The Scenes That Stick With You

reading I was cowardly and scheduled my Top Ten Staff Picks as far out as I could, knowing the list would be difficult to compose and likely to change. As a result, I had a lot of time to ponder my favorite books, and what I realized is that each has a fondly remembered moment that often means more than the rest of the plot or even the characters, when it comes to memory. Those scenes that stick with you are the ones you describe to your friends when you’re trying to tempt them with a book or new series, or they’re the ones you recall when you’re trying to remember a book that you’ve temporarily forgotten but remember enjoying.

When my sister, who isn’t a romance reader, was resistant to the idea of Outlander, she was convinced to try it when I told her about Claire’s instant of revelation with the witch. Although it has been a long time since most of us read that scene for the first time, don’t you remember that gasp of shock? Or how can one forget the part in See Jane Score when Jane screws up her courage and tells Luc “I want to lick your tattoo” – you go girl! I used Jane and Luc to introduce my friend to Rachel Gibson.

I think all the best books and series have that one special moment that touches us. It doesn’t have to be large or important. It can be funny, ironic, romantic, poignant or sad, as long as it makes you feel strongly enough to remember it forever – and is most likely different for everyone. Here are a few of my favorite scenes.

Rachel Morgan series by Kim Harrison. I can’t remember in which book in the series this scene occurs, but I convinced an entire carload of people to try the series when I exclaimed over Living Dead Girl when it came on the radio. I’ve always liked that Rob Zombie song, so I really enjoyed it when Rachel’s vampire boyfriend introduced her to the female vampire line dance they made up to go with the song. How funny and appropriate!

Has everyone read Jasmine Cresswell’s Prince of the Night? It was one of my first paranormal romances and will always be remembered fondly for that, but it is the epilogue that knocks it out of the park. By today’s standards the book probably wouldn’t get that high a rating from me, but I think everyone should read it just to enjoy Dakon’s huge surprise.

Some authors load their books with touching details and intimate little moments. Tom and Sharon Curtis were masters at the art. How can we forget the heroine planting the imaginary flower that the mime gave her and pretending to water it in Sunshine and Shadow? In another favorite scene from their books, Cat is crying in front of his father, covering his face and exclaiming “This is so embarrassing” in The Windflower. Actually Cat is a favorite character from any book, ever, partly because of the one scene where Devon describes him as someone who never smiles, but “once you get to know him it doesn’t matter”.

Sophy from Georgette Heyer’s The Grand Sophy provides much amusement, but my favorite scene by far occurs while she’s riding in the park with Charles and his fiancé. Miss Wraxton is in the process of advising Sophy to improve her behavior or else be blackballed from Almack’s when Madame de Lieven drives up in her barouche and fondly beckons Sophy over. For those who don’t read historical romances, Countess de Lieven was a patroness of Almack’s.

Heyer’s Devil’s Cub has another wonderfully amusing scene. Remember near the end where Mary encounters the phlegmatic elderly gentleman at the inn? He insists upon hearing her shocking story, but never reacts until he learns that Mary shot her abductor. No matter how many times I read Devil’s Cub, I always smile when Mary finally realizes the old gentleman’s identity.

Lavyrle Spencer’s Morning Glory has many touching moments of he heartwarming variety; when Elly throws the egg at Will, when Will and the boys play in the mud to ease the bee stings, and when the new baby is born, for example. My favorite by far is when Will kisses Gladys Beasley. Its one of the sweetest kissing scenes ever, completely non-sexual, but very loving.

One book that is on my top ten list is The Abandoned Bride by Edith Layton. I have to include it here because it contains one of the most ironic, most stressful but hilarious scenes I can recall. When Julia decides Nicholas is a madman (paraphrasing here) she tells him in a soothing voice as she backs away “Yes, this is all very amusing, you certainly tricked me, way to go” and it takes Nicholas a minute to realize what she’s thinking. “Do you think I’m insane?!” he asks.

And a book needn’t be years old to have a scene that is fondly remembered. In Marie Hall’s recent Her Mad Hatter, the talking flowers are just priceless. “She’s busted her head…the Hatter won’t like that!” And in Danielle Monsch’s new release Stone Guardian, when Terak and Larissa first meet he says to her “I will not harm you little human. Hold on to me, I will protect you.” Little human – aww.

One scene I found so touching I will remember it forever is from a book that hasn’t been released yet. (At the time of this writing) I won’t spoil by naming the book or the characters, but picture this – the hero thinks he’s all alone, but someone who thinks the hero is a complete bastard is spying on him. The spy sees that the hero is drawing surprisingly good sketches of his dead wife and child, but can’t figure out the odd jerky movements the hero makes occasionally. Then the spy realizes that the hero is moving his sketchpad out of the way of the tears that are falling while he draws. I sobbed aloud at that one.

These are just a very small percentage of my cherished scenes. I’d like to hear about everyone else’s favorites. Do you have one or several that will stay with you forever or do you not remember books that way?

– Wendy Clyde

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30 Responses to The Scenes That Stick With You

  1. AAR Lynn says:

    Since I know it’s been out of print for pretty much as long as I’ve been reading romance, I just wanted to chime in to say that Forever is reissuing The Windflower next year. It’s up for pre-order, with a release date of 4/29/14 – and there’s an ebook edition!

