Hi friends!!! I’m so excited to welcome back our friend Theresa Romain! She’s absolutely fabulous! And she was the first person to figure out “ALBTALBS” stands for “A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet!” Which yes is the actual name of this site! I know, right?! She’s also got a new book coming out on Tuesday – Lady Notorious! Whee! A good month for historical romance releases indeed!
Limecello, thanks for the chance to visit ALBTALBS! I always love stopping by here, and this time I’ve got an exclusive excerpt to share. It’s from Lady Notorious, my next historical romance—coming your way next Tuesday, February 26.
In Lady Notorious, Cassandra Benton is an unofficial Bow Street Runner who works alongside her twin brother until he’s injured on a case. To cover the family’s expenses, Cass takes a private case for George, Lord Northbrook. The scientifically-minded marquess, a duke’s son, suspects his father’s life is in danger from one of the friends who formed a tontine with the duke—a survivor’s wager—decades before. But which friend is the culprit? To help George protect his father, Cass masquerades as a family cousin and infiltrates the ton. And the more she learns, the more she places her heart at risk…Continue reading →
Hello, everyone! I’m Theresa Romain, historical romance writer and coffee drinker. (The two are frequently related. Limecello, thanks for hosting me at ALBTALBS today to talk about my newest book, Scandalous Ever After.
Scandalous Ever After is the story of Evan Rhys, an antiquities expert, and Lady Kate Whelan, the friend he’s long loved. Kate is the widow of Evan’s best friend, and when the story begins, she and Evan meet up for the first time in the two years since her husband died. Evan is just as in love with Kate as ever—though she has no idea—and seizes the chance to travel with her from Cambridge to Newmarket for the fall horse races.
This exclusive excerpt is from a scene set on race day, when Kate’s horse-mad relatives are running Thoroughbreds and Kate is struggling with a whole pile of feelings–including a growing attraction to the man she’s thought of as a friend for thirteen years.
After years apart, old friends Lady Kate Whelan and Evan Rhys reunite at a race. They’ve been masking their feelings for each other for years, but when Evan must protect Kate from her late husband’s secrets, he may not be able to resist her any longer.
After being widowed by a steeplechase accident in Ireland, Lady Kate Whelan abandons the turf. But once her mourning is complete, her late husband’s debts drive her to seek help in Newmarket amidst the whirl of a race meet. There she encounters antiquities expert Evan Rhys, her late husband’s roguish friend—whom she hasn’t seen since the day of his lordship’s mysterious death.
Now that fate has reunited them, Evan seizes the chance to win over the woman he’s always loved. But once back within the old stone walls of Whelan House, long-held secrets come to light that shake up everything Kate thought she knew about her marriage. Now she wonders who she can trust with her heart—and Evan must decide between love and a truth that will separate him from all his heart desires. Continue reading →
My dears, I’m here, I’m alive, and it’s Teaser Tuesday!!! Even better we’re back with ALBTALBS superstar Theresa Romain! 🙂 Yay exclusive excerpts, and double yay Pygmalion! I’m such a classics geek and … just *bounce* <3
Limecello, thank you for letting me join you and the ALBALBS crowd for Teaser Tuesday. Today I’m sharing an exclusive excerpt from my next historical romance, To Charm a Naughty Countess (coming May 6!). This is a Pygmalion story featuring a rakish widowed countess and a brilliant, awkward duke. Here’s the back cover blurb:
CAN A RECLUSIVE DUKE…
Brilliant but rumored mad, Michael Layward, the impoverished Duke of Wyverne, has no success courting heiresses until widowed Lady Stratton takes up his cause–after first refusing his suit.
WIN LONDON’S MOST POWERFUL COUNTESS?
Caroline Graves, the popular Countess of Stratton, sits alone at the pinnacle of London society and has vowed never to remarry. When Michael–her counterpart in an old scandal–returns to town after a long absence, she finds herself as enthralled with him as ever. As she guides the anxiety-ridden duke through the trials of society, Caroline realizes that she’s lost her heart . But if she gives herself to the only man she’s ever loved, she’ll lose the hard-won independence she prizes above all.
