You don’t have to be an established book reviewer; you just need to have an opinion! I would like YOU to help me create the perfect suspense romance novel.

The working title is Who Are You? The novel will be a stand alone sequel to Hearts On the Run and will focus around Max, an assistant district attorney who is seduced by his dream woman – who then disappears on him without a trace. When he finally discovers who she is, he’s in for another surprise. It seems someone else is after her as well, and will use any means necessary to get her. Even if that means killing Max to get him out of the way.

Intrigued? There's more: I’ll even publish your name at the end of the book under a section titled, “My Opinion Mattered.” (You may stay anonymous if you would like.) If this sounds like fun, then this is how you can critique the novel every step of the way:

Every couple of days, I will post a small section of the book. After reading it, comment on what you liked, what you didn't like, how the dialogue flowed, character traits, how well edited the section was, and whatever else you can think of while reading. I will then revise the section based on your suggestions. Names published under the "My Opinion Mattered" section will be listed in order of number of comments contributed, so comment often! For those just joining us, please check out the blog archives to start the book from the beginning.

There is also an area to vote on how well you think the novel is progressing. You will be able to change your vote as the novel progresses to best reflect how you feel at any given time along the journey to a completed novel.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Section 1 of Who Are You? by Bonnie Humbarger Lamer

Chapter 1

Max had to park his car a block and a half away because there were already cars lining both sides of the street.  He got out and opened the back door grabbing his sword and hat.  Locking his late model black Mustang with a click, he hurried down the street.  He was late and it looked like things were already in full swing.
            He walked up the cement steps that led to the red brick Victorian and didn’t bother with the bell.  He paused to tug on his mask that covered the top half of his face so only his brown eyes were visible; then put the black hat on over his dark brown hair.  He wore a cape over his black pants and shirt that covered his lean, muscular frame.  He knew he made a great Zorro.  Turning the knob, he let himself in.  A cacophony of voices assaulted his ears as they echoed through the empty foyer, increasing the ache in his temples caused by that afternoon's meeting with The Shrew, the defense attorney from Hell. 
            Max entered the living room off from the foyer and stopped in his tracks.  The two men, one a pirate and one a cowboy, talking amiably over a couple of beers was a sight he had never expected to see.  “Did I just enter a parallel universe?” he asked as he approached the men.  “Because I’ve had to exert a lot of time and energy keeping the two of you away from each other so you didn’t kill each other, and now I find you bonding over a Budweiser?”
            “Heineken, actually,” the pirate said with a wry smile and a shrug.  “And since things all worked out for the best, there’s really nothing to fight about.” 
            “And besides, our wives,” Riley, the cowboy, added nodding to the beautiful brunette cowgirl and the gorgeous red-headed pirate across the room, “have decided to become pals, so we really don’t have a choice but to play nice.”
            Max chuckled.  “Can you say whipped?” he asked with a smug grin.  Glad that two of his good friends had decided to get over the past, he still had to rub it in a little.  Jack, who was throwing this Halloween party, had once been engaged to Riley’s wife, Jane, until Riley convinced her she was in love with him.  It had been ugly at the time.  Since then, Jack had met and fallen in love with his wife Abby, who was in every way a better match for him.
            “I was starting to doubt you were going to make an appearance tonight,” Jack said choosing to ignore Max’s taunting.  “I could have sworn you promised to help with bartending duties.”
            Max grimaced.  “Had to spend some quality time with The Shrew.”
            “You know, you seem to be the only assistant district attorney who has a problem with her, or who calls her that,” Jack admonished, then added with a snicker, “Sure you don’t have the hots for her and she doesn’t return the sentiment?”
            “Hots for The Shrew?  I think you’ve had a little too much beer there, amigo.  You may want to cut back,” Max rebuked with a shake of his head and a laugh.  Him, have the hots for The Shrew?  Granted, she was kind of attractive in a naughty librarian sort of way.  With her modest dress suits, strawberry blonde hair pulled into a tight bun or a French braid, and dark rimmed wire glasses, she fit the stereotype perfectly.  But she was definitely not his type.  He liked his women with a little fire in their souls, not someone who was probably in bed with a good book and her cat by eight o’clock.
            “Well, she’s supposed to be here tonight, so play nice,” Jack said.
            Max groaned.  “I’d better start drinking now, then.  I’m going to find a beer.”
