Miss Bates is going to miss this quote challenge, so much she might keep doing the occasional opening line review. And for this, she has to thank Willaful who nominated her!
Tonight Miss Bates indulges in rom-reader nostalgia. A chance purchase at the local Costco, Julie Garwood’s 2007 Shadow Music, and Miss Bates was thrown down a vista of years, over thirty, to her early adolescence reading of Kathleen Woodiwiss’s The Flame and the Flower. She’s never looked back. She scoured AAR lists for rom titles. One of the first she read after Garwood was Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me, consumed, an apt metaphor, in one long languorous summer afternoon into early evening. It sent her to Crusie’s back-list; though Bet Me and Welcome to Temptation remain among Miss Bates’ favourite cerebral contemporary romances, it’s an early Crusie that serves as sentimental favourite. Miss Bates uses the term “sentimental” in the best way possible, as a book replete with sentiment, open and unabashed in celebrating the heart, wallowing in emotion. As Crusie herself wrote in the preface to a new edition, ” … if there was one thing I’d learned in my creative writing classes it was to avoid melodrama, to never be sentimental, to go for irony and detachment whenever possible, because otherwise I’d get killed in the critiques. But I think I knew all along I was wimping out, that if I’d had any backbone, I’d have gone first for the hearts of my readers, so I decided that for my first book for Bantam, I’d try something new, something different. Hearts would be touched, tears would be shed. By God, I was going to be emotional.” That book was The Cinderella Deal and its opening line is as good as any Crusie wrote:
The storm raged dark outside, the light in the hallway flickered, and Lincoln Blaise cast a broad shadow over the mailboxes, but it didn’t matter.
Consider the beauty and elegance of that opening sentence: the dance of clauses, Miss Bates calls it. A storm rages, lights flicker, and Lincoln Blaise, hint of hero-potential in the broad shadow, suggesting broad shoulders, de rigueur in any hero of substance, and yet, the tumult and ominousness, alpha-dangerous hero … the sound and the fury of gothic romance, it all doesn’t matter. Why not, thinks the reader? Why shouldn’t it matter? Because, as you’ll find out when you read it, of the heroine, whose mailbox reminds the hero of her annoying, contradictory presence. The writing is on the rom wall. It is this final clause that leads to Crusie’s greatest rom-talent: the dip from gravitas to humour, from destructive emotion to the “gentle rain” of love. Linc, workaholic history professor, ambitious and sneery of his neighbour, Daisy Flattery, collector of strays, free spirited artiste, and wearer of hats, will fell his heart. In Linc, Crusie creates the hero’s romantic journey, where concerns of career, ambition, “getting ahead,” competition and achievement are mitigated by the heart, love, joie de vivre, affection, and community as exemplified by our heroine. It is opposites-attract and marriage-of-convenience like no other. And Miss B. managed to sneak in two quotations tonight. 😉
Hey, folks, Miss Bates day-three quote had a baby-epilogue over at ValancyBlu’s Blue Castle Considerations on Crusie’s THE CINDERELLA DEAL … go on over and read it, it’s great!