This excerpt takes place after Michael’s first few attempts at finding a bride, which go badly. Verrrry badly. So badly that Caroline summons him to her home for a bit of, er, supplementary instruction in society’s ways.
It’s totally professional. Really. I promise.
“Let us try again, then, and we will seek a kernel of pleasure in the everyday. You have your introduction in a moderate discussion of the weather.”
Michael sighed. “Yes. And no experiments.”
“Quite right. What next should we vanquish, to increase your enjoyment of London life?”
The answer came to mind at once. “Dancing. I know it is an inextricable part of courtship, though it is really nothing but an excuse for touching a lot of attractive strangers.”
“And unattractive ones too. Sadly.” Caroline dusted biscuit crumbs from her fingertips. “I suspect you’re not the only man in London who has qualms about dancing. It is one of the most complex of our rituals, you know. Every step heavy with meaning, every gesture holding import.”
“That is not a helpful observation.” Michael’s right leg began to bounce, agitated. “I thought dancing was intended to be diverting, but where is the diversion if every dance holds more significance than the average speech before Parliament?”
“This.” Before he understood her meaning, she rose from her seat to flatten a palm on his chest. His heart thumped for her notice, but then her head bent close to his, and he felt the warmth of her breath on his ear. “This, Michael.”
His scalp prickled; he had no idea whether his heart continued to beat. He only felt, wanted, craved as she took his hands, pulled him to his feet, then slid his hands around the curve of her waist.
His fingers flexed. “The sphere is no longer my favorite shape.”
“You have a favorite shape?” She paused. “Never mind. Of course you do. Might I hope your favorite number is three? We’re going to waltz.”
“Here. Now. One, two, three,” she murmured. Then she tugged at his shoulders, humming tunelessly. His feet followed as they were bid, at first stumbling until he seized upon the pattern of the steps. Ticking off circle after circle, transporting him ever onward, to a place that was entirely distant from a morning room on a noisy street in London. They turned, silent and slow, deliberate as arithmetic, and there was nothing but the sum of their parts. Body and soul and the sweet feeling of Caroline in his arms.
They fit together, hands and bodies, in every way. Two gears from the same wondrous machine, made to work together.
The tuneless scratch of her hum died away, leaving them alone in a roaring silence.
He had forgotten his body for a few minutes—a blessed gift. Now that it pressed upon his notice again, it was not as usual. Every fiber of his form felt taut, but the feeling was pure and bright, like feeling the sun on his skin for the first time after a long winter.
At long last, he thought as he bent his head.
She slid her hands to his face, then turned her head to breathe his name in his ear. “Michael. This. Let me show you the pleasure in it.”
He had never known an ear was useful for anything but hearing. Yet as she breathed in it—as he could almost feel her lips upon its sensitive folds—pleasure arrowed through his body, sudden and startling.
Surely she could feel his arousal through their clothing. Would she pull away? But no, she caught his shoulders again and pulled him closer.
His hands framed her face, then tangled in her coiled hair. Delicately, he brushed her lips with his. So soft. So heated. She gave a little sigh and slid her arms down to encircle him.
Why—she was embracing him.
He had not been embraced since the last time he surrendered himself to her touch.
Of reflex, he waited for the gut punch of chilly tension, the intrusive pounding of his headache. But she tugged his head downward, and her hot tongue found the rim of his ear, and his every rivet simply popped. He was steam, mindless and formless and boiling, and dimly he heard himself moan as she gently nipped his earlobe.
He caught her mouth again, smothering it with his own, wanting to consume their every sound of need. This was a power both unprecedented and exhilarating: to please a woman with his body. He had never done such a thing before, never been so close or so passionate.
But his own flesh understood things darker and deeper and hotter than anything Michael had ever studied in a book. He knew just how to press back when Caroline rubbed against him. He knew how to match her mouth with his, how to invite the delicious torment of her tongue. The taste of her was indefinable, like heat itself, and he sipped at it to understand it more fully. There was no understanding it, though, none at all. It was wildness for its own sake, and it was marvelous.
His hands had their own will, stroking her back and pulling her more firmly against his body. He wanted her inside him; he wanted to be inside her. The touch of her was magical, more intoxicating than brandy could possibly be.
