The Quirky Ladies is a group of eclectic (and dare I say quirky?) ladies who are passionate about writing romantic fiction. All types of romantic fiction...paranormal, fantasy, historical, erotic and contemporary. Bring it on!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

First Meets

I was watching the movie Holiday recently, and Kate Winslet's character befriends an elderly man who used to be a screenwriter for the old classics. He uses the term a 'meet cute' to reference the cute first meetings between the hero and heroine in movies. It reminded me of these scenes in romance novels. Similar to movies, the first meeting between the hero and heroine in a romance is one of the most anticipated scenes in the book. Every reader can't wait for it, flips the pages until she arrives at the scene, and relishes each line of it.

There are so many fun ways to twist the hero and heroine's paths together and when done well, these scenes are like a cherished gift. I return to read them again and again, doggy-earring the pages.

Who will ever forget Susan Elizabeth Phillip's hero in Natural Born Charmer, the quarterback Dean Robillard meeting Blue Bailey. While driving down a lonely stretch of a Colorado highway, Dean spots a young woman strolling down the road dressed in a Beaver suit. Of course, Dean stops his car. As he says, "it wasn't every day a guy saw a headless beaver marching down the side of the road." He picks her up to distract himself from his own depressing company and gets so much more. What reader can resist turning the pages to continue this ride and follow Dean and Bailey's story?

In Nora Roberts' The Star of Mithra I still remember Cade Parris' first sight of the rain drenched Bailey James strolling into his detective agency. While his heart stood still and his knees went weak, the only thoughts that came to his mind were "There you are, finally.  What the hell took you so long?" This one irritable line tells the reader Cade's been waiting for this woman forever. She's 'the one' for him. Fate sealed.  

Sometimes the connection is made without words. In Robert's Naked in Death, the first book in her J.D. Robb futuristic In Death series, who can ever forget Roarke's first glimpse of Eve during a funeral service, "without warning, he turned his head, looked five pews back across the aisle and directly into Eve's eyes. It was surprise that had her fighting not to jolt at that sudden and unexpected punch of power. It was will that kept her from blinking or shifting her gaze. For one humming minute, they stared at each other." And the rest is history. It's little wonder Roarke still carries around the button from Eve's battered rain jacket, lost during this first fateful meeting. Nearly thirty books later, and they're still the hottest married couple in romance. Roberts lets the reader know this from the first minute they lay eyes on each other. Now that's a great first meeting.

A pitch perfect first meeting can often encapsulate the essence of a character in the scene. Suzanne Brockmann does this brilliantly with Ken 'Wildcard' Karmody when he meets Savannah von Hopf in Out of Control. Kenny stops to assist Savannah with changing her flat tire. The day is steamy hot and Savannah has hiked up her skirt and unbuttoned her blouse so Kenny is teased with a glimpse of her red lace bra. 'Holy God,' he thinks and immediately composes a letter to Penthouse. But later, Kenny admits he had gotten out of his car with the intention of helping anyone regardless of who they were, but he admits to the bonuses in Savannah being pretty, red-hot and not wearing a wedding ring. This is a spot-on bio of Kenny. He's a kind, sex-obsessed, hot alpha male. What woman doesn't wish for Kenny Karmody to stop to change her tire or just stop for her, period.

Who will ever forget Claire Randall setting Jamie Fraser's dislocated shoulder in Outlander, Diana Gabaldon's first book in her epic time-traveling Outlander series  Scared, disoriented and abducted by a Scottish highlander, Claire is dragged into a dark cave packed full of these highlanders and yet she shoves these formidable warriors aside to treat Jamie's shoulder. The reader immediately thinks Claire, a trained nurse, in confronting these men, is either incredibly courageous or crazy. Jamie, wounded and in pain, emits no protest when this strange, bedraggled woman screams at the men to step aside, grabs Jamie's arm and pops it back into its shoulder socket. Like Claire, in letting her near his wounded arm, Jamie is either incredibly courageous or crazy.  The two are made for each other.

Who doesn't laugh hysterically in Sophie Kinsella's Can You Keep a Secret when Emma Corrigan thinks her plane is going to crash. Believing death imminent, she babbles on in a runaway commentary, confiding intimate details about her g-spot, her boyfriend and her love life to the handsome stranger seated beside her. Of course the stranger turns out to be Jack Harper, the CEO of Emma's company. Now who isn't biting at the bit to see Emma face Jack again, knowing she's spilled all her deep, dark secrets to this man??? 

I could go on and on. How about Will Parker answering crazy Elly Dinsmore's wanted ad for a husband in LaVyrle Spencer's poignant story, Morning Glory? I can still hear Elly's plaintive thoughts at the end of the scene, "Stay.  Will Parker.  Please stay." How can we forget Shanna venturing into a dank prison cell to find a man to pose as her husband and meets Roarke Beauchamp in Kathleen Woodiwiss' classic romance, Shanna. Neither couple ever realizes their fates were sealed in these pivotal first meetings.  But the reader does.

Once we witness these first meetings between hero and heroine, even if they have yet to fall in love with each other, the author has made sure to hook the reader. Who doesn't want to turn the pages to relish more of these character's stories, to watch them fall in love, and ultimately to fall in love with them? I do, again and again. 

Share in your comments a favorite scene of yours...


Ashlyn Chase said...

Excellent post! You got me thinking.

As I reread my own book yesterday, I realized what a unique first meet our H/h had in Love Cuffs. A runaway bride who happened to be a cop, busting down a door and skittering into an illegal BDSM club on her Vera Wang. Wow! Where did that come from?

No wonder my current WIP is lacking "punch." My H/h are landlord and tenant and all he does is walk down a flight of stairs and help her father and brother haul her couch into her apartment. Blah.

Hmmm... Maybe he could trip and fall down those stairs? No, too cliche. Maybe some wildlife castaway escapes from the innerworkings of the couch? No, what's that got to do with anything?

So far all I've come up with is the hero being a famous sports star who she doesn't recognize, and all her star-struck fan-boy brother can do is babble off his averages.

I'm not sure if I'm trying too hard or not hard enough. Oh well. Knowing what an important scene this is, I'll have to keep brainstorming as I finish the story.


Nina Roth Borromeo said...

I love this post, Vicki! One of my favorite first meets is in Loretta Chase's Lord of Scoundrels. Lord Dain meets Jessica Trent in an antique shop and is blown out of the water. He breaks out into a cold sweat and contemplates "licking her from the top of her alabaster brow to the tips of her dainty toes"...Jessica is shocked by her instant attraction to this big brute of a man. Their battle of wills and unbelievable sexual chemistry escalate throughout this book. I also find all of the first meets in Christine Feehan's Dark series so romantic. The Carpathian vampires have lost their emotions and only view the world in black and white. The first glimpse of their lifemates restores emotion and color back into their's always very dramatic.

Dalton Diaz said...

I love this! Another twist is the 'meet cute' meets the backstory, combining my 2 faves. Who can forget Lavyrle Spencer's Twice Loved? We begin with the reader meeting the characters for the first time, with Rye Dalton coming home to his wife after 5 years at sea. Unfortunately, his wife, Laura, had received word years ago that he'd gone down with his ship. She'd married their best friend, the third wheel from their childhood. The reader knows it, the town knows it by the time Rye makes his way down the path to his old home where his wife and her husband now live, but Rye and Laura are clueless as to what's coming. Freakin' brilliant.