So Let’s Talk About the Romantic Moment

It’s Valentine’s Day, which for me is the day that the cinnamon jelly hearts go on sale. Not that I’m allowed to have any, but still, I know they’re out there. It’s also the day I’m doing a romance pass on Nita’s first act. Huh. I just realized that “romance pass” may not be the best term for the rewrite in which I go through and try to remember that I’m setting up a romance-to-come. Which is also probably not a good term to use. Uh, rewrite to foreshadow a future romance? Not as catchy, but then not snicker-worthy, either. Which reminds me, the Snickers in the pink foil wrappers are on sale today, too.

So what I’m doing is going through the first act and looking for story moments to foreshadow a romance. Usually, romance readers do a lot of this work for me. I’m fairly sure that if Nita has the first scene and Nick has the second and then they meet in the third, most romance readers will say, “Hello,” and settle in to see things develop. That’s because the real fun of a love story is seeing how thing develop: how they work together, how they handle disagreements, how they come learn to trust each other, the building of the community of two, the growth of the community around the relationship, all of that stuff. Usually when I write a romance, that stuff comes happens first, and then I think, “Right, I need a plot,” and find an antagonist. This time, it was all about the supernatural and struggling with ideas, although I liked both characters from the start.

The thing is, I don’t like most of the shorthand romance tropes. Like he’s gorgeous and she’s gorgeous, so of course they’ll be gorgeous together. I like it that Nick is supernaturally handsome because he’s not real, but that means that Nita has to point that out from the beginning or he becomes Romance Guy. I like it that Nita is kind of scary-looking. I like it that she doesn’t start to trust him until she sees that he’s a skeleton (helps that she’s drunk). But I still need cues in there that there’s a spark, moments that make the romance reader lean into the story. They’re not in there now.

I also like the idea of shared experiences, like the breakfast scene in Nita or the awful-movie-watching in Anyone But You. Okay, I like food and people who like food, so people who like the same food seems like a no-brainer to me. (For best romantic food scene of all time, see illustration above.) Beyond that, people working together on a problem are often drawn together through a shared goal and through stress which produces adrenalin which produces heightened awareness. Also, stress often makes people fall in love: see office and wartime romances. So a shared antagonist and interlocking problems and goals are already in the mix here. I just need to find the moments that make that clear.

But there are also a lot of little clues that work. I think one of the best ones I ever wrote (patting myself on the back here), was Shane giving Agnes the air conditioner. So not a romantic gift. So much more romantic than roses. It’s that moment of understanding that’s a throwaway, not a big production. In fact, I think the most powerful moments are always the throwaway moments, the things that the characters don’t even think about because it’s the natural thing to do.

And there’s there’s the retro but still compelling “I’ll take care of you” move, which isn’t that retro because it works both ways. Like the special license that Freddy brings Kitty in Sprig Muslin Cotillion. Cal defending Min at her parents and vice versa in Bet Me.

And then there’s the always powerful comments-by-others-who-know-the-couple. One of my faves is from The Grand Sophy: When one of Sophie’s friends says “. . . heaven preserve me from marriage with her,” another friend says, “If heaven did not, I fancy Rivenhall would,” an acknowledgement within the story what the reader has known all along, that Sophy and Charles Rivenhall are Meant For Each Other.

I could go on, but it would be more fun if you were playing, too. What are your favorite romantic moments in stories–page or film–and most important, why did they work for you? This isn’t a Valentine’s Day squee topic, we’re doing serious narrative work here. I have a romance to write. You should help.

Let’s talk about what makes a powerful romantic moment.

127 thoughts on “So Let’s Talk About the Romantic Moment

  1. Well, I wrote about Agnes’s air conditioner over at 8LW yesterday, so that’s one that stands out for me :-).

    But looking at my favorite romantic movie (hell, I’m going to go out on a limb and say I think it’s become my all-time favorite movie) Moonstruck, I love the speech Ronnie gives Loretta about all the things ‘love ain’t’. And he tells her he doesn’t care if he burns in hell and she burns in hell, because it’s worth it for this love. So, I guess a moment that flies in the face of the nice, normal and romantic that we expect in real life?

    Then I love it when he shows up at her parents’ house to declare his intentions. OMG, that community scene. So also, a declaration in front of the story’s community/getting the community’s blessing. (Can you guess what movie I’m making my husband watch with me tonight?)

    1. I’m late to this feast – I hope you’ve slept over, so I can make a guy’ s contribution, albeit from another genre. “Stage to Lordsberg” ( they made a movie called “Stagecoach” of it) by Ernest Haycox. Only eleven pages long but it is all in there. Pariah brothel madam wanders out into the moonlight and the gunslinger rancher follows and they talk briefly but easily; just simple courtesy ? Then, next morning, the cattleman who has been coming on to her silently takes a different seat and is sporting a bruise on his chin. She glances across to the gunslinger and noticing his grazed
      knuckles. No words exchanged yet she now realises he values her; has feelings for her.
      I have read that story many times yet still get a lump in my throat with the last paragraph. A beautifully crafted love story

      1. It’s always the subtle stuff that gets you. I think it’s because the author respects the reader enough to figure it out, which makes it more personal.

  2. I’m always looking for that moment in a story where the characters let down their guard and risk being vulnerable to each other.

    Off the top of my head, I remember a sigh-worthy moment early in LMB’s Shards of Honor where Aral and Cordelia do some confessing about their pasts. First he reveals a terrible act he committed (and got away with) as a young man, caused by twin faults of jealousy and anger, and she reveals a time in her youth when she was taken advantage of because she was naive and socially awkward. They each pretend to be talking about things that happened to friends, but it’s clear to both of them what’s going on 🙂

  3. I’m slowly rewatching all 6 of the Thin Man movies. I’m sober, I’m not tired, I’m not trying to watch while folding laundry or dealing with the kids. So I’m catching a whole lot of little things that I missed in previous viewings. And they are really sweet, funny or just awesome moments that clearly show that Nick and Nora really understand and enjoy each other.

    1. I have this vague idea of following up this book with a collection of six Nick and Nita stories based loosely on those movies. As I remember, the plots weren’t great but everybody watched anyway because of Powell and Loy.

    2. I have the Thin Man movies too, Beth, and recently hubby & I re-watched the 1st one. This time around, still thought Nora was fab, but big takeaway was how much Nick drinks (a lot) and how often (always).

      Think the couple pairing & sparing is what clicks for most viewers. Hart to Hart too was a remake of sorts and pays homage to that in its way.

      1. That may have something to do with the time frame in which these movies were created. It was just before WWII and things were tensing up internationally and the Great Depression was still happening. And drinking was not only socially acceptable again but considered civilized.