No wonder he had resisted such closeness. It was unmaking him. He was drunk on it, and the realization made him shudder with thrilling force. This, this was why people danced and loved, and why they offered one another night after night of pleasure.
But pleasure would not save Wyverne.
The thought was as heavy and painful as hitting his thumb with a hammer.
There was no reason to dance with Caroline, or to kiss her. The solution to his problems was the prosaic circle of a guinea, not the sinuous curve of the woman in his arms.
He let his arms sink to his sides. They felt as weighty as if all the burdens of the world had been placed on them.
Which was a ludicrous overstatement. It wasn’t the world. It was merely eighty thousand acres of it, scattered far away and sere, needing him more than he could ever need anything or anyone.
“I…” He began, but had nothing to say next.
That single syllable was enough, though. He could almost hear the fragile intimacy shatter as Caroline stepped away from him.
“I can do without pleasure,” he made himself say. “It is not a requirement. Only money is a requirement.”
“I am sorry to hear you say that.” She was still too close to him, close enough to touch, yet she did not touch him again. “For I think an appreciation of pleasure would help you greatly in your cause. Without feeling it, you can never give it.”
For more info about To Charm a Naughty Countess and to read chapter 1, please visit my site here.
And of course we’re going to have a giveaway, too! To Charm a Naughty Countess is the second book in my Matchmaker trilogy. I’ll give away a print or ebook (Kindle or Nook) copy of the first Matchmaker romance, It Takes Two to Tangle, to one random commenter on this post. Winner’s choice of format; open internationally.
For your comments, feel free to ask me something about To Charm a Naughty Countess—or let me know your favorite shape, or whether you know how to waltz, or if you’re any better at humming than Caroline is, or if you’ve got biscuit crumbs on your fingers like her. Really, it’s all good. Thanks!
Did you all read the additional excerpt?! And you can pre-order a copy here. 😉
Hello friends! As you see we have the delightful Theresa Romain visiting us again today, and this time she brought her husband along too!
Lime, thanks for hosting me today! I’m here to chat a bit about Season for Scandal, the third historical romance in my Holiday Pleasures series. This is a marriage of convenience/marriage in trouble story, and it just hit stores last Tuesday (October 1).
Last fall when I visited ALBTALBS, I recruited my brother to join me. This time, I’ve brought another special guest: my patient and somewhat long-suffering husband, whom we’ll call Mr. R.
TR: How do you feel about serving my nefarious purpose this year?
Mr. R: I’m a little concerned about your use of the word “nefarious,” but okay.
TR: You should be used to it. We’ve been married for a while.
Which is a nice segue into my first thought-provoking, profound, and (of course) nefarious question. What’s the best thing about being married to a romance writer?
Mr. R: The best would be the glamorous trips to exotic speaking engagements and book signings and (chuckles)…just kidding. Let’s see. What would be the best? (unconscionably long pause) I guess the best thing is that you get to do something you enjoy, and that makes you happy, and that makes me happy.
TR: Aw. That’s nice. And what’s the worst?
Mr. R: The worst thing is that when you have a deadline, you feel you have to work in the evenings as well.
TR: Thank you for not mentioning that I turn into a raging space loon at that time as well.
Mr. R: Another “worst thing” might be when I tell you a criticism of your work.
TR: Hey! I only asked for one!
But that gives us another segue—nicely done. You’re always my first reader, which means you were the first person to read the clunky early draft Season for Scandal. The hero and heroine, Jane and Edmund, actually appeared in my previous historical romance, Season for Surrender. How was it to see them shoved together in a marriage of convenience in Season for Scandal?
Mr. R: When I read Season for Surrender, it was clear that Jane would be the heroine of the next book. I was surprised to know that Edmund would be the hero—but it makes sense for them to be together because Edmund seemed to enjoy a flair for drama and Jane *caused* drama. Wherever she went, whatever she did.
TR: She still does that in Season for Scandal. Poor Jane; she thinks being married to a man she’s always loved is the answer to her dreams. But that’s not exactly how their marriage of convenience works out. Did that make you uneasy when I tortured my married characters? I kind of felt bad about that.
