    Does that mean she is NOT in fact, the above? She has a third identity?

    —-The doorbell is a wonderful excuse to momentarily run away from my laziness based guilt. And when I’m lucky it’s the UPS man and I get the pleasure of brown shorts and nice legs. UPS really is the best company in the world. I once suggested that they should use a new slogan: We Deliver … Your Fantasies, but the UPS driver I suggested it to just said “Sign here ma’am” and otherwise ignored me.

    So, is the heroine the female equivalent of Dodge?

    Nice voice. Interesting heroine. Nice setup. I’d keep reading.

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  7. joanne
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 09:00:29

    I really, really liked the writing even though I generally dislike 1st person fiction.

    What/who I don’t like is the heroine, her thoughts about her readers lean a little too close to aggressive dislike of the hand that feeds her for me, but that’s just my interpretation.

    Thank you.

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  8. Jill Sorenson
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 09:37:45

    I love the idea of a female author writing under a male pseudonym, fooling fans with her guy’s guy character. And I like the voice. But something went wrong for me at UPS. Again, the idea is clever, that she sees men as objects, instead of the other way around…maybe I just don’t know many women who do that.

    Also, the Shrek reference makes me think “mom” not “single lady on the prowl.”

    I’m definitely interested and would keep reading. Good job.

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  9. Keri Ford
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 10:10:21

    This was really great. I enjoyed it and laughed and grinned all the way through. I didn’t stumble or get confused in any place. The UPS section did seem a bit long and I wonder if you couldn’t trim that down a bit. Other that, excellent! I’d keep reading.

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  10. JulieLeto
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 10:17:14

    Again, the idea is clever, that she sees men as objects, instead of the other way around…maybe I just don't know many women who do that.

    Jill, I hereby invite you to my house the next time the UPS guy delivers. I *totally* understood this part. (I once wrote a book where my romance writer heroine celebrated finishing her book by shagging the UPS guy and made it a major plot point. Though it might have been Fed Ex…) ;-)

    I do think that passage needs some trimming, though. In fact, I’d like to see a little general tightening up of the whole thing. Nothing but cutting a few words here and there. I stumbled a few times when reading…like a few sentences just had a few too many words.

    Great job!

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  11. Anne Douglas
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 10:19:29

    I like this, and had I read this first page, or a close version of it standing in a store I’d probably buy it.

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  12. Jeaniene Frost
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 10:37:57

    Thumbs up. Good voice, smooth writing, funny. I would have read more, and contemporary is not even my genre of choice (I’m a paranormal addict).

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  13. Lynne Connolly
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 10:41:33

    Nice start.
    Absolutely nothing wrong with the voice, the flow or the way the story moves along at a spanking pace.
    My only nit is the heroine despising her readers. I didn’t like her cynical attitude to writing her character, and I’m not sure why she wrote him in the first place if she dislikes male chauvinists so much. She wasn’t to know he’d be a huge success when she first wrote him, so why would she do it?
    Maybe making her a writer on a franchise might work better, or some idea of why she chose to write about something she dislikes.
    But good one, one of the best I’ve read here so far.

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  14. Lorelie
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 10:52:51

    I second the confusion on “but” in the third sentence. “And” would make more sense to me.

    But I take exception to the idea that math is one of the things women are lacking in. ;)

    Otherwise, very good showing. Needs to be tightened just a teeny, tiny bit, but very nice voice and tone.

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  15. Shannon Stacey
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 11:17:16

    The writing of Dodge Hart and her feelings about him and his audience to pay the bills were part of what intrigued me about the character. Like perhaps an author writing short erotic romances pieces to pay the bills while secret writing an epic multigenerational saga, for example. When you add in the fact she’s a woman and her protagonist and audience are men, it just added to the funny for me.

    I once suggested that they should use a new slogan: We Deliver … Your Fantasies, but the UPS driver I suggested it to just said “Sign here ma'am” and otherwise ignored me.

    Visualizing that scene cracked me up, btw.