    • Joane says:

      Great news. I’ve seen Tom & Sharon Curtis’ books mentioned in so many lists that I’ve been wanting to read something from them for years.

  2. Paola says:

    The sweet marriage proposal and the heart-wrenching end of Laura Kinsale’s Seize The Fire; the love scene bareback on the horse in Elizabeth Lowell’s Too Hot to Handle, definitely hot; when Kenny throws Emma in the swimming pool because he doesn’t know how to stop her from leaving in Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Lady Be Good, so funny; the first kiss in Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels, Dain thinking in Italian makes me melt (I’m Italian).

    • Wendy says:

      Those are great, especially the scene with Kenny and Emma, but I don’t remember those scenes from Seize the Fire. It’s time to refresh my memory by rereading that one.

  3. Robin says:

    In Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas when Jack is lying in the hospital bed, fighting sleep and worrying about his brother, Ella strokes his hair and lightly scratches his scalp and he falls asleep–that one gets me every time. Really the whole book gets me, it is my number one favorite book of all time. There are just so many intimate, tender moments in it. I feel like it is unique in having two likeable leads who are mature and grown-up.

    • Wendy says:

      You’re so right about Smooth Talking Stranger.

      I think Kleypas has another really good scene that should have made this list, but I can’t remember from which book. It’s a historical in which the heroine wants to marry a wealthy cit. Her competition, the cit’s female equivalent, tries to make the heroine feel bad by telling a group of people that the well-born heroine is cursed. The heroine responds with something like “yes, dear, all the best families are cursed- maybe your daddy can buy you one”

      Maybe someone else knows – is that example from Kleypas?

  4. Mjain says:

    I don’t think I’ll ever forget the cereal killer scene in SEP’s “Nobody’s Baby But Mine”, when Eve finally confessed her love in the “In Death” series, or when Christine and Wulfric discussed what love is in “Slightly Dangerous”. You are so right about how special scenes stick with us!

    • maggie b. says:

      Mjain: I don’t think I’ll ever forget the cereal killer scene in SEP’s “Nobody’s Baby But Mine”, when Eve finally confessed her love in the “In Death” series, or when Christine and Wulfric discussed what love is in “Slightly Dangerous”. You are so right about how special scenes stick with us!

      The cereal killer scene is one of my favorite book moments of all time!

  5. AAR Lynn says:

    I think the two that come to mind for me right away are the “mallet of death” scene from Julia Quinn’s The Viscount Who Loved Me and the scene from Rose Lerner’s In for a Penny where the hero brings the heroine food, and he pays special attention to her anxieties about eating in company. And then there’s the scene in Libertine’s Kiss, when the hero tells the heroine she was the one light in his childhood. Beautiful.

    • Wendy says:

      JQ has a lot of good ones. Another from “Viscount” is where Anthony admits to having a thing about looking out windows.

  6. Carol Lowe says:

    The miscarriage scene in SEP’s This Heart of Mine when Kevin picks her up out of the car and she says “hold my legs together”. Even though he hates her (with good reason), he does, and deposits her so gently at the hospital.

  7. Kristie(J) says:

    I have so many, but a few that come to mind right away:

    The scene in Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas when Sarah discovers Derek has been carrying her spectacles around with him. And also the scene where Derek is trying to induce Sarah to give other men a go for a needed husband and finally breaks down and asks her to marry him

    The scene i n Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase where Dain sits down at breakfast and Jessica has given him the Icon for his birthday.

    In Once and Always by Judith McNaught when Victoria comes back to the house and everyone thinks she died and the house is all covered in black and she goes in and Jason thinks he is seeing her ghost.

  8. Mary says:

    The scene that always makes me smile is from SEP’s book Natural Born Charmer. Blue calls Dean, the hero, Speed Racer then later hums that song to him after he jumps the gun while teasing her in bed.

  9. Caz says:

    I definitely remember books that way :) Although of course, I can’t think of many examples right now. One scene that’s stuck with me recently is the hairpins scene in The Governess Affair – not only is it really unusual, it’s so tender and caring.

    Oh, and there was the scene in Grace Burrowes’ Darius where the H/h have to part after their month together – that was a real gut-wrencher for me.

  10. RosieH says:

    Memorable scenes…two from Georgette Heyer’s “Venetia”. When Venetia returns home after being rejected by Damerel and is looked after by her nurse, my eyes never fail to fill with tears and then that marvellous scene when she returns to him only to find him “extremely well to live”. I adore how that scene is handled by Heyer.

  11. MEK says:

    How about in The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie when Ian gives Beth one of his oriental bowls out of his collection in his collection room as a special wedding gift….and then puts it right back on the shelf! After all, that’s where it will be safest!

  12. Keishon says:

    The ending of Flowers From the Storm by Laura Kinsale – ah, Christian confronting Mattie as she denounces their love in front of her congregation (she was a Quaker). It was very hard for him to speak for most of the book which made this scene even more touching.