Mr. R: I don’t think you tortured the characters. They both had to deal with reality. They both had been deeply caught up in fantasy before they married, and they had to learn that in a real marriage, it’s not always like the fantasy.
Unlike our marriage, of course, which is like a waking fantasy each and every day.
TR: I would believe you more if you hadn’t snickered while you said that.
But thanks, that’s what I was going for. In Jane and Edmund’s story, a wedding isn’t the end of the road to happily-ever-after; it’s only the beginning. Their marriage hits a serious rough patch, and they have to learn their way through it (and get embroiled in a scandal along the way). Minus the scandal—maybe—I think that’s the way it is for most real-life couples.
Unlike our marriage, of course, which is like a waking fantasy each and every day.
Mr. R: Exactly.
TR: So, ok. Let’s wrap this puppy up on a high note. What’s your favorite scene from Season for Scandal?
Mr. R: My favorite scene is definitely the first chapter. I thought it was a great introduction to Jane’s character. It had drama, suspense, comedy, and intrigue. I would have ended up reading the rest of the book even if I weren’t married to the author.
TR: That’s all I can ask!
Thanks for joining me for this interview. You were a very good sport. I tried to type your words accurately and never throw in a rogue OMG THERESA YOU ARE AWESOME.
Mr. R: OMG THERESA YOU ARE AWESOME. There. I actually said it. [TR: He really did, in a calm, serious voice. It was pretty much the best thing I’ve ever heard.]
* * *
Want to read that first chapter of Season for Scandal? You can find it on my website here.
And now for a book giveaway! Jane and Edmund first appear in Season for Surrender, the second Holiday Pleasures romance. I’ll give away a copy of Season for Surrender—winner’s choice of print or digital—to one random commenter. International entrants are welcome.
So what questions do you have for Theresa or Mr. Romain? Also, just so you know about the book…
Jane Tindall has never had money of her own or exceptional beauty. Her gifts are more subtle: a mind like an abacus, a talent for play-acting—and a daring taste for gambling. But all the daring in the world can’t help with the cards fixed against her. And when Edmund Ware, Baron Kirkpatrick, unwittingly spoils her chance to win a fortune, her reputation is ruined too. Or so she thinks, until he suggests a surprising mode of escape: a hasty marriage. To him. On the surface, their wedding would seem to satisfy all the demands of proper society, but as the Yuletide approaches, secrets and scandals turn this proper marriage into a very improper affair.
Sounds good doesn’t it? And come on – get chatty, because technically we have two guests here today! 😀
I’ve been fighting with my site, friends, and it got ugly. But I emerged victorious. And for those of you sticking around, I have a treat for you. An exclusive excerpt of a book not out until September! Whoo! Early sneak peeks!
Though he lost the use of an arm in the Napoleonic Wars, Henry Middlebrook returns to London society and begins an ambitious courtship of the ton’s reigning beauty. When he experiences limited success, he decides to ask for assistance from the beauty’s companion, Frances Whittier. A soldier’s widow with a murky past, Frances admires Henry’s courage and sends him a secret letter. He thinks the letter is from her mistress, and Frances must correct his mistake if she wants to engage his heart.
She also provided us with this explanation. To intro these excerpts a bit: our hero Henry, wounded near the end of the Napoleonic Wars, has slipped out of a ball being thrown by his family in his honor. Our heroine Frances, whom he’s used to thinking of as a friend, comes along with him–and soon friendship takes a turn for the romantic.
Who doesn’t love a good kissing scene? 😀
He’d seen Frances, talked to her, many times in the past few weeks. He’d even been alone with her, touched her, a not-quite-proper clasp of fingers. But now… he’d really talked to her. They were truly alone. And he was finally seeing her, clever and desirable—and oh God, did he want to touch her some more.
She held his face in light fingertips, waiting for him to say or do something. Her breathing was shallow and quick.
Henry was not sure he was breathing at all.
Before his brain could voice a contrary opinion, he leaned forward and brushed her lips with his. Ah.
Soft as the feather of a quill, faint as the line drawing that guided the form of a painting. It was an art, the touch of mouth on mouth, and he was out of practice, but it did not matter. Her lips parted for his, and her hands pulled his face closer with the desperate truth of her own desire.
