First person is unusual in our series titles, but has worked. However, it doesn’t let the reader get insight into the other characters in the same way. Here’s K. Evers’s Romantic Suspense story…
Will this night ever end?
I continue to fight the overwhelming urge to toss and turn, and deliberately attempt to regulate my breathing. Stay calm.
Fisting the blanket, I hold it tight against my chest and listen to the relentless pound of rain against the bedroom window. Sunrise is still another hour away.
I am about to take a step that will irrevocably change the course of my life.
I am strong enough to go through with this?
I can’t be certain, but I have to take the chance.
Doubt, razor sharp, claws at my insides, as once again, I analyse the plan in minute detail, checking for holes. There will be no limit to his anger once he discovers I have left. My chest compresses with the weight of a wrecking ball, and prickles of fear pierce my skin like tiny acupuncture needles. I fail to supress a full body tremor and he makes a low disgruntled noise in the back of his throat.
I can’t risk waking him.
Carefully, I disentangle myself from the heavy limbs that cover me. My bare feet sink into the heated carpet as I walk silently around the room. I gather my clothes and personal items, and head downstairs to the second bathroom.
A flick of the switch floods the room with bright light, and I grip the vanity tightly as I wait for my face to slowly come into focus. The reflection is of a dishevelled woman, wide-eyed and pale. Her pupils are dilated and there is a slight tremble in her lower lip.
Anxiety floods my body like a tidal wave intent on murder and I look away.
I was hoping the reflection would show someone brave and fearless. Determined. Or at the very least, composed and hopeful. I want, no need to be able to put my trust and confidence in her. Believe in her strength and courage to go through with this.
But the face in the mirror also reflects a split lip, a blackened eye and a cheek marred with an angry purple bruise. Both the reason I am leaving and a sample of what will happen if I am caught.
If I am caught…
It’s not too late to change my mind.
The abuse has escalated. It is not usual for him to leave marks that are visible – not when he knows so many other ways to do it. My confidence falters and I look away.
The water from faucet floods my cupped palms, rising up over my fingers before spilling down into the basin. The water is cool, refreshing, and I watch it for long moments, willing it to soothe and calm my racing pulse. I draw air deep into my lungs, then do it again.
Today is the day.
Months of preparation and planning have led to this moment.
I will not turn back now.
I glance back to the woman in the mirror. There’s a cool determination in her green eyes now.
First Page Feedback from Tahra Seplowin
Romantic Suspense submissions written in third person and past tense will have a stronger edge at Harlequin, so I’d suggest switching to that. The opening was a bit slow. Without much to anchor me as a reader, the submission didn’t kick off until “I can’t risk waking him” as it’s a clear, concise stake that I understand right off the bat. The info presented earlier – that she’s in bed waiting for the darkness to end – can be easily conveyed a few paragraphs later in one line before she heads to the bathroom. While the looking-in-the-mirror approach to her appearance is clichéd, it works here because what we see is different from what we expect. The switch to the confident woman in the last line is a strong hook. It’s a change in character that moves the story along, ups the tension, and develops the character. The heroine has shown us what’s at stake, what her goals are, and that she has just overcome the internal blocks. We’re not told, we’re shown, and it’s conveyed in a cooler, concise, more confident tone. She’s ready to set that plan in action and escape.
With some revisions it could have a great deal of potential.