    Bliss by Judy Cuevas – the hero throwing up in a piano. He was an ether drinker. That book had a lot of great scenes. Also there’s a rather racy scene where the hero (he’s an artist who can’t take criticism) draws a rather provocative picture of the heroine.

    Morning Glory – love the scene when the heroine tells Will she loves him for the first time and he can’t get enough of her saying it. Like you said, there are a bunch more.

    La Vyrle Spencer’s Hummingbird – the couple sparred all throughout that book but that ending was great where he confesses his love to her for the first time and she is completely mesmerized as he takes a photo of her. I need to reread this book and it’s one of the few of her books still not digitized. WHY!

    Last one is Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught – when the hero/heroine meet and he’s smoking quietly. Love that and haven’t run across another scene like it. Also where the heroine tries to make the hero a cup of coffee and it was awful (very funny scene). I remember most of their steaming kisses. Those were the hottest scenes, those kisses were.

    • AAR Lynn says:

      Oh, Flowers from the Storm! I think For My Lady’s Heart is still my favorite Kinsale, but FFTS has some wonderful, beautiful scenes.

      I’m hoping the rest of Spencer’s backlist will be digitized as well. As of this year, some of hers are still being released but they do seem to be coming out a bit slowly. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Judy Cuevas books out as ebooks either. They are ridiculously hard to find.

      • Keishon says:

        I still haven’t read For My Lady’s Heart. Saving it for a rainy day. I wish Judy Cuevas would digitize her early backlist, well, Bliss and Dance. She would earn all of her money back on those books if she self-published them. I thought those two were her best books before she moved to Avon.

        I don’t know what it is about men and smoking but right or wrong, it’s still rather sexy to me hence my remembrance of Almost Heaven where the two meet for the first time on a dare from the heroine’s friends. I love that book. I guess McNaught is holding out for a grand payday or something. She is one of the last ones still not digitizing her backlist.

        I don’t really consider The Bronze Horseman a romance but when Tatiana and Alexander first meet is quite memorable as well.

  13. Laura says:

    I have two scenes recently read that really stuck with me-
    The first is from Jodi Thomas’ Can’t Stop Believing, a beautiful expression of love from a secondary character who is dying:
    …in a perfect world we’d live long lives and then lie side by side in a garden of stone. Only we both know the world’s not perfect. I want you to live, Ronny, really live, and then someday when your hair is white and your bones are brittle, I want you to go to sleep beside me. I’ll be waiting.

    The second is completely different. It’s what all girls should say to the mansl*ts they meet, instead of being overwhelmed by their sl*ttiness:
    ….having a fling with you doesn’t appeal to me. You’re handsome, but you’re too inexperienced and too arrogant to be good in bed. Having ridden many horses (she means women) doesn’t make you a good rider; it just proves that you can’t recognize a good one or don’t know how to keep her…..
    Ilona Andrews’ Steel Edge (I love this author)

  14. Yulie says:

    Tatiana finding Alexander at the end of Tatiana & Alexander: you knew she would, but it was still a really moving scene. It’s not one I’d use to talk people into reading The Bronze Horseman books, though; too far into the story and way too spoilerish.

    On a lighter note, I’ll second the croquet match and the mallet of death in The Viscount Who Loved Me. Another favorite funny scene is Fergus and Marsali’s wedding on Diana Gabaldon’s Voyager, and Claire trying to figure out what Marsali would tell her mother about it.

  15. Ducky says:

    Ah, yes, “Devil’s Cub” – even as an old geezer Avon is still awesome and recognizes fellow awesome in the heroine.

    I have “Sunshine And Shadow” but haven’t read it yet. The heroine being so religious is kind of a turn-off for me.

    Cat is the most interesting character in “The Windflower” for me. I was upset when I found out there was never to be a book about him.

  16. Kelly says:

    In Lord of Scoundrels, when Dain thinks he is seducing Jessica by taking off her glove, but she turns the tables in him to his dismay.

    Any scene with Gillian’s flatulent dogs especially when they are trapped in the carriage.

  17. Elizabeth Clements says:

    Some of the books mentioned in the blog bring back wonderful memories. LaVryle Spencer, Laura Kinsale and Elizabeth Lowell rank in my top 5 fave authors. Sandra Hill is also in that top 5. It’s probably been 12 years or more since I read my first Laura Kinsale book, Seize the Fire. The cover compelled me to buy it because it’s one of the most romantic and sensual covers ever, and the opening scene with Sophia (was that her name) and the servant with the coal shuttle was so hilarious. Another hilarious scene is in Sandra Hill’s Frankly My Dear….hero and heroine in a pirougue in the swamp and she knocks him into the swamp. My kitty thought I was dying (from laughter) and was quite concerned. Sandra Hill’s Viking series are hilarious as well as sexy. The books of these authors are keepers!

  18. Detra says:

    The “cereal killer scene” in SEP’s Nobody’s baby but mine is my all time favorite funny scene. My two favorite emotional scenes are: 1) A Kingdom of Dreams-Judith McNaught when Jennifer kneels in front of Royce on the tournament field. 2)Iron Kissed – Patricia Briggs, when Ben explains to Adam how Mercy feels after the attack.

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