Do some writers have such strong voices that we might be able to recognize them from a few lines pulled from one of their books?
I don’t know. So, in the spirit of fun and discovery, I’ve pulled a dozen short sections from romance novels written by ten of our genre’s modern superstars.
How many voices do you recognize without turning to your bookshelf (or the Internet)? Do you hear a voice similar to your own among the samples? Are there any that go completely against the grain of your writing – or that you itch to “fix”?
The first printings of these works range from 1988 to 2009. (I’d have added more variety, but my personal collection is shamefully small and the local library is closed today due to a dusting of snow on the roads. Grr.)
Honestly, I think it’s nearly impossible for anyone to guess these correctly, but I realize that many of us are devoted romance readers, so I’ll wait until 4 PM EST to post the list of possible authors. I’ll drop back again later in the evening to post the answers (and give these fabulous authors credit for their work!).
“He had no idea how old the guy was. His sun-leathered face had more lines in it than a weather map. But the outdoors had a way of aging a man’s skin that had nothing to do with the accumulation of years. There was more gray than brown in in the stubble of a beard that shadowed his cheeks. [Character] rarely bothered to shave but never let his whiskers grow long enough to qualify as a genuine beard.”
“I’d known [Character] since he was five. I’d gone to grade school with [Character]. We ate lunch together in grades one through three, and I would forever associate him with peanut butter and jelly on Wonder bread. I’d lost touch with him in high school. I knew he’d gone to college, and that after college he’d gone to work selling appliances in his father’s store.”
“The sailor was a large man, and obviously strong as an ox, which was doubtless useful on boats. He might have been twenty-eight or thirty. His brown hair was cut close to his skull and lay in layers, like shingles. His eyes were a dark, colorless mixture of shades, like the sea itself, a sort of gunmetal gray. The lower half of his face was dark with stubble. None of this should have made him handsome and yet, to her, he was.”
“He realized, as she drew closer, that she was sporting a new hairdo, and that it was this which underscored her already-pronounced similarity to her grandmother. Her dark glossy hair had been cut short in a sort of sleek bob. It was chic and obviously of the moment, and yet to him it had the look of the 1930s. It brought to mind the film stars of his youth…and the elegant [character] he had known and admired as a boy.”
“[Character] looked at his beautiful wife. Spun sugar candy was what she always reminded him of. No matter what time of the day or night, she always looked like she just stepped out of a bandbox. Perfectly coiffed, expertly made up, exquisitely dressed, subtle perfume that never seemed to fade, and always with her twenty-four-carat smile that was as phony as the caps on her pearly white teeth.”
“The face was charming, with its little pointed chin and its pert nose, its big blue eyes mirroring the color of the sky. A pixie cap of glossy brown hair completed the picture.”
“[Character] wore black—a black greatcoat that fell to boot top and a black, low-crowned hat with a wide brim. A scarf of raw wool, colorless in the streak of light from the high, barred windows, covered nose to neck and hid what the gloom didn’t.”
“He didn’t look like a damn farmer, she thought. Oh, he was tanned and lean, and his hair streaked from the sun. His jeans were old and his shirt faded blue. There were sunglasses hooked carelessly by one earpiece in the breast pocket. What he looked like, she decided, was some Hollywood director’s image of a young, prosperous southern farmer who could ooze charm and sex appeal with one easy smile.”
“He wore a blue sweater, the same color as his eyes, and hanging loose over the sweater was a black jacket. His jeans, faded as if they were his favorite pair, showcased his waist and legs. His dark hair looked a little tousled, as if he’d been running his fingers through it.”
“She had to be dreaming. No man hereabouts would leave his house in shirtsleeves. Or leave his shirt open at the throat to reveal a smattering of chest hair. Or wear pantaloons so tight they showed every well-defined muscle in his thighs. He was such a delicious specimen of manliness that he fairly took her breath away.”
“She appeared rumpled, as if she’d fallen asleep after a vigorous hour of lovemaking and had only now awakened for more. Her eyes were slightly uptilted, the lids at half-mast and shadowed by long dark lashes. Her nose was small and dainty, her lips still red and lush. And her skin…more was revealed, smooth amber-rich, each pulse point hammering deliciously. A large cruise covered the left side of her jaw. Her breasts—“
“[Character] squinted to see the medium-height woman between the redhead and the blonde. She was dressed in a dull, boxy, gray-checked suit, and her round face scowled under brown hair yanked back into a knot on the top of her head.”