        The M. F. K. Fisher books were the same time frame and I don’t know how anybody was sober enough to do anything. Dinners started with two martinis; there were several bottles of wine with dinner and then cognac or brandy or liquor after dinner or port or scotch and a cigar. One martini, 1/2 of a bottle of wine and it had better be spread out over 4 hours or I am going to have to go to bed and sleep it off.

  4. Freddy and Kitty are from Cotillion, I think, not Sprig Muslin. But I think the special license might be from Sprig Muslin.

    Jasper and Venetia capping each other’s poetry quotes in Venetia. Anytime really where two people know the same references, have the same shared taste in books or movies.

    And when two people catch each other’s eyes because they are the only two in the room in on the joke that no one else would get.

    1. I love the moment in Cousin Kate when Kate and Phillip are glaring at each other across the table, and suddenly Kate laughs. When Phillip challenges her about it later, she tells him that it occurred to her that they looked like nothing so much as two cats trying to outstare each other, and that’s the moment when Phillip’s preconceived ideas of her go out the window. There are some beautiful romantic beats in that novel.

      My favourite literary romantic moment, though, is the scene in Much Ado when Beatrice tells Benedick to kill Claudio. Things suddenly get serious, the verbal play gets stripped back to bare essentials, and Benedick steps up to the mark and agrees to challenge his best friend because he believes in Beatrice so much.

      I love the moment in Welcome to Temptation when Sophie plays pool with Phin, and he realises that he’s just been played and he’s good with that. And I love the moment when Davy looks at Tilda’s paintings and says “It’s all you.”

      And Music Man was redeemed for me in the moment when Marion shows that she knows he’s a crook, she knows what he’s up to, and she loves him with her eyes wide open. It’s the “I know you, I see you, and I love you” thing.

      1. Wow, we share the same favorite moments!
        I also used to love it on Remington Steele, way back when, that there was usually a moment in each show where the two would actually talk to each other, they were quiet moments.

      2. I love that scene in Much Ado as well, but my favorite is actually the Benedick/Beatrice scene that comes after it (“too wise to woo peaceably”). I like the way they shift from trying to poke at each other to enjoying each other’s company. And then they ease into the serious again when he tells her he’s challenged Claudio. Benedick and Beatrice are the best. Claudio, on the other hand…it’s the best and the worst of Shakespeare’s romances in one place.

    2. I love VENETIA!

      Good catch, indeed, although the special license is from COTILLION–Kitty is trying to get Dolph and Hannah safely married, and Freddy reads the long, detail-filled note she left him and realizes that if she had obtained a special license, she would have included it in the story, so he gets one and brings it to her.

      I’m enjoying all these Heyer references. I don’t like every single one of her books, but the ones I love, I REALLY love. When I first found Jenny’s books (courtesy of my brother), I described her to fellow Heyer fans as the Georgette Heyer of our time.

      A favorite romantic (and delightfully nontraditional) literary moment of mine is the Christmas dinner shared by Barbara and Peaceable and all the references to the “intelligent young lady” in Pope’s THE SHERWOOD RING. They’re charmed and captivated by each other’s intelligence, even though they’re on opposite sides in a war and not in a setting that is in any way conducive to romance. I often reread that chapter at Christmastime (which of course then leads to rereading the entire book). My favorite scene in the movie DESK SET is Tracy and Hepburn having a picnic lunch at a cold, cold rooftop table in mid November. They shouldn’t be falling love–she’s freezing and he’s a threat to her job, and I don’t think he particularly expects much from her at that point–and then she answers some questions and he starts to realize how very smart she is. They end up just charming each other, and me as well.

      Do y’all know this quote from Logan Pearsall Smith: “People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.” I can SO relate!

      1. Desk Set is just adorable! I love the moment when people realise they’ve found someone on their level – they’re not alone in their life / job / crusade.

  5. Don’t want to do a spolier here, as this book is very new, however, I just finished reading Kristan Higgins book, On Second Thought. She had one of those foreshadowing moments in a most unlikely setting, and my romance sensor went off like crazy, and I thought uh huh. It was so subtle, yet, sweet and thoughtful of the hero, and I knew in that moment where the story was going.

    1. Robena – I just finished On Second Thought yesterday and completely agree about that moment. Subtle, thoughtful, and unexpected – those are my favourite romantic moments in stories.

  6. Disclaimer: I’m a bit of a cynic on this topic, as I don’t believe the common wisdom that there’s someone out there for everyone. I also may come across as a bit cranky because I *detest* this alleged holiday.
    Two movies come to mind that seem to relate to your current story. The first is Charade. Audrey Hepburn’s character knows that Cary Grant’s character is not being truthful, but she can’t help it because the magnetism between them (and the on-screen chemistry) is too strong to deny. It’s not any big act that makes their connection, it’swho they are, and that transcends the chaotic and convoluted situation they’re in.
    And then there’s that amazing scene between Rene Russo and Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon 3. It’s both hot and funny at the same time.
    As for anecdotal examples, I knew that marriage was in the cards when my former spouse got us second row scalper tickets to an ELP concert. They were $85 each, a substantial amount in 1992, (though on the low side today) and it made it clear this was someone who was willing to do things to bring me happiness.

  7. I seem to have non romantic tastes in film. I can’t really think of any.

    “Will you not marry me” in Four Weddings and a Funeral springs to mind. While at the end of the film it is the point at which the relationship takes form.

    Shared experience that elicits change when Danielle speaks to Henry about her love for books in “Ever After, A Cinderella Story.”

    You know what? All a y’all will post things here and I’ll be yes and yes and yes, nodding away. But I could barely think of these two!

    1. Same! Drawing such a blank. And I LIKE romance movies and novels. Be back (hopefully) post-coffee as I want to play.

  8. I love moments of understanding who the other person is on a deep level. So in Moonstruck, that line where he tells her “playing it safe is just about the most dangerous thing a woman like you can do.” Or in His Girl Friday, he wants her back desperately, but he knows her well enough to know he can seduce the reporter in her easier than the woman, because she craves that and she’s picking a life that will starve her of it.

    I also love the moment where someone decides “yes, you’re who I want, and I’m fighting for you, and I feel glorious about it. ” I’m thinking of in Courtney Milan’s The Heiress Effect when the hero has confessed he might betray the heroine because of pressure from the big bad, and the heroine thinks about it and then announces that no, rather than force the hero to choose between family and her, she’s just going to take out the big bad herself.

    It’s tricky to pull off yes it’s you, and I’ll fight until I get you without falling over in to stalker. But when an author does, it’s great.

  9. As a reader, I loved that early in the Eve/Roarke/Nora books, Roarke snagged that coat button. She didn’t know, but he did. And, still it is a “character” in play and I watch for it to enter the story in the new books.

