Romancing the Reader
I just returned from the Romantic Times Convention in Kansas City. It was a fun, frenetic week of workshops, parties, and best of all, connecting with readers. I was so tickled to see Waking Up with a Rake in this reader’s scrapbook. Believe me, the readers who come to RT know their romance. They follow their favorites and are always on the hunt for new ones.
So one of the ways I reached out to readers was to join with Shana Galen, Monica Burns, and Heather Snow to do an UNDRESSING THE HERO workshop. Now, we weren’t really able to undress our cover model volunteer, but we did play a fun game. Readers had to tape the name of the article of clothing onto the appropriate place on Scott (a cover model who’s a firefighter for his day job.) He was a great sport about it and also played each of our heroes by acting out a scene from our books that revealed our hero’s vulnerable underbelly.
The scene I chose was the wedding scene from Waking up with a Rake because Rhys admits all the things he can’t offer Olivia. I read the Blacksmith’s part and we had a volunteer from the audience to play the heroine. Here’s the scene in script form:
Blacksmith: “This anvil has wrought many needful things for the making of a prosperous home. So may this marriage provide needful things for the happy couple— enough so they know no want, yet not so much that they forget to share. And may they never forget the most needful thing is love. And that’s the end of me speechifying. Now make yer vows.”
Rhys: “Aren’t you going to lead us?”
Blacksmith: “How should I know what ye intend to promise the lady? I’m no’ a real priest, ye ken. Speak but the words in yer heart, man, and I’ll pronounce ye marrit when the pair o’ ye reach an end of yer jawin’.”
Rhys: “Are you sure this is legal?”
Blacksmith: “Oh, aye. Folk been marryin’ this way in these parts since the Flood. Once ye leave the presence o’ the anvil, ye’ll be marrit before God and man.”
Rhys: “Olivia, I have nothing you could want. No fortune compared to the one you’re leaving in your father’s house. No title. Come to think of it, I can’t even offer you a good name because I’ve soiled mine rather badly up to this point. So all I can offer you is myself and hope it’s enough. I’ll try mightily not to shame you with bad behavior, though you know as well as I, I’ve had little practice with good. I’ll provide for your comfort as best I can and protect you as long as I have a beating heart. I’ll stand by you, in sickness or in health. I’ll love you with my body and honor you with all that is in me. And if by some miracle we reach old age together, I’ll sit beside you as the shadows fall and hold your hand, until we are dust. These things I vow. Am I enough?”
Olivia: “Oh, yes, Rhys. You’re enough.”
Blacksmith: “Weel, then, that’s grand, isn’t it? I now pronounce— ”
Rhys: “Wait a moment. Isn’t she supposed to make a vow to me?”
Blacksmith: “The lass consented to marry ye, did she no’? After that list of what ye dinna have, I’m thinkin’ a canny man might be wantin’ me to hurry things along lest she change her mind. If ye’re still desirous of a promise from her, I’ll help ye, but let’s make it quick before she has a bit of a think about things. Tell me, lass. According to the laws of God and man, will ye be a good and faithful wife to this undeserving wretch of a man?”
Rhys: “That’s helping?”
Blacksmith: “Whist, man. Let the lass answer.”
Olivia: “Yes, I’ll be his good and faithful wife.”
Blacksmith: “Then the necessaries having been satisfied— trust me, man. Her vow, simple as it is, will stand ye in good stead. Women have more sense about the doing part of being marrit than men do. She’ll do ye proud, I’ll be bound. Where was I? Oh, aye, I now pronounce ye man and wife. Now ye can kiss yer bride. (At this point, Scott dipped our volunteer into a romantic kiss!) Easy, man. Save a trifling for the weddin’ night.”
The readers seemed to really enjoy this workshop and one came up to me later and said she remembered my scene from when she read Waking Up with a Rake when it came out last January. Sarah from Arizona made my day.
Writing something that sticks with a reader after the last page is turned is always my goal. It’s very gratifying when I manage to do it.
What book has stuck with you long after “the end?”