He slid his hand up her side, finding her shoulder, tickling her neck with the lightest brush of his thumb. Up it whisked, then down, and she shivered and made a little sound in the back of her throat. Mmmm. Her fingers slid over his face, sweet and tender, then ruffled through his hair, her nails lightly raking his scalp.
All sense vanished beneath the primal triumph of pleasing a woman. Somehow he would persuade her to want him, this clever and mysterious woman who sat aside, who noticed everything, who let him kiss her when he’d feared no one would want him again.
He should not use her—not to fill his roiling emptiness. But it was Frances, and she always knew what to do. Her mouth felt so good against his; the taste of her lips almost unbearably sweet and intoxicating. Not since he was a youth had he grown so drunk on kisses. He could have kissed her for hours, exploring her mouth, winning precious little moans from her.
The hands fisted in his hair let go suddenly, and she pulled away, breathing quickly, and stood. In the shaded light of the eagle chandelier, he could see the darkening of her cheeks, the flush on the exposed portion of her bosom. He wanted to follow that color beneath her clothing, see where it ended, trace her nipples with his tongue.
But no—she’d ended the kiss.
Thump. He let his head fall back against the wall. “I’m sorry. Just… give me a moment to compose myself.”
“Why would I want to do that?” Still standing, she began to wrestle with the heavy mass of her skirts. She gathered and bunched them until her legs were bare to the knee, then plumped down again on the sofa next to Henry. “When I’m working so hard to discompose myself?”
And here’s some angst to follow.
Henry raked his hand through his hair, taming and flattening the wild peaks she’d made with her eager fingers. “No. I shouldn’t have done this.”
Frances’s proud posture sagged. “You shouldn’t have… what? Met me alone?”
“Yes, and—and touched you.” He stammered, hating his own uncertainty. None of the social rules he remembered had prepared him for this: seeking advice about courtship then mauling the advisor.
Carefully, she pushed away to a respectable distance. Her face fell into shadow against the deep blue of the wall. “I touched you too,” she said in a bland voice. “Do you want me to apologize? Should I be ashamed of having kissed you?”
“I hope not,” Henry blurted. He pressed his hand to his temple. It was far too hot in here suddenly; he wished he could lie down on the plush-carpeted floor and wait for his shuddering limbs to return to normal.
“You hope I won’t apologize.”
“No,” he barked. “I hope you won’t feel ashamed. That’s not why I stopped.” He drew in a hesitant breath, focusing on the minute physical sensations of his body: the soft abrasion of starched linen around his neck, the tight embrace of snug-buttoned waistcoat around his torso. His clothing kept him from pulling in a deep, down-to-the-toes breath. It also reminded him where he was.
“I… liked… kissing you.” The words fell from his lips haltingly, as though it was the first time he’d translated such sensations into speech. “Very much.”
“Oh.” She bent forward, her long body folded up. Those tip-tilted hazel eyes wouldn’t meet his, but at least he could see her face again. “I suppose that’s something to be glad for.”
“Is it?” He let out a harsh laugh. “Where can it lead us? Nowhere. You deserve better than…” He gestured wildly with his left arm, not knowing if he meant himself or something clandestine or something that wasn’t completely wholehearted. Though it had felt awfully wholehearted for a few free, unfettered minutes, until he remembered the world outside.
“You have no idea what I deserve,” Frances said with a wry smile. “None at all.”
“We should go back,” he said in a voice thick with thwarted arousal, sorrow, pain. He swallowed it all, and it stayed within him, deep and hidden. Deep enough that he could muster a smile, a courteous bow, and a graceful offer of a hand.
She took his fingers in hers, and he ignored the quick squeeze of longing. The light of the chandelier glossed her eyes with gold, and he could not see their true color.
So. That was that. He tugged her to her feet and escorted her to the door.
When they opened it, they were hit by a tidal wave of sound and heat. Stomping feet and shrill laughter and sawing strings and the light of a thousand candles.
This was reality. The blue room was nothing but an illusion of peace.
He could hide from the world for a few minutes, but eventually he had to live in it, to conquer it. And so he would have to keep his guard always up, more than ever before—because now he knew he could not ask Frances to help him.