    I also love the character and story line in “Ride Steady” by Kristen Ashley. The hero is angry, wants to shut down all his feelings for the leading lady. But, she has a baby. Even while he is trying to push her away, he’s watching out for that little one at every given opportunity. It is just a thing he does that is always there throughout the story. Hooked me from the first chapter in that story.

    And, have to say, the air conditioner and the flight up the stairs with the unit still sticks with me. And also, in Bet Me, when he starts to notice and watch for her shoes.

    Anxious for this new book. Characters are very interesting. I want to learn more about them.

    1. Roarke and Eve have some great moments. The presents are a fun running thing with them. When he gives her that leather coat, and she’s so enthralled with it when she’s usually just uncomfortable with presents, that’s one of my favorites. Or when they both give each other the same photo of the two of them all beat up after an arrest and smiling at each other.

    2. Yes, love that when he starts to notice her shoes. And, the sticking up for the other at the dinners, and the pat, pat, pat Min gives Cal. Oh, and the scene in the dressing room further on in the story. Love that book.

      And the air conditioner in Agnes and the Hitman. Yes!

      Love to catch the first few moments when it dawns on the characters that this could be the one in your books.

      In Loretta Chase’s book, “Dukes Prefer Blondes,” Oliver Radford knows Lady Clara is suffocating by society’s rules and challenges her parents. The witty dialogue between Oliver and Clara remind me a little of The Thin Man. There is a sexual tension underlying their conversations.

      1. I also like it when Cal gives Min gifts and he gives her the Elvis she likes, not the one he likes. That has stuck with me as I think about giving people gifts. Do I give them what I want them to have or do I give them what they are likely to want?

  10. One of my all time favorites was in Bet Me when Cal stopped and bought her ice cream, and she says “where’s the spoon” AND he pulls one out of his pocket. I loved all the “fairy tale believing in them” bits, but this was the moment that I believed he could love and marry her.

    Welcome to Temptation when she starts calling him Bear….. yep, a shared/created private culture, this person will always be part of your life, even if you never see him/her again.

    Roberta – yes! Moonstruck! and the part where he tips the table over and grabs her. Not something I would expect to appeal to me, but it so works there.

    All of Venetia – they have such a shared delight in things. It still makes me cry when he tells her it’s over, because by then you know they are perfect for each other.

    With Nick and Nita, I thought the bit where she drank the scupper and then didn’t behave like a human or a demon works because it really focused Nick’s attention on her in a way that causes understanding and allows for romance. Any believable “this person is new/different/I must know more” is great. So many less successful books I find myself thinking, “and why did he even ever bother speaking to her again?”

    Oddly, I can’t pick out a romantic moment in any of Jane Austin’s books (though I could in movies”. She is more like swimming in the ocean for me – it’s all one big event – more about life than romance. In a different way, I don’t find anything about “Gone With The Wind” or “Wuthering Heights” romantic.

    This was fun, loved everyone’s comments and am looking forward to reading more!

    1. Re: Austen
      I’m a weirdo who genuinely likes people but I just don’t “get” love. I also screw stuff up all the time and have a lot of respect and affection for the second try of something. So it’s no surprise to me that in terms of romantic moments, the story of Anne Elliot realizing she made a bad choice for a good reason and wants to change it and Wentworth realizing forgiveness is a totally reasonable price for love is appealing.
      This was the most human (maybe I mean realistic?) and arguably feminist of her novels. The emotion of that last letter to her was all the fire of. Marianne/Willoughby but more adult and a little blamey too. But “you sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others” does me in. Just tell me that you hear me, and give me a second chance.

      1. Yes! Love “Persuasion” and especially that letter. “You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone I think and plan.” Something about learning that Frederick has been thinking and planning, after we have spent the whole book inside of Anne’s thoughts. Even the rhythm of those two lines is powerful, a steady, driving beat full of urgency and vigor.

        The book is full of moments that show the evolution of his feelings leading up to the letter.

  11. I’ve always been fond of Mr. Darcy’s secretly involving himself to save Miss Elizabeth Bennett’s sister from scandal and try to salvage things as best he could, without having any expectation of Elizabeth ever knowing.

    Beyond romantic. The only thing he stood to gain was the knowledge that he had helped the woman he loved.

  12. Ok, I am finding this exercise really difficult, which I find really odd. Here are my two cents that I was finally able to scrape together:

    In “Faking It,” when they’re playing poker, and Nick is looking around the room, thinking about how none of them know how to play poker, but then he gets to Tilda, and she’s looking right back at him. “That’s my girl, he thought…” Just a great little moment of solid connection, that these two are on the same wavelength.

    OK, this one is not subtle, and it’s not really a moment, but I always get the biggest romance kick/high off of watching Morticia and Gomez, yes from The Addams Family movies, because those two are just so passionate and so accepting of one another, just truly thrilled in the weirdest aspects of each other, and I think it’s so great.

    I will also say I agree with people above, about H/h being the only two in on the joke, those little moments of connection. I can think of those moments (Julia Quinn recently did a great job of that in “Because of Miss Bridgerton”), but that’s not really adding anything new to the discussion.

  13. I totally agree with Charade reference; but the line I love the most is where she says something like ‘o I can’t know you, there are too many people in my life’ and he seems to give up, and then she calls him on that. Right near the beginning, but I just love the quick-witted repartee between them.

    Re-reading a Linda Howard book now (Troublemaker) and in ways it reminds me of Anyone But You in that a central character is the dog (I adore Fred). As the female protagonist recognizes that the male pro is now appreciating the special nature of her dog, she recognizes that she’s in deep trouble with her attraction to him. The ‘fighting-the-attraction’ bit is already present, but there’s one scene where she comes in and finds man/dog nose to nose – I just love that. It would so do it for me.

    1. I love that line, too. Found it on the IMDB:

      Peter Joshua: Do we know each other?
      Reggie Lampert: Why, do you think we’re going to?
      Peter Joshua: How would I know?
      Reggie Lampert: Because I already know an awful lot of people, so until one of them dies I couldn’t possibly meet anyone else.
      Peter Joshua: Well, if anyone goes on the critical list, let me know.

    2. That first meeting in Charade is a delight. I had a history teacher in high school who showed at that scene for no particular reason and told us that’s how people should talk to each other. Not the rest of the movie, just that scene. He was weird, but that’s why we liked him. It’s been a while, but I’m pretty sure he loaned me the novelization of the movie after I told him I liked it.

