Introducing Characters by Misty Evans + Giveaways

Congratulaions Na, Pam and Florence! You ladies won copies of the three RS books featured in this post. Please contact misty@readmistyevans.com for your prizes!

Murder, mayhem and romance…today, I’ve invited two of my favorite Romantic Suspense authors – JB Lynn and Adrienne Giordano – to compare and contrast opening scenes with me. (I was a lit geek in college, so I’m excited to flex those muscles again!) At the very end, you’ll find blurbs for each book and links where you can find out more about the author.

The First Victim by JB Lynn

The First Victim by JB Lynn

First up is the introduction of the kickass heroine from JB Lynn’s THE FIRST VICTIM:

“Does your palm itch?”

Engrossed in paperwork, it took Emily Wright a moment to realize that her assistant, Ruth, was talking to her. She looked up at the older woman as Ruth placed a cup of coffee beside Emily’s telephone. It was only then she realized that she’d been rubbing her left thumb across her right hand.

“Does your palm itch?” 

Emily nodded. “Thanks for the coffee.”

Ruth beamed. “That’s good news. It means you’re going to come into money.” Her unspoken message was that it boded well for the presentation Marisol, Emily’s business partner, was probably making at this very moment. All nine of the advertising firm’s employees were eagerly waiting to hear whether they’d landed their biggest client ever.

“Do you really believe in those old superstitions, Ruth?”

“They can’t hurt. Can I get you anything else?”

“No. This is great. Thanks.” Watching her newest employee, a woman old enough to be her mother, leave her office, Emily secretly hoped she was right.

She looked down at her palm. The scar that stretched across it had faded over time and was now nothing more than a thin raised line. No doubt there were a hundred doctors in Manhattan who could remove the physical reminder of what she’d suffered, but to her the scar tissue was a talisman of sorts, proof that hope could triumph over evil.

She’d learned an invaluable lesson the day she’d earned this scar. She’d learned that she was capable of more than she’d ever imagined, that help came from the most unexpected places and to never give up.

Those lessons had served her well, which was how she found herself a co-owner of a Manhattan ad agency, waiting to hear whether they’d landed their first national account.

Feeling the distant rumblings of a tension headache, she rubbed at her temples, and then made a grab for her coffee cup. She needed caffeine!

Her cell phone buzzed. Hoping that it was Marisol calling with good news, she snatched it out of her purse. An icy tingle of fear ran down her spine when she recognized the area code. Home.

It rang three more times before she took a deep breath and answered.

***

Risking Trust by Adrienne Giordano

Risking Trust by Adrienne Giordano

Next, we’re introduced to the hunky hero in RISKING TRUST by Adrienne Giordano:

“Mr. Taylor, do you want to make a statement?”

Michael remained still, his hands resting on his thighs, his shoulders back. He’d been in this Chicago P.D. interrogation room for the better part of an hour and hadn’t said a word.

“Mr. Taylor,” Detective Hollandsworth repeated, “your wife was murdered last night and you have nothing to say?”

Oh, he had a lot to say, the first being he didn’t kill his wife, but if he’d learned anything running one of the nation’s most elite private security companies, it was to keep his trap shut. “Not until my lawyer gets here.”

An alien sensation settled on him. Shock? Disbelief? Maybe even sadness because a woman he had loved, a woman who had once been vibrant and fun and sexy, a woman who had grown into a greedy, unhappy wife was dead. Jesus. He may have wanted to end the nightmare of a marriage, but murder? No way.

In his worst bout of rage he wouldn’t have done that to her. Sure they were finalizing a brutal—and costly—divorce, but money he had and if giving up some of it meant getting her out of his life, he’d do it. Simple arithmetic.

Right now, the only thing Michael knew was that these two detectives banged on his door at 8:00 a.m. to haul his ass in for questioning.

He flicked a glance to the two-way mirror behind Hollandsworth’s head. The room’s barren white walls and faded, sickening stench of fear-laced sweat made Michael’s fingers twitch. He’d keep his hands hidden from view. No sense letting his nerves show.

***

Soul Survivor by Misty Evans

Soul Survivor by Misty Evans

And now for my example, meet the tortured hero of my paranormal romantic suspense, SOUL SURVIVOR:

Hundreds of Virgin Marys stared at Rife St. Cloud from every surface inside the old church, their serene eyes in direct contrast to the bloody bodies of the six dead women at his feet.

Staring at a grisly multiple homicide and running on less than four hours of sleep, Rife slid his car keys into the worn pocket of his jeans and wondered what he was doing back in Wolf River. What he was doing on the West Coast in general.This is what I get for taking a vacation.

Vacation or not, his mind automatically registered the stats of the six women as crime scene techs buzzed around them. All Native American with matching tribal tattoos depicting a quarter moon over waves above their left breast. All early to late twenties. Stab wounds and an assortment of symbols carved into the skins of five of the bodies who were staged to circle a sixth.

