Wednesday, October 14, 2009

14 Secret Agent

TITLE: The Brevity of Roses
GENRE: Women's Fiction

No one else dined alone. Meredith sat at her usual corner table by the window, watching heavy-laden clouds slide in low over the town and wishing she had waited until tomorrow to spray her roses for mites. Sighing, she turned back to her scallops Provençal, but within seconds, a murmur to her left caused her to glance up again. The sound had come from the three younger women across the room staring wide-eyed toward the restaurant entrance. She followed their gaze. They watched a man—a darkly handsome, exotic man—as the host led him through the dining room.

The shock of recognition nearly choked her.

His face angled away from her, but she could tell. It had to be Ravi. As he took his seat at a nearby table, she lowered her gaze and seized her wine glass, draining it to give her heart time to find its normal rhythm. A mixture of joy and fear and memory jumbled her thinking. Should she speak to him? No; let him make the first move. Should she try to leave now before he noticed her? No; he knows where I live. She was the only reason he would come to this town. But why would he come here, now, after all these years?

When he looked at her now, what would he see? She tucked a stray lock of hair behind one ear and smoothed her neckline. If only she were wearing something in salmon. Ravi had loved her dressed in that color; it brought out the blue in her eyes, he said.


  1. I like. Darkly handsome, exotic man--in town to see her. Sordid past for the the sweet rose lady. Sounds interesting to me!

    Although, I don't have a since of time for your story. Dining alone and roses makes me think 19th or early 20th century. Wine and scallops make me think more modern.

    Good luck!

  2. Hooked. But, I didn't get there until the last sentence in the first paragraph.

    Seized her wine glass? I love it. Great description.

    I would probably break up her thoughts in the third paragraph:

    Should she speak to him?

    No; let him make the first move.

    Should she try to leave now before he noticed her?

    No; he knows where I live.

    To me, it adds more conflict and tension.

    Overall, I would definitely read on.

  3. Who can resist a dark, handsome, exotic man? Not me!

    I suggest making new paragraphs out of her thoughts, separate them from the narrative.

    I am not sure the age of the MC. At first, I pictured an older woman tending to her rose gardens...

  4. This is my first critique, so take it with a grain of salt. But, I liked it. A lot. I loved the draining of her wine glass--I could even taste it. Cabernet for me, please. Very nice. And I think your title is captivating.

  5. I like this and would keep reading. I agree it would be nice to separate the thoughts into paragraphs. I also didn't have any idea about the age of the charachters and some clarification would be easy. How long has it been since she's seen him? How old was she when they last saw each other--this would clarify the story. Good job.

  6. Hooked.

    I'm intrigued with the questions... is he a bad guy? There was joy in her thoughts but also fear. I want to know more! Loved the sucking down the wine in anxiety. Something I would do!

    Agree with separating the thoughts...

    Good job and good luck!

  7. I've read this before, and more of it. I liked it then, and I like it now.


  8. Not quite as hooked as I'd like to be. The writing is lovely, the descriptions are convincing, but there isn't enough of a hook to draw me in. I think perhaps because it's such a placid opening.

  9. Hmm. I'm with Jessica. The writing is very nice, but it just doesn't capture me. It feels a little over-written.

  10. I think it was the very first sentence that lost me. What kind of heroine today would let herself feel shame for dining alone? So if it's not today but, say, mid-20th-century, tell us that immediately. Otherwise, your MC sounds wimpy and the dark, exotic man must have a mustache to twirl and that's melodrama, not women's fiction.

    The rest of the entry was fine, but the faint whiff of hand-wringing brought me down. Probably wouldn't read on.

  11. "heavy-laden" means that something bears a great weight. Are the clouds really carrying a great weight, or are they themselves heavy? I usually think of clouds laden WITH something. Snow-laden, rain-laden, moisture-laden, etc.

    Maybe it's just a pet peeve for me. :)

    (My goodness, one types "laden" enough times, it loses all sense and meaning!)

  12. I like the way you portrayed her character and the immediate presentation of tantalizing conflict. "Dark and exotic" seems a little cliche'd maybe some other description, (i.e. His sexy latin looks cast Antonio Banderas into the shade)Okay, I'm sure you can do better than that.
    I'm hooked.

  13. I'd lose the first sentence. It paints her as a "poor pitiful me' character. Without it, she's simply a women eating alone, and it seems she does this often if she has a regular table. She automatically becomes a stronger person without that line. Of course, if you want her to be a weaker sort of person, keep it.

    Other than that, I thought it worked well. I'd keep reading.

  14. I've read this before - but I don't know where.

    I like the first sentence, it has a lot of meaning to me. But the rest of the graf painting a picture of food and strangers does not.

    This reads like an impending romance novel to me - so I'd like to know right off the bat what makes it women's fiction and not romance. At this point it seems like I know where it's going - but obviously (or hopefully) I don't.

  15. I'm almost hooked. Overall, it feels slightly overwritten. Your first paragraph has a few logistical problems that stopped me. Since she's the only person dining alone, I assume the restaurant is filled with other tables, conversations, clanking of dishes. A murmur across the room probably wouldn't grab her attention. Maybe the diner behind her says something about the hunk walking through the door.

    I like the inner dialog, the mystery of why he's in town, and how long it's been. I'd read on another page or so, if only to see what their connection is, and what type of story this is, before deciding if it's for me.

  16. I'd need to have some sort of grounding in time to get a better feel for the people/scenery here. And so far, it's not quite intriguing enough for me to continue.

  17. I love the title, and overall I'm almost hooked. This seems like it's going to be a romance and frankly I'd be disappointed, after this opening, if it weren't. So I'm not sure about your genre of women's fiction.

    I liked the opening sentence, and didn't interpret it to be whiny or weak, but since some people are reading it that way, you may need to rethink the wording. To me, it made Meredith stronger, being the only one dining alone.

    I liked the details in the first paragraph - the roses and mites, the scallops. I pictured a real woman here.

    But it found it a bit unlikely that a table of women would be staring so obviously at a man walking in, and especially that they'd make enough noise about it that Meredith could hear them "across the room." Women just don't do that, unless the guy was someone like Brad Pitt, super famous and hot.

    I enjoyed Meredith's reaction on seeing Ravi, and felt like I was living it with her. Very nicely done here. I felt it, felt that push-pull of excitement and dread at seeing him.

    Nice job in the last paragraph, showing us how Meredith felt (not telling us). Her little nervous actions tell us what we need to know.

    I'd read on because I want to know more about her past with Ravi and what's going to happen next.