  14. Well, if we’re quoting Heyer – from “The Talisman Ring” (Sir Tristram and Sarah Thane) where nothing is said explicitly, but everything is implied:

    “He followed her out of the room, and as they mounted the stairs, said: “I wish you will rid yourself of this nonsensical notion that I disapprove of you.”
    “But do you not?” inquired Miss Thane, turning her head.
    He stopped two stairs below her, and stood looking up at her, something not quite a smile at the back of his eyes. “Sometimes,” he said.”

    Or – totally different style – from John Wiltshire’s m/m story “Love is a Stranger”, where Ben is telling his lover Nik how he sees him (in the 3rd person), and, in the process, both shows how well he knows Nik, and also discovers – to his own surprise – that he knows Nik loves him:

    “Ben ran his fingers through the still longish fringe at the front. “He’s way too wealthy and can do pretty much what he likes—which is usually wearing poncy clothes and looking like a bloody GQ model because he knows it impresses everyone… He pretends to read really boring books, but I notice the bookmarks don’t actually progress much. He says he’s given up smoking, but he’s still smoking pretty heavily in his mind.”
    Nikolas began to smirk at that, caught out.
    “He can out-fuck me, out-fight me, and out-manoeuvre me at every turn. He never gives compliments. Getting him to say anything about how he’s feeling is like getting the proverbial out of a sodding stone, but then he doesn’t complain about pain or discomfort either. He’s not afraid of anything except…”
    Nikolas’s amused smile faded, and he looked suddenly uncertain, vulnerable.
    “Me. He’s afraid of losing me.” “

  15. I’m intoxicated by intelligence and competence.

    There’s a bit in Nora Roberts’ The Villa, where the heroine plans a rapid trip to take care of major issues and only asks the hero if he has his passport. He comments about watching her kick ass (paraphrased y’guys) and how much he enjoys it.

    That sold me.

    I love teams where the competence is acknowledged with mutual respect. (The term competence-porn exists, right? I didn’t just make that up?)

    In “10 things I Hate About You” -Heroine gets drunk, hero doesn’t take advantage. To offset her vulnerability, he makes a fool of himself by singing in front of EVERYONE on the grounds, contrary to his reputation. It was the moment in the movie that suggested they’d be ok and it wasn’t just the friend and younger sister who would be.

    Another Heath Ledger film that worked for me “A Knight’s Tale” – when ALL of them contributed to the letter! Even tho’ deceptive, it is authentic in emotion and clearly expresses yearning.

    Amelie. The whole film. But particularly when her old neighbour warned Amelie about always being a watcher instead of living. Sometimes the impetus is enough to suggest a brewing romance.

    Salpy! Look! I wracked my brain and got some! Good luck. 😉

      1. Well, there’s no time limit. You’ll get there.
        And I have just reread The Grand Sophy. If you can shut your eyes past the anti-Semitism, that’s still a damn good book.

    1. I LOVED A Knight’s Tale!

      My favorite romantic movie (and the first that springs to mind): French Kiss, with Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline. There are so many great moments highlighting their cultural differences, and how they are attracted to one another in spite of them. Kevin has this little dialogue going throughout the movie, “I want you to… [interject advice/bossiness]” and you’re just waiting for him to realize that the first three words are enough: “I want you.” Which, of course he does.

      Also, “You make my ass twitch…”

    2. I so glad you mentioned “10 Things I Hate About You” because I think that is a brilliant movie on so many levels – Kate and Heath Ledger’s character, the younger pair navigating their own tale, and the dad. The dad brings my poor husband to tears Every Single Time, tears of mirth and tears of sympathy.

      I recently binge-watched Leverage again (what? it’s soothing, or reassuring I guess? because the bad guys are so instantly recognizable and they always go down) and watching Hardison’s patience with Parker becoming a real girl, and wrestling with having feelings, and having feelings about him, and he just waits until she comes to him knowing what she wants… I have many feels about that pair, and about how the “kids” work out how to continue as a team of three.

      Courtney Milan has some wonderful moments like that. I have no favorites there – each one I read is my favorite until I read the next one.

      1. I’m still such a teenager at heart. They had me at the paintball fight. And at the prom when Patrick has hired her fave band to play.

        Good, I’m glad I’m not the only non-teenager who loves (a lot of) that movie.

        Melinda in “On A Clear Day” singing “He Isn’t You.” Chills.

        Mark Darcy liking Bridget “just as she is.”

        Just about any scene from “Somewhere In Time.” The dumbest, but sweetest, movie of all time.

        And, not to suck up, but we are on her website, from Fast Women: the scene where Gabe shows up at Nell’s new apartment and finds her in Eeyore pajamas, and any scene with Suze and Riley. That entire book is foreplay. The dialogue is sharper than “Moonlighting,” and the first couple of seasons of that show is my benchmark for great dialogue as foreplay. Thank you, thank you for that. It goes on every beach vacation with me, I’ve read that book more times than I can count.

        1. I love Ten Things, too. It’s on my top ten fave rom com list.
          And thank you very much for liking Fast Women, too (g).

      2. Parker and Hardison are adorable. I love that scene where she’s trying to work up the nerve to tell him she has feelings for him and blurts out “pretzels” at the last second because she’s just not ready yet. And Hardison is great, just reassures her that the pretzels will be there when she decides she wants them.

  16. As a redhead I am particularly partial to Anne of Green Gables and the moment when Gilbert secretly gives up the job at the Avonlea school so that Anne will get it and can stay close to Marilla.

    Of course, he needed to do SOMETHING to make up for his adolescent teasing phase of showing interest – “Carrots” indeed!

  17. Oh, I also loved the moment in Stranger than Fiction when Will Farrell’s character brings Maggie Gyllenhaal character “Flours” instead of flowers – because of COURSE flours makes so much more sense for her, but who else would think of that but a nerdy besotted accountant (aided by his author God)?

    1. I loved that moment.

      I loved that movie. Oddly, it changed my life. Can I say that out loud to strangers without sounding too nuts?

  18. Deadpool – which has a wonderful romance along with all the superhero stuff. At the end of the film,when Wade/Deadpool is trying to talk his way back into Vanessa’s life and he says something about his childhood home and she says, “You had a house?” which harkens back to their courtship, and Wade, and we, realize they’re going to be okay. It’s a lovely moment.

    1. I love this too. The romance bits in action movies are sometimes so sweet. They don’t have a lot of time to play around with it because it’s an action movie and they’ve got worlds to save or people to kill or whatever. One of my favourites is In Indiana Jones and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Their in a jeep chase through the jungle and she makes a comment about all the women he’s had between the first movie and the present and he says “There’ve been a few. But they all had the same problem” and says all snarky and says something like “Yeah, what was that?” Harrison Ford drawls, “None of them were you.” I was only a kid when I saw thee first movie but I remember being so disappointed their relationship didn’t carry over into any of the other movies.

