What is more the quintessence to historical romance than a ball? When I got together with three friends–my fellow historical writers Katharine Ashe, Caroline Linden, and Maya Rodale–to do an anthology, we decided to come up with a single theme. ONCE UPON A BALLROOM contains four unrelated short stories set in London ballrooms, along with excerpts from our forthcoming novels.
Particularly in historicals, dancing is often the beginning of attraction. Only while dancing were proper gentlemen and unmarried ladies allowed to touch each other. Caroline mentioned Pride and Prejudice when Elizabeth and Darcy dance at the Netherfield ball. “I love that scene,” Caroline writes. “Lizzy goes into it already determined against him, and he’s so perplexed by his attraction to her that he does nothing, really, to change her mind–but he also keeps coming back for more. And it plants a seed–just a small one–in her mind about him.”
It’s little wonder that the introduction of the waltz was somewhat scandalous. The dance involves an embrace. Nowhere is its sexual nature better expressed than in Mary Balogh’s Slightly Dangerous. Wulfric and Christine’s unwilling but scorching lust bursts into flames after a waltz. Later, Balogh uses the same dance to show their mutual love. “He felt as if he held joy itself in his arms, He kept his eyes on her, marveling at her beauty, breathing in the fragrance of her, doing nothing to hide his admiration somewhere deep behind his eyes.”
Maya’s favorite is the scene in Lord of Scoundrels (by Loretta Chase, of course) when Dain strides into the ball and scares off Jessica’s suitors. “It has everything: anticipation, the promise of scandal, waltzing, witty repartee and exquisite displays of dominance matched by a headstrong female. And like many good ballroom scenes, this one ends up in the garden.”
“Go away,” he said quietly.
“He gave Miss Trent a slow, head-to-toe survey.
“She returned the favor.”
Katharine can always be relied upon to recommend something highly romantic. “I love the Cinderella-like meeting of Sophie and Benedict in Julia Quinn’s An Offer From a Gentleman. It’s private and perfectly dreamy. Most of all it is magical, a brief, star-touched meeting of two hearts who somehow instantly know that the heavens fashioned them to love each other.”
We don’t want to suggest that historicals have a monopoly on dance floor romance. One of Katharine’s all-time favorite dance scenes is in Rachel Gibson’s Truly Madly Yours, and it happens in a bar. Delaney wants nothing to do with uber-sexy Nick, the man who ruined her life years ago. But somehow she ends up pressed to his hard body, enthusiastically kissing him to the smooth rhythms of a blues song. “He made her forget she stood on a crowded dance floor. He made her forget everything.”
There’s nothing like a steamy public kiss to set the gossips to tittering gleefully–in any era! What’s your favorite dance scene in romance, historical or otherwise?
Discover how a masked ball can turn friends into lovers … how a wicked, wonderful dream can indeed come true … how sometimes behaving as one should not can lead to the most passionate results … and how the truest love is a bond no scandal can shake. Anything can happen at a ball— scandal, passion, disaster … and true love.
The Truth About Love by Caroline Linden
Ask Me to Dance by Katharine Ashe
Once Upon a Dream by Maya Rodale
The School of Wooing for Inept Book Collectors by Miranda Neville
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Where to find these authors:
Miranda Neville can be found on her Website & other social media spots found here | Caroline Linden’s website can be found here | Katharine & her historical romance website are here | and Maya’s Website is here under Maya Rodale