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First Page: Untitled Steampunk Romance

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***

David banged the knocker against the brass plate on the door. Within moments, the butler opened it.

"Sir?"

"Lord Blackburn to see Lady Georgia Devane."

"Is milady expecting you?"

"No."

"I will see if she is available."

He was shown to a fussy, if cozy, parlor. Doilies decorated every flat surface.

To his surprise, it wasn’t the butler who returned, but the lady herself. "No, I will not marry you. You can leave now."

"Lady Georgia?"

Her brows beetled. "Who were you expecting?"

He held up the vial he’d concealed in his pocket. "I was told you would be able to analyze this for me. It is a matter for Queen and Country."

Georgia blinked. The man, lord, who stood before her dressed completely in black. She’d heard of Blackburn, of course. A famous recluse, she had assumed he was a doddering fool sequestered on his estate by embarrassed relatives. At least, that was the story circulating around Society.

She frowned at the blue vial he continued to hold up. He’d positioned it perfectly in the ray of sunlight sneaking between the drawing room’s curtains so it appeared to glow from within. A few steps separated them. She held out her hand, forcing him to cross to her. A corner of his thin lips tilted up, but he closed the necessary distance and passed the vial to her.

The cork stopper resisted but a moment before releasing. She waited, but no fumes rose from the bottle. Waving it under her nose produced nothing of note. She frowned. Due to the color of the vial, she could not discern the color of the liquid either. She replaced the stopper and put the vial in her pocket.

She looked back at Blackburn. "You may return in a week for a report."

"I am afraid I will need the identification by this evening."

Georgia frowned at his impudence. He had come to her. "I must have adequate time to run a full battery of tests."

"And I am afraid, my lady, you underestimate the urgency of the situation."

"I don’t see how as you have come to me. Doing so indicates you are aware of my conditions. You were informed, were you not, Lord Blackburn?" She met his darkening mien with a steady look of her own.

It would not do to show this man, this…hunter, submission.

"The person who gave me your address indicated you might be a trifle imperious, but also said you have worked well in the past on projects such as this one."

She rose a brow at that. "A person? Does this person have a name?"

"I am not at liberty to impart that information."

At his attempt to wrest control of the conversation from her, she let a snort sound in her mind. "Very well. You may accompany me to my laboratory. This way." She didn’t bother to verify whether or not he followed, despite the lack of sound as she passed through the marble-tiled entrance. Blackburn radiated his presence to fill any space he occupied. She wagered she would be able to pick him out of the deepest shadows in an alley on a moonless night.

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

27 Comments

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  2. tehawesomersace
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 06:15:15

    I don’t think this is where your story should open up. The dialogue is very stilted, and you have a major POV shift in the first 100 or so words (we start with close third of David, and quickly switch to Georgia).

    This selection also left more questions in my mind than it answered. And not “what’s going to happen next” types of questions, but “is that logical” kinds of questions.

    Would the butler let in a man the lady did not know and was not expecting? Using Victorian conventions, I would think not. That would be very improper.

    Why would she automatically think he was coming to offer a marriage proposal? There was no indication she’d ever met him before, and he didn’t approach her like a potential suitor.

    Also, the opening page wasn’t intriguing enough to keep me reading. I would recommend starting the book a little later, perhaps as she is examining the material or whatever she is going to do with it. The opening should engage the reader from the first sentence, and the back and forth between the butler and the hero did not do that for me.

    Hope that helps.

  3. Courtney Milan
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 06:30:56

    There’s a certain smoothness to the prose that I like, but right off the bat, a few things bother me. Some are nitpicky, some not.

    First, an entirely nitpicky point: I’m fairly certain that this is a steampunk set in Victorian Britain, and from what I’ve gleaned from etiquette books of the time, a lord would not have addressed a fellow lady as “my lady”–see for instance this or this or this.

    Second, the comment on marrying. I understand that you’re trying to draw the reader in immediately, but the problem is that when you do that, you’re drawing the reader into the wrong conflict, and one that takes an immediate and bone-jarring back seat to what happens next.

    Worse, what she says is both incredibly rude–without introduction, or a hint of his purpose–and kind of stupid. Since he’s a famous recluse, it seems a weird assumption for her to make. And since she’s wrong, you’re starting your first page by showing the reader that your heroine is a brash, uncareful person who jumps to conclusions. That’s not a positive image, and from what she says in the next few paragraphs, it’s not even true to her character, who seems meticulous, and the sort of person who wants to wait to judge things on the evidence.

