Sweep Me Off My Feet

courtship I have had my share of courting and I have had my share of guys trying to pick me up and of the two, I would much rather be courted. Not that the initial intent is that different since both actions are usually initiated by sexual attraction. But in the pick-up scenario once you turn him down, he moves on to the next potential conquest. With courtship, the guy has his eye set on you, because he see something special. Maybe a little bit of it is the challenge. But he opens himself up for rejection and doesn’t take no. So maybe that is why I have such a weakness for romance novels where the hero actually has to court the heroine.

Nothing is more exciting then meeting someone and getting that sizzle of awareness. Good romance novels excel at finessing the sexual attraction between the heroine and hero into an intimate relationship. Those gorgeous smiles, those taut, well-developed muscles, the blazing eyes, all too soon turn the heroine’s willpower to mush. But that is when she is already attracted. Courting comes first. In courting the hero to has to put some effort into getting the first date and then the relationship.

The reasons that a woman requires courting are numerous: she is gorgeous with the pick of any man; she has been burned before and is not willing to trust; the guy just doesn’t seem like he is her type; she is not ready for a relationship because of work or school. In one of my favorites scenarios, the heroine is cautious because she is not going to sell herself short. She wants to make sure that there is more then the flash of sexual attraction.The list could go on and on, but no matter what the reason; the end result is that the guy has to persuade the woman to give him a chance. Sell her on the fact that he is the one for her. And with that, the hero has a hint of vulnerability. And that vulnerability makes the hero more real. Even though, it has been years since I read Fair Play by Deirdre Martin, I still remember how hard the hero had to work to get a date with the heroine. Vision In White by Nora Roberts, is also a favorite because of Carter’s insecurities in asking for a date.

Courtship typically involves gifts or acts of kindness. Some authors do create cute scenarios, but many times it is formulaic: hero brings the heroine flowers, or wonderful dinner on the town. Right off the top of my head, I can’t think of courtship gift in a book that was as unique as one of mine. I got sharks’ teeth. Yep, Sharks’ teeth. I don’t even remember how the conversation started, but over drinks this guy that I had just met tried to tell me that sharks’ teeth wash up on the beach. Now even with an after work drink half gone, and a well dressed, attractive man giving me a lot of attention, I just couldn’t swallow that. The next day coming back from lunch, the receptionist stopped me. “You had a visitor,” she told me with a smile, “and he left you this”. Inside, the envelope, shark teeth. And yes, they do wash up on the beach. That definitely netted him the first date.

Acts of kindness more then gifts tend to steal their way into my heart both in real life and when I’m reading. Men are pretty creative with this part of the courtship process. It can be as simple as changing a tire or buying the heroine a set of snow tires, as the hero did in Truly Madly Yours by Rachel Gibson, to fixing broken items around the house, to taking the sick animal to the vet. The veterinarian in Emily Carmichael’s Finding Mr. Right stole my heart with his care of the heroine’s animals. Then you have men you know are in it for the long haul, when they help with children or provide emotional support when love ones are sick. The hero in Fair Play was so kind to the heroine and her family during an illness.

Like me, do you love the courting aspect of the romance story? Do you have a favorite story that illustrates how powerless the hero is against
the heroine’s charms. Or do you have a wonderful courting story of your own, that should be in a romance novel?

– Leigh Davis

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10 Responses to Sweep Me Off My Feet

  1. Dabney says:

    I had fallen madly in love with a man when I was just 24. I knew the night I met him I wanted to marry him–we talked for five hours that night and I just knew he was the one for me. Unfortunately for me, he was still involved with his almost ex-girlfriend who lived in another town. When she realized he’d found someone else he was considering marrying, she quit her job, moved here and wooed him back. I was broken hearted. He and I didn’t speak to each for over a year–and the two of them moved to NYC so that he could complete a fellowship there.

    One night, I came back to my lonely apartment and found at my door a pair of red shoes painstakingly covered with red glitter accompanied by a note. The note said “Can I see you?” and had a phone number. I knew the handwriting and, despite all the pain this man had caused me, called him immediately. He asked if he could come pick me up and show me something. I waited for him and, when he came, got silently into his car. He drove to a house, parked in front of it and said, “I bought this house for you. Leaving you was the biggest mistake of my life. I want you to marry me, move in with me, live with me and love me. You are the love of my life and I hope it’s not too late for me to win you back.”

