Dangle the Reader by a Cliff – part 2

by | Jul 22, 2010 | Fiction Book Reviews | 5 comments

So,  let’s take a look at some more of those cliffhangers.

By creating suspense at the end of a chapter (or scene), by asking a question, or providing a dilemma. Conflict is the key ingredient here – and unresolved conflict at that.

In fact, one writers conference presenter said a plot is a bunch of unresolved conflicts that keep building until something explodes J (emotionally, physically – you get the point)

So, let’s start our cliffhanger examples off with a bang:

From Steven James’ brand new novel, The Bishop,  here is the last part of chapter  one.

As I passed through the door I found that the lights in the lobby had been dimmed and it appeared vacant, but as I neared the exit I heard a man call my name.

He was standing half hidden in the shadows, lingering near the roped-off steps to the balcony. His face was shrouded, but I recognized the voice and felt a surge of anger as I realized who he was – the man I’d found thirteen years ago with the scalpel in his, bent over his final victim, the man a Chicago jury had had acquitted last month.

Richard Devin Basque

Okay – now for the queen of comedy, Mary Connealy – and this is the end of chapter two in her book, The Husband Tree.

Silas was struck again by the idea that this was a kind of woman he never knew existed. He had no use for women, and he shuddered at the idea of working for one. When he opened his mouth to say he’d rather spend the next month being danced on by a herd of longhorns than work for her, he said instead, “So, am I hired, boss lady?”

Silas gave up any hope of controlling his mouth. It seemed to have struck out on its own for good. He shook his head and wondered at his willingness- no, his eagerness – to do this.

Belle tilted her head to study him. “You’re too good-looking and you’re too blasted smart – I can see that already. I’ll probably have to shoot you down like a foam-at-the-mouth, rabid skunk before we’re two days down the trail.”

Silas froze. He had no idea how to react to that.

He’d shoot a man for less than calling him a ‘rabid skunk’.

He’d kiss a woman for less than saying he was smart and good-looking.

Their eyes met and the moment stretched. Her shining brown eyes widened, and he felt his own narrow. They were locked together until something almost visible locked between them.

Into the dead silence, Libby spoke. “That means you’re hired.”

Don’t you just LOVE the way Mary writes Silas’ thoughts. She’s so good at that. And the question in our minds as we hurredly turn the page from chapter two to three, is “Will they kill each other before they kiss each other?” 😉

Okay – last one for today:

Julie Lessman’s wonderful story A Passion Denied has plenty of examples of cliffhangers.

“You love me…and you want me…just like I want you. Why can’t you admit it?”

His tone was rough with emotion. “Because it’s wrong, Elizabeth. You’re a little sister to me, nothing more.”

She rose along with her ire. “I see. And that’s how you kiss a sister?”

Blood gorged his cheeks. His shoulders straightened as he stood stiff and tall. An uncommon show of anger glinted in his dark eyes. “I regret what happened tonight, and I apologize. Please give my thanks to your mother and my goodbyes to your family.” He moved toward the stairs.

“Brady, wait!” She latched onto his arm while tears pooled in her eyes. “You can’t leave like this. Not now, I opened my heart to you…and you took it when you gave me that kiss.”

The anger in his eyes faded to pain. “I know, Beth. Forgive me. It won’t happen again.” His back was rigid as he strode down the steps.

She ran after him. “No! Don’t leave – please! Friends don’t leave when you need them the most.”

He stopped, hand poised on the gate, and the coolness of his manner was totally foreign. He turned with a look of agony she had never seen.

“No Beth, they don’t.”

And without another word, he unlocked the gate and hurried away. Fading quickly-just like her hope-into the darkest of nights.

Oh fun – love this story, Jules. Lizzie and Brady are so cute.

And just made me look forward to A Hope Undaunted all the more.

Tomorrow, get ready for a review of Laura Frantz newest novel, Courting Morrow Little, and more cliffhangers next week.




  1. Rebecca Booth

    This review from A Passion Denied reminded me of the first night I met my husband. His cousin, a friend of mine, asked me if I would like to date the man sitting a the counter of a drive-in like Arnold’s on Happy Days. My remark was “No, I wouldn’t like to date that old bald-headed man.” Needless to say, a week later this old bald-headed man asked me to dance with hin at a shin-dig. I danced with him and then married him four months later. we had 36 wonderful years together before his death. Watch what you say because it might come back to haunt you. I am looking forward to reading Julie Lessman’s book.

    • Pepper

      What a great story. And a good reminder. I’ve had my few moments of eating my nevers before.
      I always said I’d NEVER marry a preacher.
      So I married a teacher that God called to the ministry – after we were married.
      God definitely has a funny bone 😉

  2. Julie Lessman

    PEPPER!!! What a GREAT mix of cliffhangers today!! And I gotta say, that scene from Husband Tree is one of my favorites, which also happens to be from my very favorite Mary Connealy book, which is saying something because I love them all! And I totally concur with you that Mary is truly the “Queen of Comedy”!

    And thank you for using a scene from A Passion Denied … it’s always fun (and a little shocking!) to read my own scenes on someone else’s blog.

    And, Rebecca, what a great story AND memory!! Love has a mind of its own, doesn’t it, though?? 🙂

    Great blog, Pep, as always.


    • Pepper

      It’s always such fun to brag about you. I never tired of it (obviously) 😉 I absolutely loved The Husband Tree, but my favorite is still Montana Rose. And Doctor in Petticoats is wonderful too.
      I’m ITCHING/ACHING to read A Hope Undaunted. Can’t wait!!!!
      But you know what I’m looking forward to even more…
      A certain weekend in September!

  3. Janet Dean

    Wonderful examples of cliffhangers, Pepper! Two of them from very special author friends of mine.
    Looking forward to seeing you in September!


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