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