Risky Regencies

The Meet Cute

Elena blogged yesterday about the first time and I’m blogging today about the Meet Cute (with or without a hyphen), the very first meeting of hero/heroine.

Although Wikipedia defines it as an element of screwball comedy or romantic comedy, I think it’s a staple of romantic fiction, because it determines the elements of hero/heroine interaction. Rarely do a hero/heroine meet and find that everything is compatible between them straight away. Austen gives us a prime example of the Meet Cute when Darcy first encounters Elizabeth: She is not handsome enough to tempt me.

So we get Elizabeth’s and Darcy’s reaction to each other, their misconceptions about each other, and, miraculously (if we knew how Austen did this academia would grind to a halt, the mystery solved) their attraction to each other despite themselves.

Since I have a sinus infection that is making my nose look like a banana (misshapen, not yellow) I’m going to invite you to share your favorite Meet Cutes of all time in romance, and share with you the Meet Cute from my WIP. I think this scene will stay, although I’ve just figured out the plot and a lot of stuff has to be rewritten:

.

.. there is someone sprawled on a chair. He wears plain black—very fashionable for a gentleman, of course—but on this man it looks as though he intends to fight a duel and possibly conduct the funeral service over his unlucky opponent all in the same day. His dark hair is unruly, also eminently fashionable but in a way that, along with his unshaven chin, suggests he has but recently risen from his bed.

Goodness.

He is lean, dramatic, handsome as the devil, and I suspect the bed was not his.

A rake!

Will my reputation fall around me in tatters if I approach him?

I regard the soggy handkerchief in my hand and regret that the bosom of my gown, fashionably brief, does not allow for extra cargo.

While I have been staring at him I have in fact been moving toward him, like a mouse fascinated by a snake, so I arrive in front of him as he looks up—his eyes are shadowed, naturally, his eyelashes dark and lush, his face lean and bony—and gazes straight at my bosom.

He yawns.

And hop over to History Hoydens today where our very own Amanda McCabe is talking about sixteenth century navigation!

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Megan Frampton
13 years ago

Oh, what unexpected fun! Thanks for sharing, I always try to write cliche-bending scenes like that one, too. And if I make myself and others laugh, well, yay!

Carol
13 years ago

Goodness. That made me want to read the WIP!

M.
M.
13 years ago

I love it. I love it. I’m reduced to inane repetition at how excellent that is.

(*sigh* Why can’t I do that? achieve the meet betweem hero and heroine on their own strength, without the need of supporting cast? my meet involved a lizard and a llama)

Is the title known?

Cara King
13 years ago

I love the scene, Janet!

And M — bring on the lizards and llamas! Sounds good to me! 🙂

Cara

Keira Soleore
13 years ago

Bwa ha ha ha. “He yawns.” If that were me, I would’ve fled. O Mortification.

The Cute Meets are the best scenes in the book — the hook for me to keep on reading.

Since I’ve been memorizing Ammanda’s Undone (I’ve read it so many times now), I can vouch for it being one stellar cute meet. The set up, the anticipation, and then it happens… Superb.

janegeorge
13 years ago

Brava!

Let’s see, a meet cute that stands out…
I liked the one in A Spymaster’s Lady, both are imprisoned in the stanky dark. I guess that’s an anti-cute meet, huh?

janegeorge
13 years ago

How can I not have mentioned Mr. Rochester’s horse rearing up at the fairy in the mist? And he gets dumped. I love that.

Susan/DC
Susan/DC
13 years ago

I adore this snippet, and if there is any justice in the world the gods of Publishing will publish the book from which it is excerpted forthwith.

As for H/H first meeting, I’m not sure it quite qualifies as “cute”, but I love the opening of Deanna Raybourn’s Silent in the Grave: “To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor.”

Diane Gaston
13 years ago

what fun, Janet! and your Meet Cute is terrific.

This from Pride & Prejudice:

Elizabeth Bennet had been obliged, by the scarcity of gentlemen, to sit down for two dances; and during part of that time, Mr. Darcy had been standing near enough for her to hear a conversation between him and Mr. Bingley, who came from the dance for a few minutes, to press his friend to join it.

“Come, Darcy,” said he, “I must have you dance. I hate to see you standing about by yourself in this stupid manner. You had much better dance.”

“I certainly shall not. You know how I detest it, unless I am particularly acquainted with my partner. At such an assembly as this it would be insupportable. Your sisters are engaged, and there is not another woman in the room whom it would not be a punishment to me to stand up with.”

“I would not be so fastidious as you are,” cried Mr. Bingley, “for a kingdom! Upon my honour, I never met with so many pleasant girls in my life as I have this evening; and there are several of them you see uncommonly pretty.”

“You are dancing with the only handsome girl in the room,” said Mr. Darcy, looking at the eldest Miss Bennet.

“Oh! She is the most beautiful creature I ever beheld! But there is one of her sisters sitting down just behind you, who is very pretty, and I dare say very agreeable. Do let me ask my partner to introduce you.”

“Which do you mean?” and turning round he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said: “She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me; I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.”

Mr. Bingley followed his advice. Mr. Darcy walked off; and Elizabeth remained with no very cordial feelings toward him. She told the story, however, with great spirit among her friends; for she had a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in anything ridiculous.

