First Page Feedback – A Man’s Business

Here’s another First Page Feedback. Gina Rochelle (@GRochelle1025) has sent in a Special Edition story, titled A Man’s Business. Read and comment!


As the limousine turned onto SR 82, toward Aspen and the glitzy Paisley Hotel, Lexi Scott was understandably anxious. The stormy panorama outside the car window mirrored her emotions. She wouldn’t be surprised if her mother had stood her up at the airport on purpose. Certainly, that was the only plausible reason for Bridget Scott‘s no-show to their long overdue reunion. At least, Lexi hoped that was the case. After all, their relationship had been all but severed years ago, when Lexi fled to New York. She’d almost convinced herself that her lucrative modeling career had kept her away so long, monopolizing all of her time. That is, until she heard his name again.

Jameson Mann. Lexi’s reason for leaving.

Jameson Mann sent the limousine in lieu of her mother‘s absence. The driver offered no other explanation and, judging by the brief, mostly one-sided conversation Lexi had with him, the driver was obviously sworn to silence. Typical. Lexi’s head began to throb as the minutes and miles ticked past at an agonizing snail’s pace. Jameson Mann, owner of the Paisley Hotel. Owner of the Highland Casino.

Owner of his ruthless heart.

A bolt of lightning illuminated the majestic horizon. In the flash of light, Lexi could see they were nearing her destination. Her anxiety grew and she said a silent prayer as the glamorous hotel she’d called home for twenty of her thirty years came into view. It was certainly impressive, and still beautiful…just as she remembered. But it was surprising to Lexi how, even now, the towering sight of her family’s heritage could take her breath. She was older, even hardened now…yet, suddenly she felt like a young, uncertain girl again as they pulled into the elegant driveway.

The driver opened Lexi’s door and escorted her to the entrance, placing her bags in the opulent foyer of the Paisley. “Would you like me to carry your things to your mother’s suite, Miss Scott?” He stopped in front of the grand staircase and waited for her.

“Yes, please,” she answered, her eyes feasting on the plush surroundings. It was as if time had stood still, she thought. It looked like nothing had changed. But it had. The Paisley was no longer controlled by the Scott family. Lexi’s father had turned the majority of his shares over to his young business partner just days before he passed away. And her mother now owned only a ten percent share. But where was Bridget Scott? Lexi’s attention was drawn to the muffled sounds of music and laughter coming from behind the carved mahogany doors leading to the elegant ballroom just beyond them.

“There’s a charity function being held tonight, miss,” the driver said. “Wouldn’t you like to change first?” Lexi stifled the urge to tell the driver to mind his own business, and enter the ballroom right now, in her jeans and satin blouse. She wanted to find her mother, but she didn’t want to make a scene upon her arrival.

 Feedback from Mary-Theresa Hussey

I admit this opening hits a few of my concerns. It’s a “travel” opening with the heroine in a form of transportation reflecting on how she got there. While it can be done well, it’s not as compelling or immediate as it could be. It allows the author to convey info, but as info, not really as part of the story. That said, a lot of good details are in there! But maybe too much? We get her career, her age, the life status of her parents, location of w here she lives and where she is and hotel description in a few paragraphs. That might be a lot for a reader to take in with just the opening.

There were some good emotional points–the heroine nervous about meeting her mother, coming back to her family heritage, hints of the conflict with the hero. These elements help the reader identify with the heroine. We understand her being torn between just getting to her mother and not making a scene and can root for her.

Actually, the tone of the writing felt a bit more Desire/Presents than Special Edition, but that could be changed as the story develops.

Though there are appealing elements, I think overall I’m not as captured by this story as I’d like and I’d suggest starting in a different place. Perhaps when she sees her mother? Enters the ball in jeans and blouse? Something that has a touch more drama, since the story seems to be building to it. And weave the details in a little at time rather than all at once.

Hopefully this is helpful!




25 replies on “First Page Feedback – A Man’s Business”

Mary-Theresa ~ you’ve given me a lot to think about. Will definitely take your feedback and rework this opening. It’s funny you mentioned it sounding like a Desire – I’ve been leaning toward this being a Desire, as well, although I do love Special Edition and most of my stories are targeted for that line. Thanks for the feedback, it was very helpful! 🙂


Great! It’s not a hard and fast rule, but over the years you do get a sense of the series and tone and direction of the writer’s style from the opening situation.

As I said this could certainly go in a Special Edition way–and with a synopsis or back cover copy and such the reader will generally have expectations as she goes into the story, so an unusual start is acceptable!

That can be used by the author to make the story stand out–but you also don’t want to confuse the reader and pull them out of their reader fantasy as well!

Good luck!

Thanks for this, Mary-Theresa. 😀 I was hoping to go in a SE way with this story, but it seems my hero has other ideas… But it’s not finished yet, so we shall see 😉

I like it. It set the mood for a Dynasty-like drama. I like your writing style. On a small, minor note (and I am so guilty too)is to watch out for the excessive adjectives. For examples: majestic horizon, glitzy hotel. In an emotional way, I like what’s not being said on this first page. Keep up the hard work.

