Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September Secret Agent #33

TITLE: Siege of the Heart
GENRE: Historical Romance

England, December 1066

Isobel Dumont vowed she would not cry, not in front of the men her father charged with
her protection.

As she urged her steed down the overgrown path, she focused on the boss of the circular shield slung across the back of the rider in front of her. Gritting her teeth, she could feel the pressure threatening behind her eyes again. The worn leather strap of her quiver dug into her shoulder, but she made no move to adjust it or her bow as they rattled along her back with each stride of her horse.

She already knew nothing could bring her comfort.

The beech trees were too thick for the snow to fall, but the bitter wind still found Isobel and her five companions. A half-hour out, she gave up trying to keep her hood in place, and her braids whipped out behind her like a banner as they rode. The trees grew sparse as they neared the end of the hunting trail that wound its way through her father's holding in northern Gloucestershire. After a few more strides, the horses emerged onto an open field.

Kendrick, one of her father's trusted men-at-arms, called for a halt. Eagerly, the men dismounted. Isobel could not blame them, as it had been a long, unfruitful ride. Kendrick ordered the two youngest, Edgar and Cuthbert, to scout ahead while the horses rested.

Blinking furiously, Isobel slid off her mount and straightened the padded tunic she wore over her kirtle.


  1. The writing here is good overall. I have a clear picture of where they are and what's happening and rarely had to stop and reread.

    However, I honestly learned nothing in this section beyond that she's upset and under protection. There's no detail here about the MC or the conflict to encourage me to read on. You need to either start earlier before the fruitless mission or later on.


  2. There's a sense of danger as Isobel is distraught as she flees; I get the sense something horrible has happened at the castle, a coup or a massacre or something. The details are good and clearly shows you've done your research, although at times they do a disservice to the immediacy of the story -- in the panicked state she's in I don't think she'd really pick up all these details. I also found myself having to re-read to figure out the time setting (day/night?), which I don't think is explicitly stated.

  3. I disagree with Kyle. Just as with entry #34, historical romance is always very heavy on the description. Just like you need murder for a mystery, you need intricate detailing for historical romance.

    I love your descriptions and I get a real sense of where the heroine is. As long as your hook shows up soon, I think this is a strong opening.

  4. I agree with Kyle. The writing is good but what have I learned? Is your MC riding away from danger, or riding to aide others? I know the Battle of Hastings took place in 1066, but I don't know if this is before the battle, after the battle, or during the battle. I don't know whose side you MC is on. Knowing that info would make a difference in how I see her.

  5. Nothing happens. I am curious about her, as she has a Scottish first name and a French surname - but her brothers have Saxon names. So there's something odd about this family, in 1066 terms. If they are Saxons then the surname is all wrong.

  6. I would love to know a few more details about why she's being protected. Was it because her father was killed? I don't know why that comes to mind. Probably not. But maybe a teaser line or two about that would add some plotline color to your lovely descriptions.

  7. I think the descriptions are rather nice, and historical romances are heavy on the description. It sets the mood and tone of the genre, I think.
    I'm curious as to why she'd cry, and wonder if her father is dead now. why is she under protection, I may need to know this more upfront, but then again, for historical, I can deal with a longer lead in and have no problem with it--just would need to know in the next page or so. Thus, I would keep reading further to see what's going to happen.

  8. I'm always amazed by the quality of feedback this contest series receives! Yes, the surname is French for a reason. And both Blodwyn and Angela are on the right track as to why Isobel's upset. Can't decide if I'm stoked you got it or worried it's too transparent. But thanks for the great comments!

  9. I love the rich historical feeling of these paragraphs but I would be hoping for something to happen very soon.

  10. I love the rich historical feeling of these paragraphs but I would be hoping for something to happen very soon.

  11. I think this is nicely done, it gives a good feeling of the book and the characters. The pacing suits the type of story-nice work.

  12. The setting, details and descriptions are nice here. The opening line is interesting, but then we just get the action of them going wherever it is they're going.

    I want to know more about Isobel and more about why she's upset. I feel like I just don't know enough.

    The writing is very good and the description is appropriate to historical so I'd keep reading but I want something to happen soon.