Yesterday, with the publication of Wild Wind, I released my 80th novel.
I started publishing in 2008. Eighty novels in less than thirteen years.
I’ll start this by thanking you, my Chicklets, for being what you are, totally fucking awesome. It’s obvious but I’ll say it anyway. I wouldn’t be here without you. Bottom of my soul, thank you.
And now, I’m gonna take you on a stroll down memory lane by counting down my favorite scenes of my own books.
Please note, allusions to spoilers are to come (I did my best, but you’ve been warned). That said, full-on spoilers are all over #1.
Here we go!
5) Lady Luck – “The Beach Scene”
“Your nightmare, mama, was my dream.”
If you’ve read Lady Luck, that’s probably the one line you’ll remember. It’s impossible to rhapsodize about this agony without completely spoiling it. So I won’t rhapsodize (well, I will, but I’ll do it silently).
An innocent man, blinded by his need to take his power back, vows never to be betrayed again. He’s (understandably) so deep in that, he can’t see how desperately the woman who loves him is trying to give him back the pieces that have been torn from him.
Ty and Lexie have a special place in my heart. There is such heartbreak in this book. And such sweetness (their entire stay in Las Vegas and Ty’s behavior there—and no, not just the shower scene—they’re so damned adorable together it…is not…funny).
Thinking on it, I want this book to be a movie (someone call Dwayne Johnson, STAT!). I love a tearjerker and this freaking fills that bill.
And it has one of my favorite epilogues ever.
A twist of fate, and life brought these two people together who were perfect for each other, doing this at precisely the point when they needed most to find it.
It was not a smooth road but thank God Lady Luck was on their side (yes, I’m being corny, but I just published my 80th novel, cut me some slack).
4) Walk Through Fire – “The Reveal”
“I did it in the end. I gave you everything.”
Again, no way to share pretty much anything about this scene without ruining the entire book (then again, I’m a spoiler freak, and this book should never be spoiled!).
But this scene in the Chaos Compound between High and Millie, with the brothers fanning out, containing this emotion, buffering it, absorbing it, there for their brother High, there for his woman Millie.
I get chills when I think of how this scene played out, where it did, why it did, and everyone who was there.
I’ll say this: it sits in its own special #1 top spot. It’s the number one scene where I will randomly just pull this book from my stash at any given time and read it just to be in the Compound, with the brothers, and especially High, when Millie details the sacrifice she made for the man she loved.
We women are immensely strong, and it is at times when others think we’re demonstrating weakness, that we’re at our strongest.
I feel this scene is an illustration of that, and I’m hella proud of writing it.
3) Three Wishes – “The Meeting”
I don’t even have to try. When I’m reading “The Scene” (as it has come to be known in my head), the one that for years reigned supreme as the scene I was most proud of writing, I don’t even have to try.
I see it.
I hear it.
That chair shooting back, careening away from Nate as he loses control and stalks Lily into the wall after he sits among those lawyers and listens to all she’s endured.
I can feel her panic. I can feel his pain. My heart races, like Lily’s, and my skin gets tight, feeling like it’ll tear loose, and I’ll come apart, like Nate must have been feeling.
As with Ty and Lexie’s beach scene, High and Millie’s reveal scene, this is that perfect romance drama blend for me. Experiencing this with them, and the “them” is important. No matter whose POV you’re in, experiencing both their emotions, hero and heroine, at the same time.
All the feels all at once.
And then you’re desperate to turn the page, and the next, and the next, to take the journey to their happy.
This, in all its glorious angst, is why I read romance.
So yeah, (ahem) I’m hella proud of this scene too.
2) The Farthest Edge – “The Goodbye”
I’ve written some pretty broken men (Joe Callahan, Douglas Ashton, Kai Mason, Hawk Delgado, Preacher McCade, “Deacon Deacon”, Apollo Ulfr, the aforementioned Nate McAllister and Ty Walker—to name a few).
However, I honestly don’t think there is one of them as broken as Branch in The Farthest Edge (okay, Joe comes close…and Preacher, and, erm, Hawk, and perhaps Deacon…shutting up now).
But Branch is not a man who’s prone to self-reflection. He’s damaged. He’s lost everything, including his sense of self. He’s lost the people he cares about. He feels responsible for that loss. And he’s perfectly willing to live in the nothingness he’s created, feeling nothing, connecting with no one, breathing, existing…until he dies.
It takes courage of Herculean proportions (and, say, the love of a good woman) to make a man like that take those crucial, seemingly impossible steps not only to finding a new sense of self, reaching for happiness…but letting go of the past.
Especially if letting go means allowing the ones you loved, ones you’ve lost, to finally be at peace.
When Branch and Gerbil go on the last mission of The Rifle Team in The Farthest Edge, I wept, quietly, somberly, and with sweet relief. It was a beautiful feeling.
And I was amazingly honored to be there with them to help them see it through.