A ritualistic killer. Rife eyed the various wounds and estimated the depth and number of marks on each woman. Or just a disorganized one trying to cover his tracks?

A heaviness knocked him in the chest. During the past five years as a profiler for the FBI, he’d seen a lot of brutality, but he never got used to the sight of murder victims, especially women and children.

***

Okay, so let’s talk about similarities between these three scenes. First, we’re introduced to a main character (Emily, Michael and Rife) and their jobs (ad executive, security expert, FBI agent). Second, the authors ground us with setting (an advertising firm, an interrogation room, an old church). Third, we get a peek into the main characters’ present conflicts (waiting for a big deal to come through, being accused of murder, a serial killer on the loose) as well as a symbol of the past wound that plays a role in their emotional/psychological growth during the story (the scar on Emily’s hand – a literal symbol, btw, the brutal and costly divorce Michael is in the middle of, the vacation Rife doesn’t want to be taking). These symbols should raise questions in the reader’s mind and draw them into the story, looking for answers.

All three openings have a great deal of tension. Right off the bat, we see or sense conflict and know that while each of the characters has achieved a certain level of success in their life, there is still something holding them back. Something big. Something that could ultimately break them. 

Aside from the unique writers’ voices of each author, there are clear differences in technique as well. JB’s character Emily is in a comfortable setting and engaged in conversation with her motherly assistant, but JB builds tension and suspense with words like ‘superstitions’, ‘evil’, ‘icy tingle of fear’. The itchy scar warns us that Em’s past is coming back to haunt her even before the phone rings. We know Emily has faced and overcome something horrific and we want to know what happened and how she got that scar. This scene is very psychological, from the significance of the scar to the ringing phone.

Adrienne’s character Michael is in the exact opposite setting. He’s had police show up at his door at 8 in the morning. He’s been hauled into the police station and is sitting in cold, sterile interrogation room. He’s being accused of murdering his wife, and although his instincts cry out in defense, he’s keeping his mouth shut. Direct confrontation. Hard dialogue. Internal turmoil, not only about being accused of murder but he’s upset his wife is dead. We want to know who did kill his wife and why. This scene is very emotional – sadness, shock, grief, nerves. 

My character Rife is somewhere in between. The scene of the mass murder is grisly, and although he doesn’t like it, he’s in his element dealing with homicide. He’s on vacation and out of his jurisdiction, but that doesn’t stop him from logging details and starting a mental profile of the killer. The tension is all internal. He doesn’t want to be on vacation, doesn’t want to be back in Wolf River and the sight of murder victims hits him hard even though he’s a seasoned profiler. Now we want to know why he hates being on vacation as much as we wonder who killed the women in the church. This scene is very mental, right down to his internal dialogue.

Readers, what other similarities or differences can you pick out between these three openings? When you read romantic suspense, what grabs you? The characters? The plotline? The opening scene? Three commenters will receive a free copy of either THE FIRST VICTIM, RISKING TRUST or SOUL SURVIVOR.

Thank you to JB and Adrienne for joining me today on Magical Musings. Here’s more information about each of their books!

THE FIRST VICTIM by JB Lynn (http://www.jblynn.com)

She was like all the other victims. Naked, flawed, helpless… 

Fifteen years ago, Emily Wright barely escaped from a serial killer dubbed the Baby Doll Strangler. She wants nothing to do with the small town where she was abducted, but when her father is hospitalized she reluctantly returns home to care for her teenage sister. 

When her sister’s friend is killed and left in front of Emily’s house, Emily begins to relive the nightmare she endured long ago. Soon she realizes that her sister, too, is in danger from the killer—and the only person who can help is the man Emily left behind: Deputy Bailey O’Neil. Together, Emily and Bailey must discover the killer’s identity before he claims his next victim…

RISKING TRUST by Adrienne Giordano (http://adriennegiordano.com)

Roxann Thorgesson’s world is out of control. After her father suffers a fatal heart attack, she must take over as publisher of Chicago’s second-largest newspaper. Then her ex-boyfriend Michael Taylor, CEO of his own security company, shows up needing a favor. The last thing Roxann needs is Michael around causing trouble—and potential heartbreak—but he’s involved in a scandalous story she can’t pass up. 

Twelve years ago, Michael walked out on Roxann without explanation. Now he needs her help. Michael’s estranged wife has been murdered and he is the prime suspect. He offers something no newspaperwoman could refuse: exclusive access to his headline-making murder accusation, in exchange for her help in uncovering the true killer. When their investigation leads them to a city hall conspiracy, both their lives and their newly reignited flame could be permanently extinguished…

About Misty Evans

USA Today Bestselling Author Misty Evans writes the award-winning Super Agent series, as well as urban fantasy and paranormal romance. She likes her coffee black, her conspiracy theories juicy, and her wicked characters dressed in couture. When her muse lets her on the internet to play, she’s on Facebook and Twitter.
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29 Responses to Introducing Characters by Misty Evans + Giveaways

  1. JB Lynn says:

    Fun post, Misty!