    And then the page goes off on a much more interesting course: she is a lady with a secret, and she’s the one the Queen relies on to identify vials. That’s interesting. It’s different. The vial is different, and I liked the imagery of the vial almost glowing in the room. Her later observations of Blackburn are quite perceptive, and I the last two lines would have made me read on to find out more–we now have two characters who are contradictions, and that’s a really good thing.

    All the stuff before that is kind of irrelevant, and it feels like throat clearing. We don’t need to know about the butler or about the doilies; none of that is actually drawing the reader in, and to the extent her statement about marriage does draw the reader in, it then feels like bait and switch.

  4. Terri
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 06:31:18

    I’m intrigued by the situation, but I think you need to give us more.
    I’ve never read a steampunk so I’m unfamiliar with the conventions, but if this is a romance, I’d prefer to have a better view of Blackburn, if he’s your hero.
    Instead of opening with the tiny portion in his POV, which actually lends very little except that fussy doilies covered everything in the parlor, perhaps you should start with Lady Georgia’s POV, as she greets him in the parlor?
    I’m fascinated that she knows him by reputation. I’d be more fascinated if his appearance doesn’t match that reputation. All you’ve told us is that he’s dresssed in black and is not the doddering fool Georgia supposed him to be. Why? Is he hale and hearty, tall, dark and handsome, fills out his fashionable black clothes, have a spark of keen intelligence in his eyes?
    I’m not sure why Georgia blinks? Because of his statement? Or because his appearance and manner are so at odds with what she expected?
    He’s a … hunter? I’m there! But how does she know this when she expected a doddering old fool? Something in his manner, the way he looks, or the urgent task he’s set before her? I need at least a hint.
    Finally, I’m assuming this is a Victorian setting. But aside from the fussy doilies, there’s nothing much to indicate this. Perhaps a little more setting? Perhaps some steampunky touches, whatever those might be? The whistle of a factory, the hiss of steam from somewhere, the clang of some kind of machinery? Tell us where we are.
    The writing is nice and sparse. I think just a bit more description and you’ve got it. I definitely want to know what’s going on here, what’s in the vial, why Blackburn’s involved, and what sort of skills Georgia possesses! I’d read on.

  5. Jane Lovering
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 07:00:08

    I’d worry about someone who sniffed at the unknown contents of a vial being handed to her by a man she didn’t know. Next stop unconsciousness on a fast ship bound for slavery.

    It doesn’t make her look like the sharpest tool in the shed.

  6. DS
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 07:15:08

    Has to have more than a science angle to be Steampunk. Also agree about the sniffing. If nothing else that is something taught in any high school chemistry class– to be careful when handling any unknown substance.

    I am concerned that the Steampunk genre is going to end up diluted in romance stories to the point of wallpaper blandness.

  7. Lori
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 08:08:19

    It was so trying so hard it missed the target completely.

    This needed description and there was none. Doilies tell me nothing, fabrics, light, expense tell me everything.

    Having your heroine enter so imperiously is to give us a sense that she’s sought after but instead as mentioned, she just comes off as rude and completely lacking charm. Why would anyone want to marry her She’s a bitch.

    The dialogue is too sparse. The description lacking. I wouldn’t keep reading.

  8. theo
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 08:09:17

    This is not my genre, bu a few nitpicks here.

    The initial conversation is too stilted. I have no sense of what is playing through either speaker’s mind. There is not nuance to tell me if she’s disgusted at another caller she assumes wants to marry her, or if she says it as a joke.

    The only image I can think of for ‘beetled’ about her brows is that they either jutted or overhung her eyes. Is that what you’re going for? Because that’s the definition I’m familiar with in a Victorian setting.

    Why would she expect that this man, who gave the butler no calling card or any other information, would be there to propose marriage. Especially since she remembers the rumors of him as a ‘famous recluse’? The way the ton gossiped, the news would have been all over London that he’d come to town and their speculations as to why. Unless she’d heard it talked about that he’d come to find a wife, the assumption on her part makes no sense.

    What makes her think he’s a ‘hunter’? I didn’t get that sense from the paragraphs. Neither did I get the feeling that he was trying to wrest control of the conversation from her. Stating he must keep the person requesting the tests private doesn’t do that for me. There isn’t enough sparring here between the two.

