Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September Secret Agent #1

TITLE: The Earl's Fantasy Lover
GENRE: Regency Romance

The blackmailer claimed to know her secrets. Did he know about her daughter?

Miss Carolyn Wescot drew a calming breath, her fingers straightening the feathered mask over her cheekbones. She inched out of the shadows, squinting against the light of the chandeliers, and crossed the gallery of the mahogany staircase. The smell of alcohol and cheap perfumes mingled with the cigar smoke rising from the card room below. One of the more pleasant odors, considering this huge beehive was a brothel.

Hands trembling, she grasped the railing and surveyed the crowd. Scantily-dressed serving girls and card dealers wore masks as if part of a uniform. Those who worked and played here were masters of disguise. Only a handful of gamblers didn't hide their faces, and the Earl of Greybridge was known to prowl the hells of London utterly shameless of his sins.

She knew better than to depend on a gambler and drunkard like Greybridge to help. But she needed a fortune, and over the last fortnight, he had been tossing money about to find her. Why?

Anxiety thudded in her chest, stealing her breath. She forced air into her lungs and leaned over the railing. Where was Greybridge? Sharpening his horn at some other whorehouse, where else? God, she'd already wasted two precious nights waiting for Greybridge to appear, and she couldn't afford to leave tonight empty handed--

"One of your old regulars is being shackled," the House Mistress' husky voice said from the
stairs, to Caro's left. "Interested?"

14 comments:

  1. I quite liked this one - a lot actually, though the beginning really threw me off. The opening was pretty much perfect to me, save the opening line that was a question. My advice is ditch it. The second sentence works perfectly as the very beginning.

    Another thing that might be a worry is whether this really breaks any new ground. I'm sensing something vaguely espionage-y here, which reads to me very run-of-the-mill Regency. But that might be a bit too much to infer from the first few lines.

    The voice is engaging, and as I said before, the beginning is excellent. Good luck with this! (I'd say, 'first comment!' but I'm not sure.)

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  2. This is a great opener description-wise. I get a solid feeling of where we are, the social environment, the people...

    But so far all I know about Carolyn is that she's being blackmailed and looking for a specific person to help. This should be enough with such a short intro, but with all the description you've given, I get the feeling I'm supposed to know why she's there. What her relationship is to this brothel/casino. And I don't. If that comes soon though, I thikn you're set.

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  3. I like tension in the opening line. (I did trip over "Her blackmailer" - it might just be easier to say "He claimed..."). I also felt the description was done very well. However, as soon as we get into the description, the tension and sense of urgency starts to slip away.

    I need to know a little more about Carolyn in order to feel the "anxiety thudd[ing] in her chest, stealing her breath." (I love the description, don't get me wrong) But to me the character is more important for me, and I have a better idea of the brothel than of her.

    I'm interested in knowing who Carolyn is ("regulars" implies she works at this brothel, yes?), and I'm interested in knowing why anyone would be blackmailing her. So at this point, I'd keep reading.

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  4. Hooked! I love the voice and the sense of seedy opulence of the surroundings. I think some of the tension is lost from that great first line. I think you should either keep her focused on the blackmailer or move mention of him to later in the narrative.

    I would definitely read on.

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  5. I liked it. I love the description-I can picture the scene, smell the stale perfume etc.

    Is Greybridge the blackmailer? why is he throwing money all over London to find Caroline?

    I'd keep reading. quickly.

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  6. I'm hooked.

    Don't know that you need those first two lines. I think the third line makes a better opening and the other stuff could be worked into the story. I assume that she works at the brothel, can't wait to find out more about Greybridge, and can only hope that he's the regular being shackled. If not...still hooked.

    -Chelle

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  7. Hooked although I never read this genre. Like the blackmailing aspect, but want to know more about the MC. Maybe delete a bit of description up front and show us more of who the MC is.

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  8. liked the intro, you built up the tension quite well. Definitely will read more.

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  9. I like the description and the tension is great. I stumbled over the blackmailer part though. I want to know more about Carolyn.

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  10. Really liked this. Nice descriptions..cigar smoke and cheap perfume, etc. Would definitely keep reading. The first line threw me a bit. Is the Earl of Greybridge her blackmailer? Only thing I didn't like was the title... but maybe a bit soon to tell. Would keep reading.

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  11. I really enjoyed this piece. Having read a handful or two of Regencies, the voice and tone and settling seem to ring true for me.

    The only part that tripped me up was at the end

    "One of your old regulars is being shackled," the House Mistress' husky voice said from the
    stairs, to Caro's left. "Interested?"

    I'd prefer--which my opinion may mean nil-- it to read: the House Mistress said in a husy voice from the stairs to Carolyn's left. But that's just me. It seem's Caro's was a typo. If not, then the names are a little too similar to one another so quick into the game.

    As far as Regencies go and the set up you've presented (brothel, masquarades, secret child etc...), I'd read on.

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  12. I like the narrator's voice although I agree with the previous comments about removing at least the first, maybe first two, paragraphs. I think you could jump right in at the third paragraph without losing any impact.

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  13. I'm a little confused. If she's in charge of a gambling house, or the kind of woman who goes to gambling houses, who would care that she has a child? What's left to blackmail her with, when she's already a regular in a place that would keep her from EVER being in the Ton - or even the growing Middle Class?

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  14. Author of this entrySeptember 27, 2010 at 3:27 AM

    Thank you all for your feedback. I've already condensed the scene in order to reveal more of the character. What a difference a paragraph makes:-)

    Anon, mystery is part of the game in this brothel, and Caro, a knight's daughter, guarded her identity like everyoe else. She was sold in the brothel 7 years ago, got pregnant, and schemed to give her daughter a "legitimate birth," putting her daughter out of her reach. She escaped from the brothel 4 years ago and lived a respectable life.

    Yeah, she's back in the filth, poor woman, and she has more to fear from the Earl of Greybridge than the blackmailer.

    Again, thanks so much for all your help.

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