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  16. Val Kovalin
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 11:25:07

    This is well-written and engaging. It feels polished and ready for publication. The dual identity thing is intriguing and there is a lot of comic potential here. The only thing that troubled me was something that a couple of others may have been touching upon as well:

    Joanne: aggressive dislike of the hand that feeds her

    Lynne: My only nit is the heroine despising her readers. I didn't like her cynical attitude to writing her character

    There’s a trace of smugness to the heroine that makes me uneasy. While 90% of me wanted to race ahead, reading her story, I just wasn’t sure if I would end up liking her enough to stay with it. That said, I think this is one of the very best first-pages we’ve seen.

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  17. Kat
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 12:12:42

    This was fun, although it almost lost me with the math thing, too!

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  18. Mrs Giggles
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 12:16:20

    If she can make so much money just by writing those stuff and pulling one over her audience, she’s entitled to be smug, heh. This is a very interesting first page. It makes me want to keep reading. The Shrek reference I could do without, but that’s because I don’t like those movies.

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  19. Lisa Hendrix
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 12:22:06

    I want to read this book. Somebody buy it, please.

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  20. Carolyn
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 12:49:57

    I love the voice, but it’s the subtle humor that’s so genius: the choice of her pen name – will she ever come out of her corner? LOL. Equating her hero with cars – because we all know about the relationship between most men and their cars! :-) Terri’s humorous, but she’s very down to earth about her situation; she wants to write romance, she can’t get sold, so she writes Dodge and pays the bills.

    Perhaps I’m biased; I know this author and have been reading her humor for awhile. And she’s just made her first sale with another piece, so congratulations!!!!!!!

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  21. Jen
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 13:38:11

    This is a book I’d be interested in reading further. Like others have said, I hope you come back and tell us the name when it is published.

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  22. Tina Burns
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 14:04:37

    I like 1st person when it’s done right, and this author has done a bang up job keeping the reader interested in her world through her heroine’s eyes. I’d like to live in the heroine’s world though where the UPS guy is yummy, the one that comes to my office daily is icky and sweaty! LOL. The humor isn’t over the top, and I’ve a feeling her jadedness will change as the story progresses. Well done and I’d love to see more.

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  23. Karen Kennedy
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 14:29:09

    Lots of fun–and seemed to have lots of potential for fun conflict along the way. I’d read more. Though I didn’t care for the “math” comment–not that I’m good at math, but …

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  24. EC Sheedy
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 14:56:22

    Just damn good! I definitely want to read more. Any nits to be picked require a high-powered microscope. I was too busy enjoying the piece to go and dig mine out. Really well done.

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  25. LDB
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 15:35:36

    I agree the writing is very good, but based on what I read I’d have a hard time warming up to this character, I can’t relate to her and I wonder if she’s a hypocrite, thinking women are ultimatly better then men, yet fueling the flame of men who think women are less then they are, and not being conflicted about this. Ultimatly I think I’d pass if the heroine didn’t show some warmth in the next few pages, which is a shame as the idea is interesting.

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  26. Liz L
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 15:45:51

    “Misogyny has been very, very good to me,” grabbed me and I read the entire post. This says something, because I normally skim over “First Page” entries in my google reader.

    On the other hand, it only grabbed my attention because it ticked me off, mostly because I had just finished reading a really sad article on a woman murdered by her abusive partner.

    This might have something to do with my gut reaction to the lead, which was distaste. There was a certain archness/smugness to her narration that put me off, so much so that I missed almost all of the really quite clever humor here. Color me dumb, but I would have missed the nice bits, like “Jackson Horner,” except that the comments redirected me to what I had missed.

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  27. The Author/Lori
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 16:10:40

    Thank you so much for the responses. I appreciate the comments (and lost a bet where I swore you’d all yell INFO DUMP at me)and I’ll be looking with a more jaundiced eye to make sure Terri doesn’t continue to sound unfriendly to the reader.

    And today I sold my first piece of writing (and my child’s on a play date so I had a nap on the couch!!) so this has been an amazing day. Thank you Jane and thank you everyone who commented.

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  28. Laura Vivanco
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 16:49:40

    I'll be looking with a more jaundiced eye to make sure Terri doesn't continue to sound unfriendly to the reader.

