"ROMANCE" by J Vincent

A couple of definitions for romantic:
a) displaying or expressing love or strong affection
b) the pleasurable feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love

I believe both are true. Romantic, for me, is not the grand gesture but the subtle touch or gift that becomes a mutually shared and understood symbol. A gift that sticks in the memory, a permanent reminder of the love shown. I’ll let my work demonstrate this. In The Promise Rose (2005) there is a scene early in the book:

“Barry! Barry? Why are you hiding here?” Glenna scolded, entering an arbor she and her friend frequented. “Mother’s seamstress wishes to give your gown for my wedding a fitting.” She paused. “Have you--are you crying?” Glenna hurried to her.
Barry wiped away her tears with her kerchief and stood. “It is--nothing.” An object fell from the folds of her skirt.
“What a beautiful rose,” Glenna said, retrieving it. “A red rose, la rose d’amour.” She arched a brow teasingly. “Prideau?” A squeal of delight escaped at Barry’s nod. “Oh, do tell me what has happened.”
“Four days ago--the night of the ball, we went for a walk in the garden. He asked if we might exchange missives while he is in America,” Barry reluctantly told her. Her color rose. “He repeated his request when you left us alone on the picnic yesterday.”
“Is he to call on your father before he leaves?”
“He spoke of visiting my home but we did not speak of marriage--not directly. There has been so little time.” Barry blinked back tears, reached out, and gently took the rose from Glenna’s hand, cradling it tenderly.
“A walk in the garden,” Barry murmured. “A magic moment during a picnic. And now there is no time.” Her face began to crumble. “He has been summoned home--departed this morning.” A tear fell on the fragile rose petals. “A maid brought this to me,” she caressed the rose, “with a note that he would come the next time I was given such a rose. That he would then be free to speak its--message.”

The lovers are of course, parted for many years, each tricked into thinking it the others fault. At the end of the book with the misunderstandings resolved comes this scene:

“Lady Gromley. Mrs. McDowell.” Tafte interrupted their conversation. “The messenger who brought this and said you alone, my lady, were to open it.” He held out a long, slim box.
Barry accepted it. “Thank you.” She turned to Glenna as he departed. “I wonder what--”
“Open it,” Glenna urged her excitedly. “Are you not curious?”
“It is probably some memento of appreciation from one of my guests.” Barry lifted the lid. Gazing down, her heart skipped a beat. The lid tumbled to the floor and she drew back the soft, damp ferns with a trembling hand. Within lay a blood red rose.
His words rang faintly over the years. This pledge shall not be broken by neither time nor by distance. Cradling the rose tenderly, she asked, “Did the messenger bring anything else?”
But Tafte and Glenna had disappeared.
A deep voice sounded at the door. “Only himself.”
“Prideau.” She leaped to her feet.
He walked slowly to her, his hands joining hers on the promise rose. “It has been a lifetime since the pledge was given,” Prideau said, his voice raw with emotion. “Can you believe I mean it as sincerely today, no, ten times more, than I did long ago?”
Nodding, Barry placed her free hand over his.
He gripped it tightly. “You are even more beautiful this day,” he breathed. Then, “Your letters were never deliv--”
She placed a finger on his lips. “Glenna told me a little. You may tell me all of it someday.”
He bent his head to hers and they kissed.
Prideau then raised a finger and gently traced the line of her jaw. “When can we be wed?”
A sudden frown appeared on her face with practicality’s return. “There are Pamela and Patrick to consider.”
“Her aunt is to arrive on the morrow. She has agreed to keep both of them for a month,” Prideau informed her with a smile.
“There is the matter of Pamela and Lieutenant Horne.”
“They have just agreed to a year’s courtship. Horne shall be free to call whenever he has time from his duty.” His smile deepened. Mischief danced in his eyes. “You should be delivered from your confinement in time for their nuptials.”
Barry arched a brow. “I am not yet breeding.”
“I know.” He kissed her forehead, the tip of her nose, then her lips. “I have come armed with a special license and Canon Portman, an old friend of the cleric bent. I mean to remedy all obstacles, my dear, dear Barry,” he said kissing her again. Prideau drew back reluctantly. “Find a gown you think suitable for your wedding. We marry this evening.”
“Shall this suit, my lord?” She teasingly motioned at her plain Watteau gown, her features radiant with joy.
“By God, it shall.” Prideau drew her to him once again. “If we can but find a moment to send for the cleric.”
Barry demonstrated her agreement by drawing his head to hers. Her eye caught a glimpse of the promise rose still in her hand above his shoulder. Their lips met, sweeping twelve years into the past, the promise fulfilled.

One of my treasures is a note scrawled at the end of this scene which ends the book. It was written by the “reader” hired to evaluate it before it was contracted. It said simply, “Well done, my friend.” I think that same phrase every year when my husband gives me white and pink roses for our anniversary like the ones in my bridal bouquet. He’s brought them home for me to arrange and had beautiful arrangements of them waiting in hotel rooms, and had the same delivered to me at work and at home. No matter where or how the roses touch my heart, each year a little more deeply. That is romantic.


Reese Mobley said...

Awwwww. How sweet. Wonderful job showing their emotions. Sounds like a very good book!

Joan Vincent said...

Reese, thanks for posting! The Promise Rose should be available at the library.

Pat Davids said...

I've read the Promise Rose and it's a very nice book. Loved the heroine.

Joan Vincent said...

Thank you Pat! I'd have to say the same for the Christmas Quilt's heroine.

Melissa Robbins said...

Dreamy sigh, Joan. I love roses. My favorites are purple roses and the Peace Rose.