Thursday, April 17, 2014

First Line Grabber Winners #1

TITLE: Man Maid
GENRE: Contemporary Romance

Friday should not start with a dead cat - that seemed more of a Monday sort of problem. Even worse, it was a client's dead cat. Sadie Martin ended the call and slumped back in her desk chair. Her black and white mutt, Jack, came over to sniff the phone dangling from her hand. "Seriously," she asked the ceiling. "For real? This is happening?"

The ceiling didn't answer and when Jack found no treat in her hand, he went back to his doggy bed with an aggrieved sigh. Sadie hauled herself out of the chair with her own sigh. Dead cat. She grabbed her purse and pointed at Jack. "Stay!"

He obeyed. Mostly because he was already back to sleep. Sadie shook her head as she headed down the hall while digging in the purse for her keys. Dog never listens to a word I say anyway.

"Hey, Molly?" she called. "Rosie's dead and Heidi is flipping the freak out so I've got to get over there and. . .."

The words stuttered to a stop as her mouth fell open. There was an honest to God angel sitting in the small reception area. She glanced in the direction of her receptionist's desk but it was empty. "Who are you?"

The man stood. "Wyatt Anderson. I have a nine thirty interview."

"Oh s***. I mean, sorry. Hold on. I've got a bit of a situation."

She backtracked to the kitchen where she spotted Molly coming out of the supply room with a pack of printer paper. "There's a man out there," Sadie whispered.

"Must be your interview.Is he cute?"

"No, he is not cute. He's freaking gorgeous."

Good looking guys hanging out in her lobby was nothing new. Her entire company was built on them. Man Maid's business model was simple: hot guys cleaned your house or business. But her guys were only that - guys. Young guys who were only hot in the abstract. They were like her little brothers or something. This guy was a blond, tanned, full grown hunk of a man.

She and Molly returned to the reception area. The small space with the two wingback chairs and Molly's desk seemed even smaller with him standing there. He smiled somewhat uncertainly at the two of them. Smile lines bracketed his eyes as twin dimples appeared in his cheeks. Sadie's first impression of an angel disintegrated. He was no angel. A fallen one maybe but there was too much devil in his smile. She'd never found blond men very attraction. They seemed too pretty for her. This man was not pretty, no, he was ruggedly handsome. His dark blond hair was wavy and a tad shaggy. Brown brows arched over hazel eyes. His nose looked like it may have been broken in the past and his lips made a women wonder how they might feel against hers.

She shook his hand and managed to choke out, "Sadie Martin, nice to meet you." A thrill ran up her arm at the touch. Holy cow.


  1. I like this one a lot. I really don't have much to say. I guess if i'm being nitpicky i wondered about the "honest to god angel" line. I had to double check the genre to make sure he wasn't an actual angel and just a really hot guy. But presumably people reading would be reading knowing it's romance and not paranormal or something, so i don't overly see it being a problem unless other people comment on it too.

    great job!

  2. Ammi-Joan PaquetteApril 17, 2014 at 10:25 AM

    This is a really fun start, but the "angel" reference really threw me. At this point in the story, we have no way of knowing we are not reading an actual fantasy/magical realism book, so it took me a while to realize that he is not an actual "honest to god angel" but just a hot guy.

    Also, there is a typo near the end, "She'd never found blond men very attraction."

  3. I also had a minute of wondering if it was a real angel, but that didn't bother me much. Overall, I liked it a lot. The voice is fun, and I like the concept of basing a business around hot guys cleaning your house.

    I got a little hung up near the end. I didn't quite get the distinction between the guys she normally hired and this one. Is he just better looking or is there some quality of maturity or intelligence that she notices? Then the detailed description of what the new guy looks like went on for too long. Some description is good, but a couple of sentences would be better than a whole paragraph.

    In spite of that criticism, I'd definitely keep reading.

  4. The line about the 'honest to God angel' threw me. I had to check the genre to be sure this wasn't fantasy. Consider something like Nordic God, instead. That brings more of an immediate image of his actual appearance as you describe him farther on.

