Brace yourself for a long post today–but since it’s got a bit of a book in it, I hope you’ll indulge me.
To celebrate the forthcoming release of NOT QUITE A LADY–we’re having an excerpt contest. But first, the usual authorial yammering.
As I’ve explained previously, my leisure reading time is extremely limited. Not a lot of time for experimentation, alas. When I go book shopping, I usually know ahead of time exactly what author or book I’m looking for. When I’m debating about trying out a new author, I do what a librarian friend, years ago, told me she did: She opens the book near the middle. Her thinking was, the beginning has probably been polished more than any other part of the book, to hook the reader. But to find out if that level is maintained, open to the middle–for many authors, the hardest part of the book to write.
I opened NOT QUITE A LADY to the middle, and found a scene between the heroine, Lady Charlotte Hayward and the hero, Darius Carsington:
“You are out of sorts, I see,” he said. “Perhaps it is the menses.”
She shot him one of her I-must-kill-you-now looks.
A promising sign.
“Many women become weakened during the menses because of the loss of blood,” he said. “That would account for your lightheadedness. The imbalance this loss of blood causes to the bodily system no doubt explains the irritability that is so often a symptom as well.”
She gazed at him for a long moment. “Have you any idea,” she said, “how aggravating you are?”
She was definitely recovering her spirits.
A weight lifted from his. “I should like to know how I could fail to have an idea of it,” he said, “since everyone in my family tells me, repeatedly. My grandmother in particular. She says that of all the aggravating men in the family–and that includes Rupert, she always takes care to remind me–I am the most aggravating. That, according to her, is my most remarkable achievement.”
I lucked out on finding an excerpt I could post here. I might have hit a place that gave too much of the story away-a SPOILER. Or one that needed an introduction, in order to make sense.
For those of us who peek in the middle or those who peek at the beginning and those–I know you’re out there–who peek at the end, these glimpses can determine whether or not we want to take a book home with us.
For an author, choosing the right excerpt can be a challenge, especially if the author’s trying to decide, as I am, on excerpts from earlier books, to tempt and tantalize visitors to my website.
It could be fun as well as challenging. But I don’t have time to re-read my books, looking for the perfect excerpt! I’m busy trying to write THE NEXT BOOK.
So I’m asking your help.
Pick one of my books–or two or three, if you’ve the time and energy–and choose what you think is the perfect excerpt for me to post on my website.
If it’s a few lines, like the above, go ahead and quote the whole thing. If you think a longer excerpt works, that’s fine, but remember that our Comments column is narrow, and people will be scrolling down and scrolling down… So it’s OK to describe the scene instead of quoting it, or to give us a few lines and a little summary. And a summary alone is all right, too. But you will need to name the book and tell me what page to turn to, and recommend where to start and where to stop.
If I agree that your selection should go up on the BOOKLIST page of my website, you’ll get a free, autographed Loretta Chase book of your choice. If several people choose the same excerpt, I’ll do the usual and let our blogmistress Sherrie pick the names out of a hat. You’ve got until 11PM PDT on Tuesday 24 April–the day NOT QUITE A LADY goes on sale–to offer your suggestion(s). Sherrie will announce the winners on the following weekend.
And now, for your further consideration, here’s another excerpt from NOT QUITE A LADY:
Mr. Carsington’s amber eyes slanted toward her father, who had turned away to say something to Lizzie.
The gaze shifted back to Charlotte. This time she saw in his unusual eyes the same teasing expression he’d worn when he quizzed her about her hat.
“But I believe we’ve met before,” he said in a rumbling undertone. Though he stood a proper distance away, the words felt like a secret breathed in her ear. Her skin prickled.
“I think not,” she said, flashing him a warning look.
He lifted his eyebrows.
She lifted hers.
She thought, Utter one word of what happened and I’ll wrap my hands around your throat and choke you dead.
She knew no one could read minds. He must have read something, though, because the quizzical expression disappeared and he blinked.
She watched his mouth curve slowly into a smile. “Have we not?”
Under that lazy smile, something inside her seemed to unfurl, like flower petals opening under the sun.
But that’s what rake’s smiles did, she reminded herself: They made women soft and malleable.
“No,” she said. She glanced at her parents. The rector and his wife had claimed their attention.
“Perhaps you have a twin sister,” said Mr. Carsington. He made a show of looking about the drawing room.
“No, I do not,” she said.
“How strange,” he said.
“It is not at all strange not to have a twin,” she said. “It is more common not to have one.”
“I could have sworn that we met, only a few hours ago, by a pond at Beechwood,” he said, still in the We-Have-a-Secret undertone. “You were wearing–or rather, not wearing–a wonderfully frivolous hat.”
He had teased her with the hat as a little boy might do, and for a moment she had wanted to play.
Experience came to her rescue. The mischief in his eyes was no more boyish than it was innocent. What she saw in those changeable amber eyes was a rake’s guile.
“A lady and a gentleman may not know each other unless they have been properly introduced,” she said coolly. “If they do not know each other, they cannot have met. Since we were properly introduced only a moment ago, we cannot have met previously.”
“What a madly contorted logic that is,” he said.
“It is a rule of behavior,” she said. “It needn’t be logical. There may even be a rule that rules of behavior must be illogical.”
His eyes lit. At first she thought what she saw there was amusement, and she cursed herself, because she did not wish to entertain him. But then his gaze drifted from her face to her neck and downward, lingering upon her bosom before it swept down to the toes of her silk slippers. It came up again so swiftly that she hadn’t time to get her breathing back to normal. She could hide that, but not the rest of her reaction.
Her face was hot. Everywhere was hot. Meanwhile her tattletale skin was announcing the fact, she knew, spreading a blush over her neck and the extensive area of shoulders and bosom her gown revealed.
He was enjoying her agitation.
Anger crackled inside her.
Once, only once, she would like to do something, instead of silently enduring a man’s insolent examination.
But a lady must pretend not to notice when a man disrobed her with his eyes.
It was not fair.
When a man took offense at something, he was allowed to react. He was expected to react.
If she were a man, she could push him into a piece of furniture or black his eye.
But she wasn’t a man and she could not summon another man to do the job for her. Creating a scene would be disastrous as well as ridiculous. She was not a child. She was a woman of seven and twenty, a nobleman’s daughter with eight Seasons behind her. She was expected to possess complete self control. She was expected to handle difficult or unpleasant situations with poise and courtesy.
She must not get even or punish him.
She must ignore it…and he knew she must, the beast.
She simmered helplessly for a time.
nbsp; But Lady Charlotte Hayward was nothing if not resourceful. Even while she was fuming, her mind was working. She had dealt with scores of men. She could deal with this one, too.
And for those who are not in the mood/don’t have the books or the time to hunt for excerpts, here’s the quiz:
Do you like excerpts or do they annoy you? Would you rather have the whole thing than be tantalized by tidbits? Where do you stand on excerpts?