    I said, “What were the shoes for?” He smiled and said, “I was trying to show you the wicked witch was dead.”

    That was on July 7th, 1987 and we’ve been together ever since. 22 years of marriage, four kids, and a life time of him courting me so that I never forget I really am the love of his life!

  2. farmwifetwo says:

    Mine called me up for a date and I actually had to think about who it was. I had seen him at a meeting I attended once a month and talked with him but that was all. Then I had to use a map to figure out where we were going…

    First date was a dance and a sleepover at his Parents house… a 3+hr drive in total that Sat by the time he’d drove from his apartment, to my parents, to his parents… BTW, his parents were home and were at the dance… It’ll be 16yrs in about 6wks since that date… never wore the mini-skirt again :)

    I dislike when authors turn courting into bullying by the hero. Where they refuse to give the heroine personal space, her words meaning, and where her opinions are not validated.

    One of the reasons I married him was b/c he didn’t twist what I said, I have my independance (ie. don’t have to ask permission to do something/financially) and we have unspoken ground rules (he has an “opinion” wrt the boys (autism) but no final “say” since the job of “nag” has become mine).

  3. Janet W says:

    Who did sweep me off my feet better than Roarke? Remember what he gave Eve when he was courting her — his very first present? It was a pound of REAL coffee! Of course I always think he’s a bit of a bully but then she’s so pig-headed if he didn’t step in, they’d never see each other.

    My dh is the soul of generosity, especially with his time — when we were courting he joined me when I Christmas shopped for my family and organized the entire outing — and then helped me wrap the presents. Bit of a metaphor for the rest of our 30+ years later marriage :)

  4. AARPat says:

    Reading this I was reminded of Bugs in The Older Woman, who having been in a Black Hawk crash was recovering next door to the older woman he woos. Not only does he comfort her when he sees her crying, but takes in a stray cat and feeds it. But the remarkable thing is he does everything hobbling around because he’s still in recovery physically. So his wooing is a painful act of love. Great book. Great memories. Thanks.

  5. Claudia says:

    I sooo agree with Janet W! :) Roarke and Eve have a “sweep me off my feet” story.
    There are a few others I can think of, for example Jack and Amanda of ‘Suddenly You’ by Lisa Kleypas, also by Lisa is Hardy and Haven in ‘Blue-eyed Devil’; or Rhage and Mary in ‘Lover Eternal’ by J.R. Ward.
    There are so many wonderful stories… I definitely share the romantic appeal of courting in a love story.
    Are there any stories were is the girl who does the wooing? I can’t think of any right now.

  6. Carrie says:

    Wow, Dabney! That’s such a romantic story!

    I guess my husband didn’t court me so much as comfort me. It was an odd time for me, because my father was dying from cancer when we met, and I was preoccupied with that and helping my mom. But what he did was support me, spend money to drive me to see my dad, and stay alone in a motel for entire weekends so I could spend the time with my mom and dad. He asked me to marry him 15 days after our first date and we were married 6 months later. Dad lived long enough to know we were engaged and to meet Will, which was important to me. Will and I just celebrated our 27th anniversary last weekend.

  7. dick says:

    Yeah, but think about it! Those heroes in romance fiction have fate and the author not only to create their courting techniques but make them work.

  8. Vi says:

    One of my favorite books is Mary Balogh’s Slightly Dangerous. Wulfric and Christine meet again many months later after Christine rejected Wulfric’s disastrous proposal. Wulfric makes a surprising offer to Christine. He invites Christine and her family to join his family for Easter.

    “I want to prove to you,” he said, “that I have at least some of those tributes you dream of finding in a man.”

    He continues with:
    “I’m a man as well as a duke, Mrs. Derrick,” he said.

    Finally, he adds:
    And you have not been indifferent to that man,” he said.

    Thus begins the wooing of Christine. He effectively and lovingly reveals to her the man behind the duke. *sighs*

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  10. Tee says:

    OMG, reading all these wonderful different ways real-life husbands courted their wives makes me wonder just how much I missed. Neither my husband nor I must have very romantic bones in our bodies, I guess. We’ve never been hearts-and-flowers, but some of these scenarios do sound great, I have to admit.

    As far as courting scenes in books, it all depends. If it’s too overdone, then I’m probably fast skimming. It’s all in the balance. But then that’s how I am in real life too. LOL

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