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What has been one of your favorite scenes to read?
Well, there’s only been one scene in my life from another author’s book that literally pounded my heart so hard, I thought I was having an atrial fibrillation attack, seriously. And that scene was from Laura Frantz’s latest release, Love’s Reckoning. I contacted Laura and she graciously allowed me to provide the clip here. It takes place in a ballroom where the hero and the heroine who were once madly in love and parted on bittersweet terms, see each other for the first time in years.
A momentary hush in the large room made them turn. Another arrival?
“Ah, at last.” Judge O’Hara’s resonant voice overrode the conversations swirling around them as he glanced toward the parlor door. Isabel was threading her way toward them through the press of guests, a man following. “Stephen, Miss Lee, allow me to introduce my good friend and business partner.”
Isabel stepped into their circle, transformed, beaming. The tall figure at her side became clear, and Eden’s composure collapsed. She went completely still. The fan she held fluttered to a stop.
“My apologies for arriving late. Business, ye ken.” His rustic Scots speech had mellowed to a more refined lilt, smooth and self-effacing. He was looking at Stephen Elliot, extending a hand. He hadn’t yet seen her, and Eden felt an overwhelming urge to pull back—disappear. Stephen shook his hand heartily, inquiring after some business matter, to which Silas answered thoughtfully.
Dumbstruck, Eden drank in every freshly shaven, tailored inch of him. Clad in rich, charcoal broadcloth, he looked the equal of any man she’d seen in Philadelphia. His ivory cravat set off his deeply tanned face and turned his gaze a keen, unforgettable green.
Her heart was pounding beneath her stays, as loud as the clock chiming nine across the room. When Silas turned from Stephen to her, she met his eyes reluctantly. His handsome, composed features went slack. He looked . . . stricken. Speechless, he shot a questioning glance at Stephen before returning to her. Did he think Stephen was her husband?
“Mr. Ballantyne, permit me to introduce Miss Eden Lee, assistant director of the Philadelphia Foundling Hospital.” Stephen’s warm voice reached out to her, jarring her into coherency.
Her voice came out a whisper. “Good evening, Mr. Ballantyne.”
What has been one of your favorite scenes to write?
A scene that comes to mind is from my new book Love at Any Cost between the widowed matriarch of the family Caitlyn McClare and her rogue brother-in-law Logan McClare (subordinate love story in book) with whom she was once in love. Engaged to Logan at a very young age, Cait broke the engagement when she discovered Logan’s infidelity, resulting in her marrying Logan’s brother instead. Now, twenty-seven years down the road, Cait is a widow and Logan is determined to win her back, so the romantic tension between these two was and is SO fun to write, such as in this scene where Logan gives her back his brother’s ring, even though it belongs to him as the McClare heir.
She pulled away and swiped at her eyes, her lips quivering into a smile. “You must think I’m crazy, but I’m just so very grateful . . .” Peering up, she gently braced his jaw with her palm, eyes shimmering with gratitude. “I don’t think I’ve ever loved you more than right this moment, Logan McClare. Thank you.”
He stopped breathing when she pressed a kiss to his cheek, and almost by accident, he turned into her touch, their lips so close he could smell the hint of hot chocolate they’d enjoyed around the fire. They froze in the same split second of time, and his pulse thudded slow and hard as he waited for her to pull away. Only she didn’t, and heat scorched his body.
“Cait,” he whispered, barely believing her lips nearly grazed his. He waited, not willing to push for fear she would retreat, but when her eyelids flickered closed, his fate was sealed. “So help me, Cait, I love you,” he rasped, quickly caressing her lips before she could pull away. The moment his mouth took hers, he was a man hopelessly lost, bewitched by her spell. She jolted in his arms as if suddenly realizing her folly, but he refused to relent, his grip at the nape of her neck strong and sure, allowing him a taste of the sweetest lips he’d ever known. A groan trapped in his throat, and he devoured her, delving deeper with a passion stoked by almost twenty-six years of denial and longing. “God help me, Cait,” he whispered, voice hoarse as he nuzzled her ear, “I need you in my life.”
He felt it the moment the winds shifted, pulse skyrocketing when her blanket dropped to the ground and she melded in his arms. His mouth explored with a vengeance, the frenzied beat of her heart throbbing beneath his lips as he grazed the hollow of her throat. He skimmed up to suckle the lobe of her ear, and his heart swelled with joy when a soft moan escaped her lips. Blood pounding in his veins, he wove fingers into her hair to cradle her face. “Marry me, Cait, please!”
Her eyelids fluttered open to reveal a glaze of desire so strong, his mouth descended again, dominant and possessive until her lips surrendered to his. “Marry me,” he repeated, his kiss gentling to playful nips meant to coax and tease. “I need you, Cait . . . and I want you.”
In the space of a painful heartbeat, she hurled him away, breasts heaving and eyes wild. “You’re a devil, Logan McClare, always lusting after what you can’t have!”
Sleet slithered through his veins. “No, Cait, it’s not true—I want you because I love you.”
