Wednesday, November 28, 2018

To Prologue or Not to Prologue?

Congratulations to "Trude V.", the winner in Jannine's giveaway. Please contact JUST ROMANTIC SUSPENSE to claim your prize.

When it comes to Romantic Suspense, what do you all think about prologues? I once had an agent tell me publishers hate them, and that she wouldn’t be able to sell my book if I didn’t get rid of the prologue. I rebelled, a shortened version of the prologue stayed, and she sold the book anyway. But I’ve heard many conflicting opinions on the topic since then. Readers who love them (like me), and those who say they don’t even bother reading them. They skip the prologue to go straight to the meat of the story.

So, it came as something of a surprise when my editor for HIDDEN SECRETS suggested I write a prologue for this book. The story has scenes written from the villain’s point of view, but his identity remains a secret. Before the plot gets deep into the suspense aspect, the potential “bad guys” have to be introduced. My editor wanted something creepy and shivery to happen early in the story. I suggested a scene with the first victim who was killed years before the main story takes place. He thought it was a great idea, and the prologue for this book was born. Was my editor right? Does this prologue set the right tone for romantic suspense? Decide for yourself!

* * * *
He stabbed the shovel into the soft earth as the merciless summer sun beat down from a clear blue sky. Pausing to wipe his sweating face on the sleeve of his T-shirt, he glanced over at the body wrapped in an old sheet lying near the half-dug hole. A little of their normal coastal fog would have been welcome. Too bad nothing was going his way.
If luck were in his corner, he wouldn’t be in the woods right now, far from the scene of the crime, slapping mosquitoes, and burying a girl he’d always thought was pretty damn special. Not that he had much choice in the matter. Her death had been a horrible mistake. But if anyone discovered what had happened, the consequences would be even worse.
He flung another shovelful of earth and fought back the urge to let the tears burning at the back of his eyes fall. He’d do what needed to be done. Bury the result of an angry outburst where no one would ever find her. He dug furiously as the sweat ran down his back. Clods of dirt and stones flew, only to hit the ground with a solid thud.
God damn it! Why did this have to happen?
He stopped and lifted his face as a slight breeze rustled through the trees. Below him, the creek rushed over rocks, drowning the sound of his harsh breathing. Surely, he’d done enough. All he could possibly do. The hole stretched before him, five feet long and four feet deep. Her legs were bent a little, in the same position they’d been when she’d landed on the ground, her hands outstretched to ward off another blow.
Dropping the shovel, he knelt beside the girl and touched the sheet where it had come loose. Slowly pulling back the corner, he stared at her pale face and empty eyes. The bright sparkle that had been so much a part of Lucy’s personality was gone forever. With a shaking hand, he brushed long, dark hair, matted with blood, off her face, and a glint of silver shone in the sunlight.
A silver chain with a heart-shaped pendant slid out from beneath the V-neck of her stained shirt. Lifting the silver heart, he turned it over. The initials L-E-G were engraved on its surface. After a moment, he let the pendant drop back against her chest and covered her face with the sheet before heaving her body into his arms. Staggering beneath the awkward load, he lowered her into the hole.
With each shovel of dirt he heaped on top, he buried the evidence of a singular loss of temper. An accident. But his stomach churned just thinking about the hint of excitement he’d sensed after it was over.
“No!” He shouted the word as he pounded down the soil covering her body. It won’t happen again. His actions would remain a secret, hidden forever in the forest. Life would go on for everyone.
Except for Lucy.
* * * *

My question for you is: Do you like prologues when you read romantic suspense? Leave a comment for a chance to win a paperback copy of either of the previous books in the Siren Cove series, BURIED TRUTH or LOST INNOCENCE, winner’s choice. Winner must live in the USA and provide a physical mailing address.


On the coast of Oregon, the small town of Siren Cove harbors frightening secrets . . .
Antiques shop owner Paige Shephard has a good eye for finding rare treasures in other people’s junk. But when it comes to her love life, her instincts aren’t so sharp. If only she could stop comparing every man she meets to her best friend, Quentin Radcliff . . .
Opening a new restaurant in his former hometown of Siren Cove gives Quentin a much-needed break from the string of women he’s been dating—and allows him the space to reconnect with Paige. But being with her after all this time awakens a long-denied desire.
With Quentin at her side—and in her bed—Paige should be happy at last. But she’s unsettled by a series of break-ins at her shop. Figuring out why she’s being targeted is as difficult as figuring out her complicated relationship with Quentin. And when a local woman disappears—and Quentin becomes the main suspect—they’ll have to dig deep into the deadly secrets of Siren Cove’s past to clear his name—and find any hope of a future together.

Write what you know. Jannine Gallant has taken this advice to heart, creating characters from small towns and plots that unfold in the great outdoors. A recent empty-nester, she grew up in a tiny Northern California town and currently lives in gorgeous Lake Tahoe with her husband. An avid outdoor enthusiast, Jannine hikes or snowshoes in the woods around her home with her dog, Ginger. You'll discover the beauty of nature interwoven into her fast-paced, romantic suspense stories. To find out more about this author and her books, visit her WEBSITE or sign up for her NEWSLETTER.

Follow Jannine on:  Facebook    Instagram    Twitter    BookBub

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST November 29th. Due to GDPR regulations you no longer need to submit your email address in the comments. If you have been selected as a winner your name will be posted at the top of the post. You may then contact to claim your prize. Your email address will be shared with the author/publicist providing the giveaway. US residents only for print.


  1. Thanks for featuring me on Just Romantic Suspense, Maureen. Always fun to visit you and your readers!

  2. I love prologues in romantic suspense bc it seems it gives that sense of background thats crucial to the story, although its not necessary for me.

    1. I feel the same way. Some stories just seem to demand a prologue.

  3. I do like prologues when they give a little bit of background ahead of the story.

    1. It's good to know readers feel the same way about this I do!

  4. I'm not in the US so can't enter, but I like them usually. As long as they are not too long! Some of them seem to go on and on before the story actually starts!!

    1. Sue, I try to keep mine short! If your name is chosen, and you have a friend in the US you'd like me to mail the prize to, I can do that! A book is always a fun gift to receive.

  5. I enjoy reading prologues - they make me eager to dig into the story.

  6. no preference, unless they end up being "epilogues" that this one author uses

    1. I'm not a fan of the prologue that begins deep into the action of the book then takes you back out to start the story. At that point, I just want to keep going.


Sign up to receive our newsletter