    It’s not so much that she sound unfriendly, because I get the impression that she’d like to get quite friendly with both the UPS guy and the “nice package in khakis”, it’s more that she’s being a hypocrite because she professes to “love women” but by writing “feminist bashing, Neanderthal male propagandizing” she’s actually encouraging her male readers’ misogynist attitudes.

    She doesn’t seem to feel any remorse about this because it ensures she keeps her current standard of living and she “really, really like[s] my standard of living.” Her conscience only seems to twinge when she doesn’t work hard enough (i.e. she might be putting that standard of living in jeopardy) and then she feels a bit of “laziness based guilt.”

    The bit about “in most things [...] women are generally superior to men” is sexist and by the time we got to “I once suggested that they should use a new slogan: We Deliver … Your Fantasies, but the UPS driver I suggested it to just said “Sign here ma'am” and otherwise ignored me” I felt deep sympathy for the UPS driver being sexually harassed by Terri. Then she sexually objectifies the “nice package in khakis.”

    In other words, I had much the same reaction as LDB and Liz L.

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  29. LizA
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 16:54:48

    For me, it was not quite clear if she really writes chovinist crap or just ironically thinks about it that way. The distinction is important for me as it would keep me reading or stop me, respectively. If she is writing adeventure stories amimed at men, fine. No worries. But I would not want to read on about a writer who, like LDB said, fanned the flame of men who think they are superior. It would be similar to a person writing racist stories and saying they really did not believe it but it sold well. Totally reprehensible. Just my gut reaction, of course. I do hope that she is just being a smart-ass, though…

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  30. Ciar Cullen
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 17:06:18

    Kinda has a screenplay feel to it to me. I think I’d rather watch it. But you’ve got to publish it first. Lots of fun!

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  31. EC Sheedy
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 17:09:24

    I wasn’t looking for political correctness or sexism when I read this–just the voice, the fiction, and the fun of it. It really worked for me.

    I hope the author keeps to her vision and doesn’t go into some kind of angsty guilt trip about what she does for a living. At least not this early in the book.

    Signed, she who lacks both “upper body strength and math skills.”

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  32. K. Z. Snow
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 17:35:24

    Congrats on your sale, Lori! As others have said, aside from some tweaking via judicious editing (mostly having to do with punctuation — e.g., comma placement to separate clauses, hyphens to connect compound modifiers), this is an engaging start. I also fell prey to the Dodge Hart/Dodge Dart confusion. It threw me off for a second.

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  33. Deb Kinnard
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 18:04:17

    Author, you caught me at line one. Anything I’d add to the above comments would be mere nits to pick. I get a feel for this that her misogynistic side gets her comeuppance, and though I can’t identify with her disdain for her readers, I can sure understand it. How many writers do the commercial-fiction thing when they’d rather be writing something else?

    Nice twist on the fact that so many female SF writers used male-sounding pseudonyms, back in the day. Hurry up & sell this so I can haz the rest!

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  34. Jill Sorenson
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 20:42:25

    Jill, I hereby invite you to my house the next time the UPS guy delivers. I *totally* understood this part. (I once wrote a book where my romance writer heroine celebrated finishing her book by shagging the UPS guy and made it a major plot point. Though it might have been Fed Ex…) ;-)

    Hmm…I’m rethinking my comment. Of course we see men as sex objects! I crane my neck every time I pass a construction site.

    I guess the UPS guy has been flying under my sexy radar. : )

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  35. Chicklet
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 20:59:24

    I really like the voice, and I understand the narrator’s smugness, providing Horner’s books aren’t as crazily misogynistic as, say, John Ringo’s. If someone has a CafePress store selling “OH JACKSON HORNER NO,” I’m not sure I can hang with Terri. *g*

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  36. The Author/Lori
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 21:26:11

    Oh Chicklet, you nailed it!!! That’s where the idea came from. When my friend discovered those books we went right into “What if a woman wrote something like that.” You totally nailed it!