Before we get to my #1, some honorable mentions:
Top Flirty “I Screwed the Pooch, I Need a Save Before This Woman Slips Through My Fingers” Scene: Johnny on the picnic blanket with Izzy in The Hookup.
Top Sexy Line in A Scene: Luke in Rock Chick Revenge talking about Ava’s “pretty pink tongue” (and pretty much anything Luke says to Ava when he’s annoyed with her antics).
Top Set of Scenes for a Character Arc: Everything Teddy in The Rising Series.
Top “We Can’t Keep Our Hands off Each Other” Scene: Joe and Vi in his garage with his Mustang.
Top “Dude! What the Fuck Are You Doing?” Scene: Joe letting Vi run away from him in At Peace.
Top Getting It Together Scene: The girls piling on Joe…in At Peace.
Top Damsel in Distress Scene: Greta tripping up the steps to Hix’s apartment, and Hix bounding down them to get to her in Complicated.
Top Utterly Heartbreaking Damsel in Distress Scene: Sadie in Rock Chick Regret.
Top Dude in Distress Scene: Tate fighting for custody in Sweet Dreams.
Top Utterly Heartbreaking Dude in Distress Scene: Jagger coming to terms with his loss in Wild Wind.
Top Appearance (if you’ve read it, you know what I mean): Preacher McCade in Fast Lane.
Top Meet the Parents: Herb and Trish in Rock Chick Redemption.
Top Mystery: The Whodunit in Complicated.
Top Evil: Denny Lowe in For You.
Top Reunion Scene: Ivey and Gray in Play It Safe.
Top Reunion Scene (non-hero/heroine): Ivey meeting her dad in Play It Safe.
Runner-Up Top Reunion Scene (non-hero/heroine): Zara and Zander in Jagged.
Top Nickname: Joe calling Vi “buddy”.
Top “Okay, Dude, You’re Gonna Have to Work Hard to Make Me Like You After This” Scene: Tack and Tyra, in her office before she meets Tack’s kids in Motorcycle Man.
Top Hobby of a Heroine: Sixx being a graphic novelist in The Greatest Risk.
Top Surrogate Parents: Mitch and Mara in Law Man.
Top Final Farewell Scene: Toby and Margot in The Slow Burn.
Top Unexpectedly Beautiful Final Farewell Scene: Clara and Rogan in Still Standing.
Top Breakup Scene: Rees and Fin, Games of the Heart.
Top Use of a Song: 5-Way TIE:
- Circe singing Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in The Golden Dynasty.
- Hop singing Seger’s “You’ll Accomp’ny Me” to Lanie in Fire Inside.
- Nick building his video for Livvie scored by “Stay Alive” by Jose Gonzalez in Sebring.
- Preacher and the Roadmasters finishing their concert with Townshend’s “Let My Love Open the Door”.
- And anything Ally dances to at Smithie’s in Rock Chick Revolution.
Top Use of a Love Song for a Makeup Scene: Cassie and Deacon, “Beautiful War” (by Kings of Leon) Deacon.
Top Demonstration of Going Shopping (any kind of shopping) with a Man Scene: Cassie and Deacon, Deacon.
Top Demonstration of When Never to Take a Man You’re Not Sleeping with Shopping Scene: Indy and Eddie buying condoms for Lee in Rock Chick.
Top Family Shopping Scene: Joe with Vi and the girls at the mall in At Peace.
Top “What to Do After You Massacre Your Enemy” Scene: Lahn and Circe in The Golden Dynasty.
Top “What Absolutely NOT to Do After You Find Out Your Wife Is from a Parallel Universe” Scene: Lahn and Circe in The Golden Dynasty.
Top Cat: Chief, Walk Through Fire.
Runner-Up Top Cat: Boo, Rock Chick Renegade.
Top Horse: Salem, Fantastical.
Top Dog: Malory, Lacybourne Manor.
Runner-up Top Dog: Memphis, Heaven and Hell.
Top Breakfast Food Served by Hero: Ren’s tater tots, Rock Chick Revolution.
Top Fantastically Awkward Yet Awesome Breakfast Scene: Kia and Sam, Heaven and Hell.
Top Use of a Locker Room for a Scene: The Will.
Top Semi-Kinda Kidnapping: Cisco kidnapping Ryn in Dream Chaser.
Top “I Just Figured Out My Wife Has No Clue I Can Orgasm” Scene: Mars and Silence in The Plan Commences.
Top Resurrection Scene: With Everything I Am.
Top Heroine’s Non-House: Imogen’s Condo in After the Climb.
Runner-up Top Heroine’s Non-House: Laurie’s hotel room in Sweet Dreams.
Top Hero’s Non-House: Hawk’s lair in Mystery Man.
Runner-Up Top Hero’s Non-House: Knight’s Apartment in Knight.
Top Heroine’s Actual House: TIE: Sybil’s cottage in Lacybourne Manor and Lavender House in The Will.
