So why bother? Editors and agents like them, for one. They work great in query letters. And when someone discovers you're writing a novel and asks what it's about, it's nice to have a concise sentence ready to roll off the tongue, instead of meandering over 800 pages of setting, plot and character, which I tend to do in such situations.
In a series of posts on pitches agent Kristin Nelson recommended examining the first 30 to 50 pages of your manuscript when writing a pitch/hook. Zero in on the main catalyst that starts the story forward--the main conflict from which all else in the novel evolves. She's talking about a pitch paragraph. But I reckon the same holds true for a sentence. It's just a little harder. Maybe.
I've played around with it from two POVs (point of views), Ian's and Seona's. While I had every intention of both characters having equal part in telling this story, Ian took control (stubborn, head-strong guy he is) and now more like 2/3 of the novel is told from his POV. Still, Seona's voice is integral.
Current one line pitches. Ian's POV first, then Seona's.
When prodigal son Ian Cameron journeys to North Carolina to become his uncle's heir, instead of settling to the life of a gentleman planter he becomes obsessed with one of his uncle's slaves—who bears a disturbing family resemblance.
When the master's nephew returns to Mountain Laurel as heir apparent, the boundaries between the Big House and the slave quarter are irrevocably breached, and one slave's secrets perilously exposed.
Anyone prefer one over the other? So far, I prefer the second one, although the two of them together make a fuller, clearer picture of the storyline (which is not genre romance).