He could not be trusted to take from her only what he ought to take.
So what do you think? And because Theresa is a lovely and awesome lifesaver, I want to offer a giveaway. A kindle copy of one of her Season series books (Season for Temptation, or Season for Surrender) to someone who comments. Either – have you read any of her books? What did you think of this excerpt? Or Regency set romances? Or even – do you subscribe to ALBTALBS?
You guys, we have an extra special fun post from awesome author Theresa Romain today! Whee! I hope you’ll give her a warm welcome, and also extend the same to her brother!
Limecello, thanks so much for hosting me today! My second historical romance, Season for Surrender, just came out last week. I’ve asked my brother to help me with this post, because
1) Season for Surrender is, in large part, about family relationships, and
2) This way he will do half the work for me.
Thanks for your help, Brother R!
Absolutely – it never hurts to help! So, you say Season for Surrender is about family relationships, eh? I’m intrigued – tell me more.
Well, that statement was only partially true. It’s first and foremost a romance, of course! But when the book begins, both the hero and heroine are trying to figure out how to make their own path away from their family. Rakish Alex, Lord Xavier, has begun to feel trapped by the expectations of his friends (and villainous cousin—grrr). Shy Louisa Oliver is ready to overcome her fears about society by leaving her sister’s household. They meet at a naughty Christmas house party. Whee!
Well, if I lived in my sister’s household, I am sure I would never want to leave because it is so darn cool.
I do keep a lot of baked goods on hand.
Speaking of that sister, are we going to meet Julia and James in Season for Surrender?
Look at you, referring to the hero and heroine from my debut (Season for Temptation). You really did read it?
But of course! I brought it to the gym and read it in between sets. It was great – no one bothered me to ask for a spotter.
Well, YEAH. A guy who’s strong enough to read a pink book in public is obviously a guy you don’t want to tangle with.
In answer to your question, Julia (heroine from my debut) makes a brief appearance in Season for Surrender. But! You can read either book without having read the other. (Not you. People in general. You are required to read both, Brother R. Sorry.)
No worries, I’ve been longing for some more good gym reading to work on my emotional strength as well as my physical strength. 😉 Who else will be at the Season for Surrender house party, and what sort of goings-on can readers expect to find?
*Louisa’s blunt-spoken aunt, Lady Irving, serving as a chaperone
*Xavier’s cousin Lockwood, who has a cunning plan
*Xavier’s other cousin Jane, who wishes she had a cunning plan but can’t because her mother is keeping a close eye on her
*a library full of secrets
I am amazed by your creativity in coming up with cunning plans and characters with awesome names. (I secretly wished I was named Xavier in elementary school.) From whence do you draw your inspiration?
Nice historical-speak, Brother R. A day with a “whence” is a good day indeed.
Character-name inspiration can come from all over the place. Film crew credits at the end of British movies; 19th century novels; my trusty directory of English peerages. As for the cunning plans: strictly my imagination, I swear.
Should we give away a book now?
We are giving away a book? What book? And, I heartily agree, a day with a wench is a good day indeed. May I quote you on that?
Er…sure, why not?
We’re giving away a signed copy of Season for Surrender, so someone will get to read about this ever-festive house party full of cunning plans. And—to return to our original topic—see how Xavier and Louisa find love while also finding their own path away from their families.
Not that families aren’t great. Because they are. Especially when they help one with one’s work. Thanks, Brother R!
You’re welcome. Do I get to ask the question for commenters now? Sweet! Okay, here it is: “What is the most embarrassing thing your family has ever said to a date you brought home?”
I can answer that for you. “When Brother R was little, I used to dress him up like a—”
<coughs loudly> Well, it was nice blogging with you, Sister! That’s all, folks!
Hee! I, for one, was vastly entertained. We’re hoping to get Theresa’s brother here, so what question do you have for either sibling?!
Lookit! ;D (I figured I needed to mix it up a bit, right?) Today we’ve got Theresa Romainback again! We didn’t scare her off! (Ok, ok, I didn’t. I know it’d be down to me. :P)
Dating, Conflict, and the Careful Application of Crazysauce
On this day, mumble mumble years ago, Mr. R and I went out on our first date.