I understand Mary-Theresa’s travel comment. I’ve heard that before. But the one about too much info–that gets me because when I write my first page, I agonized over what to put in. I worry if it’s boring or too simple. I’m always trying to push in more info so that if one thread doesn’t interest you then maybe this other one would. Kind of like fishing. What detail is the one that’s going to capture the editor’s attention. (sorry, this comment box is not the best place to explain what I’m trying to say…I’ll drop it)

Stay strong, Gina. Thank you for sharing.

Thanks for the comments, Anne 😀 I like Mary-Theresa’s suggestion of using Lexi’s arrival as the opening. I understand what you’re saying about knowing ‘how much’ info to give. And I tend to be long-winded sometimes with my descriptions. It’s just so tempting to paint those pictures! 🙂 I really appreciate your support! 🙂

All the glamour and limousines sure sounds more Desire than Special Edition. I struggle with glamour,not having any of my own ;-]. Do agree that maybe it might be better to start with her actual arrival at the hotel. A lot of the info you give in the limo could be drip fed while she looks around at the hotel eg the family connection and ownership and then seeking out her mother and presumably the confrontation, or anticipated confrontation with Jameson. Nice to see some of your trademark lovely description showing through.

Thanks for the comments and suggestions, Fi! With Jameson (and the glamorous locales) it’s looking more and more like a Desire everyday. 😉

I really enjoy your writing style, Gina. And I read Mary-Theresa’s comments with personal interest since I struggle with how much or how little information to put into my openings. It’s like a balancing act between overwhelming them and confusing them.

Thanks, Carol! I’m glad the feedback helped you, as well ~ it makes me feel a little better about putting my work out there to be critiqued. 🙂

Nicely done, Gina. I didn’t mind the first paragraph. The details were done well and I didn’t feel overloaded with info. You could always gradually work those details in with the story, but it didn’t turn me off the way it is. I like the slow buildup, the subtle hints that things aren’t quite what they seem. It feels like there’s something just about to happen without it being too dramatic. Love it!

First of all, your writing is smooth and I’m not sure I’ll ever have your talent for words that flow.

I too felt as if that was a lot to consume in a first paragraph. With so many books on the market unfortunately sometimes you have to start off with a bang, grab a reader by the heart (or throat) and drag them in.

I’m a big fan of yours Gina and I know you will be in print someday soon. Luvs ya.

Aww~ thanks for the sweet words, Elle (Kelly)~ I’m a big fan of yours, too 😀 You know your writing is great ~ you definitely have a gift for grabbing the reader’s attention, and I appreciate your comments on that. Thanks so much for the support <3

I’m learning so much from these first page critiques. Thank you!

This opening would not make me put the book down. I would buy it. I do see exactly what Mary-Theresa was though. Starting at that moment of change or the OH Crap! incident is easier with some stories with others I write. I have to feel my way until I get it. Finding the right place to grab the reader’s throat can be a challenge and one I struggle with, too.
Beautiful job, Gina! You know I’m a fan of your work and am looking forward to my autographed copies of your books! I think I’ll have your books in my hand very soon!


Well said Tambra.
Gina, as I was reading through your opening and the critiques, I was thinking I would keep reading your story, I wanted to know what happened next..did she go and get changed?
So that does sound like a good place to start. You do have a nice flow to your writing and yes watch those excessive adjectives, I am so guilty of that as well, trying hard to rectify it.
I love this, learning so much from reading, forming your own opinion and then reading the critiques.
Thanks for sharing and keep writing,

Thanks, Brenda! 🙂 I really appreciate you and everyone who took the time to read my page and comment. You all are great ~ I’ve gotten a lot of good suggestions today! 😀

Gina, it’s so nice to see a larger piece of this work. I love your setting and description. You give me reasons to start off not liking Jameson, and wonder what the backstory is and what will happen.

Melinda ~ As you know, I’ve got a lot of work left to do on this one, but I think you’ll fall in love with Jameson right away… 😉 I appreciate your comments! 😀

I’m enjoying reading people’s *brave* entries, and gleaning an enormous amount from the feedback… thanks Mary-Theresa H, and for everyone else with their thoughts and suggestions! I look forward to mine *bites fingernails*

This m/s is in the rough first draft stages, but I’m happy I subbed my first page and got a glimpse into what the editors are looking for to catch their attention. I plan to incorporate Mary-Theresa’s suggestions to hopefully do just that. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

Love how the feel of glamour and luxury comes over from the start. I want to know why she walked away from Jameson and cut the ties to home.

Gina, I’ve always loved the snippets from this one and it was nice to get a chance to read more than a few sentences at a time. Looking forward to being able to compare the original to the changes when you post your flashes!

Gina, great job! I love seeing all of this feedback, because it will be so helpful for the rest of us, too. Thank you for letting us read your first page. 🙂

Jean, CA, and Kristen ~
Thanks for reading and commenting. 😀 I can’t wait to see how this story turns out myself (I’m only on Chapter Four and,although I have a plot and outline, you know how the characters can take you off the beaten track ;)). So glad the feedback for AMB was helpful to others, besides me. 🙂

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