Valentine's Day approacheth, and it puts me in the mood to read some of my favorite romantic scenes. It might sound odd that one of the most beautiful love stories I've ever encountered spanned several mystery novels by Dorothy L. Sayers.
You might be familiar with Sayers' detectve, Lord Peter Wimsey, and perhaps you might know that in the novel STRONG POISON, Wimsey fell in love with Harriet Vane, who was on trial for the murder of her lover--accused of poisoning him to death.
Wimsey is convinced that Harriet is not guilty, and vows to exonerate her. After seeing her once in the witness stand, he falls in love with her and devotes himself to her case.
Harriet is ultimately vindicated and freed, and she is grateful to Wimsey but overwhelmed by her terrible experience.
In the next novel, HAVE HIS CARCASE, Vane is on holiday at a seaside resort; while hiking alone, she finds the body of a man who has been brutally murdered.
What's romantic about THAT? you may well ask. Well, she consults Peter about the case, which has many odd elements, and Peter begins to investigate, glad to be working with Harriet. At one point he tells her that when he next visits the resort, he hopes that Harriet will be dancing in a wine-colored frock because it would suit her.
When Wimsey reappears, Harriet is dancing in a claret-colored gown, and Wimsey notices. He eventually gets to be her dance partner, and Harriet, normally independent and scornful of men's advances, feels self-conscious because Wimsey has not told her she is a good dancer.
Wimsey realizes this with surprise, and says:
"Darling, if you danced like an elderly elephant with arthritis, I would dance the sun and moon into the sea with you. I have waited a thousand years to see you dance in that frock."
And THAT is why it is one of my favorite romantic scenes ever.
Have a lovely Valentine's Day! Treat yourself to a romantic literary escape.