In recent weeks I have been reading my way through my TBR pile, which had grown to alarming heights over the past year. Six books down so far, though I may have added one (or two or three) new titles after a recent expedition to a local bookstore.
In the last book I read the heroine, prior to the start of the story, said “I don’t” instead of “I do” after finding out her fiancé had slept with someone else just days before the wedding. Because of Reasons (revealed later in the story), that was a betrayal that there was no coming back from for her.
It’s not an uncommon plot point. I’ve read my fair share of “runaway bride/left-at-the-altar” stories that have included this particular scenario and I wouldn’t have thought much about it, if not for the way the rest of story unfolded, especially the big “confession” near the end.
As it turns out, the younger brother of the fiancé knew that cheating would be a deal breaker for the heroine (who he was secretly in love with) and he basically goaded his brother into cheating.
Fast forward a few years, during which the heroine realizes just what a bullet she dodged by calling off the wedding (they really hadn’t been well-suited at all). She meets up with the younger brother and, low and behold they get together, chemistry and attraction do their thing and, boom, they’re in love. But hanging overhead is that pesky secret our new hero has about how he sabotaged his own brother’s wedding.
Eventually he confesses and . . . the heroine forgives him almost instantly and off they skip to happily-ever-after-land.
I might have reacted differently if the fiancé had been a serial-cheater (rather than a one time, goaded into it cheater) or if the younger brother had done what he did because he thought the two were horribly unsuited or some other Really Good Reason. Maybe. But I’m not sure.
I found myself wishing the story was Women’s Fiction rather than Romance, so the hero and heroine would not to get together at the end of the story. It felt like theirs was a very iffy happily-ever-after.
The whole thing got me to thinking about what a potential love-interest might do that would cross that line from forgivable to don’t-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-way out.
Obviously it depends a lot on the characters and their morals, ethics, beliefs, etc, but if you were the heroine (or hero) in a story, what would be a deal-breaker for you? What kind of action would cross the line and make you walk away from a relationship?