“Most betrothals spring from one of two fierce emotions: Greed or love. But Olivia Lytton’s was fueled by neither an exchange of assets between like-minded aristocrats, nor by a potent mixture of desire, propinquity, and Cupid’s arrows.”
Thus begins Chapter One of “This Duke Is Mine,” by Eloisa James (in which we are introduced to a future duchess). The first sentence is remarkable for its energy–when have you ever envisioned a betrothal springing? The word fierce makes that spring an impressive leap, not just a little hop.
And then comes the next sentence, which has architecture, by God. Yes, it begins with a conjunction–bold, that, but an Oxford PhD is expected to be bold–and this sentence gives us the question that draws us on down the page: Why, then is Olivia engaged? And the word that piques our interest?
Propinquity. I haven’t see that word used anywhere else in my romance novel reading, not by a duke, not by a Latin scholar trying to impress a duke. Propinquity means nearness or closeness in space, in kinship, or in nature. The sound of the word conjures all manner of other words–proximity among them–but none of the synonyms quite carries off the piquant, pungent, precise quality of propinquity. I’ll spend the next week looking for opportunities to slip it into conversation, and when I do, I’ll think of Miss Oliva Lytton, and wonder just what did cause her betrothal to spring so fiercely to life?