Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Novel I Never Wrote

In 2008 I decided to take a flyer and write a manuscript to sub to a publisher who shall be nameless. Although I was already writing erotic romance, this one was going to be “spicy” as they say, and under another name. I had want I thought was a great plot, a hero and a heroine the reader would love, and a romance readers could connect with.
Alas! It was not to be.
It seemed that me hero was unlikable, my heroine too irritating, and the plot unbelievable. Well, shoot, was that all? So I stuck it in my Works In Progress folder and it has sat there for the past six years. One of these days I’ll pull it out, dust it off and turn it into a steamy love story. In the meantime, here’s a little sample for you.
Tell me what you think.
It’s called Marry Me.

Chapter One
The first time Lee Sullivan saw Dallas McCord was at the picnic his company hosted every year.
Of course she’d seen him before, in newspaper and magazine shots. On television. At parties for five hundred intimate friends. Usually with some excessively gorgeous female hanging on his arm. Seldom the same one twice. All of them wearing exactly the same express: look who I’m with tonight.
But today was the first time she’d been close enough to actually look at him in the flesh. And she had to admit, it was awesome flesh. He was standing under an ancient oak tree, hands in his pockets, chatting with a small group of people. Even in a relaxed, loose limbed pose, everything about him said command.
A thin sport shirt loose over khaki shorts barely disguised the leashed power of the tall, well-muscled, heavily tanned body. Thick brown hair shot with streaks of gold was cut in short layers. Long, tanned legs looked as if they could run the marathon without halting.
I’m in charge, his body language said. While he was definitely a man comfortable in his own skin, he looked like nothing less than a jungle predator waiting to pounce on its prey. Confident. Self-assured. 
He’d have to be, she thought, to own a company that bore only his name, nothing else to even identify the kind of business it was.
She’d read in Texas Monthly that he got his start working as a journeyman carpenter in construction, swinging a hammer and wielding a saw. He was a long way from that now, heading his own international land development firm. But every bit of what he had was built from that raw start. And he’d done it with sweat and savvy.
She watched the female guests, married as well as single, sneaking sidelong glances at him, sexual avarice plain on their faces. Any one of them would give it all up for him if he just crooked a finger. There were plenty of men at this picnic who thought they were top of the heap. But Dallas McCord was the real thing. No doubt about it.
Lee allowed herself a tiny smile as the man moved on to another group, different people, wearing his charm like a cloak.
The annual company event was always held on the grounds of McCord, Inc, which sat on five prime acres just north of the San Antonio city limits. It boasted a jogging track, a baseball diamond and a park, among other things. Five years running they’d won the top award as best company of the year for employee treatment.
Lee had never attended before, although her father always received an invitation and urged her to join him and her brother. But she hated functions where she was little more than Hap Sullivan’s ‘little girl” or Jim Sullivan’s ‘baby sister.” Today she’d given into to the cajoling of Clay Porter, a lawyer whose firm sometimes did business with McCord Inc. The Porters were seventh generation Texans and very wealthy, a fact her father pointed out to her at every opportunity. She wished he’d keep his nose out of her business. The only condition under which she’d agreed to come today was if they arrived long after she knew the Sullivan clan would have left.
When Clay got involved in an intense discussion with one of his clients, Lee wandered off past the fringes of the crowd, looking to give herself a little breathing room. Fetching a bottle of water from one of the bars set up at the perimeter, she carried it to a nearby picnic table.
Uncapping the bottle and taking a swallow, she wondered how soon they could politely leave. She attended enough events this size as part of her job and didn’t like any of them. Being on the mayor’s public relations staff sounded a lot more glamorous than it was.
As she lifted the bottle to her lips again she sensed a presence behind her.
“I must be doing something wrong. You can’t be enjoying yourself too much if you’re hiding over here under a tree.”
The voice was like warm syrup, covering her with a thick heat, and an unexpected shiver skittered over her spine. She looked up into eyes so dark they were almost black, framed by the kind of thick lashes women would kill for. Tiny lines bracketed his mouth and eyes in a face that the word rugged barely did justice to.
“On the contrary, I’m doing just fine.” She pulled out her political voice, friendly but cool. This was not a man you gave an opening to. She controlled the urge to check the clips holding her hair away from her face and smooth down her tailored blouse thin cotton slacks. It wouldn’t do to let this man think she had a personal interest in his opinion of her. She held out her hand. “Lee Sullivan.”
“I don’t think the mayor’s spin doctor needs an introduction.” Tiny lines crinkled at his eyes as his mouth curved in that high octane smile and his large hand enfolded her smaller one. “Dallas McCord.”
“And I think it would be hard not to know who you are, Mr. McCord. Someone as well known in the city as you are. The state, for that matter.”
One eyebrow lifted. “The cost of doing business. What’s Lee short for?”
“Lee.” She swallowed a smile. “What’s Dallas short for?”
He laughed. “Point to you.”
“I didn’t know we were keeping score.” She looked up at him, into those dark eyes. “I should think you’d have guests a lot more important than me to spend your time with.”
“You know, the funny thing is, they all seem to be doing just fine without me.” He held out a hand to her. “Take a little walk with me. I need some distance from the mob.”
Lee looked around to see if Clay was anywhere nearby.
“You’re date is in earnest discussion with a senior partner in his firm,” he told her. “I’d have picked someone a little more forceful for you than Clay Porter.”
Forceful. Well, that was an interesting word. Lee substituted control. Her grandfather. Her father. Her brother. All telling her they knew what was best for her. Making every decision. Reaching out to the unfurling edges of her life. Taking the job in the mayor’s office instead of joining the family business had been the ultimate slap in the face to them and they hadn’t spoken since then. Her heart pinched slightly at the thought but she quickly pushed the pain away.
“Clay is a very interesting person to be with,” she told him. “We enjoy each other’s company.”
“You sound like you’re describing an evening with my mother.”
She hadn’t even realized that he’d pulled her up from the bench and linked her fingers with his. That they were walking casually away from the scene of activity. That he was leading and she was following without even realizing it.
Another control nut.
No, this man wasn’t about control. He’d invented it. If her brain was working even halfway, she’d remove her hand from his grip, smile politely and find Clay as quickly as she could. But just the light contact of his hand against her sent shivers skittering along her spine and jacked up every pulse in her body. Oh, this was so not good.


  1. Desiree:
    Sometimes things improve with age. I'd pull this down from the shelf and look at it again.

    1. Thanks, Spencer. I might just do that.

  2. I have to say, I don't see anything wrong with this at all. I don't think Lee's at all irritating. She seems to have a backbone.

    Of course, if you tell me the plot involves alien abductions and a plot to kill the president, I might demur... but so far I like it.

    1. No aliens. LOL! And I'm thinking I'll take another hard look at this.

  3. Maybe the heroine seemed too strong and confident for the publisher's taste? I just hope she stayed that way!

    1. Yes, that was the plan. And you hit it right on the head. NO STRONG WOMEN! I think I'll see what I can do with it.

  4. Desiree, this hero and heroine look like an updated version of Mr. Darcy (apparently cool, condescending, upper-class hero - but capable of falling deeply in love) and Lizzie Bennet (young woman with backbone, though without "prospects," who resents snobs) in Jane Austen's classic Pride and Prejudice. And that novel is still being read after 200 years! If some publishers don't recognize a relationship pattern that still works, they probably don't read enough. :(

  5. These two have sparks going right from the gate. And Jean is right to bring up Darcy and Lizzie—I read the comment first, and the parallel as I read the sample was very strong.