    I agree with the POV switch, the question of exact time and place (since right now, this could be anytime. They still have butlers and titles in England) and the fact that she sniffed some unknown substance in a vial not knowing the man who handed it to her. That right there is really a TSTL moment. Not the best way to show off your Hn to start the story. At least not for me.

    I think the premise sounds like there’s a lot of potential here, but the way it reads now for me, it just didn’t draw me in.

    MHO as always, and good luck.

  9. Lynne Connolly
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 08:18:46

    I don’t read steampunk, so I’m unfamiliar with the conventions, but this reads like a historical.
    if it’s Victorian, she wouldn’t receive him alone. Why would she start with telling him she wouldn’t marry him? It’s rude to answer a question that hasn’t been asked.
    “My lady” has a few subtle connotations, but it’s more appropriate for peers than “your ladyship.” Maybe add it in with a bit of innuendo?
    After the first acknowledgement of her title, it’s appropriate to use “ma’am,” which wasn’t just a term for old ladies then. Only the nouveau riche enjoyed being “my lady”‘d to death.
    There’d be more than doilies, but it gives a good impression. I agree with the others, it would be more solid in one pov and you need more characterisation. Make us, the readers, care. As it stands, there’s no hook, nothing to stop me putting this one down and going on to the next.

  10. Ciar Cullen
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 09:49:33

    This is not for the author of this page (I wish you much success with this work–I would open it elsewhere, but I like your voice).

    DS–I think saying Steampunk will be diluted by romance is like saying fantasy, scifi, or suspenseful romances are not legitimate in some way. Straight up steampunk will remain just that. They won’t be harmed by romances–it will just open up a new audience. Evolution.

  11. DM
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 09:51:18

    I let a snort sound in my mind when I read this…

  12. Liz
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 10:44:10

    A famous recluse, she had assumed he was a doddering fool sequestered on his estate by embarrassed relatives.

    Everyone seems to have got what you mean, but I’d just point out that grammatically, this sentence makes Georgia the recluse, not Blackburn.

    I’ve only seen French characters in historical fiction use “milady.” I think the butler would refer to her as “Her Ladyship.”

    There are some intriguing things here, but like others I found the opening (Blackburn’s POV and her comment about marriage) jarred with the rest and left me confused–and not in the sense of a mystery that made me want to read more, which the vial did give. And I didn’t get enough of a picture of Blackburn, through Georgia’s eyes, to understand why she saw him as a hunter. You tell us his presence fills the space, but didn’t show it or make me feel it, really.

  13. Lucy Woodhull
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 12:31:00

    @Jane Lovering: Ha! Yes, I was thinking the same. This plus Courtney’s comments make this one I would not likely continue reading.

    The concept of a lady scientist helping Queen and country is wonderful, though. The execution just needs a bit of spit and polish. So to speak… spitting on your computer would not be wise.

    Good luck, brave author! :)

  14. sasha
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 13:39:35

    Another issue is that almost no one at that time would have introduced himself to a butler as “Lord Blackburn”. And unless he is at someone else’s house – he probably wouldn’t ask for “Lady Georgia Devane” either. If it is indeed Lady Georgia’s home and she is the “head of the household”, he would ask for Lady Devane. If she is not the head of the household, he would probably ask for Lady Georgia (and expect to see her, a chaperone and/or her mother).

    He would also introduce himself simply as Blackburn. With a calling card, with the edge turned down to indicate that he was there in person. If he isn’t going to do those things, explain why. But I don’t see any self respecting butler thinking he is actually talking to a member of British nobility who doesn’t even introduce himself correctly. And the butler would properly say something to the effect of seeing if Lady Devane was “at home”. Not seeing if she was “available”.

    These kinds of issues were really jarring to read and took me out of the story immediately. By the time it got to the mysterious vial, I was rolling my eyes that I was just supposed to accept that Lady Georgia was a brilliant chemist who would sniff and roll a vial of unknown origin. I was half surprised she didn’t take an exploratory swig of the stuff.

    Would not continue to read.

  15. RKB
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 14:02:00

    I don’t read many Victorian era books nor do I read a whole lot of steampunk. I think the already noted critiques were spot on, but I personally would continue to read this MS. I think if you corrected the mistakes it would be an interesting read.

    Good luck!

  16. Courtney Milan
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 14:46:17

    I just have to say re: sniffing the unknown vial, that this is actually quite realistic.