            On his way to the kitchen, he stopped to talk to Jane and Abby.  “How are the two most beautiful women in world tonight?” he asked.
            Jane rolled her eyes but laughed.  “Always the charmer, aren’t you.”
            “Always,” Max grinned.
            “You know, Jane was just telling me about this friend of hers who sounded perfect for you,” Abby started to tell him.
            Right away Max put his hands up in front of him to stop her.  “Uh uh,” he said.  “No matchmaking.  What is it with women always trying to marry off their husbands’ single friends?  Is that in the wife handbook or something?”
            Jane punched him in the arm.  “Yeah, right after the chapter about convincing your husband to stop hanging out with his jackass friends.”
            “Nah, you could never do that, you love me too much,” Max said and he kissed her cheek lightly.  He and Jane had gotten off to a rough start when they first met, but they had become close since then.  Close enough for him to tease her and get away with it.
            Jane laughed.  “Yeah, I do.”
            “You, too,” he said to Abby as he kissed her cheek as well.
            “Alright, no more matchmaking,” Abby conceded.  Then added with a wink and a smile, “You’ll just end up being a lonely old bachelor with nothing left but his memories.”
            “Ah, but what memories they will be,” Max grinned over his shoulder as he started to walk towards the kitchen again.  “They’ll keep me warm at night for decades.”
            Jack and Abby’s Halloween party was at its peak by eleven, and despite the fall chill in the air, it was plenty warm in the house with all the bodies in attendance.  Max had already ditched his Zorro mask and sword.  Down to just the hat and cape over his black pants and shirt, he was a lot more comfortable.  Bending over to pull his third beer of the night from the cooler in the kitchen, a pair of long leather clad legs appeared in his peripheral vision.  He followed the shapely contour of the legs up past the thigh high leather boots to the hem of the almost indecently short, unevenly cut black skirt.  His eyes moved upward to the slender hips and narrow waist.  He stopped momentarily at the yellow bat that spread across her chest that was having trouble being contained by the tight vinyl dress.  A black cape was tied around her neck.
            As his eyes continued upward, he found beautiful full lips stained a dark crimson.  A black mask covered a straight and petite nose and bright blue eyes the color of a spring sky.  Her outfit was completed by wavy hair that was jet black, probably a wig he noted.  Before him stood the most beautiful Bat Girl he had ever seen.
            “If you’re done with your visual appraisal of my assets, I could really use a beer,” she said in a sexy husky voice.
            Reining in his libido as much as possible with such a sexy woman in front of him, Max said, “Of course, what can I get for you?”
            “I’ll have anything that will warm me up,” she purred as she looked pointedly at her nipples that were making themselves known through the vinyl of her dress.
            God, this woman was going to send him over the edge just talking to her, Max thought, as blood rushed to a certain part of his body.  Good thing he was wearing all black so it wasn’t too obvious.  Handing her a beer, he said, “I can think of plenty of ways to keep you warm.  A beer wouldn’t be my first choice.”
            Her crimson lips curled up as she looked over him, her eyes lingering on the area he had hoped to hide.  “Seems you do have other ideas.”
            “It’s not often I meet a woman as beautiful as you,” he said refusing to be embarrassed by his attraction to her.
            To his surprise, she casually closed the distance between them and ran her free hand from his chest to his abdomen.  “What do you do when you meet a beautiful woman like me?” she asked.
            His breath caught in his throat when she slid her hand lower.  When he found his voice again, he rasped, “Make love to her, if possible.”
            “Oh, I think that’s possible,” she purred as her hand worked its way back up his body.  She was driving him crazy.  “I’m not really in the party mood.  At least not one with so many people.  Care to leave with me?”
            My God, was she serious?  Placing his hands on her waist, he pulled her towards him until their hips touched.  There could be no doubt in her mind now about how excited he was.  “Anytime you’re ready,” Max said in a low growl and then claimed her lips with his. 
            The kiss was erotic as hell.  Her tongue stroked and caressed his in a way that instantly had him imagining how good she would be at other things.  He groaned and let his hands roam over her hips and thighs.  She wore nothing over her legs except those long spike heeled boots.  He imagined her naked with just those boots on and he almost lost it.
            Tearing his mouth from hers, he gasped, “Your place or mine?”
            She laughed throatily.  “Aren’t you the clich√© one?”
            “Sorry, not much oxygen flowing to my brain right now,” he explained breathlessly as her hands started to roam over him again.
            “Yours,” she said.  “I’ll meet you there.”
