Wednesday, February 9, 2011

February Secret Agent #36

TITLE: All Cuffed Up and Nowhere To Go
GENRE: Single title contemporary romance

Jackie Davis looked up as the bell over the door of the salon chimed and struggled to keep the welcoming smile on her lips. If there was a more unwelcome sight than the man walking through the doorway, she couldn't think of one. A real live Sasquatch would be preferable and probably easier to communicate with. "Sheriff Talbert, what a surprise," she said, not letting any of her thoughts seep into her voice.

The sheriff paused in the act of closing the door behind him, a disbelieving brow rising until it disappeared under the brim of his hat.

And here she thought she sounded so sincere. Unfortunately, that had been the problem since meeting the entirely too-handsome-for-his-own-good sheriff. Somehow he seemed to hear past her words, past her tone and know what she was thinking.

Gaze locked on her, he stepped around the small wicker chairs set up in front that would no doubt buckle under his tall frame, looking completely at home in this feminine sanctuary. Ironic, since everything about him seemed out of place in the salon from the hard angle of his jaw to the tips of his shiny black boots.

Locking her knees, she watched him approach with slow, even steps, a cool confidence radiating from him. When a mere foot separated them and thankfully the reception counter she stood behind, he tipped his hat back revealing the face she had heard one client describe as "eye candy".

She hadn't been exaggerating.


  1. There's a lot of good in here. The last line is terrific, we've got a strong sense that she's RRRREAALLY uncomfortable. The trouble I have is that it's a meeting without much context. I don't have any reason to be invested in the MC, because I don't know why the sheriff is an unwelcome sight. You tell us they've had previous encounters and he can always see inside her, but I don't buy it because I don't really see it. You tried to show it in the way he stops in the doorway, and perhaps that will do the trick if it's revised to be a little clearer and more true-to-life. But I still question: Is there more to it? Did he arrest her brother? Torment her in HS? Is he her best friend's ex? I know you'll get into all of this later, but my sense is that having that first encounter, with all the tension without explanation, leaves me feeling a little ungrounded.

  2. There are some great descriptions in here, but I think the piece could benefit from a little more editing. For example, your first sentence: "Jackie Davis looked up as the bell over the door of the salon chimed and struggled to keep the welcoming smile on her lips."

    It reads as if the bell is trying to keep a welcoming smile. I think it would be clearer if you switched it around to:

    "When the bell over the salon door chimed, Jackie Davis looked up and struggled to keep the welcoming smile on her lips."

    Another switch: "Somehow he seemed to hear past her words, past her tone and know what she was thinking...Gaze locked on her"

    How does she know he's hearing past her words? Cause and effect. As of now, you have the cause first, his gaze is locked on her. And the effect is, she knows what he's thinking.

    Overall I'm intrigued, but a few line edits would make this piece so much stronger. Good luck!

  3. Your opening sentence really tripped me up. It reads as if the bell is struggling to keep the smile on its lips. I think this opening would benefit from another pass, looking out for awkwardness like this, as well as looking for areas to tighten. For example, the second sentence might read, "She couldn't think of a more unwelcome sight than the man walking through the doorway."

    I do love how you weave in the description with action. I get a clear picture of your hero--and he comes off as completely hot--without you resorting to describing every last detail.

  4. The first line tripped me up, for reasons already pointed out by other commenters.

    I wonder about the word 'know' in the third para. It feels like a slip to present tense, but I may be wrong. Knew just feels like it would work better.

    In the fourth para, the word 'this' in the feminine sanctuary line feels like another slip to present tense. I'd use 'the'. Love love love the detail at the end of that para though (tips of his boots, etc).

    The second to last sentence tripped me up as well. It sounds like she's thankful to be separated from the reception desk, when I know that's not what you mean.

    Overall, very intriguing start. I'd love to know what happened to make her hate him so.

  5. There are a number of sentences in here that need punctuation to make them read the way I assume you meant them to be read.

    Jackie Davis looked up as the bell over the door of the salon chimed, and struggled to keep the welcoming smile on her lips.

    A real live Sasquatch would be preferable, and probably easier to communicate with.

    There are also a few descriptions that really slapped me in the face. 'A disbelieving brow' for example. I can't picture this.

    But an interesting set up.

  6. The romantic tension between this man and woman is there. I like seeing her fighting with herself not to notice him. She might even have to distract herself with "the tips of his shiny black boots."

    Re: the first sentence, I agree w/the Rachel, Aislinn and Ramona. Easy fix.

    Re: punctuation, technically, you only need a comma after conjunctions which separate two independent clauses.

    My bigger picture comments are along the same lines of those people who've said they craved a little more of the history between these two characters. I want to know why he's so unwelcome, but only a hint at that.

    I also want to know what comes next. What is he going to tell her? I'd read on. Best wishes!

  7. I normally can't stand cowboys, but you have intrigued me with your clever set up and the tension you have created between the H and h. I am in agreement with everyone else about the first sentence - but that is an easy fix.
    I would read on to see what happens next.
    I love the title. Very cool.
    Good luck.

  8. I agree - the first sentence needs switching around. Easy to fix. :)

    I'm a great fan of romance, so I was looking forward to reading this. So far I'm not completely hooked. There's obviously something about the Sheriff that's bugging our heroine, but I don't know what, or why, or if it's important. Like others, I think it needs more context.

    You say this is single title but at present I think it's reading more like category, not sure why. (And maybe that's just me!)

    LOVE the title!

  9. The last paragraph would be much stronger if you removed the word "thankfully" from it.

  10. I enjoyed this entry.

    Solid story building - you created a scene that was easy to imagine as I read.

    I could feel her unease as he approached - and loved the Sasquatch line.

    Only critique would be the addition of punctuation in a few places - otherwise, I'd read on.

  11. I like where this is going... a few places you changed tense.
    "Somehow he seemed to hear past her words, past her tone and know what she was thinking." I'd change know to knew.
    "She hadn't been exaggerating." I'd change to "She hadn't exaggerated."

    But they seem like really interesting characters and I'm always a sucker for cowboys

  12. I couldn't picture locking her knees, but I think I know what you mean. She braced herself and tightly crossed her knees? I think most of the physical description of the Sheriff should be limited to his entrance. The strong jawed, blustering Sasquatch. Hey aren't Sasquatches stinky? They look that way. By going on and on now about his physical charcateristics you've done a lay down. She's already decided this guy is for her, this sasquatch. Should she be focused on finding a way to get him to move on and maybe be just a little distracted by his manliness, and then of course go back to her stinky sasquatch assessment?? All I'm saying is hold off on her interior struggle blossoming in full.

    Aside from my reservations, I'd assume you'd rewrite, I'd read on.

  13. I thought this needed a lot of editing, and others have already pointed out where.

    We then get 250 words of a man entering a shop. That's what happened. We don't know why he's there. We don't know why she dislikes him (and yet still seems to have the hots for him, which felt like an incongruity to me and makes me wonder if she really dislikes him or if he just irks her in some ways.) We don't know where she met him before and under what circumstances. Adding one or some of these elements would give this a bit more punch and give the reader a reason to read on.

  14. Thought this had a lot of promise though it would benefit from tightening and editing.

    I got a good sense of your protag and wanted to know more about her conflict with the sheriff.

    I'm intrigued enough to want to read on.