    In one of my many, many former lives, I was a chemist, and if you talk to the older scientists, smell was a *well* known way to identify unknown compounds. So was taste. (Yes, one of my mentors was an 80 year old man who remembered identifying unknowns in an analytical chemistry lab by taste.)

    Recall that we are living in the era just before the period when they handled radioactive materials with their bare hands (and, uh, during World War II sent it via carrier pigeon across the bay area from Berkeley to Stanford). They didn’t have safety regulations. They didn’t know what a carcinogen was. This is so completely par for the course that I wouldn’t even blink at it.

    And more importantly, there wasn’t anything in the time period that would have put you under with a simple whiff. The closest you would have gotten was ether, and one sniff, especially a sniff diluted by air, is not going to put you under.

  17. theo
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 15:05:18

    I’m asking only because I really don’t know since steampunk isn’t my genre, but the little I’ve read takes me back to Wild, Wild West (and I’m talking the original series with Robert Conrad and Ross Martin which, GEEZ! I watched when it was new! *sigh* old…) anyway, the little I’ve read puts me in mind of that series. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I would think that’s the original steampunk which most of the current writings seem to be based on. Whenever either Artie or James were dumb enough to sniff anything, it always blew up in their faces in some way, so that was my immediate picture of her sniffing it.

    Yes, I realize Mme Curie died of radiation poisoning and so did her husband because they didn’t know any better. I started in the medical field when one still pipetted using their mouth, but I’m honestly asking if steampunk isn’t supposed to run along the Wild Wild West lines? If so, the Hn’s sniffing in this case would still be a TSTL moment for me if she’s truly that brilliant.

    Perhaps it’s just my lack of knowledge in the genre in which case, I’ll shut up. I’m just going by what I think is the basis though which is why I commented the way I did.

  18. Heather Massey
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 19:15:52

    I agree with the others who observed the prose needs work, but I’m intrigued by the set up and the vial.

    The concept of a lady scientist helping Queen and country is wonderful, though.

    Agreed, and if I may, I would like to recommend the author read George Mann’s THE AFFINITY BRIDGE (2009), which this excerpt reminded me of. THE AFFINITY BRIDGE is a fabulous steampunk mystery featuring an agent for the Queen, Sir Maurice Newbury, and his assistant, Veronica Hobbes. It’s like a steampunk version of THE X-FILES.

    While it’s straight steampunk, there’s a whiff of romance (or rather, attraction) between Maurice and Veronica. If some authors used Mann’s story as a template for steampunk romance, I’d be one happy camper.

  19. A. Nonny Miss
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 20:46:11

    Hi all, thanks for the comments! I’m still working on finishing the first draft of the story. I am making note of the comments for when I go back and do revisions :)

  20. coribo25
    Jun 27, 2010 @ 05:50:44

    Interesting reactions to the sniffing of the vial. Does it make the heroine a scientist of her time, or too stupid to live? And to avoid backlashes from readers who might have the wrong perception of a historical fact, must authors hammer the points home with chunks of infodump? The problem here is that the heroine is probably doing what she would have done, and the hero has no reason to comment on what appears to be common practice unless he has no scientific knowledge. So you end up with characters behaving normally and the modern reader calling foul. Knowing this point might cause confusion in readers, I would double check the facts and then perhaps have her sniff the stopper (suggestion courtesy of my biochemist husband) rather than the vial.
    I’d read on.

  21. sao
    Jun 27, 2010 @ 07:01:42

    I found too little description of the characters. Blackburn mentions fussy doilies, but not Georgia’s looks. Presumably, he’s heard of her. What does he think? What was he expecting? Given that I presume female chemists were rare. We don’t even know her age.

    Georgia doesn’t ask why a famous recluse (and presumably the famous part would have given a hint about whether he was a doddering 80 yo or a tragically doddering 30 yo.) would be working for the queen or require any introduction.

    He demands an instant report and she agrees. Why did she say it would take a week? Will he get a less than thorough answer? What is the stuff and where does it come from? Those are questions that might help identify it.

    In short, to me, this felt forced. The characters aren’t acting naturally and aren’t answering my questions.

  22. Maili
    Jun 27, 2010 @ 10:45:38

    I promised to stay out of this thread as I’m still struggling to kill my long-windiness tendency, but I’d like to jump in with a comment.

