Google “romance,” and you’ll find images of champagne flutes and flowers, small tables in chic Parisian cafes, and sunsets over beaches. Such stock images of romance readily come to mind when romance writers craft that first meet of the heroine and hero. We want a setting that lifts the moment above the ordinary, but we also want to give our h/h something unique to their story.
Family legend gives my parents a very romantic meet—on a summer’s day at Bucks Lake in the Sierra foothills of California. From that start the romance took off. A fraternity pin soon followed, and then a December proposal the week before Pearl Harbor. What we children didn’t know until this summer, reading our Mom’s account of her life, is that Dad proposed to her at the Grand National Livestock Show at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. The romantic bubble burst amid bales of hay and the close proximity of thousand-pound beasts. We wondered how, in that setting, our mother could have said--“Yes!”
With Sexy Lexy, my soon-to-be-re-released contemporary comedy, I gave Sam and Lexy something of a mix between the romantic setting of coastal northern California and a close encounter with livestock on the hoof. Then I worked to give them something my own husband gives me—a love I can count on every day.
I said my own Yes! in an equally unromantic place after a whirlwind courtship. (A very romantic honeymoon to Carmel followed.) Then came the Christmas gift pictured here.
Unwrapping a cast iron frying pan from the man of one’s dreams in the midst of one’s extended and tactless family requires a certain mental and facial dexterity. I’m not sure I passed the test in that moment. I know my sisters didn’t. “How unromantic,” they scoffed.
And yet my cast iron pan has gone with us everywhere. I use it every day. Thousands of delicious dishes have come from this plain and humble square of iron. I’ve not had to whack a home intruder with it, but it’s probably just the thing if I ever have to face one. And it reminds me of an essential element in every romance I write.
It’s the very gift I like to give to all my heroes and heroines—enduring love, unbreakable love, cast iron love. (My husband says it’s a country song waiting to be written.) It’s the point of the last scene in each of my books, the one in which the heroine and hero laugh and plan and think about having sex again soon. It’s where the pattern of their life together is set. I hope you’ll look for Sam and Lexy’s story in the weeks ahead and cheer them on to their own version of cast iron love.