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25 October 2010

Best Hook, Contemporary--Excerpts and summary

On October 18th, COTT launched it's first Clash featuring Susanne Lakin's Someone To Blame and  Shannon Vannater's White Doves, with Susanne's excerpt taking the crown for Best Hook, Contemporary.  And our first two drawing winners were Katie Johnson and Beth Farley. 
Reader Quote of the Week: "Both are well written excerpts! I'd love to read both books. I can see that I'm going to be hitting Amazon a LOT because of COTT"

EXCERPT A--Susanne Lakin's Someone to Blame

Irene once heard that if you fell off a cliff in your dream, you would always wake before smacking the ground.
If only real life were that merciful.
She pulled her damp cheek away from the warm glass of the truck window and gazed at the Trinity River meandering hundreds of feet below, gloomy green water snaking through a precipitous canyon. Narrow curves hugged the steep sides of cliff with only a short retaining wall of stacked rocks separating them from disaster—many of the stones chipped, some ominously missing from the ledge.
Irene imagined the fear a driver would feel straining to discern the gray road on a foggy night. Stunned as the stone wall came up too fast, too close, jerking the steering wheel, hearing the chilling screech of tires spinning out on loose gravel. And she could almost taste the desperate panic contained in the freefall, the driver trapped in the confines of the car as the vehicle plunged to the rocks and icy water below.
Maybe that word came closest to defining this indefinable sensation of pain. No other words quite fit, and Irene desperately needed one that would. For months she had tested adjectives, placing them alongside the events that punctured their lives, yearning for a match.
Raw. Horrific. Suffocating. Tragic. Debilitating.
Impotent, feeble words.
After you fell for a while, you’d reach a constant speed—terminal velocity. Irene remembered reading that a skydiver in freefall leveled out at two hundred miles per hour. Had the person who invented that term realized the implied double meaning? How a fall at that great a speed could only be terminal?
Haunting images flooded her mind. Desperate people leaping from skyscraper windows in a futile attempt to escape a fire. A plane exploding at high altitude, spilling people out of their seats thousands of feet above the polar ice caps.
Yet, those tragic victims suffered only a merciful few seconds of horror before death.
When you lose a child, you tumble in freefall continually, without acquittal. The ground rushes up at you, your mind frantic and disbelieving. Impending doom pulls you toward impact at dizzying speeds.
But you never hit bottom.
Never a reprieve from panic. Never startling awake before the moment of contact. Never breathing that sigh of relief as the wisp of nightmare dissolves and you learn you are safe, tangled in bedcovers, your husband sleeping undisturbed at your side.
You are always falling.

EXCERPT B--Shannon Vannatter's, White Doves 

 The post office door opened and Laken closed her eyes, waiting to hear Mother’s accusing tone. A whoosh of June’s humidity blasted her with its hot, steamy breath. Nibbling on the inside of her lip until she tasted blood, she realized it was the employee door.
“Welcome to Love Station,” a male voice said from behind her. “Hope you like weddings. I’ve got a whole passel of invitations.”
Laken turned around. A man swung an overstuffed mail sack from his broad shoulder. Tanned calf muscles rippled beneath knee-length khaki shorts as he bent to scoop up a stray Post-it. He turned to face her. Laugh lines crinkled the corners of olive eyes.
“You must be the new postmaster.” He wore a day’s growth of beard, the kind that made a woman want to rub her cheek against it. A wind-blown coffee-colored lock dipped low over one eyebrow. He brushed away the stray wave and pressed the back of his wrist against the perspiration beading his forehead.
Until that moment, he looked like he’d stepped out of one of those cheesy soap operas, where perfect male specimens serve up a daily dish of melodrama. But romantic heroes don’t sweat—even in Romance, Arkansas’s sticky heat.
Get a grip, Laken. So he’s cute. She tried to concentrate on the paneled walls, the tan commercial tile, the mail instead of the male.
“You’re the. . .”
“Mail carrier at your service.” He made a low, sweeping bow as if she were royalty, then straightened with a cocky grin and offered his hand. “Your loyal servant, Hayden Winters.”
Laken hadn’t paid much attention to what the transferring postmaster had said about the carrier, picturing a graying, potbellied Cliff Clavin, not a member of the hunk-of-the-month club. She cleared her throat. “I don’t have any servants. Just coworkers. I’m Laken Kroft.”
With a genuine smile, he grasped her hand and shook it then deposited another stuffed manila envelope on her counter. He strode to his three-sided sorter, pulled the envelopes from each slotted divider, and stuffed them into his tray.
“Do you live around here?”
“I moved from Little Rock last week.” She set a flats tray full of magazines next to him. “No packages today.”
“Since my parents retired here a few years back, I moved from North Little Rock last month so my nephew could be near them.”
She propped her hands on her hips. “I’d like to know how you got to transfer exactly where you wanted to.”
“I prayed for God to work it out and waited almost a year.”
Her mouth went dry. Well, he was almost perfect. Too bad he had to start talking about God. She went back to stamping, with more determination.

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Item Reviewed: Best Hook, Contemporary--Excerpts and summary Rating: 5 Reviewed By: April Gardner