Monday, March 29, 2010

DIALOGUE THAT MADE ME SWOON (with book excerpt and giveaway)

By Thea Devine

It probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone that GONE WITH THE WIND is among my favorite books. I first read it when I was sixteen, and you can probably guess my teenaged reaction to the love story. But, as I subsequently discovered, it’s wholly different book when you reread it when you‘re older (say, oh -- thirty and forty), and as I did recently with my sister-in-law. But there is one thing in GWTW that never changes and that, for me, was always the whole key to anything about romance.

It’s the moment at Twelve Oaks before the picnic, when Scarlett -- in the book -- has just encountered Charles Hamilton on the staircase, and turns to see Rhett staring up her, and indignantly thinks, “he looks as if -- as if he knows what I look like without my shimmy.” (sic -- my edition).

I love that moment. I always thought it went beyond prurience, that he was not envisioning her naked, he was not thinking sex; rather he was seeing her whole, her beauty, her vanity, her greed, her flaws and phony flirtatiousness, and everything about her right there that made her “her” -- and he decided in that moment, he wanted her, that he loved her. Not just the body, but the whole person, just as she was.

Don’t we all? Want the guy who wants us just as we are? Without lists, demands, requirements must-haves. Don’t we want to say to him, “I love you,” and have him respond, as does Han Solo to Princess Leia in The Empire Strikes Back, “I know.”

Oh, be still my heart. That he knew in his deepest core that she loved him. That acknowledgement was more than him saying “I love you.” It says that he’d always known and everything he’d ever done was colored by that, in spite of the bickering, the clashes, in spite of everything.

I love that. Who wouldn’t love that? But even better -- a moment on House: you can quibble about whether House and Cuddy belong together (and I will, because I don’t think they do), but when he said to her in a recent episode, “I always want to kiss you,” -- I melted into a puddle of swoon. Always .. Are you imagining that? Always … God, I wish I’d written that line. Think what means. Always …

But then, I’m hopeless romantic. I love love. I love being in love. I think love is forever, in spite of all the recent public and humiliating break-ups in the news. I think those moments above expressed in dialogue are at the heart of romance -- and that we all yearn for that deep visceral knowledge of the other person that transcends everything but the need and desire to be together because ... because we love, and they know. Always …♥

Thea Devine is a charter member of RWA/NYC and the author of 24 steamy historical and contemporary romances and a dozen novellas. Her latest, SEX, LIES & SECRET LIVES, is an April 2010 release from Pocket/Gallery. Visit her and read below for an excerpt.


... Somewhere in her dreams, Justine heard the musical sting that meant -- oh God, the cell – she groped for it, flipped it open – what a.m.?

A truncated text message sharp against the screen: justine … t …

She shot wide awake like a bullet Her heart started pounding. Her twin would never use the old code unless -- She waited for more of the message to materialize. But there was only the brief and stark justine t …

Justine time … the I-need-you-help-me-get-here-yesterday-you’re the- only-one-I-trust fail-safe code. The not to be used unless death-and- apocalyptic-destruction were imminent code.

But Jill was on a modeling assignment in England. How the hell could she do anything for Jillian if she was in London?

Now she felt panicked. For Jillian to use The Code -- she had to be in some awful mess. And she had been clear: if she coded Justine, it meant she was to go to Jillian’s apartment first. In case …

There was something propped on the pile of pillows against the headboard of Jillian's bed. Justine went cold as she picked up the object.

A hotel key holder with a picture of Jilly on the front, her curves barely covered in black satin, and the words:

Impeccable and incomparable
Discreet and discriminating
Subtle, skilled, sophisticated, seductive …

And on the reverse side, on black satin: if you dare …

Okay, I’m going to die …

She got Jillian's laptop from the safe and powered it up. A file booted up. With her name on it. This wasn’t need to know, was it?

She clicked and a densely written letter appeared on the screen.

Oh God. This was no time for true confessions.

Justine. This is the time for plain speaking … If you’re reading this, I’m in trouble. I have to tell you the truth: I’m not a model. I’m an exclusive traveling companion to wealthy men. I don’t know now if something I know is the reason why I coded you. You’re the only one who can help me. Find me, wherever I am-- whatever you have to do.

I don’t know what to do.

Don’t you?

Step into Jillian’s stilettos? Be Jillian, with all that implied.

Walk the minefield of Jillian‘s life -- even to having sex with her clients? … Sacrifice that much for Jillian in order to save her?

