In the ABCs of Romance, moonlight has to be one of the most romantic settings there is. A walk by the sea in the moonlight, a moonlit carriage ride, a moonlit garden, a moonlit bedroom are all more amorous than the same settings in mere daylight. Something about the moon brings out the passion in us, especially romance writers.
The moonlight’s intensity is only equivalent to .1 lux, or 1,000 times fainter than sunlight. Therefore, encounters in the moonlight are shrouded in shadow, without sharp definition to lend finality to it. The indistinct light of the moon lends a mystique to everything it touches, making men and women do some awfully strange things while under its influence.
The moon has much folklore surrounding it, and a great deal of this folklore suggests that moonlight is harmful to people. Moonlight was thought to transform men into werewolves. The light of the moon was thought to increase madness in the insane. (The word lunatic is from the Latin word lunaticus, meaning moonstruck.) And a full moon is still thought to make people act more erratically than normal.
So it is with lovers in the moonlight. One of my favorite scenes from my romance Only Scandal Will Do (note the moonlight in the background on the cover) takes place in a moonlit garden, where the heroine, Lady Katarina Fitzwilliam and the hero, Duncan, Marquess of Dalbury meet alone to discuss his outrageous behavior (he bought her in an auction in a brothel).
“I assure you, there was never a night like that before.” He spoke quietly, and she sensed tension in him. “I had never done such a thing before. Never participated in such an auction. Never tried to take a woman unwillingly to my bed.” He stopped speaking. Just stopped. Then his breath hissed as though he’d slowly released it.
“I cannot find the words to tell you how deeply I regret I was not a better man that night.” He paused, and she held still and waited. “What I tried to do was madness, without thought, without honor. I do not even have an excuse other than my base desires, and that your abundant charms overwhelmed me.” His face was shadowy in the scarce light of the sickle moon, but he sounded contrite. “I have no right to ask for your forgiveness. I have no right to expect it. But I would ask you to allow me to attempt to remedy the situation.”
Kat shook her head slowly. “What on earth do you believe you could do, Lord Dalbury, that could even come close to a remedy for the terror and humiliation you put me through? Do you think now that I have met you, heard your feeble attempts at an apology, and rejected them, the memory of that night will magically disappear?” She fought to control her anger, though she yearned to blast him with it. “What magic potion would you have me take that would erase the memory of you pinning me to the bed? Because if you have such an elixir, then yes, I will gladly take it from you and obliterate you absolutely and irrevocably.”
He stood silent at her words, then said simply, “I have only myself to offer, my lady.”
“You would have me kill you, my lord? In that, too, I agree I would oblige you, but not at the cost of my own life. I understand the English law punishes those who do murder quite severely.” Kat was astonished when he lurched backward, as from a blow.
“No, my lady, I would not have you kill me,” he said, sounding grimly amused. “Though indeed that would probably give you most satisfaction. I meant I would have you marry me.”
His words surprised a laugh out of her. “Marry you?” The laughter grew. “I see, my lord, you think me both a whore and a fool.”
“I think you are neither, Lady Katarina.”
“Then you are the fool to believe I would put such a man as you in control of every aspect of my life.” That he thought she would even entertain the suggestion was insulting.
The pale moonlight shadowed his face, but she could read displeasure there just the same. “You judge me solely on one act that, I assure you, was grossly out of character for me. You cannot possibly know what kind of husband I would be.”
“And never will, Lord Dalbury. I can swear to you that I would not marry you if I were in Hell and you were my only hope of Heaven.”
He inclined his head toward her, a faint smile touching his lips. “I believe you made a similar claim about dancing with me, Lady Katarina. Yet we have indeed enjoyed a dance together despite your words.” His tone was soft, the sensuous, cajoling one he had used to seduce her that night in the House of Pleasure.
Kat trembled, recalling the incredible sensations of his hands, his mouth on her body. Damn. He could not do this to her again. Not just with his voice.
“Is there nothing that would entice you to leave your Hell for my Heaven?”
She struggled to answer, opened her lips to deny it, only to find her mouth completely sealed by his.
Only Scandal Will Do is on sale at Amazon for only .99.