    I liked the opening line. The rest of the set-up, not so much. It's simply too hard for me to believe a maid service that is all young, good-looking males. Maybe they have such a think in Hollywood.

  5. I gave you a no in the first round, but I'm glad you made it through. I thought this worked overall.

    I do think you need to show a phone in her hand in your opening. It stopped me when she ended the call I didn't know she was on.

    I was also stopped by the angel reference. I wondered if he was a real angel or just good-looking.

    There was an honest to God angel sitting in the small reception area. -- Perhaps - An honest-to-God angel sat in the small reception area.

    She glanced in the direction of her receptionist's desk but it was empty. - Perhaps -- She glanced at the reception area. It was empty.

    You might cut -- She'd never found blond men very attraction. They seemed too pretty for her. This man was not pretty, no, he was ruggedly handsome. His dark blond hair was wavy and a tad shaggy. Brown brows arched over hazel eyes. His nose looked like it may have been broken in the past and his lips made a women wonder how they might feel against hers. -- It goes on too long, and it kind of contradicts what she thought about him earlier.

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  7. You have such a fun and engaging voice that definitely makes it easy to fall into the story. My main piece of advice would be to watch out that you don't rely too heavily on that voice to do the heavy lifting because I think right now that it's actually getting in the way of some of the clarity of plot that the reader really needs for grounding.

    Don't get me wrong, I'd definitely keep reading and I know that I'm being nitpicky, but I have to echo the confusion at your angel line--I definitely thought we'd been launched into a fantasy/paranormal story. I would also agree that there's something confusing about having a business that is specifically hot men cleaning and then having the character feel surprised by a hot man in the waiting room.

    What I'm really saying here is that you know the character and all of her quirks and intricacies very well, but this is our first introduction to her and although I'm curoius and intrigued, I also spent a good protion of the selection a bit confused and trying to catch up rather than simply enjoying the ride. I wonder what would happen if we learned that she runs a cleaning business in paragraph two. It might help your reader find his/her sea legs a bit more quickly.

  8. Very amusing and definitely draws the reader in. I was confused by the phone call line. I thought she was at a client's house and discovered the dead cat. Easy to clear up.

    The angel line threw me, too. Totally thought I had been tossed into fantasy romance.

    Nit pick: She digs in "the purse" to find her keys. I think it would be "her" purse since no one shares. :-)

    Overall, very interesting and compelling. Great set up.

  9. Cute and fun. My only problem was the first reference to the man as an angel. Angels make me this saintly, goodly, honest, shiny white not God's gift. Adonis would fit better. Of course, you'd have to rewrite the rest to make it work.

  10. Fun voice! But I also got stopped at honest to God angel and thought the guy's description went on a little long. Some of those details could be dribbled in as she interviews him.

    I've always been told not to introduce too many named characters at one time. You have six names, two of which have last names, (Sadie Martin, Jack, Molly, Rosie, Heidi, Wyatt Anderson). Granted, two are animals, but their names are "people" names. Just something to consider.

  11. I think you do a good job with the overall setup here. I get an immediate sense of not just the voice but your genre and audience, though I confess that I too was thrown by the "angel" description. (I'm a Supernatural fan so I immediately pictured a dark-haired man in a trench coat when I read that.)

    My one critique: It might help to back off the voice a little bit here and add in more narrative. You come on very strong with the humor and crazy situations. It makes for a beginning with a lot of impact, but I think your opening could be just as strong if we got more info on who Sadie is, since we'll be following her for the duration of the book. We don't even need to meet the hot guy on page one. If we're already attached to Sadie by the time he's introduced, we as readers will want to see her romance and career succeed even more.

  12. This is a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed it. Sadie comes across really clearly, I love her already. This piece also really makes me laugh, which is great. I think there are places to cut, a little; doing that would make the opening move just a bit more quickly – don’t get lost in the voice as others have noted. I paused when we get to the dialogue between Molly and Sadie – why does Molly ask if the guy’s cute? She must assume that he is, given that’s the business, so this didn’t seem like something she’d need to mention. I love the idea that this one guy is even better looking than the average, but I felt like you could do a better job explaining this. Why aren’t the “guys” attractive to Sadie, and what makes Wyatt different exactly? The more I can picture this, the better!