    Steampunk fiction doesn’t necessarily reflect the actual reality, re: rare female chemists.

    Historical accuracy in steampunk settings — social mores, actual historic events, class structure and such are generally observed, but gender, sexual orientation and ethnic diversity in occupations don’t need to be. You want a duchess to be black? You can. An ethnically Chinese woman as a famed scientist? You can. A Jewish man as England’s all-time best engineer? Why not? A white woman as the captain of a technologically advanced ship? Nothing’s stopping you. It doesn’t have to be restricted to the UK either, as long as it’s set before the age of electricity.

    At the moment quite a few authors (straight Steampunk fiction and its sub-genres) still haven’t quite yet exploited that exciting aspect of Steampunk, but I think it’ll be one day. Until then, it’d be nice for romance authors to consider this option.

    @DS:

    I am concerned that the Steampunk genre is going to end up diluted in romance stories to the point of wallpaper blandness.

    I don’t think it’ll be diluted and won’t be for a long time because for me, a Steampunk romance still hasn’t been found. So far romance novels labelled Steampunk Romance are actually gaslight fantasy romances (stories that can basically live without the steampunk element), historical fantasy romances (think Gail Dayton’s New Blood) and gaslight paranormal romances. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just that there isn’t one yet.
    Judging by Meljean Brook’s novella in Burning Up, I think her forthcoming novel, The Iron Duke, may be a proper Steampunk romance. I’m getting my mitts on it to see if it is! :D

    To the author of this First Page submission:

    Thank you so much for choosing to pen a story for the Steampunk romance genre!

    I generally agree with the others. There are tweaks needed. To be honest, I think it’d be awesome if the story takes place earlier, such as showing how your hero acquires the vial. Did he steal it? Bought it from a shady character in a dark alley? An odd character brought it to him while he was at a public event or party? It was given to him by a secretary at the Queen’s request during his meeting with the Queen? Perhaps during that meeting, the Queen or her secretary tells him about Lady Georgia?

    All right, I’m shutting up now. Gah. I’m still long-winded. I’m sorry.

  23. Adobedragon
    Jun 27, 2010 @ 13:32:21

    I really like the whole female mad scientist angle, a la the Girl Genius webcomic. So the story picks up the instance he shows her the vial. I’d hope that she really turns out to be a super-smart scientist and doesn’t dissolve into a addle-brained twit in the interest of making the hero look…heroic.

    The marriage proposal interaction could work if it made sense. The trouble is the text is contradictory. On one hand, she thinks he’s there for a proposal, which seemed to indicated a case of mistaken identity. Then, rather abruptly, she knows who he is, that he’s a hunter, etc. So that whole interaction is just weird.

    Personally, I think this suffers from an adherence to a romance convention that personally, I really dislike. I.e., the idea that the hero and heroine must meet in the first chapter, if not the first page. For my money, if the two are good characters, they should be able to stand alone. At least for a chapter.

    I think this is particularly true in this case. If the posting hadn’t said “Steampunk Romance,” I would’ve assumed it was an historical. Not my cuppa, btw.

    In the rush to throw the hero and heroine together, there is no scene setting. At this stage, the setting feels terribly generic, like someone has a vague idea of steampunk–Steam engines and air ships, oh-my!–but has done no real world building.

    Obviously, you don’t want to get a case of world building disease and bore the bleep out of your readers with your shiny new world. But for this to read like steampunk, I need a strong sense that this is more than a Victorian-era story with a few weird gadgets thrown in.

    Best of luck!

  24. JenD
    Jun 27, 2010 @ 22:42:28

    I really enjoyed this. I know I’m in the minority- but I laughed at her ‘I’m not going to marry you’ bit. I felt it was a twist in the ear of romance tropelandia.

    I do feel that the scenery is missing. What does the light look like in her house? What might a scientist’s home smell like? Is it cold?

    What do the characters look like? Do they have a scent? Is her voice lilting or stern? Does his voice sound like warm honey or a gravel-bottomed river?

    I would recommend doing a writing exercise where you take the character out of this story, and have them do something mundane that could possibly show you more of who they are. What makes your heroine who she is? How would I know her from across the room? That sort of thing.

    I like your idea very much and I’m eager to see it fleshed out a bit. I think you have something quite special here.