            Max raised his eyebrows as a new thought entered his mind.  Was this just a gag?  Were his friends playing a Halloween prank on him because he was the only single one left?  “And I should believe that because?”
            “I guess you’ll just have to trust me,” Bat Girl said as she rubbed her palm against the front of his pants making him almost painfully hard.  “I always follow through with whatever I start.”
            What the hell, Max thought.  If this was a gag, it was a damn good one.  But if it wasn’t, he wasn’t going to throw away the opportunity to strip that costume off from her.  He gave her his address and she smiled sexily and again said she would meet him there.  She had her hand on the knob to the back door when another thought hit him. 
            “I don’t even know your name,” he said.
            She turned with a Cheshire cat like smile and said, “Bat Girl, of course.”  And then she was gone.
            Max knew he couldn’t just leave.  He’d never hear the end of it.  He went back out to the party and found Jack as quickly as he could.  “I’m going to go,” he said embarrassingly aware that he was still aroused.  He seriously doubted Jack would notice, though.  Thank god he hadn’t run into Abby first.
            Jack’s brows furrowed.  “It’s not even midnight yet.”
            “Well, after meeting Bat Girl, I suddenly have more pressing plans,” Max explained.  “Who is she, by the way?”
            “I have no idea who you’re talking about.  How many beers have you had?” Jack asked seeming genuinely confused.
            So, Jack didn’t know her identity either.  Had she come with a date and decided Max might be a better time?  Hell, he didn’t care.  Max shrugged.  “Not enough to imagine a woman as sexy as her.  I’ll see you Monday.”  Max left Jack scowling after him and grabbed his hat from the top of the TV where he left it.  He managed to leave the party without having to stop and talk to anyone else.
            It took about ten minutes to get from Jack’s house to his.  Max drove as fast as he dared hoping like hell she would already be at his house by the time he arrived.  If this was some kind of cruel joke, he’d kill his friends.
            Finally pulling into his driveway, Max was relieved at the sight of the tall dark haired woman leaning casually against his porch railing.  With one of her shapely boot clad legs bent up to rest her heel against the porch slats, he had an even better view of her thighs and the hint of what else her skirt was hiding.  He became instantly hard again.  At this rate, he’d be lucky to last five minutes with her.
            “I wasn’t sure you’d actually show,” he said as he climbed the wooden stairs to the porch of his tan two-story A frame.
            Her lips curled into a smile again.  “I told you, I always finish what I start.”
            “Then I’m a very lucky man,” he said as he unlocked the front door and held his hand out to her. 
            She pushed herself away from the railing and grasped his hand with hers.  Max swore he felt tingles all the way down his spine when their skin touched.  Oh, this was definitely going to be a good night, he thought, as he led her into the house.
            Max turned on the living room light and looked around.  Thank God Friday was the day the cleaning lady came, he thought.  Everything was clean and orderly.  Even the black leather couch and two recliners in front of his sixty inch plasma gleamed.
            “Would you like something to drink?” he asked her.
            She cocked her head to the side with a knowing smile on her face.  “Do you really want to spend time on pleasantries?”
            “No,” Max said and pulled her into his arms.  Kissing her was fantastic.  He had never felt anything like it and he had kissed his fair share of women.  Something about her just felt so right.  Maybe it was the fact that he had no idea who she was.  Thinking about that, he touched her mask trying to figure out how it came off.
            Instantly, she pulled back.  “No,” she whispered.  “The mask stays.”
            A smile curved her lips sexily.  “No names, the mask stays on and we have a perfect night of sex with no strings attached. The mystery adds to the excitement, don’t you think?”
            God, could he get any harder?  “I think that sounds sexy as hell.”  He pulled her back into his arms and she came willingly.  He kissed her greedily as his hands roamed over her body.  When his hands found the zipper to her dress, she moaned softly as he slowly brought it down.  She stilled her wandering hands long enough for him to push the bell capped shoulder straps down her arms.  The vinyl fell softly over her hips and past the leather boots to the floor.
            She was absolutely stunning.  Her creamy alabaster skin glowed against the severity of the black lacy bra and thong panties she wore.  Or barely wore.  Neither did a good job of covering her assets as she had called them.  His hand found her breast and her nipple pebbled instantly.  A rumble formed deep in his throat.  “If we don’t move this to the bedroom, I’m going to take you right here, right now.”
            She laughed throatily.  “Aren’t you the eager one?”
            “Yes, I am,” he said claiming her lips again.
            When he finally let her back up for air, she breathed, “I guess we should move then.  Lead the way.”


