Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March Secret Agent #33

TITLE: Unleashed
GENRE: Single Title Contemporary Romance

Cara Medlen felt the growl before she heard it, rumbling through her leg from the dog tensed at her side. She jiggled the leash to break his concentration. “Easy, Casper. You may not realize it yet, but today’s your lucky day.”

He looked up at her with dull eyes, one brown, one blue. A jagged scar creased his face. Ribs and hipbones jutted through his mangy white coat. And oh boy, did he stink. Cara had yet to meet an ugly Boxer, but Casper...well, he had the sort of face that made people move to the other side of the sidewalk.

A face that tugged at a tender spot in her heart.

“It’s a blessing that Triangle Boxer Rescue can take him,” the woman behind the desk, a volunteer named Helen, said. “Shelter life hasn’t been good for him.”

Cara nodded as she handed the signed paperwork to Helen. “We work with a lot of dogs like Casper. I’m sure we’ll have him ready for adoption in no time.”

But the warning she’d received from her Homeowner’s Association over the summer weighed heavily in her mind. Keep her foster dogs in line, or face disciplinary action by the board.

The door to the kennels opened, and raucous barking filled the lobby. Casper peered around her and fixed his gaze on the man who’d come through the door. His posture stiffened, and the hair raised along his spine.

Yep, he was trouble all right.


  1. I love animal rescue stories. And I'm really anxious to know what Casper is going to do to the man who's just come through the door? I wonder if the man is the hero of the story.

    I'm hooked.

  2. This is a good beginning, but I had to read it a couple of times to figure out what was happening. It seems like a great set up to a plot I would like to read more of, though.

  3. You have some good lines here. I especially liked "A face that tugged at a tender spot in her heart." But like Barb, I got confused in a few places. For example:

    Who says the line that starts, "We work with a lot of dogs...?" It's attached to an action by Cara, but it makes more sense coming from Helen.

    And the word "but" at the beginning of the next paragraph doesn't sit right. It should contradict what comes before, but it doesn't. Maybe if you said something like, "Cara hoped Helen was right, but..." etc.

    Finally, at the end, who is trouble, Casper or the man who came through the door? (I have the same trouble when writing scenes with lots of characters. You can probably correct it by just using a name.)

    I give these specific examples because I think you've got something that could be great, with just a little tweaking.

  4. I would keep reading. My sympathies are totally hooked by anyone who rescues this poor animal. I was confused when the door to the kennels opened but the barking came from the lobby. I don't understand the physical set up here. And in the last line, is 'he' the dog? I definitely see potential conflict with her HOA and I'm wondering just how many foster dogs she has.

  5. I liked this a lot and I'm not a romance reader. I know you need time to set up the romance and this is such a short section, so I would spend more time on grounding us in the setting - even if it takes the reader a little longer to get the entry of the love interest. I couldn't visualize the setting immediately and so I was disoriented when it was introduced - to jarring a transition from being in her 'head' to being in a 'place'. I hope that makes sense....

  6. You've created a compelling concept and a sympathetic main character.

    But I think the prose in this excerpt could use some rearranging. I'm not sure opening with Cara and the dialogue is quite working -- what if you start with the description of Casper? I'd like to be a little more in her head feeling her reactions. This scene moves a little too fast. I also felt the line about the Homeowner's Association was a little too obvious of a conflict -- I'd rather see that come out naturally than have her tell us about it.

    I think some rearranging would make this a strong start!

  7. ^ good suggestions from the agent (of course!). I agree.

    I like this premise and I can already fill in some ideas of what the romance might look like (head of the association who hates dogs, hopefully!).

    This line stuck out as a little forced:
    “It’s a blessing that Triangle Boxer Rescue can take him,” the woman behind the desk, a volunteer named Helen, said.

    Maybe if this was phrased a little more naturally, like if she doesn't say the full name of the facility, or add in some more natural sounding phrasing. But I think overall this is solid for the genre. Good luck!

  8. Here's where I was confused: when does Cara go to the rescue? Was this before or after she has Casper tensed by her side? And was she getting Casper to foster him or turning him in to be rescued?
    I also wondered who was the "he" who was trouble.
    I think if you clarify the timing where I mentioned you've got a great start. I'd like to read more!