  19. In Lisa Kleypas’s Devil in Winter, when Sebastian says, “There’s a speck in my water,” it’s his first show of vulnerability. It’s that moment we know she’s cracked open his hardened heart, and he’s ready to be with her now.

  20. Love in the Afternoon with Audrey Hepburn and Spencer Tracy made me smooshy inside, mostly because she spends most of the movie driving him nuts. My Georgette Heyer pick would have to be “Behold, Here’s Poison,” where the hero is ever so slightly dastardly, and pretends to leave the heroine as she nobly sends him away, only to call her an idiot and kiss her.

      1. I think so. It has been a while. I would have to double check. He is pretty wonderful, in an oily sort of way…

    1. I’ve been slowly acquiring Heyer’s mysteries, but I’ve only made it through some of them. Must move them higher in the to be read pile. She’s always fantastic.

  21. My favorite foreshadowing of a romance is Devil’s Cub (Heyer again), when Mary defends her virtue by shooting Vidal with his own pistol. He offers her his congratulations and says that he knows of only one other woman who’d have the courage to pull the trigger: his mother. We’ve already seen Vidal’s love and admiration for his independent, fascinating mother, and even as he’s bleeding all over the inn, it’s crystal clear that he’s met his match.

    As a romantic moment, there’s an exchange near the end of Loretta Chase’s Miss Wonderful that I love. The impecunious hero wants to build a canal in the grounds of the heroine’s Derbyshire home. She doesn’t want her home despoiled and she blocks his every move with great ingenuity, even as they fall in love. Eventually she realises how desperately he needs his scheme to succeed. She decides that she loves him more than she loves the landscape, but when she tells him she’ll drop her opposition he begs her not to, because a better solution exists and he won’t find it unless she keeps challenging and pushing him to find it. So she does, and he finally figures it out.

    1. “Oh, I could manage him, I could.” Devil’s Cub is one of my favourites, although more so when I was young than now. Now I find the games in These Old Shades to be as appealing. Avon has grown on me as I reached his age rather than Leonie’s as I was when I first tried it.

      1. Avon is a great character. I can’t remember what she called him in The Black Moth even though I read that one first, but I do remember how much more interesting he was than the hero of that book. Not there was anything wrong with the hero, it’s just that next to the-man-who-would-be-Avon he had trouble holding my attention. There’s a character in Eloisa James’ Desperate Duchesses books that reminds me of Avon; I developed a soft spot for him almost immediately.

      2. These Old Shades, the ending where he goes to find her and he says something about how many women he’s been with, he doesn’t deserve her, etc. And Leonie just says, ah, but I had so much rather be the last than the first.

        Cue heart melting.

    2. I love that moment in Devil’s Cub! I thought it set up their romance beautifully, him trying to bend her will and her not putting up with it.

  22. My heart always did a lovely flip in Firefly whenever Captain Mal and Inara had scenes together. I especially loved the scene where they’re sitting side by side on the crosswalk and just chilling with each other.

    1. Love them too, though my favourite scene is on Serenity, where they have that awkward talk on the monitors and afterwards Mal says
      ” Did you see us fight”

      Then walks into a trap without hesitation, because she’s already caught in it.

      Also that moment at the end of the film when they look at each other before Mal gets into the lift and they hold off the Reavers

  23. In Robin McKinley’s “Sunshine” when Con stays and watches over Rae until he’s pretty sure she’ll be okay. And it was always apparent that she wouldn’t end up with her motorcycle guy because they were friends but didn’t have that spark somehow. Love that book.

    In Bet Me when our heroine talks back at the dinner table and mentions his (spoiler) that has been so carefully ignored and hidden. Before that it was getting there but this was…perfect.

  24. I love Cotillion, I think Freddy is one of my favourite Heyer heroes.

    But for me, I love the moment in Gaudy Night when Peter wants to give Harriet a gift, and she realises that she needs to let him, and selects the ivory chessmen. He is delighted and relieved, and both of them know they have turned a corner in their romance.

    1. Oh, Sayers used those chessmen so well, too. I loved it that Harriet understood the gift had to be expensive, and she wasn’t a woman of expensive tastes, so when she saw the chess set, ti was something they’d both love, and he’d know she was being honest i wanting it. It’s just a lovely move.

      ETA: Freddy’s one of my faves, too, but I mostly love that book because Heyer deliberately plays with the romance trope. There’s Jack the dashing hero and Freddy, the not-so-bright fop, and then it turns out that Freddy has common sense and Jack is pretty much what a real rake would be like, and it all turns out so beautifully. Love that book.

      1. I read Cotillion in high school and the first time I remember being so disappointed as the book went on that she was going to end up with Jack. And then I wad SO halt when I realized no, it’s going to be Freddy! Very good misdirection from Heyer.

        That book also has one of the single most satisfying punches in all of literature as far as I’m concerned.

    And Parker finally giving Hardison a hug at the end of Long Way Down Job after having ignored him before.

    Shifting names are always a good one. Going from formal titles, to last names, and then finally dropping the first name at either the calm before the storm, or at the climax. Fred always calling him Charles, while everyone else calls him Gunn.

    Horseshoe structure is always nice. Things that aren’t necessarily romantic the first time through get repeated in reverse order, transformed by the realization of feelings into sentimental heavyweights.
    Carol above points out how Deadpool utilized it. Lots of series finales make copious callbacks to the pilot.

    Root’s “Hey, sweetie, you busy?” isn’t a straightforward example (since both parties are already aware of their attraction the entire episode), but a case where repetition gains weight each time. I like romances that show me what the long run will look like, after all of the chaos of the current plot is resolved.
    What will their normal a-day-in-the-life look like, and why is that desirable to both them and us? (With Speed as an example where that question is not answered) Even in a stress-forged relationship, those types of interactions should be a key part of their relationship dynamic. With Shoot, we know they’d be taking numbers, shooting kneecaps, having drinks amongst a pile of unconscious criminals.

    1. For that matter, it seems like a good thing if you are able to construct a “simplified simulation” of your characters and their dynamics.

      1. I love the simplified simulation so much! My husband and I still sometimes answer the phone with “Overly Enthusiastic Greeting!” “Greeting.”

  26. I’ve always loved the relationship between Commander Vimes & Lady Sybil. Their everyday acceptance of each other and different backgrounds, I just find that to be very romantic in a prosaic sort of way.

    One of my favorite Georgette Heyer books is Frederica. The Marquis of Alverstoke chasing after Felix in the balloon, staying with him until Frederica arrives and then staying on to support her. Also recognizing that he loves her but that is not the moment to declare himself because she’s too overwhelmed. I really love that whole book as he becomes more and more intertwined with the Merriville clan and becomes more and more supportive of Frederica as she deals with her siblings.

