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August 7, 2014

First Read

Title: Public Passions
Author: M.R. Adler
Genre: Romance
Audience: Adult

Project Strengths:

1. Hook: As a reader, I was hooked by the first few pages of the sample chapters, in which Scarlett Van Gogh runs through the streets of New York looking for her lost love, fearing for his life, and fleeing from the police. I was immediately interested in Scarlet and her story and wanted to keep reading. This is a great opening.  

2. Dialogue: Throughout the sample chapters, the dialogue is realistic, snappy, and advances the plot while helping develop the characters. It rings true and is fun to read.

3. Plot Outline: The storyline, as outlined in the sample materials, looks well plotted and suspenseful. As outlined, the book has a clear narrative arc, as do the character’s relationships.  Additionally, the plot (including the proposed twists and turns and the surprise conclusion) seem logical, credible, and should advance the plot and work well if properly executed. 

Areas for Improvement:

1. Narrative Voice: In the sample chapters, Scarlett’s first person narration is a major weakness. While the actual events of the book are exciting, her narration is somewhat flat and bland. If Scarlett’s voice remains the same as you complete the manuscript, readers will have trouble getting a real sense of her character. Before writing additional chapters, you should better define your heroine’s voice and make it more distinct. Through her storytelling, readers should get a sense of who she is, what she wants, and how she looks at the world. 

3. Originality: Overall the story as outlined in the sample materials is somewhat unoriginal. The basic premise -- a repressed woman who finds sexual liberation thanks to a new man with a dark side -- has been told again and again. And while readers still have an appetite for this type of story, it needs to be told in a way that is new and different and pushes the boundaries of the genre. 

4. In erotic fiction, the sexual predilections of the protagonists must be original and tied to their characters. In the book’s outline, you indicate that Scarlett and Peter are into bondage -- and this seems a bit cliche and broad. This lack of originality will be a major turn off for fans of the genre. Scarlett and Peter’s sexual appetites need to be as well developed and unique as their overall characterization.

Other Information:

While there has been a boom in erotica thanks to the popularity of titles like Fifty Shades of Gray, this increased interest means the market is congested and new titles will have to be unique to stand out from the crowd. To get a better sense of the current landscape and information on upcoming romance/erotic titles see our Fall Annoucement Listing, The Most Anticipated Romance/Erotica Books of 2014, and our current Bestseller List.

Report Submitted: 8/8/14

This PW Expertise First Read assessment is intended for the author’s personal use only, not for publication or for use in book blurbs or promotional materials of any kind, whether on line or in print. This assessment is not a Publishers Weekly review.