The equally fascinating Vristen Pierce suggested the topic might make a good blog post. And friends, I believe she's right. She usually is.
In an attempt to answer my own question, I've been thinking about Marshall and Isabelle from Once a Duchess. As denizens of Regency England, the music they have to choose from might not make the most exciting mixed tape. [Although, the book does contain a scene at a musicale. Isabelle is moved by Beethoven's 26th Sonata for Piano, Les Adieux: "It was as though Herr Kaufman -- and Beethoven before him -- put her woes to music for all the world to hear." Maybe she'd toss that one in Marshall's face.]
So, in the spirit of the mixed tape, I'm giving Marshall and Isabelle access to all the songs I know. They're each allowed to choose three selections.
First up, Isabelle's tape to Marshall
She opens with "I Will Survive" as performed by Gloria Gaynor:
"I think," Marshall said, "you're awfully brave."
Isabelle pulled back in his arms, searching his face for a sign of mockery, but found none. "You do?"
He nodded. "It's not every woman who could take care of herself when times got hard."
Next, Isabelle taunts Marshall with Queen's "Somebody to Love."
Isabelle sighed and plopped back onto the couch in a rather unladylike fashion. "I just want a family, Lily. Is that really too much to ask? A respectable husband and a few children of my own?"
Finally, while Isabelle is busy hunting for a husband, Marshall is busy hunting for a wife. He finds a candidate, but Isabelle doesn't think much of her replacement:
Lady Lucy raised her chin and turned her lips in a satisfied smirk. She laid her hand on Marshall's forearm.
Isabelle's first impulse was to swat those bejeweled fingers off his arm. It was no surprise Naomi deplored a potential union between her brother and the calculating Lucy Jamison.
And now, Marshall's mixed tape to Isabelle
Marshall begins with "Broken Vow," by Josh Groban,to really drive home what a terrible thing she's done:
... If he had felt only a passing attraction for Isabelle, enough to beget his heir and little beyond, her betrayal would not have struck the blow that it had. But he had been strongly, deeply attracted to his young wife. She had awakened passion in him that no other woman before or since had come close to realizing. And that's what he could not forgive, the way she had him nearly eating from the palm of her pretty hand, and then turned to another man for what Marshall had so freely given her.
Having to find a second wife is a demoralizing prospect. He's starting all over again, but with the wariness of a failed relationship under his belt, and lingering emotions for his former wife. He expresses this through Coldplay's "The Scientist":
Marshall squeezed his eyes shut and drew several deep breaths. These were just feelings stirred by the unwise dalliance they'd indulged in, he assured himself. Once they were both safely married off to others, he would no longer feel a possessive compulsion to have her for himself.
After the therapy provided by those rather maudlin songs, Marshall needs to tell Isabelle how he feels about her now. He takes her by surprise with an upbeat classic. Go ahead and try not to smile. Can't do it, can you?
"If your idea is that I want to convince Isabelle to agree to marry me, and that I don't think I can do it without your help, then you would be correct."
Naomi covered her mouth and made a squeaking sound.
Marshall glowered. "Are you laughing at me?"
She shook her head. "Oh no, of course not." She grinned widely. "I'm just very pleased to hear this."
I hope you enjoy my characters' mixed tapes! I'd love to see your suggestions in the comments for other songs Marshall and Isabelle could include in their compilations.