Thursday, October 27, 2005

Memorable Lines

Great lines stay with us. Is there anyone who's watched GONE WITH THE WIND who doesn't remember Rhett's infamous line to Scarlett? Even people who haven't seen the movie know the quote: Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn. In Jaws, the memorable line is: You're gonna need a bigger boat. I can even visualize the scene where this takes place as clearly as if I were watching the movie. It's that evocative. We appreciate great lines so much, that the American Film Institute even did a television special titled AFI's 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes.

Of course, this started me thinking about what lines from romance novels have stuck with me long after I've read the book. I narrowed it down to my top five.

Is there anyone who's read Linda Howard's Mackenzie's Mountain who doesn't remember the first line of the book?

  1. He needed a woman. Bad.

I saw this quote in a topic on the old Prodigy bulletin boards. I'd never read Linda Howard before, but I found it intriguing enough to go shopping and pick up the book. As soon as I finished the story, I went looking for every other book Howard had written.

Which other lines made my personal most memorable list?

Jayne Ann Krentz has written a lot of great books, with many, many great lines, but my absolute favorite is from PERFECT PARTNERS.

  1. "Good news, Dixon," he said thickly. She doesn't need therapy."

With this line--and the heroine's actions--the hero puts her cheating ex-boyfriend in his place, and sends him running back home.

Another of my favorite bits of dialogue is an exchange between the hero and heroine of Debra Dixon's BAD TO THE BONE. At this point, they've just finished making love and the ramifications are registering.

  1. "My medical history is clear."
    "Yeah, well, if your fallopian tubes are, too, we're in big trouble," Sully snapped.

This is a Bantam Loveswept from 1996 and I love this story so much, I keep buying backup copies. I always want to be able to reread it when the mood strikes.

This next quote is one of those lines that has really lodged itself in my head. I'm not sure exactly why, but there's just something about this bit of dialogue from Linda Lael Miller's HERE AND THEN that gets me shivery.

  1. "If there's no baby inside you now," he said huskily, "I'll put one there when I get back."

This was a time travel romance from Special Edition.

To close out my top five I chose Julie Garwood. I adore her books, and they're filled with great lines that are laugh out loud funny. It's impossible to narrow it down to one, but for the sake of brevity, I will.

  1. He never knew what hit him.

This is the opening line in Garwood's THE PRIZE and truer words have never been written. Throughout the book, the heroine continually stuns the hero, but there are a few times when he returns the favor.

Thinking about these lines, though, made me wonder if the authors themselves loved them as much as I did? Did other writers even have favorite quotes from their own books? So then I started wondering about the stories I've written. Are there lines that readers remember and enjoy? I know what some of my favorites are.

In my second book, THE POWER OF TWO, my favorite moment was a bit of dialogue that I wrote during the revision process. It comes while Jake and Cai are in bed, and he stops her from touching him, telling her he needs time to recuperate. Cai's response?

"I thought you Special Forces guys had stamina.

There was a lot of stuff I thought was fun in my current release, THROUGH A CRIMSON VEIL. That makes it much harder to pick my favorite, but I think I have to go with what Mika says to Conor in chapter three. He's trying to resist his need for her, and she's pushing him. Before he loses his head and gives in, Conor lifts her off his lap and puts her on the kitchen table—right into a pool of spilled orange juice.

"Conor," she purred with a smile that made him twitch, "there are more pleasurable ways to get my panties wet."

Now that I've talked about lines I've really enjoyed in my books as well as other author's stories, what quotes have stayed with you?

Patti O'Shea
Through a CrimsonVeil


gailbarrett said...

How about Janet Evanovich's One for the Money: "There are some men who enter a woman's life and screw it up forever."

Another great opening paragraph is from Jennifer Crusie's RITA award winning Bet Me: "Once upon a time, Minerva Dobbs thought as she stood in the middle of a loud yuppie bar, the world was full of good men. She looked into the handsome face of the man she'd planned on taking to her sister's wedding and thought, Those days are gone."

Patti O'Shea said...


Those are great! I forgot the Evanovich, but I remember loving it when I read it!


Candice Gilmer said...

My all time favorite opening line in a book is from Jayne Ann Krentz's book Light in Shadow

"The walls screamed at her."

If you don't know, it's about a psychic (or at least incredibly intiutive) interior designer. And it's not a scream of "oh, God, horrid sheets!" It's a scream of sheer terror.

As long as I live, that line will forever be etched in my memory.


What a fun post, Patti! Great topic, especially since I come from a family that's forever hurling movie quotes at each other. Like you, I'm a big fan of Julie Garwood's. She has great lines throughout her books, but The Gift is one of my favorites. The book's not in front of me, but I think it begins with, "The wedding guests were going to kill each other."

Patti O'Shea said...


That really is an intriguing line. I'd be so curious about why those walls were screaming, that I wouldn't want to stop reading.


Patti O'Shea said...

Thanks, Tanya!

The Gift is the first Garwood book I ever read, and it made her a must buy author for me. The book was filled with funny lines, but you're right, the opening sentence is among the best.


Bronwyn Jameson said...

Great post, Patti. The McKenzie's Mountain opening line is my favorites, too, and also introduced me to Linda Howard. Another of my favorites is from one of Nora's SIM's. It opens with the cop hero looking at a portrait of the heroine, describing her beauty. Then the line: Too damn bad she was dead. Which immediately sets you wondering about how she can be the heroine. And she is.

Patti O'Shea said...

Thanks, Bron! You don't happen to remember the title of the Roberts SIM, do you? I find myself intrigued. :-) I've got a deadline looming so I can't read now, but I was thinking afterward....


Deborah Matthews said...

One of my favorites is also Julie Garwood in Honor's Splendour:

"They meant to kill him."

Bronwyn Jameson said...

Patti, I was being lazy the other day not quoting the title. It's on my keeper shelf so I know I can put my hand on it. One moment...

SECRET STAR, #3 in the Stars of Mithra trilogy. And you do realize that now I have it in my hand, I'm tempted to start reading. And I musn't. I. Have. Pages. To. Write. Must resist....

Patti O'Shea said...


I swear, Garwood always has books chock full of great lines! I'm feeling a need to reread one of her books now.

Patti O'Shea said...


Thanks for the title! I have it on the shelf. And I can't read it right now either. Like you, I must resist. I have a gazillion pages to write. :-)