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  37. Megan H.
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 23:24:45

    The first line pulled me right in. The third put me right off. I read this just before heading out to volunteer at an event aimed at encouraging girls to consider engineering as a career option, so you can imagine that the math comment had me sputtering. It also reminded me of the ‘Math is hard’ Barbie that was taken off the market in the early 1990′s. I didn’t get the feeling from the rest of the page that this was the characterization you were looking for though.

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  38. Kaetrin
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 01:46:07

    I don’t usually read these. But, I started and couldn’t stop. I too, don’t usually go for the 1st person thing, but I did enjoy what I saw and would like to read more. Who is the guy in the khakis?

    Well done.

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  39. Erastes
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 03:47:48

    Agree with everyone – it’s an interesting voice and it does make me want to read on.

    The first half didn’t seem related to the second half somehow – so the “So” introduction seemed a little strange.

    Other than that – excellent.

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  40. ME
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 09:34:04

    I feel the same as the previous commentator….the back end didn’t go with the front! However, I am not a person that generally likes to read in first person…but this author nailed her voice in that forum for sure…

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  41. Maura
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 13:12:00

    I wanted to stop reading as soon as I hit “excepting upper body strength and math.” The perception that women are inherently poor at math (which plays into why women lag behind in studying math and math-based sciences) bothers me in society at large, and having it tossed off so casually here– even if meant tongue-in-cheek– put me off immediately. If this were a book, I would have put it down right then.

    The rest of the page, once I managed to go back and read it, was light and interesting. I was simultaneously put off and intrigued by the narrator’s description of her writing, and like other responders, I want to know what makes her write what she does and whether she thinks at all about it beyond the size of her paycheck. In short, the writing is clear and intriguing, but with just this page to go on, this may not be a heroine I’d want to spend time with.

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  42. Julia Sullivan
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 15:47:50

    Yes, for heaven’s sake, lose the math thing! And the “superior” thing, for that matter. Do something more fun and playful, like “Women and men are at least equal in all arenas except upper-body strength and belching” or something that isn’t off-putting.

    I think this is a hilarious idea, and I like your voice. You can get away with a lot more direct information transfer in first person (“This is me, this is what’s going on with me”) without it seeming too info-dumpy.

    Make her less of a jerk, though. I know that she’ll be changing and growing during the book, but you don’t want her to be so much of a jerk on page 1 that lots of people will stop reading. (Sarah Bird’s How Perfect is That does a good job of turning a protag from love-to-hate-her to love-her, if you want to check out how someone else has done it.)

    And, yep, I thought of John Ringo too. Hee!

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  43. Lorelie
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 17:45:58

    Not to hijack the thread, but I clicked on the John Ringo link. And then had to shovel my brains back into my head with my keyboard.

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  44. Kaetrin
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 19:23:03

    Personally, I liked the math thing….

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  45. Tae
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 20:08:12

    I didn’t mind the math bit either, and I was the only girl on the math team in high school.

    I don’t enjoy political correctness in my books. I like characters that are a little offensive and appear to be a real person.

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  46. Liz L
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 00:20:11

    Oh John Ringo…

    I once heard his name uttered in the same breath as David Weber (whom I adored for his scary-intense, competent female action heroes). So I went to see what he was all about.

    And then I pulled my eyeballs out of my head so I could give my sockets a good scrubbing.

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  47. John Ringo
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 20:14:04

    Ghost won ‘Best Romance of the Year’ in 2005.

    If you think you wanted to tear your eyeballs out, imagine writing it.

    Try March Upcountry.

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  48. DS
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 10:14:23

    Just wanted to add that I liked this one also. I’d be very tempted to buy it.

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  49. Heidi
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 21:42:28

    maybe it’s because I’m bad at math above algebra…but that didn’t bother me, it made me snigger. Can you be immature at 46? YES YOU CAN! I think someone should come and remove my 11 year old daughter from my despicable influence…please??????

    Anyway, I was drawn in and want to read more! Maybe I bought the premise easier of female writing male action figure because I’ve been watching Nim’s Island over and over again the last month with my 4 year old. So, I kept picturing Gerard Butler (I think that’s the actor’s name) at the door and that was a SWEET visual. Thanks for that.

    I want to read more!

    Heidi

    ReplyReply

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