Last Friday, I started to read a romantic suspense book by a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author, and on the third page, two different brands of designer shoes were mentioned.

Eyes to the soul R1.3The first mention was irritating. The second mention had me closing the book. I don’t care about designer shoes, and characters who wear them aren’t interesting to me. If the beginning had been more compelling then I might have read on, but it was a later book in a series (I think the 8th), and in these first few pages the characters were talking about people from previous books. It’s a popular series, but I haven’t read the previous books. I’d picked it up at the library, knowing it wasn’t the first but willing to give it a try. But even if I had read the other books in the series, that uninteresting beginning would very likely have made me set the book down.

I recently critiqued Eyes to the Soul by Dale Mayer, book #7 of her Psychic Visions series, which is on pre-order right now. The blind heroine is in danger on the first page, and that’s how to hook me into a book.

Here are the first five paragraphs from Black Widow, the 12th Elemental Assassins book by Jennifer Estep:

It was torture.

Black-WidowWatching your mortal enemy get everything she’d ever wanted was torture, pure and simple.

Madeline Magda Monroe stood off to one side of a wooden podium, her hands clasped in front of her strong, slender body and a serious, thoughtful expression on her beautiful face. Next to her, a city official sporting a brown plaid jacket and a gray handlebar mustache droned on and on and on about all the good things that her mother, Mab Monroe, had done for Ashland.

Please. The only good thing Mab had ever done in her entire life was die. Something that I’d been all too happy to help her with.

Then again, that’s what assassins did, and I was the Spider, one of the best.

Every sentence is fascinating, and the writing compels the reader to keep turning the pages. This is how a book should start, no matter if it’s the first or twentieth book in a series.

Last week, I read two books from Kristan Higgins’ Blue Heron series without first checking to see what order they came in. After I started the first book, I didn’t even consider putting it down to see if the other one had been published first. As it turned out, the second was was published earlier, but it didn’t matter. I was enjoying the book too much to switch.

That’s what I want in a book. And if the author needs to mention the brand of the shoes the heroine wears, well, if you’ve hooked me by this time, then I won’t put the book down.

What are your pet peeves that make you stop reading a book?

This entry was posted in Edie's Posts and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Beginnings

  1. Mary Hughes says:

    Hi Edie,

    Great question! I picked up a book recently where the first three pages were backstory, but what made me close the book was how self-satisfied and superior the heroine was. Too many brand names tossed in as name dropping rather than atmosphere will do it to me too 🙂

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Mary, an unlikable character is a huge turn-off for me, too. The only heroine I didn’t like in a book that I read all the way through was Scarlett in Gone With the Wind. I think that her amazing strength of character made her a great character despite her selfishness. And the great writing and wonderful plot helped, too.

  2. Thanks for the shout-out! I appreciate it. 😎

    I don’t mind brand names, pop culture references, etc., as long as they are not excessive. Everything in moderation, right? One thing that turns me off is when the characters are extremely unlikable and have no positive/redeeming qualities at all.

    It’s funny you mention the Blue Heron series. I’ve got one of those books in my TBR pile.
    Jennifer Estep`s last blog was …Guest blog: Rebecca Zanetti …

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Jennifer, I was going to email to ask permission to use your paragraphs, and I kept forgetting. I’m glad you didn’t mind!

      I’m really enjoying the Blue Heron series – and not just because there’s a dog in every book. lol

  3. Dale Mayer says:

    Hi Edie!

    Thanks for the shout out – you’re a sweetheart! I’m glad I hooked you right at the beginning – I do like fast thrilling plots. lol. And I’m the same way. I’m struggling through a couple of new to me authors and finding the same problem!

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Dale, your books are definitely thrilling! And even though other characters from previous books in the series are mentioned, I can still read them as if they were stand alones.

      If a book isn’t a mystery or an RS, I don’t expect a thrilling beginning – but it still has to be interesting.

  4. Too much backstory. That’s an immediate no-no for me. I’ll give it a page or two, but if it continues, sorry, I move on. Unlikeable main characters are another. If I’m reading the heroine or hero, they had better have some redeeming qualities, or it’s over for me, too. I’m actually quite picky these days, and I abandon way more books than I finish 🙁

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Michelle, I abandon more than I finish, too. I used to read everything, but I don’t have time anymore. There are too many other things vying for my attention.

Comments are closed.