  27. Oh, there are so many, and I’m sure I’ll think of a million as soon as I walk away.

    But I have to say — and you will all groan because it’s a Disney freakin’ princess movie — but the moment when the Beast gives Belle that library as a gift…

    The tale of Beauty and the Beast is my favorite, especially as told by Robin McKinley. I find it romantic, sexy, intricately intimate, and tied to the deep human need to connect (as well as the different genders’ tendency to misapprehend each other and our constant struggles to overcome that).

  28. When Harry Met Sally. I didn’t like the movie much, but I LOVED the very end when they’re describing their wedding and he tells how they had the raspberry sauce put on the side so it won’t leak and make the cake soggy (or something like that) and she’s nodding along and he sounds JUST LIKE HER.
    At that point, I loved the movie. I got it.

  29. I have lots from your books, including the ones you mentioned.

    Probably one of my favorite romantic moments from TV was on the original Gilmore Girls when Luke and Lorelai finally get together. They sit down to eat and he says to her something along the lines of, “Just so you know, if you want to do this, I’m in. I’m all in.”

    Oh, what I wouldn’t give to have someone say to me, “I’m all in.” Damn, now that sounds dirty too.

  30. Two places in Bridget Jone’s diary. The Blue Soup scene, where Mark rescues the meal without being condescending or superior.

    And the very end, Bridget standing in the street in the snow, wearing trainers, undies and a cardigan, and Mark has bought her a new diary.

    “Hang on, nice boys don’t kiss like that.”
    “Oh yes they fucking do.”

    I was so shocked and delighted he used the f-word. That was a long time ago.

  31. In The Talisman Ring, when the heroine keeps dropping comments about the hero riding (or not riding) ‘vente a terre’ (sp?). Said in front of very serious people as an inside joke between the two of them. And at the end in front of the serious people he said riding vente a terre will be a part of their wedding vows.
    I love all the double-speak in this book. I mean the kind where the two main characters are speaking to each other in jokes and asides, and the serious people are taking everything they say literally.
    This is not making much sense. But I love this book. The dialogue is so clever and funny.

    1. It’s the most under-estimated of Heyer’s books – sooo good to see someone else loving it too. I quoted a bit of TTR above, but, you’re right, the ending is brilliant.

  32. French Kiss, when Meg Ryan is trying to get the hero to tell her why he’s depressed, then she flashes him the necklace he lost, laughs and runs off knowing he’ll follow.
    And at the end, when she sacrifices everything to pay for the necklace so he won’t be arrested, and doesn’t tell him she did it.
    Someone else posted about Darcy saving Elizabeth’s sister and not telling her about it being the most romantic part of the book, and that’s the same for me in this movie. Until then their romance was fun and games. Then, it’s real.

    1. I just re-watched French Kiss yesterday, and the parts that stick out for me in terms of foreshadowing the romance are when he pisses her off to get her through the aeroplane taking off (and then denies it), and when he starts to feel guilty (a new experience for him) about leaving her penniless in a foreign country and gives her all his cash. She tosses it back and he walks away, leaving it on the ground, because he knows she’ll come back for it. Luc is NOT the type of guy to leave money on the ground, but he can see that her practicality will get the better of her emotions. Also when she finds her bag neatly done up on the bench, knows he’s been through it, and waits to see what he’ll do next, because if he helps her after that it’ll be because he just wants to.

  33. I find that I get skeptical of romantic moments that are just about one person doing a “nice” thing or providing a splendid gift for someone else. That doesn’t seem to touch my feelings. The gift could be a quid pro quo; the roomful of roses could just signify a showoff.

    Even when the gesture is something that apparently represents a shared taste in the two people could go either way — a real connection or just a kind of superficial similarity that might or might not be enough to build a relationship on.

    The thing that touches me is when one person seems to have recognized a deep truth about the other person, or when they do, say, or reveal something that helps that person recognize a deeper truth about themselves, especially when that’s a truth they share.

    I always felt that the thing that made Darcy and Elizabeth change their feelings about one another was that both of them had too many unsatisfying relationships with the people that they were surrounded by, but deep loyalties to one relative with whom they shared a real kinship. They misunderstood one another by assuming they were like the negative people in the other’s orbit; they became more and more sympathetic as they saw and valued the goodness & honesty of that person’s one deep connection to someone they loved.

    I loved the moment when Zack connects to the polite, starving dog in the parking lot in Bradley, and brings it home to Lucy, who sees her own dogs as people to the point where she considers one dog’s repeating joke a trait to be valued & respected. It was already getting clear that he dug her house, which she loved; digging her love of dogs was really a step closer to the heart of her, and that was what clinched it for me.

    When the narrative highlights both the way the potential mates meet the deeper needs of the hero/heroine, as well as the way the other characters in that person’s ordinary life are missing exactly those qualities, that’s when I start caring.

    My favorite Georgette Heyer novel is Sylvester — I really loved the way Phoebe had been stifled and imprisoned by oblivious, self-centered family members who considered her a burden and a failure, and Sylvester had lost his twin brother — the one person in his life who understood him deeply and told him truths — but they found in each other the kind of wounded, funny, perceptive person that they didn’t even know at the beginning of the book that they really needed. The moment when Sylvester agrees to help Phoebe escape recapture by the disapproving forces of her family, and set off to London, was magical. And she doesn’t even realize how kind he’s being by finding the innkeeper’s gawky daughter to go with her in her escape.

    If you can find ways in which Nick and Nita can discover in each other the parts of themselves they haven’t been able to acknowledge as their deep needs in life (or death), those would be the romantic moments that would delight me.

  34. skipping all the comments that went before mine, for now, my favorite romantic moments include:

    I love the defending of each other of Cal and Min that you’ve already mentioned.

    In A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare, the hero, Colin, stood up for Minerva so that she might present her geographic findings at an all male symposium.

    In Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elisabeth Peters, I love it when Emerson says “I will kiss you even if I live to regret it!” Whereupon he kissed Amelia full on the mouth and then went off to tackle the mummy shooting at them.

    I’m sure there are more. I’ll cogitate and try to remember others.

  35. This isn’t a romance, but I love the relationship between Julia and Paul Child, in Julie and Julia. That little scene at a dinner party, and he says “it was always Julia.” He gets her, and treasures her, and enjoys her. And vice versa!

    I also love the moment in “It’s a Wonderful Life” when George and Mary are sharing the phone, and George is trying to leave, but he can’t leave her.

