It seems we’re in the midst of an unofficial Love-at-First-Sight week here on the blog. After reading Jeanne and Jilly’s posts earlier today, I started thinking about the “first sight” (meet cute) the characters in my favorite books have of each other.
In the perennial favorite Lord of Scoundrels, Jessica and Dain meet in an antique shop. They both do their best to keep their cool despite clearly feeling lust-at-first-sight. Dain experiences such a massive shock to his system that it disorders his thinking so much that he never really recovers–a wonderful start that had me eager to find out what would happen next.
In Jennifer Crusie’s Welcome to Temptation, Phin meets Sophie, a stranger in town, when he stops by the farmhouse to make sure she and her sister aren’t causing trouble or filming porn. Neither Phin nor Sophie want to have anything to do with each other, but reading their initial interaction is like watching two magnets trying to keep away from each other. You just know they’re going to fail at that and wind up together, and that it’s going to be fun to watch.
In a different type of story–Artists in Crime by Ngaio Marsh–our handsome dashing Scotland Yard inspector meets the love of his life onboard a ship as it is pulling out of the harbor at Suva. He sees her and instantly knows she’s the one, feeling as though he’s known her all his life. She, of course, does not have the same reaction that he does. She’s a painter who is a bit broody and distracted; trying to get her last view of the harbor at Suva onto the canvas before it fades. Our hero has unintentionally interrupted her at her work, so it is not surprising that she has a hard time recognizing him as her own true love–that takes another book or so. The interaction is brief–just a few paragraphs–but it’s wonderfully portrayed and completely believable. It also left me rooting for them to get together which, of course, they finally did.
I met a high-school boyfriend at a shoe store. I was working elsewhere in the mall and he worked in the store where I spent far too much of my paychecks on what could best be described as “slutty shoes”. It was certainly not anything-at-first-sight, but looking back now I can see it turning into a romance novel. In the story, our heroine who is looking for love makes frequent trips to the store, buying shoes for one bad date after another, never giving our poor clerk a second thought. She sighs wistfully over a beautiful pair of wedding pumps but fears she’ll never have a need for them. Maybe the two of them strike up a friendship as he commiserates with her over her string of unsuccessful dates until finally they see the light, fall in love, and run off into the sunset in matching athletic shoes.
Or something like that.
A perusal of other books on my shelf shows characters meeting on trains, at protests (on opposite sides, even), in shops, and at jobs. In some cases the meetings are very public, in others it is just the two of them. In a few stories, the characters are thrown together by fate or by sneaky friends, like the story I finished not long ago where the couple both wound up renting the same vacation house and fell in love while stuck together over the summer.
I’m hard-pressed to pick a single type of meeting that’s my favorite, though I will admit to a fondness for a hero or heroine who experiences that “I feel like I’ve known you all my life” feeling.
So, what’s your favorite meet-cute (real-life or fictional)?
I remember all these first-meets, and I enjoyed every one. I’m not sure I have a favorite type, but just today I read the sample of a book where the heroine is trying to crash a party through the back yard, and when the hero blocks her entry, she decks him. That was unexpected and very enjoyable.
I wanted to reread Lord of Scoundrels the other day, and I must have given away my copy. It’s gone, anyway. Very distressing, and must be remedied immediately!
I’d love to hear how the “she decks him” couple winds up together. That is a very challenging start to overcome. On the other hand, Jessica shot Dain in Lord of Scoundrels and that all worked out, so anything is possible.
My husband loves to tell the story of our first meeting. It was at a school system administrators’ annual meeting (read boring as hell). He came up to the coffee urn when I was filling a cup. I looked at him and spilled my coffee. So when we have those ‘how did we get here again?’ conversations. He says, “you spilled your coffee.” It wasn’t love at first sight, but we were both attracted at first sight.
Nora Roberts has a good Meet Cute in Considering Kate – one of her old Silhouette novels. They meet in a toy store. She knocks over a toy car display and witty banter ensues. I know you’re a fan of witty banter, Elizabeth. Hmmm. With my crazy busy work schedule (just turned off my work computer), maybe a re-read of a short is a good idea.
Oh. Wait. Just got an email from my boss on a financial issue that must be resolved by tomorrow. It’s 9:19 p.m. my time and I’ve been at it since 6 a.m. (with a break for a 30-minute lunch walk – ate while working). Sigh. Dry to Friday just turned into dry to Thursday at 9:20. If I’m going to work this late, I’m having a glass of wine.
Pretty sure I’ve told this story on here before, but my parents met in an aircraft factory during WWII.
Dad was newly-hired supervisor who’d been injured in the war. The jeep he was riding in hit a land mine near Karachi, India, breaking his spine. He’d come home on a hospital ship, crossing the equator on a in a full body cast. He wasn’t really cleared to work yet, but he’d talked an old friend into giving him a job. So that’s my dad.
My mom’s father had been killed in an accident the previous fall when the brakes gave out on the coal delivery truck he was driving near a place called Big Hill, Kentucky, leaving my grandmother with five kids. At 20, Mom was the oldest. The youngest two weren’t in their teens yet. Grandma relocated her family to Dayton, OH, and opened a boarding house. Mom and my Aunt Dortha, aged 19, got jobs as waitresses at a place called the Green Derby, and then Mom hired on at United Aircraft.
Dad’s description of Mom at that time was, “She was the cutest thing in shoe leather.” Mom’s description of herself was, “I was cute and I knew it.” She had acquired a reputation, probably earned, for being stuck up. Dad was a skinny guy with glasses, but he was very self-confident and he was a wounded war hero.
His first day on the job, he asked her out. She turned him down. The next day, as she was heading to her machine, he said, “How’d you like to go out with me on Saturday night?” Before she could answer, he snapped his fingers and said, “Oh, that’s right, I’m busy,” and walked away while all the people who thought she was stuck up laughed. Same thing happened the next day. The third day, before he could snap his fingers, she said, “Yes.”
Today that reads like sexual harassment, but they got married six weeks later and were married nearly 32 years, till she passed away.