It was ok. Pretty good, I guess. We went to a sports bar and played one of those networked trivia games. Mr. R wiped up the geography section—but then came a slew of questions about the human skeleton, and a look of dread crossed his face.
Fortunately for him, I learned some weird things in third grade, including the names of most human bones. The third grade part made me O_o – that’s quite a memory! So, we won. Mischief managed! Mr. R was so impressed that he called me for a second date a mere nine days later. That was ok with me, because we were both grad students and we had some giant research papers to complete during the nine days.
Does that make for an interesting story? If it weren’t for the skeleton, I’d say: not really. Dating may be the one area of life that’s less horrible AS WELL AS less amazing than it appears in fiction. Most real-life dates don’t make for good reading, because there’s no conflict. Both people want the same thing: to meet someone they’ll like spending time with. And conflict is what propels a story along.
For this reason, a lot of first dates in fiction aren’t between the hero and heroine. Instead, the date is with someone else so that it can serve as a source of conflict; that is, a reason for the couple not to be together.
I’ll give you some examples in a table, because I love making tables (I was dropped as a baby). Here we see some sample events from my first date with Mr. R, as compared to totally made-up equivalents in contemporary and historical romance.
I don’t know why the lines of the chart won’t show up : sorry.
Actual First Date with Mr. R
First Date in a Contemporary Romance
First Social Encounter in a Historical Romance
Site of date
An average-looking sports bar
A sports bar that is 1000% seedier than the heroine expected
A mad crush of bodies in the most anticipated ball of the entire London season
Man with comb-over, dressed in leisure suit, who bears no resemblance to photo on dating site
Noble nincompoop sent by heroine’s mother to dance with her
Behavior of heroine’s date
Sadly ignorant of human skeletal terminology; otherwise nice
Much loud laughter at own jokes; inappropriate touching
Unable to remember dance steps; presumes too much upon slight acquaintance
Location of hero
In vicinity of heroine
Seated on nearby barstool, smirking at clueless behavior of Leisure Suit Man
Standing with bored pack of alpha males, all deriding the latest debutantes—until heroine catches his eye as she dances with Lord Nincompoop
Circumstances of kiss
At end of date, hero says goodnight and kisses heroine*
Leisure Suit Man goes in for a smooch, heroine falls off chair in attempt to avoid
Lord Nincompoop lures heroine into garden and plants one on her—in view of notorious gossip
Nine days of radio silence, during which time serious-grad-student-type research papers were completed
Heroine chokes on gum, turns purple. Hero swoops in and successfully performs Heimlich
Hero intervenes to prevent hasty betrothal; ends by spiriting heroine away for three scandalous days of passion
See? There’s much more conflict when the hero and heroine are kept separate by something more than research papers. (Also, that was kind of fun calling myself a heroine.) While we love it when a date goes smoothly in real life, in fiction we love heaping scoops of conflict, sometimes with a sweet crazysauce topping.
In my romance debut, Season for Temptation, the hero and heroine’s first meeting isn’t like the one in the table above. There’s no garden, and no ballroom, but there is a giant source of conflict. James and Julia meet when he comes to visit her family—because he’s in an engagement of convenience to Julia’s stepsister, who’s also her closest friend.
In real life, this is the kind of situation that gets you on The Jerry Springer Show, and even in fiction, it has the potential to cross lines of betrayal that I wanted to stay away from. I was looking for conflict, but not a crazysauce level of it. So in my story, all three people involved in the triangle are motivated by duty to their families, and they’re all trying to act in an honorable way. As it turns out, this puts even more barriers in the way of James and Julia’s romance.
Have you read a book, or seen a movie, with a first-date scene that you really enjoyed? Share, share! I’m offering a print copy of Season for Temptation to one random commenter. International entrants welcome.
BIO: Theresa Romain pursued an impractical education that allowed her to read everything she could get her hands on. She then worked for universities and libraries, where she got to read even more. Eventually she started writing, too. Her historical romance debut, SEASON FOR TEMPTATION, was published in October 2011. The sequel, SEASON FOR SURRENDER, will be published in October 2012.
