Never Would I Ever
Brenda Davis Contemporary Romance
If Charlene was superstitious, she’d blame the cashmere gloves with texting fingertips for landing her in Eugene’s office. Smooth as creamed butter, they slid over her chapped hands, enticing her to stop, to linger and to touch them. They belonged to someone brave, someone who didn’t dread moving out of the family bungalow—a world traveler maybe.
My mother had cashmere gloves. No texting tips because it was THAT long ago, but cashmere is cashmere. 🙂 Brought back a sensory memory.
You have a lot of those in your opening, which is good. Your word choice is sensory too–entice, linger, bungalow…
It’s just that you totally lost me for the first few paragraphs. At first I thought she’d been caught shoplifting or suspected of same. But then she’s in Eugene’s office (who’s Eugene? my brain asks…) and we hear about Blissdale AND…because of the focus on the cashmere gloves… I say, Oh, a sound-alike for Bloomingdales.
But it’s not. Now here comes Health Vantage and I’m thinking, okay, Human Resources? Corporate health care provider? And I’m still thinking that all through the security photos, even that she’s a store clerk and caught shoplifting, until:
“Blissdale may have enjoyed your shenanigans; however, Health Vantage needs their Certified Nursing Assistants to be on task from punch in to punch out.” She cast a sharp glare at Eugene that signaled his job was on the line, too.
And I had a WTF moment and a light-blub went off, and I had to go back to Line One and start over again.
And you don’t want that to happen with a reader. Now, granted, readers will have already glommed onto the back cover blurb (or Amazon blurb) and might know she’s a nursing assistant. But when I did three-page cold reads with my agent at various RWA chapter conferences, we went straight to page one, no blurb, no proposed back cover copy. So that’s how I structure it: cold.
You have a lovely writing style. But you lost me.
This is a fabulously crafted sentence:
The pink under his freckles blanched to spoiled hamburger grey. Awkwardly, he came around the desk to plunk a banker’s box onto Charlene’s trembling knees. “We took the liberty of cleaning out your locker.”
But since you lost me at the beginning, my brain doesn’t have a chance to get invested in the MC and her issues, so we lose some of the impact. I have no idea what Eugene’s corporate title/position is. And I need to. I need–the reader needs–to make some logical sense of the story world. Not info dump (I doubt you’d do that because your writing is very tight.) But logical associations.
I can’t even SEE Eugene until a later mention, and then only of his jowls.
We have a mention of a brother. We later see her in the car with Ned. We have no clue who Ned is until a few bits later. It’s good to create curiosity in a reader. But not confusion.
On the plus side, I get a real feel for Charlene’s mousy, timid personality that also has a strong sensory element. A lovely combo. I can sense she’s going to blossom and I’m rooting for her.
And, as I’m sure you know, fanatical hand-washing today would get her a commendation and maybe even promoted. 🙂 Funny how the fiction we craft sometimes bumps against real life events…
So here’s my take: Brenda, you have a fabulous way with words. But you have to work on the more mundane mechanics and structure, especially in an opening where EVERYTHING is new to the reader.
//Interstellar Adventure Infused with Romance//