Traditionally, our Romantic Moment of the Week features a scene from a film or television show that hits all the right wickets for a swoon-worthy, old-fashioned romantic moment. Almost kisses, the brush of hands, marriage proposals, and more made their appearance in this weekly feature. Occasionally, we feature a literary moment. Notably, Jane Eyre, North and South, and Evelina. While there are a number of classic novels on my favorites list with gush-worthy romantic moments, I nevertheless chose Wadsworth and Cresswell from the novels of New York Times bestselling author, Kerri Maniscalco. I stumbled upon Stalking Jack the Ripper and Hunting Prince Dracula purely by chance. The books were in an e-mail recommendation based on my most recent purchases. Usually, I ignore those e-mails. I’m so glad I didn’t because I may not have had the opportunity to fall in love with Audrey Rose and Thomas.
Warning! There are spoilers below for both Stalking Jack the Ripper and Hunting Prince Dracula. If you have not read either, proceed with caution! This romantic moment takes place towards the end of the second book, Hunting Prince Dracula.
The Appeal of Wadsworth and Cresswell
There are a number of reasons why I find Wadsworth and Cresswell so captivating. However, two stand out. First, despite the time period (1888), Audrey Rose and Thomas are equals in every sense of the word. It was near the beginning of Stalking Jack the Ripper that Audrey Rose and Thomas began calling each other Wadsworth and Cresswell. At first, it was a result of Thomas goading Audrey Rose. Yet, with the use of surnames alone, they were also acknowledging that they were equals. Peers. Eventually, referring to each other by their surnames became an intimacy. As Audrey Rose and Thomas were establishing their partnership, they agreed to always tell each other the truth. No matter how difficult. It was a vulnerable moment for Thomas as he confessed that he needed Audrey Rose far more than she needed him. However, it set the tone for their relationship.
Second, the banter and teasing were fantastic. The debates and discussions Audrey Rose and Thomas engaged in were equally important. They exchanged ideas and theories as they solved mysteries. They spoke as equals and respected each other’s opinions. Audrey Rose and Thomas challenged each other, pushed each other to excel. While in competition with each other in Hunting Prince Dracula, they did not let that destroy their friendship. Simply put, Audrey Rose and Thomas brought out the best in each other. They taught each other how to be better versions of themselves. This acceptance of the other is what makes this literary romantic moment truly shine.
The Lead In – Champagne, Banter, and a Waltz
After surviving a nightmare, Audrey Rose and Thomas escape to his ancestral home in Bucharest. There is a Christmas ball and to Audrey Rose’s surprise, she finds a gift from Thomas in her room. It’s the ballgown she admired in a shop window. It is a perfect buttery shade of yellow, warm like the sun. It will chase away the lingering shadows. Anticipation curls in Audrey Rose.
Audrey Rose joins the festivities, she observes the strategically placed mistletoe around the ballroom. Her heart races as she spies Thomas, devastatingly gorgeous in his evening wear. He waits at the bottom of the stairs. Feeling like a princess, Audrey Rose descends the grand staircase and accepts a glass of champagne. His regard, coupled with his greeting, tell Audrey Rose he finds her breathtaking.
“You’re going to drive everyone quite mad tonight, Wadsworth. Your dance card will be the talk of legends.”
Recalling the mistletoe, she cannot help but tease him. However, in truth, she is leading him down a very specific path.
“Actually, I plan on standing below mistletoe most of the evening.”
It’s quite an admission on Audrey Rose’s part. A singular point after resisting Thomas’ allure as they hunted Prince Dracula. After all, it’s normally Thomas who makes these type of suggestive comments. Yet, here is Audrey Rose throwing caution to the wind. This is new ground for her. Thus, she finishes her champagne, needing that extra bit of bubbly courage. Audrey Rose takes in Thomas’ appearance. Thoroughly. Very thoroughly.
“You look….average, Cresswell…..I expected more, really. Something a bit….princely. I’m disappointed you didn’t don a powdered wig.”
It’s typical Wadsworth and Cresswell banter. Light and flirtatious with an undercurrent that neither will ignore. Downing his glass of champagne, Thomas thoroughly appreciates the vision that is Audrey Rose in her gown. Then, pulling her into his arms, they twirl into a waltz.
Romantic Moment – At Last….a Kiss
“We promised each other, remember?”
Distracted by Thomas’ closeness, Audrey Rose can’t concentrate. She loses herself to the moment. Of being alive and dancing in Thomas’ arms. The outside world doesn’t matter. Here, now and the man holding her. That is on Audrey Rose’s mind.
“When we were still in London….we promised. To never lie to one another.”
As they dance, they draw impossibly closer together. Audrey Rose knows she is flouting society’s rules. She doesn’t care. She twines her arms around Thomas’ neck. They are so close, their lips very nearly touch. Audrey Rose aches for his kiss. Somehow, they end up in a secluded alcove, away from prying eyes. Thomas gazes at Audrey Rose. Unexpectedly, he begins reminiscing about his mother. Thomas knows she would have loved Audrey Rose. That she would see in Audrey Rose what he does: a partner….an equal. It’s a small moment of grief for Thomas. Audrey Rose pulls him further into the alcove. Being unseen in the dim shadows gives her courage.
“Do you want to know what I think? The truth?”
“Yes. Make it scandalous, too. This is a bit too serious for my tastes.”
Audrey Rose pauses, realizing the time for hidden secrets are over. It was time to leap. To finally claim what she wants. Who she wants.
“You look like you should stop saying you’re going to kiss me, Prince Dracula……and just do it, Cresswell.”
At her words, Thomas knows. He can’t help but know. She is choosing him. His lips are on hers in seconds and they kiss passionately. Quickly, they lose themselves in each other. Of course – there’s more, but you’ll have to read the book to find out what happens at the very, very, end!
Have you read Stalking Jack the Ripper or Hunting Prince Dracula? What is your favorite romantic moment between Wadsworth and Cresswell? Sound off below!
Maniscalco, Kerry. Hunting Prince Dracula. First eBook Edition: September 2017.