Top Hero’s Actual House: TIE: Penmort Castle in Penmort Castle and Mars’s palace in The Rising series.
Top Plain Ole Non-House: Lahn’s tent in The Golden Dynasty.
Top Gift: Lydie’s gift to Jake in The Will.
Runner-up Top Gift: Finnie giving Frey the glass dragon in Wildest Dreams.
Top “Men! Ugh!” Scene: Lee telling Indy to change her clothes in Rock Chick.
Top Save When A Man Has Been “Ugh!” Scene: Tod happening on the fight between Lee and Indy when Lee tells her to change her clothes.
Top Banter Scene: Anytime Tate and “Ace” are butting heads in Sweet Dreams.
Top Series Ending Epilogue: The final chapter of The ’Burg series in Hold On.
Top Wedding Dress Worn by Heroine: Elena’s dress in The Rising.
Top Response of a Hero When He Sees His Woman Walking Down the Aisle: Eddie in Rock Chick Rescue.
Top Restaurant Scene: Any time Max and Nina go to The Rooster in The Gamble.
Top Action Sequence: The Haunted House, Rock Chick Redemption.
Top Surprise Skill for a Heroine: Julia’s excellent aim due to her history playing softball in Sommersgate House.
Top Rescue Scene: Tex rescuing Indy in Rock Chick.
Top Team Rescue Scene: The boys rescuing Evie in Dream Maker.
Top Serial Emotional Rescuer: Duke in the Rock Chick Series.
I’m going to stop the fun there, invite you to think of your own tops and get down to the business of revealing my #1.
Here it is…
My #1 Top Favorite Scene OF ALL TIME that I Wrote (For Now)
5) Wild Wind – “On the Page”
“I really remind you of him?”
If memory serves, I introduced the character of Black in Motorcycle Man. I might have even mentioned him in Mystery Man, both of these books I believe I started writing in 2009/2010.
Eleven or twelve years ago.
So, I think it’s apropos this is happening now, on novel 80, quite a ways down the line in a beautiful journey.
He was not given a name. I don’t believe he was named until Fire Inside.
But even when he was nameless, faceless, I was utterly fascinated by him.
I knew…I knew…from the very beginning, he was a good man. That simple. A heroic man too. But not the kind that scales Mount Everest, discovers a cure for cancer, wins Olympic gold, puts on a uniform.
A man who worshipped his woman, was unfailingly loyal to his friends, and whose only dream was to build a good life and give that to the people he loved. The end.
The kind of man, the kind of hero, I was hoping to build in one way or another in every single one of my books. Some more dramatic, some less so.
But all the same.
As the Chaos books played out, there’s the overreaching story arc with the villain. And yes, I needed to see that through.
But for me, underlying it all, underpinning it all, was Graham Black.
A man who never once made it on the page.
Until Wild Wind. Chapter Eighteen. A chapter I can’t even think about without beginning to tear up, choke up and take a second to get my shit together.
Finally, I was getting to be with Black.
Finally, I had Black right there, before me, on the page.
I had no idea this scene was going to happen until I opened a new Word document to write the next chapter.
Chills. Fear. Such profound melancholy.
I couldn’t wait to meet him, but I was filled with dread. I couldn’t wait to be with him, and I was terrified all the same.
He was mine, he’d always been mine, I was deeply in love with him.
But he was already gone.
And then there was Black’s speech about what he wanted to do with his sons. What he wanted to teach them. And the line, “Watch them find a woman and do the work beforehand so they’ll know how to treat her.”
He was such a magnificent man, he wasn’t even around, and he did the work beforehand. Dutch and Jagger knew exactly how to treat their women.
His sons had found love.
The circle was complete.
This was a little death for me, this scene, writing Wild Wind, the sigh of letting them go. Keely. Dutch. Jagger.
He could rest now. It was done. And it made me so happy for him, for all of them.
And I would forever be sad.
Then there was more, being with Tack as he gave what he had to give to Jagger. One final gift, through Tack, from Black: Jagger understanding his father was not truly gone. He lived in Dutch.
He lived in Jag.
He would live forever.
I have to admit, it was really hard not to put the pancake scene from Wild Wind in this top spot (so we’ll call the Pancake Scene #1b on this list).
The OG Blacks together, strong, safe, surrounded by love, including the love of the one who was no longer with them.
The bold blue strokes.
The squiggly lines that were meant to be hearts.
Jagger’s hazy memories.
And in his mind’s eye, misty and unclear, sitting at the table he was sitting at, a dark-haired man was smiling at him.
What was not misty and unclear was what was in that smile.
My heart will always be with you, Graham Black, thank you for lighting my way.
Now rest in peace, my beautiful brother.
Disclaimer: I reserve the right, at a future date, to change this list because I hope to write another 80 books I love and give them to you. And I hope you love them too.
Thanks for taking the ride so far…and Rock On!