February 2019’s Page Turner

Page Turners

Page Turners

by Val Tobin

Happy Valentine’s Day and Family Day month! May your February be filled with love and books. Romance novels make great Valentine’s Day gifts. Just sayin’.

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’ll post the first page of a book and you’ll 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: I lied to you when I said last month that the next two would be literary fiction and a romance novel would come sometime after that. It wasn’t an intentional lie — I meant what I said. Then I remembered that February is Valentine’s month, so I had to use a romance novel. So, with all my love, we get romance this month.

Today’s Excerpt

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Beauty is its own excuse for being. — Emerson


The damp, snapping wind iced the bones through to the marrow. Snow from a storm earlier in the week was piled in irregular hills along the side of the road. The sky was bitter blue. Stern trees with black empty branches rose out of winter-browned grass and shook their limbs like fists against the cold.

That was March in Maine.

Miranda pumped the heater up to full, programmed her CD player to Puccini’s La Boheme and drove with the music soaring.

She was coming home. After a ten-day lecture tour, bumping from hotel to college campus to airport and back to hotel, Miranda was more than ready for home.

Her relief might have had something to do with the fact that she hated giving lectures, suffered miserably every time she had to face those rows of eager faces. But shyness and stage fright weren’t allowed to interfere with duty.

She was Dr. Miranda Jones, a Jones of Jones Point. And she was never permitted to forget it.

The city had been founded by the first Charles Jones to make his mark in the New World. The Jonses, Miranda …

Would you turn the page? Vote now.

February's Poll: Would you turn the page?

Today’s Book Revealed

Today’s book is Homeport by Nora Roberts.

Blurb from Amazon

Homeport by Nora Roberts

Homeport by Nora Roberts

An art expert and a thief get caught in a dangerous game in this novel of daring deception and desire from #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts.

After an assault at her family home in Maine, Dr. Miranda Jones is determined to put the experience behind her. Distraction comes when she is summoned to Italy—to verify the authenticity of a Renaissance bronze of a Medici courtesan known as The Dark Lady.

But instead of cementing Miranda’s reputation as the leading expert in the field, the job nearly destroys it when her professional judgment is called into question. Emotionally estranged from her mother, with a brother immersed in his own troubles, Miranda has no one to turn to…except Ryan Boldari, a seductive art thief whose own agenda forces them into a reluctant alliance.

Now it becomes clear that the incident in Maine was not a simple mugging — and that The Dark Lady may possess as many secrets as its beautiful namesake once did. For Miranda, forced to rely on herself — and a partner who offers her both unnerving suspicion and intoxicating passion—the only way home is filled with deception, treachery, and a danger that threatens them all.

Would I Turn the Page?

No, not if that one page is all I had to go on. It’s interesting enough at first but then leads into what feels like will be an info dump about Miranda’s family history. Not only doesn’t the first page suck me into the story but I also don’t like the cover. If I had no idea who Nora Roberts was and hadn’t read any of her other books, I’d never have looked twice at this book.

What did pull me in was the blurb and the author’s cachet. I no longer bother to examine the cover, read the blurb, or look inside the book. If Nora Roberts wrote it, I’ll read it. I trust her story-telling abilities and I’ve rarely been disappointed. A couple of times, I’ve found a plot that is too incredible to buy into, but even those are fun to read. The only Nora book I’d warn you against is Blue Smoke. That mystery (a case of murder using arson to cover it up) could’ve — and should’ve — been solved instantly. It always sucks when so-called genius characters miss the obvious.

As a romance, Homeport was a pleasure to read. It’s one that I wouldn’t mind reading again sometime, perhaps when on vacation or curled up in front of a fire with a glass of wine. It’s certainly a great choice for Valentine’s Day reading.

What do you think?

Does this passage from The Chemist 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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Kim McDougall
4 years ago

Clearly, I’ll read anything… : )

Carol Newhouse
Carol Newhouse
4 years ago

I enjoyed the opening and would continue to read.

Nanci Pattenden
Nanci Pattenden
4 years ago

I’d flip the page, but it doesn’t sound like a terribly engrossing book based on that little bit.

Douglas Owen
4 years ago

I really wanted to like this one, but from what the first page has the work needs a content edit. The use of WAS in the first page threw me once again, not that the word is bad, just most writers use it as a crutch. And for a novel it needs to grab you more at the start.

The first paragraph stood out well, but then the writer falls into the abyss.

Sorry, maybe the next one will be better.

Loni Cameron
4 years ago

I enjoyed the first paragraph, though I didn’t think the first page had the smoothest “flow”. However, I have a thing for Maine as a setting, so I would turn the page.

Janice Clements
Janice Clements
4 years ago

I would turn the page because I like to give a book more than the first page to hook me. While the first few paragraphs were engaging enough and the writing, particularly in the first paragraph was lovely, I thought it could use some additional editing to tighten it up (I too believe overuse of ‘was’ can drag a story down).

I love stories set in Maine, so I connected with that aspect of the page. Perhaps too formal of an introduction to the character for my taste. I prefer a slower reveal. This one reads to me as, “Here’s my character, here’s what she does, here’s her angst.”

That said, having now seen the book cover, I think I may have walked right by it in the store. Moreover, I am not typically a reader of Nora Roberts, so I can’t say I would have picked this up.

An interesting exercise though… like an episode of “The Voice” without the music.

Paul Telegdi
4 years ago

The name Nora Roberts, has sufficient weight by itself so of course I would turn the page.
However, looking only at the writing sample, I would probably close the book. Ideally I like to meet the main character first, have some feel for her and find out all else later in small dribbles, not so front loaded.