Imagine the Scene…
A couple share an intimate dinner for two in an exotic location with soft music playing in the background. The man leans over and takes the woman’s hands in his and presses kisses to her fingertips. He looks into her eyes and she sees the love shining there. He caresses her cheek and, in a voice husky with emotion, says:
“Darling will you marry me?”
I’m sure everyone dreams of a similar romantic proposal but the reality often turns out to be very different. Take my case for instance. My husband proposed over a glass of wine in a pub! Hardly the most romantic of locations! But, never fear, because my favourite fictional heroes will come to the rescue. When they finally utter the words ‘Marry Me’, I know the scene will leave me sighing happily into my cup of tea.
Just to prove it, here are four of my favourite Historical Romance marriage proposals.
The Awe-Inspiring Proposal
This scene in Gaelen Foley’s The Duke, when Robert Knight proposes to Bel Hamilton, definitely tops my list as the most heart-melting proposal ever!
With a slight, devilish smile, Robert guided the tall white horse back to a vantage point just below Bel’s theater box. With a sweeping gesture, he produced a gorgeous red rose and lifted it, holding it out to her. The courtly gesture won him cheers, whistles, applause. Even Mr. Kean laughed.
The roguish smile Robert sent her made her heart somersault with crazed, incredulous joy.
Her heart beating wildly, Bel reached over the railing and accepted the rose, abashed to be brought to the public’s attention, because everybody knew who she was – “The Magdalen,” the papers now called her – the penitent whore.
“Come away, my lady,” he said softly.
“Have you gone completely mad?”
“I was mad ever to let you go. Take me back. You won’t be sorry, I swear,” he said. “Marry me, lovely.”
This reminds me so much of the final scene in the movie Pretty Woman when Richard Gere arrives at Julia Roberts’s apartment. Just substitute a white limousine for a white horse; it’s still great romance!
The Crazy Proposal
Leo Hathaway, Lord Ramsey’s proposal to Catherine Marks in Lisa Kleypas’s Married By Morning must surely rank as the most unconventional one ever but his words….just sigh-worthy!
Leo leaned farther out of the window. “I love you,” he said shortly. As he stared at Catherine’s small, shivering figure, he felt his color run high, and his soul open with an emotion deeper than he had ever imagined could reside in him. “I love you Marks. My heart is completely and utterly yours. And unfortunately for you, the rest of me comes with it.” Leo paused, struggling for words, when they had always come so easily to him. But these had to be the right words. They meant too much. “I know I’m a bad bargain. But I’m begging you to have me anyway. Because I want to build a life with you.” He fought to steady his voice. “Please come to me, Cat, because there’s no surviving you. You don’t have to love me back. You don’t have to be mine. Just let me be yours.”
I love the wonderful blend of drama, humour and, of course, romance!
The Risky Proposal
In Judith McNaught’s Until You, Stephen Westmoreland’s previous actions require more than just sweet talking a very angry Sheridan Bromleigh into accepting his proposal. I do so love a hero who is willing to lay his heart on the line, even at the risk of having it trampled on!
“Look at me,” Stephen said, tipping her chin up again, and this time her glorious eyes looked into his. “I have several reasons for asking you to walk into that chapel, where there is a vicar waiting for us, but guilt is not among them. I also have several things to ask of you before you agree to go in there with me.”
“What sort of things?”
“I would like you to give me daughters with your hair and your spirit,” he said, beginning to enumerate his reasons and requests. “I would like my sons to have your eyes and your courage. Now, if that’s not what you want, then give me any combination you like, and I will humbly thank you for giving me any child we make.”
Happiness began to spread through Sheridan until it was so intense she ached from it. “I want to change your name,” he said with a tender smile, “so there’s no doubt who you are ever again, or that you belong to me.” He slid his hands up and down her arms, looking directly into her eyes. “I want the right to share your bed tonight and every other night from this day forward. I want to make you moan in my arms, and I want to wake up wrapped in yours.” He shifted his hands and cradled her cheeks, his thumbs brushing away two tears at the edges of her shimmering eyes. “Last of all, I want to hear you say “I love you” every day of my life. If you aren’t ready to agree to that last request right now, I would be willing to wait until tonight, when I believe you will. In return for all these concessions, I will grant you every wish that is within my power to grant you.”
Could you resist such a proposal?
The Practical Proposal
I love this delightfully understated scene between Lisle and Olivia in Loretta Chase’s friends-to-lovers story, Last Night’s Scandal.
He swallowed. After a moment’s vibrating silence, he said, “You must marry me.”
She stared for a time at her collection of secrets. “I think I must,” she said. “I’ve wanted to be self-sacrificing and brave but it doesn’t agree with me.”
He stared at her. She put the trinkets back, and the letters.
“Really?” he said.
“Yes,” she said. “I thought I couldn’t endure it but you’ve begun to grow on me. Like mold.”
“Very funny.” But the relief was physical. He hadn’t realized how heavy and disheartening a weight had pressed on him until now, when it lightened.
“We balance,” she said. “We love each other. We’re friends. And lovemaking is quite good.”
“Much better than Lady Cooper’s first experience,” she said. She repeated the ladies’ descriptions of their first marriages.
He laughed. “I’ve outperformed Lady Cooper’s first husband – and I’ve got the ring and everything,” he said.
“The one from the chest,” she said.” Oh, that settles it.”
He pulled her into his arms and kissed her. “If we go wake up two witnesses, we can declare ourselves married and we will be – and then you can spend the night,” he said. “Marriage is simpler in Scotland.”
Alas, if you want to discover all about Lady Cooper’s ‘first experience’, I’m afraid you’ll have to read the book!
Do you have any favourite proposal scenes?
This was originally posted as a Guest Blog on the Romantic Historical Lovers blog in November 2012.