  13. I really liked this one and if I repped adult, I'd want to read more. I think I might be the only person who didn't get hung up on the angel line. My stop came a bit earlier when she was calling out to Molly. Because we don't know where she is and her dog is with her, I assumed she was a home. So then I was confused when she called out to Molly and we are in a reception area. I had to backtrack a bit.

    Overall, I really liked the voice. It made the read feel natural, but I agree with others that you need to be careful not to use too much.

    Also, careful on the whole instant connection/touching gives me chills action. If she's just having a natural reaction to a really hot guy, then so be it, but that can quickly turn into an overused trope that can turn this into "just another romance". Make sure you use phrases like that sparingly.

  14. I still love the opening line -- it's a real grabber. I echo some of the above comments; I, too, didn't realize Sadie was on the phone. I was also thrown by the reference to her new cleaning man applicant as an angel and thought you were crossing genres into fantasy.

    That said, this looks like a fun idea and read.

  15. Thanks for sharing! Your heroine has a sharp and engaging voice. I love the opening lines. Re: angel /yes I mistook for paranormal for a moment. Re: names, yes there are a lot in these opening lines; I'd agree with readers who'd have you intro. them more slowly to us over time as story unfolds.

    Re: She'd never found blond men ... I agree that slightly contracts earlier comments but easily fixed: She didn't usually... or such.

    Unlike other readers above: I think it's perfectly appropriate for a romance to have this 'meet' on first page(s) and also to have your extended description of his appearance, esp if you are going to have a high heat level where physical connection matters as much as emotional!

    In fact, if that's the case, you might use a little bit of this physical description even earlier / when first calling him angel/handsome/ hunky whatever. Readers will be glad to have a sense of what he looks like, so to inspire the heroine's fumbled speech.

    Re: course of the story/opening. A part of me is hoping the dead cat is soon to play a key role in an upcoming scene, and she's going to have to go to this house herself, etc. - that is, that it will prove to be a 'story' point that will influence and directly effect unfolding course of events. If that's not the case, and it's just an exchange to set off (establish) the mood of her day (grumpy, frustrated, not-feeling-good-Friday), then I'd pare down that bit of story some. Or tweak it to matter to her more directly. Does she regularly converse with her dog and find him not answering? I mean, does even her dog always ignore her? If so, let her 'feel' this emotionally, not just internally-think-the-thought-italicized.... Generally I hope the dog will continue in the story, even if the dead cat doesn't! - - IF the dog himself doesn't continue, then you might reconsider giving him such attention at the very-start. Whatever is to come, let us have something with story-import to hang on to at the opening.

    My *favorite* part of the opening is that I love this kind of scene in which heroine, distracted and cursing, is interrupted by prospective hero when she's not at her best :)

    Admittedly I have that kind of scene myself, several chapters in, hero scowling when he comes upon heroine who disses him accordingly. It's interesting to see it w/genders reversed.

    Though - since she curses aloud AFTER seeing him - you might consider whether you want to have her begin with (is it?) quite this level of a basketcase /mangling-words character. Especially when actually she's clearly an accomplished business owner! I would think she'd have the self-possession to speak and act with professionalism upon greeting a client or job applicant / visitor with an appointment - even if she becomes flushed/flustered, tongue-tied and so must exit the room bc/ of his fantastic looks.

    Finally re: adjectives. We don't really need to know that these are wing-backed chairs unless you go even further and give us useful story details like - they cost her a fortune - or look-like-leather or something that helps settle the reader into understanding of economics of her business, or else her flair for decorating, or her lack of decorating flair if they're standard issue professional office chairs. Whatever specifics are - somehow the description of furniture (if you want to include it at all) should shed light on heroine's character &/or hint at story to unfold.

    Best wishes on your writing.

  16. Tricia Lawrence, EMLAApril 21, 2014 at 10:32 PM

    Nicely done. So, is it a real angel? I wasn't sure what sort of story I was in, but the opening scene is pretty great. Congrats on being in the top five! I so loved reading this.