Grabbing a Chapter by the Quote

Barbara Vey -- November 27th, 2007


I just finished reading Confessions at Midnight by Jacquie D’Alessandro and first let me say that I just loved it.  It was my kind of book…a historical romance with a twist.  The widowed Vicountess Wingate, Carolyn Turner and her literary book group choose Memoirs of a Mistress by an Anonymous Lady as their club selection.  The titillating plot of the book has given the ladies enough discussion material to last a lifetime and they are aching to find out if some of the descriptions are physically doable.  Enter Daniel Sutton, Earl Surbrooke, who has secretly coveted Carolyn since meeting her on the day her engagement to his best friend was announced.  Toss in a couple of murders, adorable secondary characters and a menagerie of abandoned animals and you have a delightful, entertaining read.


This book especially hit home because I recently read a blog by Kelley St. John about quotes that begin a chapter.  Here are some examples from her book To Catch a Cheat:

“Cheaters never win, but they sure can piss you off.”
~ Marissa Kincaid

“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and a scorned woman can be great for publicity.”
~ Trent Jackson

“In the same manner that a red tie defines power for males, the red dress defines power for females. Power…and sex. "
~ Amy Brooks

“A man wearing a towel—and only a towel—should never be trusted.”
~ Marissa Kincaid

She goes on to say that one of her favorite book openings was a combination of two quotes, one from Friedrich Nietsche and the other from the book’s author. Linda Howard begins Mackenzie’s Mission with this combination:

"Man must be trained for war, and woman for the relaxation of the warriors; all else is folly."
~ Friedrich Nietsche

"Hogwash."
~ Linda Howard


Now Confessions at Midnight starts each chapter with excerpts from the book within the book, Memoirs of a Mistress.  Chapter one begins, "His hand slipped beneath my gown to slowly glide up my leg.  The muted sounds of the party came through the library door, and I knew we risked being discovered.  But I simply did not care…"  All right, now tell me who could put down a book that starts like that?  Not me obviously, since I finished it in one day!

So, like Kelley, I’d like to know if you enjoy a unique quote or original type opening to a chapter or book.  Or is there something else that the author did to draw you into the book before starting the chapter?  I agree with Kelley that I have enjoyed the fairytale pieces that Elizabeth Hoyt uses to begin the chapters in her "Prince" series. Another original approach.  Please share what you’ve read that made the book that much more interesting for you and thanks Kelley for letting me use your thought provoking topic.

Bottom Line:  To Jacquie D’Alessandro…where can I buy Memoirs of a Mistress?

31 thoughts on “Grabbing a Chapter by the Quote

  1. Marilyn AKA the Playground Monitor

    I love opening quotes. Leanne Banks had a book a few years ago called “Some Girls Do.” The chapter quotes were by the heroine’s dearly departed mother. They were stuff like “I’s a feminist. I just believe a good push-up bra has done more for me than Congress has.” And “Don’t waste your time on a man unless his kiss makes you forget your name.” I love that double quote from MacKenzie’s Mission. I haven’t read the book but guess I’ll have to now.

  2. Jacquie D'Alessandro

    Hey Barbara! I’m so glad you liked Confessions at Midnight! I loved making up the quotes from “Memoirs of a Mistress.” I did something similar with two earlier historicals–Love and the Single Heiress and Not Quite a Gentlemen. Every chapter in those two books begins with a quote from “A Ladies’ Guide to the Pursuit of Personal Happiness and Intimate Fulfillment.” I’ve received many letters from readers asking if there really is such a book, or if I made it up. Well, I made it up. But after writing so many quotes from it, I probably had enough material to make it into its own book! I love stories that begin each chapter that way, and got a real hoot out of Kelley St. John’s (hi Kelley!). My fave is the one about a man wearing only a towel should never be trusted. :)

  3. Clea Simon

    Well, those covers would have gotten me right away! Otherwise, a first line that makes me laugh is always a good start. I’m now reading the sequel to the hilarious “The Spellman Files.” Can’t find the first one (it’s here somewhere…) but I believe it starts with something like, “I never understood why doors became the standard for entering a room…” clea http://www.cleasimon.com

  4. CJ Lyons

    I love chapter quotes–the one Toni McGee Causey used in Bobbie Faye’s Very (very,very,very) Bad Day had me laughing out loud!! I remember as a kid reading lots of books with them–not so much nowadays. And whatever happened to giving chapters titles? I miss that as well…CJ (www.cjlyons.net)

  5. Derek Catterton

    You know what I love the most? His Lady Mistress. This is the book that got me into Elizabeth Rolls, and I loved it. The romance was wonderful and very sensual, the characters are believably flawed (sometimes this is difficult for romance novelists to accomplish) and while it is (as always) frustrating to see how their problems could be sorted out with an honest conversation about their misunderstandings, it is easy to see how the misunderstandings come to be and why each character stays within themselves instead of becoming vulnerable. Max’s difficult family life is further explained in “A Compromised Lady,” which is the story of Richard’s romance. I have read and reread this book – LOVE IT.

    Historical Romance Novels

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