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