    1. There’s a moment in there when he’s talking about being with her before they were married, and he says there was a moment when he thought, “Oh. It’s Julia,” and Stanley Tucci makes it sound as though that’s the moment when his whole life fell into place. I think about that moment a lot when I write romance, that quiet realization that This Is It. Meg Ryan said something similar about Dennis Quaid, that she looked at him at one point and thought, “Oh, no, not you,” but it was just there. Of course, she went through hell with that one, but still, there’s that moment of recognition. It’s in The Grand Sophy, too, when Charles is at the sick bed of his little sister talking with Sophy and looks over at her and she sees his eyes change, and she knows he seeing her as she really is for the firs time. Heyer doesn’t say any of that, she lets the reader intuit it, but it’s a wonderful quiet moment. Major turning point even if it is quiet; a minute ago life was like this but now it’s This.

      1. “It’s in The Grand Sophy, too, when Charles is at the sick bed of his little sister talking with Sophy….”

        Yes, that’s the moment that’s always stuck with me.

  36. The film version of Enchanted April! Lady Caroline is sick of all the men who are after her for her looks and money, the “grabbers,” as she calls them. She flees to Italy to spend a month in peace with total strangers, but starts to miss all the attention, especially when none of the men in her party show an interest in her.

    But then — THE SCENE! — in the garden with Mr. Briggs: Because of his poor eye sight, he almost careens off a cliff, and Caroline has to yank him back. “Sorry! I had to grab you!” she says. OH! It’s such a nice payoff — in an instant, she gets her happy ending, and we know that since he’s practically blind, it won’t be her prettiness that attracts him, but her mind, which is both a relief and a turn-on for her. Also, that the answer to her happiness is to do the exact thing that she finds so repellent — it’s a great counter-point.

    I once described this scene to a single guy friend of mine, and he said, “Hm, throw self off cliff. I’ll have to try it.” 🙂

    The book doesn’t have this scene, and I think the movie got it just right.

  37. The biggest reason Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer doesn’t work for me is that there isn’t any point where it’s about what Elinor wants or needs. Everyone, including her former nurse, is constantly telling her that Lord Carlyon knows best, until I wanted to scream. He’s the immovable object and the irresistible force, and there’s a constant slightly patronising tone in all his dealings with Elinor which really doesn’t bode well for romance.

    On the other hand, in Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn, the immovable object of Darien Serlast meets the irresistible force of Zoe Ardelay, and I love the build of romance between them. She shakes his world up completely, in so many ways, and it’s so much fun to watch/read. She doesn’t fight him, that’s not her way, but she sidesteps him at every turn until he has to trust her and meet her halfway.

    1. I think that’s key, and one of the reasons why the Alpha Male never works for me, at least not until he matures into a Reasonable Adult. I like the two strong people colliding and respecting each other in the end.

      1. I think that the Alpha Male doesn’t actually work for most people. What he does have is the ability to want the heroine unapologetically, which is a bit of a switch from a lot of fiction where both characters are (logically) fighting against the pull toward each other. It’s like people who think they have rape fantasies. Most don’t actually, when you read anything that is billed that way. What they want is to not have to be in control or feel insecure about their choices for a while. But the trope fills that want and they don’t recognize a better term for what they are seeking. Do women really want a disrespectful bad-boy? I don’t think so. I don’t. What I think we are looking for is someone who wants us and makes no bones about making us feel it is true. Or at least we want the fictionalized version of that, to visit for a while.

  38. There are some good moments in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (the movie – I haven’t read the book yet).

    One that sets things up nicely is near the beginning of the movie, when they have a fight and Norah storms off. Nick’s about to leave but then finds out that her best friend has wandered off in the city alone and drunk, so he goes after Norah instead because he knows how seriously she takes her friend’s safety and because he’d promised earlier that his friends would look after her.

    Another is towards the end, when Norah’s talking about a Jewish concept of responsibility to repair the world, and Nick listens and then comments in a way that shows he understood why it appeals so strongly to her. “Maybe we’re the pieces.”

    Lots of great moments throughout, actually. His friends telling her she’s amazing, her agreeing to go to Brooklyn, her renaming his band… All good stuff.

  39. One of my top romantic moments is in Going Postal – When Moist stops Adora Belle from stabbing Reacher Gilt at dinner, his excuse being she was trying to use the wrong knife for the purpose.

    In Searching for Dragons, Cimorene the King of Dragon’s Princess is waiting for a plumber and trying to get rid of the King of the Enchanted Forest, because she thinks he’s here to try to rescue her (this happens a lot, even though she volunteered for her job) He proves not to be typical, as he is seeking a audience with her employer and she is a lot more impressed when he fixes her plumbing with his magic sword

    In Iced Chiffon, he’s her ex-husband’s divorce attorney and she understandably hates him, until someone poisons her dog and she has no way to get her dog to the vet. He drives her even though she’s been giving him a hard time and sticks around to pay the vet bill, because he likes the dog.

    This isn’t a romance, but in Discworld I like the snippets about the Patrician and the crossword compiler lady and the fact she can actually get him to show human emotion. How personally he takes it that her puzzles challenge him.

    1. Oh Discworld. Susan and Time. Vimes and the Duchess. Carrot and Angua. None of them traditional couples but all of them fully committed. I love the ending where Time kisses Susan in the supply closet and all the paper stars rain down on them.

      1. I was rewatching Due South, in which a Canadian Mounty comes to Chicago on the trail of his father’s killer and… ends up staying there for three seasons, partnered with a Chicago cop. His main companion is a wolf, and there was some speculation on Wikipedia that Fraser was modeled on Carrot, and Angua and Deif were analogs. I don’t know. This is a complete side note, because there is very little romance in Due South, although there is a LOT of tension and awkwardness. But there IS the development of a partnership, which can have some of the same beats as a romance.

        1. I liked Due South too, I think the writers concentrated on the bromance rather then romance. They made Fraser, unattainable, but desirable and of course gave him a true love that was a woman who went against his moral code and tried to set him up, because he sent her to prison. He and the wolf really did have the best relationship in that show

      2. I especially love Vimes and the Duchess, their moment for me is when he is recovering in her bedroom and realised that she was someone who cheerfully without moping got on with her life and had a heart big enough for the world when it came to dragons.

    2. I love searching for dragons! One of my favorite couples, growing up. I liked that they were both the same height, and that he liked that. It was a good way to quickly signal he’s attracted to her as an equal.

  40. It’s a real good thing I have a few days of quiet coming up as my book list has suddenly quadrupled. I like these exercises.

  41. You know, I’ve heard of Georgette Heyer but never read her. She’s come up a zillion times in this thread. Would someone mind recommending a good entry book to her work? I have a long plane trip coming up …

    1. My first was ‘Arabella’, but I was twelve. Some favourites are ‘The Grand Sophy’, ‘Frederica’, ‘The Unknown Ajax’, ‘Sylvester’, ‘The Nonesuch’, ‘The Foundling’, ‘Venetia’.

