Elizabeth: Crossing the Line

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.

Sorry, what?

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?

4 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Crossing the Line

  1. I think I have more problems with the “almost instant” forgiveness than anything else. The story would have worked for me (I think) if his confession had come a lot earlier and the story revolved around their mutual growth to forgiveness. Although breaking up his brother’s wedding in that way kind of makes him a snake and once a snake always a snake.

    If, on the other hand, that was totally out of character for him, and he’s not really a snake, then it either needed to be (really) well-motivated or he was an inconsistent character, driven by plot needs.

    And I really hate that in a book.

    • Jeanne – the “almost instant” forgiveness is what bugged me the most too. I think had it come out earlier and there been more character growth, the scenario could have worked for me but instead I was left with the feeling that something like that could happen again in the future.

  2. What you said. If the fiance was a serial cheater, and the hero/brother created a situation whereby the heroine discovered the truth before it was all too late, I could just about swallow it. Maybe. Even then, I’d have liked him a whole lot more if he’d told her the truth, she’d refused to believe him and sent him packing, and then she did a little digging after all.

    In the plot you describe, as Jeanne says, the hero’s a manipulative snake. I can’t think of a way to redeem him. I’d say she was better off without either of them.

    The best “married the wrong sibling” romance I can think of right now is Jenny’s Crazy For You. I found that credible, funny and totally on the right side of the line.

    • Jilly – I concur on Crazy for You. That definitely stayed on the right side of the line (and was funny and credible).

      The only story that is coming to mind for a hero who “crosses the line” is Jane Eyre. Having a mad-wife in the attic definitely put a damper on developing relationship, though they did get past it in the end.

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