    I love that the lives of all three characters are about to be thrown into a new adventure. I’m not a fan of books where we know what the character’s favorite lunch was when they were in second grade before you get to the conflict that will drive the story.

    • Misty Evans says:

      I like to jump into some action, too, JB. Some genres give me way too much back story and narrative before the *real* story begins for me. If nothing happens besides breakfast and lunch in the first chapter, I put the book down and move onto a different one!

  2. Edie Ramer says:

    Wow, what great excerpts! And what JB said about the scenes (something I didn’t think of myself, lol).

    For me, in RS or any book, it’s almost always the character that grabs me. Apologies to anyone whose book starts with a villain’s POV, but for me, the best beginning is one with a character that I could care about. Of course, I want the situation she/he’s in to be intriguing, too. I guess that means I want it all!

  3. Good morning, Misty! This was such a fun post and you did a wonderful job drawing all the comparisons.

    I agree with JB. As a reader, I love being thrown right into the adventure. It always makes me ask questions and keeps me turning pages.
    Adrienne Giordano`s last blog was …Hello world!

  4. Wonderful post and three wonderful beginnings! The hardest part of the book.
    Toni Anderson`s last blog was …Creepy Gingerbread House.

  5. Liz says:

    Thank you for the interesting post and giveaway.

    Character attracts me, and, unrealistic as it may be, I prefer the flaws not to reach criminal proportions or to be hurtful to others. So, falsely accused is okay, but I’d be disappointed if the hero did the murder.

  6. Pamk says:

    love my romantic suspense to be where I have trouble figuring out the bad guy. Like to be kept guessing and if you can do that you’ve hooked me cause it is hard to do.
    scrtsbpal at yahoo dot com

    • Hi Pam. I love when I can’t figure out who the bad guy is and then, when I find out, realize the clues were right there all along. It’s an awesome writer who can pull that off with die-hard mystery/suspense readers. It’s always so much fun when it happens.

    • JB Lynn says:

      I was just having a conversation this wknd with someone who read The First Victim and she said that was exactly what she liked most about it. I think as an author you can try to fool some of the readers, but it’s impossible to trick them all.

  7. Pamk says:

    love my romantic suspense to be where I have trouble figuring out the bad guy. Like to be kept guessing and if you can do that you\’ve hooked me cause it is hard to do.
    scrtsbpal at yahoo dot com

  8. Na S. says:

    What is like best about the romantic suspense genre is that it’s really engaging. Often times I can see right into the mind of the protagonist and with every turn of events, I’m an active participant. The storyline is what will hook me and a strong opening scene does help.

    I did notice how the protagonists were introduced right away in the opening scenes and I had an idea about their present situations. It was subtle but I caught on quickly with their thoughts and surroundings.

  9. Liz Kreger says:

    Wow. Three very distinctive voices. Loved the samples and while I’m not big on suspense novels, all three sounded fascinating.

    Thanx for the comparisons.

  10. Dale says:

    Hi,

    Love the excerpts! I’m all about plot and character. I have to love the character but the plot has to move! I’m a big RS fan myself but write in multiple genres for variety.

  11. This is so unfair, dear writers. Now I want to read all three of these books. I love mystery and romantic suspense is the best combo since Subway added the giant cookie! While I see many similarities, I am pleased that each voice has a distinct sound, they are (as is my love) character driven, yet the strong plot line fits each of them like a hand in a glove.

    I noted that two of them begin with a line of dialogue that is not from the main character … good way to get the MC’s thoughts and actions moving quickly without the need for them to “speak” immediately. The third of him looking at the horrific crime scene gives the reader insights into the MC’s personality and in less than two paragraph drops me into the arch of the plot.

    Only in the third is the MC not a “victim” past or present. The first is a woman haunted by a past horror, the second a man who is accused of killing his wife (which we know immediately he did not do) and the third … the man who might be the key to solving the murders.

    Now, I will have no other choice but to read each of them to find out what happens. I am reading a book for my montly club, began Dale’s first book this morning, and have a TBR pile that must … yes it must … include these. Mystery is so great, isn’t it? Great to read and to write. Thanks to all three: JB, Adrienne and Misty :)
    florence fois`s last blog was …“Tis The Season …

    • Misty Evans says:

      Florence, you’re all kinds of awesome. Thank you for stopping by and adding your contrast/comparison to our discussion. Fingers crossed you win at least one of our books!

  12. Misty, Adrienne and JB, what terrific, tension-filled story openings all of you had — wow! Thanks so much for sharing all of these. For me, it’s always the character that draws me in, although I hope he/she will be doing something interesting plot-wise ;).
    Marilyn Brant`s last blog was …Join Me for a Virtual Grand Tour of Europe!

  13. Thanks to all three of you for a fantastic comparison! I love an intriguing, different plot, which is why I’m such a Dean Koontz fan, and I love a character I can root for. If there isn’t a likeable character in the book, I stop reading it :) .

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