  25. SAO
    Jun 28, 2010 @ 00:47:23

    Rereading and reading the comments, I have a better sense of what didn’t work for me:

    The characters don’t react to each other. We don’t see the butler, or Georgia or Blackburn. She makes an unexpected remark and we don’t feel his surprise or affront or amusement or any other reaction that would tell us something about him. She, too, shows barely a reaction to making such a mishap. Or to the discovery that she’s wanted for her skills, not her beauty or fortune.

    The result is that the exchange seems bizarre, rather than funny or an insight into the characters’ lives.

    She accepts what he asks, despite the fact that an impostor would be more likely to pretend to be a recluse whom no one knows the appearance of.

    By not having her be pre-informed that someone would bring a vial, we don’t have a sense of her work/role. Or who he is.

    Surroundings can not only set the scene, but inform us about the owner of the house. The fussy doilies, do they mean that Georgia loves twee things? Do they mean she is under the guardianship of a Miss Pittypat-type aunt? Maybe, for all the description you’ve given us, SHE is the Miss Pittypat maiden aunt type.

    I think you should leave out the butler start with Blackburn meeting Georgia. Do more with setting, but let it tell us something about her. Fussy doilies, fussy curls and laces, but the Home Office said she was a great chemist? Fussy doilies but her outfit is a plain solid fabric with no embellishments and hair in a bun? etc.

    We need to have a sense of the character’s personalities.

  26. sasha
    Jun 28, 2010 @ 17:57:17

    Coming back as I had a few more errant thoughts.

    My big experience of people sniffing unknown liquids has been reserved to (mostly) agatha christie novels where someone ingest a drink that swiftly kills them. Another person in the room then lightly sniffs the glass containing the dregs of the drink and comments on the “smell of almonds” or some other sign that a (now) obvious poison is the cause of death. The sniffing in those cases has already sort of been shown to be somewhat “safe” under non-drinking circumstances – the person was harmed by ingesting the liquid, not by being near it, or smelling it, etc. If there was some sort of non obtrusive background then the sniffing might seem less ridiculous to me.

    Also, I was wondering what the point of mentioning the doilies was beyond indicating the Victorian era to some extent. As I thought more about it – one way to incorporate more interaction in your prose would be to write something like this perhaps:

    David was shown to a fussy, if cozy, parlor. Doilies decorated every flat surface. He tried to connect this room to what he had learned about Lady Devane. Why would a reputedly meticulous, acerbic chemist choose such a overly ornamented environment to live in?

    To his surprise, it wasn't the butler who returned, but the lady herself. Her physical appearance didn’t conform with the room or his imaginings from the information his contact had shared. “No, I will not marry you. You can leave now.”

    Well, the acerbic quality was clearly evident. It was quite a contrast to the deceptively sweet face. Large brown eyes dominated a face that seemed incapable of looking hard.

    “Lady Georgia?”

    Her brow creased with confusion or irritation – it was hard to tell on that baby face. “Who were you expecting?”

    He held up the vial he'd kept covered in his pocket. “I could ask you the same question. I was told you would be able to analyze this for me. It is a matter for Queen and Country.”

    Georgia blinked. The man, lord, who stood before her dressed completely in black. She'd heard of Blackburn, of course, but had pictured a doddering fool sequestered on his estate by embarrassed relatives as the reason for his famously reclusive behavior. At least, that was the story she thought had been circulating around Society. Perhaps she should pay more attention to the stories circulated by gossiping wags.

    Obviously this might be completely at odds with what you are intending for the rest of your story but it is just an short (not very well thought out) example of how you might be able to give more info about both people without an info dump. I thought the “I won’t marry you” line could be a potentially hysterical piece of witty banter but there just wasn’t enough there at present time to really see it. Good luck, I think there could be a pretty cool story in the bones you shared with us.

  27. Sheri
    Aug 15, 2010 @ 13:10:39

    I’m picturing a younger Helena Bonham Carter for some reason. :)

    Love this! The others make valid points about setting the scene a bit more – throw us into your world – and cleaning up a few glitches. Would love a bit more on the hero.

    But you do say you’re still working on the first draft so I’m sure the polish will come.

    Love your setup. Poses a bunch of intriguing questions right off the top and is promising at this stage to be not-your-average read.

    Like JenD, I like the marriage line, and agree you’ve got something special here.

    Don’t open up the door too soon. It’s easy to lose your voice and your way in the story with too much well-meaning advice. (Been there done, that.)

    Trust your voice. Protect the work. Keep going!!

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