Thursday, February 1, 2018

First Kiss #9

TITLE: A Hundred Breaths
GENRE: Adult Historical Romance

13th century, Scotland. Gwyn is a Nord-Ancients woman who's been kidnapped from the isles and forced to wed Simon (a Scotsman) in a revenge plot against Gwyn's father. She refused to show up in the wedding chapel, so Simon's father brought the priest up to her bedchamber. Accepting her fate, she consents to the union:

The priest cleared his throat. “Wilt thou have this man to be thy wedded husband, to live together after God’s holy estate of matrimony? Wilt thou love him, submit to him, honor and keep him, so long as you both shall live?”

Gwyn paused. Simon’s vows had lacked submit.

Simon’s father Alroy coughed.

Her groom’s eyes never left hers. They were as vast as the sea.

Her whispered words caught in her throat. “I will.”

It was done.

“Our help is in the Lord, who made heaven and earth,” the nasally priest said, taking both of their hands into his cold ones. “Blessed be this union.”

Simon didn’t release their connection. He stood unnaturally still, his face expressionless.
“Kiss your bride, Sir,” the priest encouraged.

Simon bent down to her level, turned his head to the side, and planted a soft kiss on her lips. She leaned ever so slightly in and allowed her own lips to meet his. She had never tasted a man’s lips before, and it was the briefest of moments. She’d expected ale or perhaps pungent cider, but as she pulled back and he released her hands, all the taste that remained with her was of fear.

And not just her own.

Simon turned on his heel and left without another word. His father followed, brimming with satisfaction, and lastly, the priest slinked away.

Once again, she was alone in her room. Alone on her wedding night, a Nord woman the new lady of Eilean Donan.


  1. This is an interesting scene. I loved the part about her having expectations about what kissing him might taste like, but I'm not sure what fear tastes like. I do like her catching onto his fear though. I wondered what made her decide to lean forward and go with the kiss. If she's stubborn enough to make them get married in her bedchamber, what made her decide to cooperate with the kiss? Even if it's something as simple as curiosity, I'd like to know. As I'm sitting here thinking about it, even though I don't know what fear tastes like, I really do like that line, "...all the taste that remained with her was of fear." Thanks for being brave and letting your work be posted like this!

  2. I like this scene. It leaves me with a lot of questions. (Good questions!) The part about the vows lacking the word "submit" has me really curious. Unless we haven't met the father yet, I think it would be sufficient to say "Simon's father coughed." And the timing feels a little off for the actual kiss. You say he "planted a soft kiss" and then the next line says she "leaned ever so slightly in and allowed her own lips to meet his." Maybe you could end the line "and turned his head to the side" and leave the next line as is, so "she leaned ever so slightly..." I thought this scene was really interesting.

  3. This sounds like it would be interesting! Great job of characterizing Gwyn through her thought about the husband not having to include anything about submission.

    "Simon’s father Alroy coughed" - stuck out because I think she'd know what the father's name is by this point. If you just included this for the contest, then okay. If not, just say "Simon's father coughed" or if the name is already known, "Alroy coughed."

    What does she feel when she looks into Simon's eyes? She whispers her answer after that, so is she a little afraid or maybe impressed or intimidated by him? Does she feel any attraction to him? Knowing these things would heighten the emotion.

    I liked "It was done" and how you put it on its own line.

    This line read awkwardly to me: "Simon didn’t release their connection." I'm guessing you mean the connection between their eyes, but it's a little vague; he could be holding her hands. It also just sounds a little funny. You could say something like "She was still trapped in his gaze." (Though that might be a little cliche, but it's a starting point!)

    And I agree with Kim that the timing of the blocking for the kiss was a little off. Once his lips meets hers, her lips can't then also come in and meet his; they're already together. Try to write it more as it would happen. Show him coming in and then her leaning in and then have their lips meet.

    Consider giving an actual taste that she gets from him and then add something about how there's fear there, too. Because he probably did taste like something, even if it was just "fresh" or "clean." I like how you ended it!

  4. A couple of things:
    1) Watch the telling you're doing here. If she knows that Simon’s father is named Alroy, she wouldn't need to remind herself who he is in her head (you do this twice actually). Same thing with "Her groom". If she thinks of him as Simon, she wouldn't give him a title in her head.
    2) I don't really get this taste of fear. How is this even possible? I love the idea of her realizing that he's as afraid as her, but she needs to see this, not taste it. Also, this would be even stronger if she started the scene thinking he was NOT afraid (but you might do that before this excerpt).


  5. Thanks for all the comments! I agree - No need to mention the father's name or "her groom" since we already know who are they are (I added for this critique to clarify). I need to give the "taste of fear" some consideration, too. I was going a bit purple there. And yes, the kiss blocking will be polished up.

  6. Well, I think Simon is intriguing. I like how the kiss was obligatory, unwanted on both sides and yet maybe surprisingly okay in the end lol. I did kind of get taken aback by her comment on the word "submit", that seemed a little modern-thinking to me, I don't think she would question that. The other thing was the priest, it seems like such a cliche to make the priest character unlikeable, I see it so much. Nasally voice, cold hands, slinking away. It's a bit heavy handed. Again, maybe because I see it so much I think a warm, well meaning priest would be refreshing lol.

    1. Thanks for the feedback! I do have several priests later on in the book (they visit an abbey and those characters have important roles) and they are warm and amiable people. But I can consider changing this priest up, too. The earlier scene shows that he is a bit timid and objects to any forcing (Gwyn is asked to agree to and sign a marriage contract before this scene. He says he will not marry her if she is not in agreement). She is also a bit of a modern-feminist woman; a woman with mystical isle (and Viking) origins. Viking and Ancient women didn't like to be controlled.