He reached for her, and she thrust back, fury welling in her eyes. “You want me because you can’t have me. And once you had me, you would just throw me away again, returning to your old habits of carousing with women all hours of the night.”
“You’re wrong—let me prove it, please. Marry me.”
She shook her head, an auburn curl quivering against her neck. Her tone trembled with a violence that stunned. “I-don’t-want-you, and I-don’t-need-you, do you hear?”
His anger surged, but he tamped it down with a clamp of his jaw, his words as hard as hers. “Really, Cait? Why don’t you tell that to the woman whose body just responded to mine?”
The lightning force of her slap shifted his jaw clean to the right, the sound of it like a crack of thunder. “How dare you?” she whispered, tears streaming her cheeks. “You forced yourself on me in your usual callous way, and if you ever do so again, it will be the last time you step foot in my house, is that clear?” He didn’t answer, and she took a step forward, her jaw engaged once again. “I said, is-that-clear?”
Gritting his teeth, he turned away. He sucked in a harsh breath and released it again, fighting to keep his temper under control, the only control he apparently possessed with the woman before him. Well, she might hold all the cards and he might lose this hand, but he would not lose the game. With a heavy blast of air, he turned—and stopped—all anger fading at what he’d reduced her to. A quivering mass of tears. God, forgive me . . . He studied her with sorrow in his eyes. “Yes,” he whispered, all of his emotion finally spent, “it’s clear.” She started for the door and he stopped her with a gentle hand. “Forgive me, Cait—I never meant to hurt you. Not then, not now.”
She nodded stiffly and started to leave.
“Cait?” She turned at the door. He plunged his hands in his pockets, no longer a man of the world, but a little boy whose heart was on the line. “I love you, and deep down inside, I think you know that, know I would never cheat on you again.” He stared, his eyes naked with the truth for the very first time. “That said, I need to know why? What else are you afraid of?”
She must have sensed his honesty because the hard plain of her face ebbed into a look of such sorrow, it plucked at his heart. Her voice was gentle and low once again, the Caitlyn he was privileged to love. “I love you as family, Logan, but I can never be ‘in love’ with you again.”
The words stabbed. “Why?” he whispered, his voice no more than a croak.
Her bodice quivered with a burdensome sigh. “Because I don’t trust you.”
“Why? I swear to you Cait—I will be faithful.”
“No, Logan, you can’t. A man of your habit and ilk can’t be faithful without God.”
“Let me prove it. I can do this.”
“Maybe. But I can’t. I refuse to fall in love with a man who doesn’t share my faith.”
He took a step forward, his eyes intense. “I believe in God, Cait.”
“No, Logan, you believe in yourself first, God after. There’s a difference.”
His jaw sagged in disbelief. “You’re attracted to me and love me, yet you turn me away because my faith isn’t up to snuff?” Fury boiled in his veins, trumping his passion. He chilled her with a look so cold, he saw her shiver. “Even if it means your precious Vigilance Committee?”
The blood leeched from her face. “You wouldn’t,” she whispered, her words laced with shock. “Y-you agreed, and it’s the decent thing to do.”
He moved in, fists clenched and a nerve twitching in his cheek. “No, Cait, the decent thing to do is to forgive the past and admit you’re in love with me.”
Her legs faltered before steel appeared to fuse in her spine. “That’s your price, then?”
He stared, his jaw as rigid as his pride. She loved him, she wanted him, but she wouldn’t have him because of God? Outrage like he’d never known singed his very soul. “It is.”
She winced as if she’d been struck, pain contorting her face while she listed against the wrought-iron chaise. Firelight flickered across her beautiful features, illuminating myriad feelings that tore at his heart. Shock, fear, fury, resolve . . . and sorrow. The same sorrow he saw in himself, a man of missed opportunities. The flames spit and popped behind him, as if portending a fiery future that would ravage both him and the woman he loved.
He watched as the anger slowly siphoned from her body, softening her features, welling her eyes, and he was reminded once again what a rare woman she was. Prone to gentleness rather than anger, giving rather than taking, others rather than self. Despite the fact he would rob her of something so dear, her eyes bore no retribution or blame, only a sadness that seemed to personify Caitlyn McClare where he was concerned.
“Then it’s too high,” she whispered, the trace of a tear glazing her cheek as she placed his ring on the chaise. She turned away, her voice a broken whisper that prophesied their doom. “Even for my precious Vigilance Committee.”
What are some key elements to writing a powerful scene:
Well, being a bona-fide CDQ (caffeinated drama queen), I would have to say the most important components for me are TENSION-TENSION-TENSION!! I’ll take it anyway I can get it — romantically, spiritually or relationally, but take me on a roller-coaster ride and make me beg for mercy—please!! J Ways I like doing that are having lots of ups and downs in a single scene where I take both the characters—and the readers, I hope—on an emotional roller-coaster such as in the scene above from Love at Any Cost
Even in interviews she PACKS a punch! Thanks for sharing with us today, Julie. I'm so tempted to put up my Cassie McClare look-alike shot :-)
Do you have a scene you've read or written lately in which you savored the moment? Share!