Wednesday, February 9, 2011

February Secret Agent #15

GENRE: Regency romance

April 1816, London

William Battencliffe wagers five thousand pounds that Miss Julia St. Claire will become the next Countess of Clivesden.

Benedict Revelstoke reread the lines in White's infamous betting book. What the devil? His fingers constricted about the quill, just shy of crushing it. Right. He'd been about to lay a wager. Some idiocy, no doubt--hardly worth the bother now.

The book's most recent inscription, scrawled in such a casual hand for all the world to see, had quite driven the notion from his mind. In gold ink, no less. How fitting. Gold ink for Battencliffe, the ton's golden boy.

Upperton, his oldest friend, nudged him. "What's the matter? Your feet coming over icy all the sudden?"

Lead blocks would be more accurate, but Benedict was not about to admit to that. He laid the quill aside and jabbed a finger at the heavy vellum page. "Have you seen this?"

The page darkened as Upperton peered over his shoulder. "Clivesden? Thought he was married. And what's Miss Julia got to do with any of this?"

"I've no idea, but I intend to find out." He released a breath between clenched teeth. "Appalling how so-called gentlemen will lay bets on young ladies of good reputation."

"Young ladies in general or Miss Julia in particular?"


  1. I love this. LOVE IT! I really enjoy a good historical romance and the opening for this one would keep me reading all night.

  2. I like the interplay here, and know I'll get used to "English." After a careful second read, I no longer stumbled over the 'ton's' (I think I got this) but then UpperTON nudges. //'Lead blocks' is unfortunate because it tears the reader in three directions (to noun, adverb or tack-on verb). If you meant the element lead, then consider a brick of lead.

    I like your last line hook, this signals a troubled romance ahead and rightfully so.

    One confusion for me was in the first sentence you say Battencliff wagered and in the second sentence you say he's about to wager.

    Clear this up for this dolt and you'd get a thumbs up. I'd read on to pick up the style better and enjoy the story.

  3. I like the names of the characters! I like the setting and I would read on. Great job!

  4. I'd read on. My only issue is that parts of it sound too modern for my feeling immersed in the historical world - Right, golden boy. I could be wrong but those felt modern when I read them. Bottom line, though, I'd read more.

  5. I think it would help to set the first paragraph apart as a quote - just to clear up any confusion.

    You're firmly in Regency style, though I do think it could be stronger. What tripped me up was not so much the mention of golden boy - but the vellum page. Paper would make a lot more sense to me in this period - even if they're placing absolutely ridiculous bets and could quite easily afford parchment. ;-)

  6. I thought it worked okay. Benedict, for some reason, came across to me as an older man - 50's or so, but I got the feeling he was supposed to be younger. Upperton came across as a lot younger than him.

    I don't read Romance, so take this with a grain of salt, but I wanted to see Julia in the opening. The bet is interesting but not compelling, and I feel like I haven't met any of your leading charactes yet. (I'm thinking Julia and Battencliffe, although it may be Revelstoke. It's just that he seems an old fuddy-duddy here.)

  7. I like the setup here, and the writing is good. I'd keep reading.

  8. The first sentence threw me, too, but I'm guessing you have it set off in italics or something and had to pull it for the contest.

    The "ton" reference is still troublesome; I don't get it. I'm somewhat interested, and I'd keep reading longer to see if it picks up or falls off.

  9. Thanks, everyone, for taking a moment and leaving me a comment. As an FYI, yes, the first sentence was meant to be in italics, as was the word "ton." If you're unfamiliar with the Regency genre, I understand not getting the reference. It was a word used during the period to refer to the upper-crust of London society.

  10. Hooked! This immediately drew me with the tension. Obviously Revelstoke is connected to the lady the wager is being put on. I want to know more... now! Lol.

    I like how you led with this and the banter is good.

  11. Love the title. There's a spot of brilliance to it.

    Opening was immediately gripping. I love a good bet at White's. Felt immersed in the setting and got a good sense of the protag from the get go. That last line let me know exactly where this is going and I want to read on.

  12. You know, I'm mostly just reading/commenting on the YA/MG entries, but I love a good Regency, and this one certainly works for me. Well done.

  13. Very compelling. I definitely want to read on. Nice work, especially the dialog.