      Hope she’s your cup of tea – she wrote a lot of books.

    2. The Grand Sophy is my fave, but it has a couple of places where it’s anti-Semitic (it was written in the thirties I think).
      The Talisman Ring is wonderful, two romances, a mystery, lots of humor.
      Cotillion is very wonderful.
      But there are so many of hers.

      Full confession: When I decided to write romance, my goal was to be the modern Georgette Heyer. I don’t think I achieved that, but she was a great role model. Basically, I wanted to be a cross between her and Dorothy Parker.

      1. Another Kristen Ashley reference, in Rock Chick the way Lee always knows the little things she needs like passing her the honey for her pizza crust before she asks.
        Everybody has mentioned the air conditioner in Agnes. I love it when he gives her the bridge. That whole scene is hysterical and sweet.
        One of my favorite romantic scenes is when Akira seduces Zane in A Gift of Ghosts by Sarah Wynde. She uses all these physics and scientific references and he so obviously adores her.

      2. I think you’ve achieved your goal (and thus have improved my life immeasurably. Thank you.)

        My favorite Dorothy Parker saying:
        I like to have a martini,
        Two at the very most.
        After three I’m under the table,
        after four I’m under the host.”

        This conversation is surprising me with how many books I love are loved by others, and it’s providing me with a great reading list. Yay!

    3. I’m also partial to Frederica and The Talisman Ring. I remember Venetia being really good, but I haven’t re-read that one yet. She wrote mysteries that often have a romantic subplot as well, although I haven’t read all of those.

  42. I actually have an anti-romance moment that is still incredibly and deeply moving to me. It’s from Little Women and Laurie proposes to Jo, and as a kid I was SO ROOTING for them to be together. Laurie is so certain of his feelings, but Jo doesn’t give in. It’s clear that he’s still too immature for her, and he doesn’t really “get” what love is yet. While she does, and I think I cried when I first read it at how perfectly she articulates what she’s waiting for — what love is to her, and why Laurie can’t be the one to give it to her. And I admired so much how strong she was, because let’s face it, Laurie is super rich and handsome and they get along so well, that it takes a woman of deep character and strong principles to stand her ground against him when he gets all passionate and sincere. I loved that she loves him, but is able to distinguish between tender affection and romantic love, and I just thought that was such a lovely moment.

    (Of course, Laurie totally calls her out on the fact that she actually loves the old professor, but Jo is not quite aware of that yet. But that little detail tells us that Laurie is not entirely a feckless boy, but that he is emotionally astute and he does really care for her and know her well.)

    1. I always wondered if Amy got over being second choice. Jo was so strong, and Amy was just Amy.
      Of course, it been years since read the books.

  43. The right gift always does it. (I love the bridge!). In Sarina Bowen’s The Year We Fell Down, the heroine is a former high school ice hockey star who is now mobility impaired from a hockey accident. While the hero and heroine are still just friends, he learns that she has no idea whether she can have an orgasm, due to the accident, so he gives her a vibrator. He is not hitting on her or being crude–he is honestly appalled that she doesn’t know whether she is capable of something that he thinks is so important he would have tested it immediately and he wants her to find out. Then on their first date, he takes her to an ice hockey rink where it’s just the two of them and they play using sleds for the partially paralyzed. She is both devastated at remembering what she lost and thrilled at being able to do it in some form again. In both cases he gave her something important to her that she didn’t realize she needed and she would never give herself.

    I have no idea what that would be for Nick or Nita since they are so self-sufficient but for that reason it would be powerful. And we already know Nita likes presents she didn’t know she needed (poodle pajamas).

  44. In a very different way I love the scene at the end of Komarr where Miles runs down all his former flames and Ekaterin realizes that he has made them all more powerful and more free. Up until then even though she knew she was attracted to him she couldn’t imagine marrying again because she just got out of a terrible marriage that made her less. But she asks to take a number and he says the next number up is one, and then they both have no idea what to do next.
    I don’t think Nita needs someone to love her for what she is capable of–she already knows she is capable–but I can seem having a moment when they are not sure what they meant when they said something, what the next step is–they both are presumably experienced at sex but really novices at love and vulnerability.

  45. In the movie “Remains of the Day,” the scene with the book. (If you know the movie, I’m sure you know the scene.) The UST was so thick in that room you could cut it with a knife! I don’t know that I’d call it strictly romantic, but it was the first thing that came to mind in any case.

    And yes to all the “Desk Set” scenes, especially the one where they’re up in the book stacks talking during the party. “I bet you write wonderful letters.” *swoon*

  46. In Georgette Heyer’s The Quiet Gentleman, a turning point for the reader is when a character finds the Earl and Drusilla playing chess. She (the reader) shares Drusilla’s point of view — that the Earl is merely polite to Drusilla. Yet the reader has watched the Earl choose to go riding with Drusilla, ask for an additional waltz so he can dance with her again, and, now, spend substantial time with her. This is in contrast to the start of the story when he is dismissive of her (in conversation with his cousin) after she talks him into keeping an ugly epergne (besting him at his own game). No one except for the Earl’s closest friend notices the Earl’s growing love. This fits because both the Earl and Drusilla appear to be complacent when they are actually extremely aware of others and of their responsibility to others, both thrive on efficiency, and aren’t publicly demonstrative.

  47. What a fun game! Two of my top ten fave movies (Moonstruck, As Good as It Gets) are quirky romantic comedies—which is just one reason I’m a fan of yours Jenny. I love stories that can make me laugh out loud and cry. That sounds kind of weird now that I’ve typed it.

    Favorite romantic moments from As Good As It Gets: When Melvin tells Carol that after she rejected him he started taking his pills. She says: “I don’t quite get how that’s a compliment for me”, and he says: “You make me want to be a better man.” Carol tells him that’s maybe the best compliment of her life.

    Later on Melvin tells her why he loves her and it has nothing to do with outer beauty: “I might be the only person on the face of the earth that knows you’re the greatest woman on earth. I might be the only one who appreciates how amazing you are in every single thing that you do…And the fact that I get it makes me feel good, about me.”

    Okay, so those are big, not subtle moments/gestures. A more subtle moment: Melvin invites Carol on a road trip, ostensibly needing her help. Later, he refuses to wear a “used” suit jacket provided by the restaurant, so he goes out to buy a new one (a huge sacrifice given his mental issues), all in order to have dinner with Carol.

    1. I love that “You make me want to be a better man” line. It’s just devastating.
      I also love the way he loves that damn dog.


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