Hi everyone! Meet my “second life saver” Theresa Romain! She also responded to my twitter call, and here she is! I’m also super excited about her post – and I hope you enjoy it too! (Can you tell I love randomness? Like love it?) I also had no idea about almost all these movies. I also *small voice* haven’t seen like 99% of them.
Holiday Movies That Aren’t
This time of year, the only way to escape holiday movies is to enter a complete media blackout. But I’m here to tell you: no need for that. You might be tired of It’s a Wonderful Life, but every time a bell rings, another holiday movie is made. And sometimes these are not the movies you’d expect.
For example. Did you know Christmas could be combined with pandemic zombie-ism? German terrorists? Fear of computers? Indeed it can. Let’s take a look at a few holiday movies that hide their red and green.
I Am Legend (2007). (Dude! It’s only $5!) This is the movie that inspired this whole list. About a month ago, I told a friend, “I’m in the mood for a holiday movie. Time to turn on I Am Legend!” Her response was something along the lines of “o_O.” But it’s true. The movie focuses on the aftermath of a mutated anti-cancer vaccine that’s killed or zombie-fied most of humanity (but not Will Smith!). Through flashbacks, we see the early spread of the virus and the evacuation and quarantine of Manhattan Island. At Christmas.
Why at Christmas? I think so the filmmakers could have the crushingly lonely Dr. Robert Neville (Smith) walk into abandoned houses and see left-behind trees and presents—all the trappings of a family holiday that will never come again.
So, yeah. This is a holiday movie. With zombie rats!
Runners-Up: Any creature movie set at Christmas will be playing with the fearsome versus the heartwarming. In this same vein (zing!) are Gremlins (1984), Dawn of the Dead (1978), and Batman Returns (1992).
Die Hard (1988). Like Dr. Robert Neville, John McClane (Bruce Willis) winds up doing battle instead of roasting chestnuts on an open fire. When his estranged wife’s company is taken over during its Christmas party by bond-hunting terrorists led by Severus Snape Colonel Brandon Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), McClane is the only man on the inside who can help save Christmas. And his wife. And a lot of other people.
Our lesson? Christmas is the time to be with the people you love. Even if that means going through a wad of German terrorists.
Runners-Up: Die Hard 2 (1990) went back to the same well. Lethal Weapon (1987) and Eastern Promises (2007) also deal with crimes around Christmas time—whether for redemption or an extra dose of creepiness.
Desk Set (1957). Bunny Watson (Katharine Hepburn) adores her job as a researcher for a TV network. But when efficiency expert Richard Summer (Spencer Tracy) gets called in just before Christmas, Bunny’s afraid she and her staff are all about to get the chop. Besides the fact that a character would never be named “Bunny” now (I hope), this whip-smart romantic comedy is startlingly modern. As for the Christmas elements–well, according to this movie, Christmas is a time we all have extra job stress and drink a little more than we should.
Runners-Up: Oh, so many offbeat classics with holiday elements. In Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944), a young woman drunk-marries a soldier on leave whom she can’t remember, then has sextuplets. In Three Godfathers (1936 and 1948), a trio of bank robbers save the life of an orphaned infant. In The Lion in Winter (1968), medieval royals squabble over the throne of France. In The Apartment (1960)…well, you know what that’s about.
So next time you gather with family or friends for a heartwarming holiday film, see if you can steer them away from Kris Kringle, George Bailey, and Ebenezer Scrooge. There’s a holiday- movie-that-isn’t for every mood.
Got any more oddball films to add to the list? Or just want to share one of your favorite holiday movies? Do tell!
I’ll be giving away a copy of my historical romance debut, Season for Temptation, to one random commenter. SFT has quite a bit in common with I Am Legend—it’s got holiday elements, and the hero is not a zombie. (Ok, nor are the other characters.) You can find out more here.
Guess what? Double bonus! Last week I had a giveaway/contest on twitter as well… and Theresa Romain won it! So *I* will also be giving away a copy of Season for Temptation away. A kindle copy though, cuz that’s how I do. It’ll also be on twitter, but don’t worry – tell me your twitter handle here and I’ll double your entry.