December 2019’s Page Turner

Page Turners

Page Turners

by Val Tobin

Agents and editors will often decide whether a book is for them by reading the first page of a manuscript. Many readers also decide to buy a book based on that critical first-page sample. Each month I post the first page of a book and you can vote on whether or not you’d read the book based on the sample.

After you vote, I’ll let you know the title of the book, my reaction to the sample, and why I’d keep reading or why I’d put it down. The goal is to have fun while we explore the beginnings of a variety of books and what compels readers to keep reading.

While I won’t divulge the title or author until you’ve read the piece, I will include the genre and any preliminary items (for example, quotes) you’d see when opening the book on your own.

NOTE: Set aside your preference for or against any specific genre and just focus on the writing. Does it compel you to turn the page and find out what comes next?

Today’s Excerpt

Genre: Romantic Suspense


Clayton and Thibault

Deputy Keith Clayton hadn’t heard them approach, and up close, he didn’t like the looks of them any more than he had the first time he’d seen them. The dog was part of it. He wasn’t fond of German shepherds, and this one, though he was standing quietly, reminded him of Panther, the police dog that rode with Deputy Kenny Moore and was quick to bite suspects in the crotch at the slightest command. Most of the time he regarded Moore as an idiot, but he was still just about the closest thing to a friend that Clayton had in the department, and he had to admit that Moore had a way of telling those crotch-biting stories that made Clayton double over in laughter. And Moore would definitely have appreciated the little skinny-dipping party Clayton had just broken up, when he’d spied a couple of coeds sunning down by the creek in all their morning glory. He hadn’t been there for more than a few minutes …

Would you turn the page? Vote now.

December 2019: Would You Turn the Page?

Today’s Book Revealed

Today’s book is The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks.

Blurb from Amazon

The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks

The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks

A U.S. Marine’s brush with death leads him to the love of his life in this New York Times bestseller of destiny, luck, and the redemptive power of romance.

After U.S. Marine Logan Thibault finds a photograph of a smiling young woman buried in the dirt during his tour of duty in Iraq, he experiences a sudden streak of luck — winning poker games and even surviving deadly combat. Only his best friend, Victor, seems to have an explanation for his good fortune: the photograph — his lucky charm.

Back home in Colorado, Thibault can’t seem to get the woman in the photograph out of his mind and he sets out on a journey across the country to find her. But Thibault is caught off guard by the strong attraction he feels for the woman he encounters in North Carolina – Elizabeth, a divorced mother — and he keeps the story of the photo, and his luck, a secret. As he and Elizabeth embark upon a passionate love affair, his secret soon threatens to tear them apart — destroying not only their love, but also their lives.

Filled with tender romance and terrific suspense, The Lucky One is an unforgettable story about the surprising paths our lives often take and the power of fate to guide us to true and everlasting love.

Would I Turn the Page?


It hooks me because Sparks raises enough questions in a short time to make me want to turn the page and see what happens: Clayton is a deputy, but he doesn’t sound like he’ll be the hero of the story. What’s the relevance of this setup? How will Sparks introduce the hero? What about the dog he mentions? What happened there? Who approached that Clayton hadn’t heard (the dog was one, who was the other–the story’s hero, perhaps)?

Sparks not only raises a lot of interesting questions but he also develops the deputy’s character through his thought processes. We learn he’s not a popular guy, he doesn’t like German shepherds, and he was ogling coeds. The creep factor is strong in this character. It’s obvious we’ll see more of Clayton, and the chapter heading alludes that Thibault will be the hero, and he and Clayton will clash.

All this compels me to at least read the first few pages to find out what Sparks was setting up in this scene, though I wasn’t crazy about the writing style.

I didn’t dislike it, but I didn’t find it captivating. As I continued reading past the first half of the story, I liked the book less and less. It had plenty of suspense and romance, which is what you want in a romantic suspense, but some of the friction between the hero and heroine felt contrived. If this had been the first Nicholas Sparks book I’d ever read, I wouldn’t go out of my way to read another one.

I’ve read a couple of his other books, though, and they made passable cottage/vacation reads.

What do you think?

Does this passage from The Lucky One intrigue you? Does it make you want to turn the page and continue reading? Will you run out now and buy the book? Borrow it?

Val Tobin writes speculative fiction and searches the world over for the perfect butter tart. Her home is in Newmarket, Ontario, where she enjoys writing, reading, and talking about writing and reading.

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Charlene D Jones
3 years ago

I’m a hard sell on romantic suspense in all cases, but this one, male protagonist, describing his substitute relationships just makes me feel tired!

Karen Taylor
Karen Taylor
3 years ago

Even the title makes my skin crawl. I’m afraid this would bypass the trash and go straight into the septic tank.

Douglas Owen
3 years ago

The intro of the main character didn’t grab me. Could be just the way the words were picked, which is important, or the lack of setting. I always try to build the scene in my mind right away.