Tuesday, May 7, 2013

First Kiss #21

TITLE: Blood Rose Rebellion
GENRE: YA Historical Fantasy

Brief context: 15-year-old Anna meets with one of her sister's suitors on the night of her sister's debut, in an alternate Victorian England.

The stone bench at the centre of the herb garden was empty when I arrived. The darkness of the garden crept up my arms, settled under my heart. Freddy had not come.

A strong gust of wind brought with it the scent of roses, carried from the ballroom, and I shivered. Perhaps Freddy was having difficulty getting away, or negotiating the garden in the darkness. I would wait. I would trust him.

I heard a footstep crunch on the tiny gravel in a walkway behind me. My heart thumped against my breastbone, but I reminded myself that I was screened from whomever it was by a carefully shaped hedge. No one—save Freddy—would discover me here.

A fresh gust plucked at my hair and sleeves, and my nose filled with his scent (tobacco and cinnamon). I turned to him with a glad cry.

“You’re here!”

Freddy smiled, taking one of my hands in his. His hands were warm. He rubbed my cool fingers between his. “ I was held up by Lady Dorchester.”

I smiled down at our joined fingers. Lady Dorchester had three daughters, each more homely than the last.

Freddy cupped my cheek with one hand, rubbing his thumb along the curve of my cheek, across my lips. His light touch left a powerful tingling in its wake.

I was absurdly aware of how close his mouth was to mine, of the fluttering of my pulse in my throat, of the cold stars overhead. Every impression seemed sharp and distinct.

I closed my eyes, waiting.

Freddy bent his head and laid a kiss like a prayer on my mouth.


  1. I am a sucker for historical fiction (and historical fantasy). For the most part, I think you captured that feel in the setting. The only thing that threw me was the scent of roses coming from the ballroom. Wouldn't they also be growing in the garden?

    Also, watch for sentence fragments. For example, "The darkness of the garden crept up my arms, settled under my heart." It's a glorious sentence, especially if you use "and" instead of a comma.

    The parenthetical used to describe Freddy's smell also threw me off. I love the inclusion of those details, but would rather see them included seamlessly rather than offset by the parenthesis.

    Everything after Freddy arrived was lovely. You do a beautiful job describing their touch and how alive Freddy makes her feel.

    Given the illicit nature of their love, I would definitely read on to find out what happens next!

  2. I agree with what Spaz says above (especially about the parenthetical). I love the whole forbidden love angle, and knowing that he's her sister's suitor just makes me want to read more--especially since I question Freddy's intent, given that he's a suitor to another woman, and offers only "I was held up by Lady Dorchester" as comment before kissing her. It makes me both doubt him and adore his intensity --especially since given the short excerpt, I know little about him. He's a mystery to me.

    And the closing line--love it. I'd read more, definitely.

  3. I'm really wondering what's going on, because it seems far more like Freddy is her suitor, not her sister's. Is she too young for suitors, or too old for him as a suitor? (I'm not the person you want critiquing historical, so make of this what you will.)

    I like the description of the kiss like a prayer.

  4. This was lovely! Spaz' comment was dead on for me. The darkness creeping up her arms, ooo, love that! Your character comes across as quite young and inexperienced. I found myself wanting to give her a talking to! Lol

  5. I really enjoyed this. Anna's nervousness is clear in the paragraphs leading up to Freddy's arrival, even though she's telling herself not to worry.

    The phrase "kiss like a prayer" is beautiful.

    I agree with the others that this would be better without the parenthetical and the sentence fragments, but neither of those tiny flaws got in the way of the story for me.

    After reading a bunch of these, I'm amused by how often cinnamon comes up when a writer tries to describe how the love interest tastes or smells. I guess we all have strong associations with that scent!

  6. I enjoyed this, too! Especially the last three paragraphs. I tend to make a movie of whatever I'm reading so I didn't see her face look up between smiling down at their hands and Freddie kissing her. Maybe Freddy could lift her chin and then cup her cheek?? And are they sitting on that bench? Standing by it? Also, shouldn't her cry be a whispered cry, if she's afraid of being discovered? One last tiny comment: Think you could omit "tiny" in front of gravel.

  7. I agree that the ending of this was faboo!

    However the start needs some work. A couple of points:
    Houses typically block wind, so I didn't get how a gust would carry a scent from inside the house (sorry, it's nit picky, I know).

    Here you need to drop her "I heard" - you're in the first person so if you just describe the sound, we'll know she heard it. And I think it's 'fine' gravel although that might be a local term.
    I heard a footstep crunch on the tiny gravel in a walkway behind me.

    I'm confused by why the hedge needs to be carefully shaped to screen her. I think it's because you're not being direct and need to tighten that phrasing.

    Definitely drop the parenthetical.

    Lovely stuff at the end, although personally not a big fan of laid for lips, set, place, brushed... :-)