Find me. Help me. WHATEVER you have to do.


GIVEAWAY! Leave a comment on this post and you may win two – yes, two! -- of Thea’s erotic contemporaries: HIS LITTLE BLACK BOOK and BAD AS SHE WANTS TO BE. Good luck.



  1. I love that you honor great writing. A book is just so many words unless it has heart, unless it has real characters living real lives facing real challenges. I am also a great lover of language. I love dynamic dialogue, I love vivid descriptions, interior explorations, and proper and profound use of language. It is what lifts a few books above the fray and makes them immortal. Thanks for being a hopeless romantic! It is what makes boring old normal life not just worth living, but worth living artistically and enthusiastically.

  2. I like the following interior musing by Callie in "Lessons in French" by Laura Kinsale: (this is just after they have made love for the first time) "It was bewildering. To think of herself lying in a bed with a man was too incredible.....It was real. It truly was herself, and him, in a bed united as lovers, as a husband and wife would be." (p. 326)

    This is an especially wonderful paragraph and I've only excerpeted a little from it to give you all a taste. What makes it stand out in my mind is that Callie is a woman who very much lives in her imagination and is always telling stroies to herself of romance and adventure and here, making love for the first time, she can't make up a story about it or fall into her imagination. It's too real for that and wonderful. She's too much in the present and the present is better than anything she's imagined for her to make up an "escape."

    Don't mind sharing with all of you that this was my own reaction when I fell in love with my husband. Reality was just so much better than a book! :) I think this is what real writing can do, illimunate and put into words better than you can do yourself, some life experience.

    I am really really grateful for great writing! Thank you Thea for reflecting on it and making me put into words, what I think!


  3. You do it as well as anyone and better than a lot of people. (trust me I know).
    I too have had mnay of those " I WISH I HAD SAID THAT.." moments. Two lines from two of my favorite movies... Legends of the fall:
    l foIlowed all the rules Man's and God's And you You followed none of them. And they all loved you more Samuel, Father Even my own wife.

    And the Jodie Foster version of the King and when Tuptim said: If love were a choice, who would choose such exquisite pain?

    Sometimes when its not about the look, the smile or the tears, it is all about the words...


  4. "You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you."

    Jane Austen wrote these words towards the end of Persuasion. Its part of the letter that Captain Wentworth has written to Ann in response to a conversation he overhears. What was so startling for me was Austen's deception. No where in the previous pages did she give away this man's passion for this woman.

    I read this letter on good days and bads days, and even for a class assignment. And though the novel ends with uncertainty, due to the conflicts England was engaged in at the time, I always imagine that when he came home to her, their passion would light up the night.


  5. As so beautifully conveyed above in your post, Thea, and the comments, the ability of language to convey more than the sum of the words is what writing is all about. Whether it is "sensual" writing - where sometimes a description, pre-coitus, is more erotic than anything describing the "act" itself. Or whether the emotions are being conveyed more subtly than "I love you". The most romantic words I can recall at this moment (though my favorite novel, A. S. Byatt's POSSESSION is rife with fabulous, evocative writing) are these words from Hamlet:

    “Doubt that the stars are fire, doubt that the sun doth move, doubt truth to be a liar, but never doubt I love.”

  6. "We'll always have Paris." Casablanca

    "You had me at hello." Jerry Maguire

    "I came back through time for you, Sarah." Terminator

    I know, I know. Those are movies, but those are great moments and great lines.

    However, nothing beats Catherine's words to the housekeeper, Nelly, in Wuthering Heights:

    "Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He's always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being."

    No matter how estranged they are or their current fight or their separation, Catherine and Heathcliff are one. They are true soulmates, bound together through time, and no man --or woman! -- can separate them. A pity they didn't get a happy ending in real life, but at least we know that they are together through eternity and at peace.

  7. Great post, Thea!

    And I'm loving the favourite swoon lines here in the comments.

    My heroine in the first two books of the Strangely Beautiful series, Miss Percy, does a whole lot of swooning when the hero (who has Alan Rickman's voice) speaks. (Who doesn't swoon at his voice?) Especially when he says her full name for the first time, which is a bit of a plot device / reveal, coming up behind her, murmuring in her ear as he's trying to get information out of her.

  8. I think, more than anything else in a romance novel, it's the dialog that draws me in. It's the characters and action that keep me there.

    I never thought to impose anyone's voice to my characters but I think I'll give it a try.