Now does that set up conflict or what?
A bit later Darcy sees the error of his ways:

Occupied in observing Mr. Bingley’s attentions to her sister, Elizabeth was far from suspecting that she was herself becoming an object of some interest in the eyes of his friend. Mr. Darcy had at first scarcely allowed her to be pretty; he had looked at her without admiration at the ball; and when they next met, he looked at her only to criticise. But no sooner had he made it clear to himself and his friends that she hardly had a good feature in her face, than he began to find it was rendered uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes. To this discovery succeeded some others equally mortifying. Though he had detected with a critical eye more than one failure of perfect symmetry in her form, he was forced to acknowledge her figure to be light and pleasing; and in spite of his asserting that her manners were not those of the fashionable world, he was caught by their easy playfulness. Of this she was perfectly unaware; to her he was only the man who made himself agreeable nowhere, and who had not thought her handsome enough to dance with.

Ladyhawk
13 years ago

I think my absolute favorite is Diane’s The Improper Wife. The Heroine married a man, several months before, who used the Hero’s name. She delivers a babe right there, with his help. It makes me laugh and sigh simply thinking about it.
~Judy

Louisa Cornell
13 years ago

Love the scene, Janet!! “He yawns.” now THAT is priceless!

And the Rochester and Jane Eyre meet scene is one of my all-time favorites.

I love the scene in the antique shop where Dain and Jessica meet for the first time in Lord of Scoundrels.

Here is a meet scene from one of my WIPs – Dreams of Angels.

After the perfunctory introductions, an uncomfortable silence ensued. They stood around the tiny gilt chair a few steps from the grand staircase like visitors to some peculiar museum. The chair had been her refuge from the cacaphony that was a grand ball. Teddy wished they would just leave and let her make her escape from her own folly.

In answer to her prayer, the duke and duchess made their excuses and blended into the crowd. Teddy settled back into her chair with a sigh of relief.
“Excuse me, Miss Delacroix?”
Teddy jumped in her seat and looked up at the source of that rich, deep voice. She suddenly found herself staring into the most striking eyes she had ever seen. Her throat constricted, and she heard a loud roaring in her ears. She was incapable of speech.
A lion. Standing before her was a young lion in human form. As a little girl she had seen a lion in the menagerie at the Tower of London. She had never forgotten it. Just as she knew she would never forget this moment.
His hair was the same tawny color as a lion’s mane and almost as shaggy, hanging slightly over the collar of his cutaway jacket. Long muscular limbs gave his tailor the perfect frame on which to hang the elegant black and white of evening dress.
The visage was that of a creature well aware of his own power, but not terribly impressed with the power of others. Sharp features, a square jaw and those amazing mesmerizing eyes—amber eyes filled with all the wounded knowledge of a fallen angel stared back at her, slightly bemused.
What on earth could he possibly want with her? If she could remember how to talk, she would ask him. Loss of one’s power of speech, in addition to making one look like a bedlamite, was more than a bit inconvenient.
“I’m . . . I’m sorry . . . sir . . . I don’t know you . . . Do I?”
She nearly cringed at the sound of her own inane, idiotic question. Of course she knew him. She recognized his cravat. Why hadn’t he left with their host and hostess?
“Actually we were just introduced by the Duke and Duchess of Richmond. I believe you know my sister as well. Elizabeth Sherringdon?”
The man smiled but there was something in his eyes that spoke to her, something of sorrow and great loss.
“Lizzie, of course,” she said, coming out of her stupor. “That would make you Wick—” Teddy clapped a gloved hand over her mouth. His smile turned into a sly grin.
“Wicked Warren at your service, m’lady,” he said with a click of his heels and a slight bow.
Teddy blushed and shook her head.
“I am terribly sorry, my lord. I should not have—”
He waved his hand, cutting her off.
“Would you care to dance, Miss Delacroix?”
“I beg your pardon?” She blinked up at him as if he just said the most outrageous thing.
“Would you care to dance?” he said more deliberately.
“Me?”
The marquis looked around carefully. “You appear to be the only lady within earshot, Miss Delacroix.” He held out his hand. “Shall we?”
“But . . . We don’t really know each other.”
“Of course, we do,” he assured her, a grave expression on his handsome face. “We were introduced just a moment ago. Are you going to wound my fragile sensibilities by saying I am instantly forgettable?” He continued to hold out his hand.
“I do not believe it is something we should do, my lord.”
“Ah,” he said with a knowing wink. “But life is too short simply to do what we should, is it not?”
“It’s a waltz,” she murmured, tempted beyond all reason. Her hand stole into his as if it had a life all its own
“I am familiar with the waltz, Miss Delacroix.”
“I . . . don’t know how to . . .”
Her other hand came up and slipped into his as he pulled her gently to her feet.
“Just follow me, Miss Delacroix. I’m told I am quite adept at it.” He smiled a perfectly devilish smile. “The waltz, that is.”

Amanda McCabe
13 years ago

I love that scene, Janet! Hope you keep it just like that. (plus it makes me want to know what happens next, which must be the sign of a succeseful meet cute, yes?)

The best ones always seem to be in 1930s movies, like My Man Godfrey and Bringing Up Baby (the car at the golf course thing). My very favorite ’30s comedy, though, is The Awful Truth, which doesn’t really show the “meet” since they are already married, but you do wonder what will happen when they encounter each other again and Irene Dunne finds out Cary Grant was NOT in Florida. And he meets her music teacher. I must see that one again!

Diane Gaston
13 years ago

Thanks, Judy, for mentioning The Improper Wife. I did think that opening was fun to write.

Maddie
13 years ago

Oh I need to know what happens next!

The Meet Cute’s that I can think of at the moment that I love are found in movies I love! You’ve Got Mail and 10 Things I Hate About You. Call me cheesy, but do you remember the scene in You’ve Got Mail where Tom Hanks talks about ‘a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils’? If a guy brought me that, I would just wilt with delight. 🙂

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