  1. What?? Why did you end there!!!! It was getting so good!! Okay, but here's what I have to say so far...

    1. When "the shrew" is first mentioned, it just says that they work together, not really how though. Is she the boss, the associate, what? I think that might need a little more info, unless you want to keep the relationship more in the dark.
    2. Maybe describe some what Max actually looks like. I haven't read any other books, so I don't know what he looks like, so you could add some more description of him in the first paragraph when he puts his hat on and goes into the party.
    3. I think you say that it's Jack and Abby's halloween party a little later than you should because I was like, woah, it's their party? So maybe say that it's their house earlier on
    4. When Max says "thank goodness Friday is the day the cleaning lady came" when he takes bat girl to his apartment, I think he would probably say "Thank God" because it's more his personality than "goodness" in my opinion! (sorry, it's a little nit-picky detail...)

    That's what I have for you! I hope that helped! I really really like it! It's so steamy, well that's what I think, and I really got into reading it that it was over way too soon! Can't wait for more!

  2. Jessica, great ideas - I love it! I'm going to go ahead and make those changes. Thank you for the feedback and keep the ideas coming. I'll also post the next part of the chapter so you can get to the really steamy part... ;-)

  3. I've made the recommended changes that I have received so far on part 1 and have reposted it. I love the feedback I have been getting!

  4. I just read chapter one and like where you're going. Really sexy. However, here are a few observations.

    Do a check for "was" and "were" (passive)and replace with more active, descriptive verbs. Also, shorten long sentences.
    Example #1:
    The foyer and hallway WERE empty but a cacophony of voices WAS coming [came] from the main rooms increasing the ache that had already started in his temples from his meeting with one of the defense attorneys, or the shrew as he liked to call her, this afternoon.
    Maybe: A cacophony of voices echoed through the empty foyer, increasing the ache in his temples caused by that afternoon's meeting with The Shrew, his least favorite defense attorney.
    Example #2: Her skin WAS a creamy alabaster that almost glowed against the black lacy bra....
    Maybe: Her alabaster skin almost glowed against the black lacy bra ....
    Also, try to avoid adverbs ending in LY. They're awkward to read. Read your sentences out loud and you'll see what I mean.
    Instead of "he said admonishingly" maybe just: he admonished.
    Instead of "Max rebuked good naturedly" maybe show is good nature through an action tag:
    Max said, his rebuke softened with a grin.

    I hope this is the kind of feedback you want and that it doesn't hurt your feelings in any way. I like what you've written.

  5. Nice feedback, Sandy, thank you! I like that you're getting down to the nitty-gritty of the editing details. I'll go back through and look more carefully at verb tense and also work on shortening up some sentences.

  6. Whew. I'm glad you're okay with my comments. I sure didn't want to offend you! It's hard to see our tendencies in our own writing, so you're doing the right thing by having other people take a look. Besides, in the end, it's your book and you can always decide you like what you've written better than what someone else suggested!

  7. I'm not at all offended. I love it! I'll choose honesty over an attempt to spare my feelings any day. Besides, I'm pretty thick skinned when it comes to constructive criticism. My feelings aren't easily hurt.

    This is turning out to be one of my greatest writing experiences. I haven't done this with any of my other books. It's fun interacting with readers during the writing process, and I'm getting really good ideas.

    I've found I like hearing the criticism now as opposed to reading it in a review down the road - after the book is published. I can fix it now! It's also a good feeling that readers want to invest their valuable time and energy into this. I don't think there's a greater compliment as an author than knowing people are interested in what you write!

  8. Hi Bonnie,

    I just read Chapter 1 and it looks good. I love reading this following "Hearts on the Run" It will be nice to learn Max's story.

  9. Maybe you should elaborate more the sentences.They seem a little too short...I feel like i'm reading statements instead of frazes.

    (Hope i didn't offend you, and if i did...Sorry!)

  10. Sorry , but as i read the second time the beggining ....i think it's too much of "he" .

  11. Nope, not offended at all. Keep the critiquing coming! I'll go back and take a look at it. I may have gone a bit overboard shortening my sentences after an earlier critique that they were too long. There's a happy medium in there somewhere. :-)