Michille: First Lines

Duke of DesireI have blogged about first lines before – best, worst, would you keep reading, etc. One time, it resulted from my daughter (another voracious reader) bringing home a bag of random books and we sat around the dining table after dinner and read the first lines/paragraphs of several of the books. The motivation for this post came from a book I just started, which has a fabulous first line:

Elizabeth Hoyt, Duke of Desire: Considering how extremely dull her life had been up until this point, Iris Daniels, Lady Jordan had discovered a quite colorful way to die.

Love it! (I do have a problem with the cover, though. The cover model is, of course, gorgeous, but the Duke in the story has significant facial scarring. This book is 11th in a series, and although it’s the first I’ve read, I went back through some of the others in the series to see if she just has a way with first lines.

Here are some others:

  • Duke of Pleasure: Hugh Fitzroy, the Duke of Kyle, did not want to die tonight, for three very good reasons.
  • Wicked Intentions: A woman abroad in St. Giles at midnight was either very foolish or very desperate.
  • Thief of Shadows: The body in the road was the absolute cap to the day.
  • Duke of Sin: There are few worse places for a housekeeper of impeccable credentials to be caught than kneeling on her employer’s bed.

I think she’s good, in general, with her firsts.

Here are some other good ones:

  • Mary Jo Putney, Thunder & Roses: Winter mists swirled about as they scaled the wall that enclosed the estate.
  • Tessa Dare, Goddess of the Hunt: A knock on the door in the dead of night could only mean disaster. (And I think this is her first book.)
  • Nora Roberts, Island of Glass: A man who couldn’t die had little to fear.
  • Julie James, It Happened One Wedding: Well-trained in the art of reading the subtle cues of body language, FBI Special Agent Vaughn Roberts was quite certain this date was going down inn flames.
  • Julie James, The Thing About Love: Three minutes after the plane took off from the runway, FBI Special Agent John Shepherd knew he was doomed if he didn’t act immediately.
  • Lorraine Heath, When the Duke Was Wicked:
    • Prologue. On the morning of February 2, 1872, I, Henry Sidney Stanford, the seventh Duke of Lovingdon, Marquess of Ashleigh, and Earl of Wyndmere, died.
    • Chapter 1 was better – The Duke of Lovingdon relished nothing more than being nestled between a woman’s sweet thighs.)
  • Jayne Ann Krentz, Family Man: Technically speaking, Luke Gilchrist was not a bastard.

Which one intrigues you enough to read more? Which ones do you like or hate?

6 thoughts on “Michille: First Lines

    • IMO, yes they do. I’ve now read 2 of the Maiden Lane series and those were dark, Duke of Sin and Duke of Desire. In those, they’re not your typical aristocrats and they’re fighting an outside force while building the romantic relationship, which is the kind of story I like. In Duke of Desire, he rescues her in the first scene and she shoots him because she doesn’t know he’s rescuing her. It’s a great beginning.

  1. It’s really interesting that a lot of your favorites have life and death as the stakes. You can’t go much higher than that! I think there’s something to a gossipy first line — something that promises death, birth, scandal or money troubles. People just naturally want to read more.

    Even that dry obituary start you had serves a lot of purposes: it tells the reader EXACTLY what setting and era the book is going to deliver, and it says a lot about what’s going to come next. Obviously, the struggles of an heir (or heirs); possibly a reluctant one who isn’t suited for the job. A lot of people read through the legal news and obituaries in the local newspaper; people who have the knowledge can tell exactly what’s going on in town and read the subtext behind what’s written on paper. They find it quite entertaining. My mom likes to read how properties in town change hands (especially around her neighborhood, of course). Sure, there’s a practical aspect to reading those dull back pages, but with a little imagination, the black and white type can tell quite a tale of family chaos and social rivalry.

    • Interesting – the Elizabeth Hoyt’s are life and death, but the others aren’t. The Julie James ones start out fluffy. The Lorraine Heath start is that his life has ended because his wife and infant daughter died, so he becomes a different person altogether, which is emphasized in the next first line. It’s a nice parallel. Of course, because it’s romance, he’s redeemed in the end.

      Unfortunately, I’ve been scanning the obituaries lately because there’s been a rash of children of people I know dying of drug overdoses. Four in the last couple of months. Very scary times. And that’s why I read romance. I don’t need to read fiction about death, destruction, collusion and war. I read that in the paper and hear it on NPR. When I’m reading for enjoyment, give me the HEA!

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