Thursday, November 11, 2010
Other Moments to Remember
Usually when we talk about “moments to remember” in terms of romance novels, we are referring to scenes featuring the hero and heroine. After all, they are the novel’s raison d’entre. But lately I have been thinking about other moments to remember, scenes in particular novels that are not part of the love story itself but are memorable for the laughter or the tears they provoke, for the sense of identification they offer, or for the way they perfectly capture a character. Often these moments, rather than the love scenes, are the ones that linger in my mind once I return the book to the shelf.
Here are my top ten such moments.
10. Gigi’s entrance into New York society (Private Arrangements, Sherry Thomas)
I don’t often cheer out loud when reading a work of fiction, but I admit I gave a loud “Hurrah!” when Gigi showed up at Cam’s party. Her grand entrance was perfectly in keeping with her character. I loved it—so much that I wanted to throw rotten tomatoes at those who were so lacking in insight as to find the ending “weak.”
9. All of Olivia and Peregrine’s exchanges (Lord Perfect, Loretta Chase)
I like children in romance novels when they are well-drawn characters who have some purpose in the story. These two are essential to the plot, and in their interactions with Bathsheba and Benedict, they reveal important traits of the heroine and hero. They are also delightful in their own right and wonderful foils for each other. I am definitely among the fans who hope Chase will write their story one day. [And she did! It's wonderful! Have you read Last Night's Scandal?]
8. Jack’s birth control talk with Ricky (Virgin River, Robyn Carr)
This is one of those scenes that moved me to laughter and left me misty-eyed. It seemed so real and honest. Anyone who has ever seen a teenager that he/she loves and feels some responsibility towards fall headlong into love understands Jack’s sense of panic. I suspect many can also relate to his admission to Ricky that he both hopes the young man will use the condoms he’s giving him and will not have to use them.
7. The pretenders meeting with Belcraven (An Unwilling Bride, Jo Beverley)
Just thinking about this scene makes me laugh out loud, even though generally I am a fan of subtle rather than broad humor. Beth, Blanche, Lucien, Miles, and King Rogue Nicholas have succeeded in planting a fake will in Deveril’s house and are on their way home when they meet up, as planned, with Hal and Francis. The latter two are in conversation with Lord Liverpool and the Duke of Belcraven, definitely not part of the plan. Liverpool’s scandalized response, Beth’s saucy exchange with Belcraven, Belcraven’s unspoken conclusion that Nicholas is the mastermind behind the scheme—all of it is just such delicious comedy.
6. Wulf’s dive into the lake (Slightly Dangerous, Mary Balogh)
Wulf is one of those cool, self-contained, always-in-control characters. I can’t express how delighted I was to see him spontaneously shuck most of his clothing and dive into the same lake where he had once frolicked before the burden of a dukedom was forced upon him. I also loved it when the arrogant Freja responded to Wulf’s dive by hugging Christine and saying, “If this is what you have done for him . . . I will love you all my life.”
5. Lucius’s giving Josie a handkerchief (Pleasure for Pleasure, Eloisa James)
Poor Josie! She’s having such a miserable season, and her conclusion that there will never be any one to do for her the kind of thoughtful things Lucius does for Tess was a poignant bit. Then one sentence is added that just so flawlessly sums up the reason Lucius is one of my favorite heroes: “In the end, Lucius Felton had two handkerchiefs, which was just like him.”
4. Danny and Quinn singing at Krissa and Quinn’s wedding (Till the Stars Fall, Kathleen Gilles Seidel)
Reunion stories are my favorites, and TTSF is among the very best of such stories. Not only are Krissa and Quinn reunited after many years, but Danny and Quinn, former best friends and the two halves of Dodd Hall (a famous rock group) are also reconciled. After Quinn and Krissa are pronounced husband and wife, Quinn and Danny sing “Cinnamon Starlight,” the first song Quinn wrote for Krissa and one of Dodd hall’s hits, “in a performance unrecorded and never again to be repeated.” A lovely moment!
3. Darcy and Brenna’s sleepover at Jude’s cottage (Jewels of the Sun, Nora Roberts)
Her ability to capture women’s friendships so accurately is one of the reasons that I have been a Nora Roberts fan for more than twenty years. Any woman who has enjoyed a night of girl talk that ranges from fashion to sex to ghosts, protoplasmic and/or metaphoric, will connect to this scene where Darcy and Brenna show Jude what life is like with girlfriends. We share Jude’s conclusion: “It had been wonderful—the talk, the laughter, the foolishness.”
2. The ballroom scene (Gallant Waif, Anne Gracie)
Kate Farleigh is quite simply one of my favorite heroines ever. “Gallant” is the word for her. She has suffered beyond imagination, and yet she remains courageous, generous, and large-hearted. In the ballroom scene, vicious scandal mongers are attacking her once again. But this time she is not alone. Jack Carstairs, the hero, is there, but so also are many of the young soldiers that Kate once nursed. They and their relatives lend their support, but the crowning moment comes when Wellington appears and strolls with Kate around the ballroom, praising her gallantry to all they meet. Ballroom scenes are plentiful in historical romance, but this is the one that comes to my mind when I think of such scenes.
1. Nicholas’s toast (An Unwilling Bride, Jo Beverley)
The Rogues have just read the lists of Waterloo casualties and learned that the name of Lord Darius Debenham (Dare) is on the list of the fallen. The Rogues have already lost two of their number Lord Roger Merrihew died in Spain and Allan Ingram died at sea. With Dare’s death, there are nine Rogues left, and some of them are still in danger. Beverley makes the grief over Dare so real that the reader can see the somber faces and tense muscles. And Nicholas makes a toast. I cry easily, but these lines move me too deeply for tears. They touch an old wound, and I am broken anew each time I read them. Unfortunately, they are no less appropriate in 2008 [and 2010] than they were in 1815, the time of the novel.
“To all the fallen, may they be forever young in heaven. To all the wounded, may they have strength and heal. To all the bereaved, may they feel joy again. And please God . . . may there be one day an end to war.”
What non-romantic moments from romance novels do you remember most vividly?