Although aimed at Harlequin Intrigue, we’re not quite sure it has the right tone. But Marie Laval did create a vivid opening!
‘I’m Pelveden. I believe you’re waiting for me.’
Startled by the deep male voice behind her, Rosalie spun round to face a dark blue coat open onto a blue pin stripe suit, crisp white shirt and immaculate knot of a dark blue silk tie.
She took a step back, tilted her chin up and met a pair of serious grey eyes.
‘Welcome to Scotland, Monsieur Pelveden. I’m Rosalie Heart, from Love Taxis.’
She pointed to the bright pink, heart-shaped board on which she’d written his name in black felt tip.
‘I was expecting McBride.’ His cold voice that only bore the faintest trace of a French accent.
‘I’m sorry, Geoff’s been … ahem… unavoidably detained at Black Thorn Manor,’ she stammered again.
Lying never came easy, especially when she was being scrutinised by a dark-haired giant of a man with eyes as cool and uninviting as the stormy Inverness sky outside.
She forced a smile. ‘It’ such a shame the weather forecast is for a snow blizzard. You may not be able to go hiking or riding this coming week. I hope you brought warm clothing.’
He didn’t answer, and she babbled on. ‘You must be tired after your journey. Let’s go to the car. Would you like me to carry your bags?’
‘No, of course not,’ He frowned, as if shocked by her suggestion.
She led the way across the small terminal, pushing her way through a crowd of holiday makers who, judging by their bright, flimsy summer clothes, had just returned from sunnier climates. There were in for a nasty shock. The sliding doors opened onto gusts of icy wind and rain.
Rosalie gestured towards the car park.
‘This way, please. I was lucky to find a space nearby for the cab.’
‘Is this McBride’s idea of a joke?’ Marc Pelveden’s anger was so palpable it sent prickles down her back.
He gestured towards her bright pink hackney cab with the name Love Taxis printed in large black and fuchsia letters on the side doors, then to her matching pink anorak.
‘If you’re planning to take your clothes off and squirt shaving foam all over me, I urge you to reconsider right now. I am really not in the mood.’
Although his voice was quiet, there was a steely edge to it which made his French accent more pronounced.
She laughed. ‘Why would I want to take my clothes off in this weather?’
And what did he mean by squirting shaving foam all over him? That’s what strip-o-grams did.
‘Surely, you don’t think I am a….’
Faced with the icy expression in his eyes she realised he hadn’t meant it as a jest. Her cheeks burning, she pulled the zip of her pink anorak right up to her chin and gave him her frostiest stare.
‘Listen, Mr Pelveden, I’m your taxi driver, that’s all. Now I suggest you put your bags in the back and hop in before we both get soaked.’
First Page Feedback from Allison Lyons
We get the impression this hero is a pretty serious, stuffy guy, and it’s obvious this pink cab is not the way he prefers to chauffeured around! So I liked his shocked reaction when he saw the car. That said, this isn’t where the story should start. As it stands, the opening isn’t engaging enough for me to want to keep reading. Not much happens other than that he arrives at the airport and gets picked up. We should be thrust right into the action, the stakes clear from page one. As written, I’m not getting any sense of what the danger is or how this hero is going to protect her. Whatever action follows this pick-up should be your starting point. Later he can think how ridiculous the taxi is but, for now, his main focus should be whoever’s shooting at them/crashing into them/targeting them, etc. Or, he could even think about the ridiculous taxi while he’s taking down the bad guys, like how crazy it is that he’s defending this beautiful stranger while driving around in the pink taxi. This would show us he’s both a strong, heroic character and a man who sees the absurdity (and seriousness) of the situation. Intrigue stories need to start off strong, hooking the reader from page one. I’d go back and reconsider how the story opens and just what tone you’re trying to convey to the reader.
Thanks, Marie, for an interesting opening. It could go in a lot of different directions!