Oct 14 2012 1:00pm

Never Can Say Good-Bye: Good-Byes in Romance Novels

Avoiding Commitment by K. A. LindeIt’s so hard to say good-bye...

In romance, one of my favorite scenes to read is the good-bye scene. Often referred to as the “breakup” scene; we watch our heroine or hero finally take that first heavy step towards emotional freedom by leaving the one they truly love for any multitude of reasons, will often leave me either fist pumping or softly sobbing on my e reader. It’s often a poinquent scene, riddled with emotional undertones, and spoken through clenched teeth and clenched fists. Sometimes funny, often times sad, these good-byes scenes often stay with you long after you reach the end.

In Avoiding Commitment by K.A. Linde, we see the classic trope of two people who share a love for one another but who are unable to commit to one another in a healthy relationship. They cheat, lie, and deceive each other and the ones around them, to the point where they are no longer having a real relationship but merely clinging to the remains of the past. When our heroine is humiliated once again by the hero, she finally has enough and lets him know in no uncertain terms that she is done with the relationship and with him.

“No matter what you do, it will never make up for what happened between us. I will never trust you. I will never again be comfortable around you. I will never look at you or think of you without considering the destruction you have train wrecked through my life.

“I wish you the very best in your future, because without you in my life I think I might finally have a future. And as angry as I am with what you have put me through, I am so very glad that we are now at this moment. This moment means I can move on to bigger and better things without you constantly weighing on my shoulders.

“I will never again turn a corner in New York terrified that I will run into you and even more terrified that I won’t. I can go into any coffee shop I want. I can hope for love again. A love that will be more than anything you ever attempted to give to me. Because the love I am looking for will be reciprocated one hundred and ten percent. There will never be another someone to distract our affections, because you will not be in the picture.

“So, as sad as this day is for me, as I am losing a part of myself with the loss of you, it is really just the beginning for me. It is like cutting off the spoiled part to get to the juicy center. So, I would appreciate it this time, if you did not try and contact me. Because, as I’m sure you know, I deserve much better. I want everything this time around, and I deserve it,”

As he was about to touch her lips to his own, she took a step backwards and smiled serenely. “Good-bye, Jack,” she said turning on her heel, walking through the sliding glass doors, and leaving him behind.

Liberating Lacey by Anne CalhounAnne Calhoun’s Liberating Lacey gives us an erotic older woman/younger man romance. Sexy and fulfilling, our hero finds himself falling in love with the heroine and suddenly his past issues cause him to back away from the one person whom he wants to spend the rest of his life with.

“It’s not about what I want.” For the first time in three months, she saw frustration, irritation as Hunter shoved his hand over his crew cut. “It’s about what you’re going to want, what you need, what you deserve.”

“Stop saying that. This isn’t about me. I’m where I want to be and I know what I want. I want you.” Her voice broke. She realized she was holding on to the back of the sofa in a grip so tight her knuckles were white. She swallowed and released the sofa frame. “This is about you. Don’t push it off on me.”

More silence, broken by the tick-tock-tick-tock of the grandfather clock, while he stared at her and she stared at him.

“If you want to go, then go,” she finally said.

She wanted to say I love you, please don’t go, I’m begging you but experience had taught her it wouldn’t make any difference and she needed her pride intact. Something would have to keep her on her feet after he walked out the door.

“I don’t want to go,” he said. It sounded like ground glass, not his vocal cords, formed the words. “But I have to. This won’t get any easier.”

She let the door close behind him to silence.

Death of a Pirate King by Josh LanyonIn Josh Lanyon’s Adrien English series, we have watched our heroes battle out their feelings on both an emotional and physical battleground. Our hero, Adrian, loves Jake but Jake is still fighting his disgust for loving a man and in a previous book, he cruelly tells Adrian he's marrying a woman and starting a family. In, Death of a Pirate King, Jake comes back, still married, and wanting to reconnect with Adrian.

He came back in — a broad silhouette — and sat on the edge of the bed.

I smiled. “I know.”

But I didn’t, because what he said was, “I want you back in my life — you can set the parameters.”

“Oh my God.” I pressed the heels of my hands over my eyes. “Jake.”


“What? You know what. We can’t pick up where we left off. And I can’t be pals with you.”

“Then what the hell was this?” The anger and hurt in his voice was painful to hear.

I sat up, forcing him to retreat. “You know what the hell this was, Jake. This was us saying goodbye properly.”

Lover Awakened by J.R. WardEveryone remembers the famous goodbye scene in J.R Ward’s Lover Awakened when the oh-so-tortured Zsadist is hurt in a fight and Bella comes to him in the hospital, finally giving him what he has been asking, begging, and demanding for the entire time they are together—her leaving.

“Bella…” He reached for her. “Bella—”

She took a step back. “I came to say good-bye.”

As he dropped his hand, she had to look away.

“Where are you going?” he asked. “Somewhere safe?”

“Yes.” She was heading down the coast, to Charleston in South Carolina, to extended family who were more than happy to take her in. “It's going to be a new start for me. A new life.”

“Good. This is good.”

She closed her eyes. Just once… just once she would have liked to hear some regret in his voice while she was leaving. Then again, as this was their last good-bye, at least she wouldn't have to be disappointed anymore.

“You were so brave,” he said. “I owe you my life. His, too. You are so… brave.” The hell she was. She was about to break down completely. “I hope you and Phury heal up fast. Yeah, I hope…” There was a long silence. Then she took one last look at Zsadist's face. She knew then that even if she mated somewhere down the line, no male would ever take his place. And as unromantic as it sounded, that just plain sucked. Sure, she was supposed to triumph over loss and all that. But she loved him and she wasn't going to end up with him, and all she wanted to do was get in a bed somewhere, turn the lights off, and just lie there. For, like, a century.

“I need you to know something,” she said. “You told me that someday I would wake up and regret being with you. Well, I do. But not because of what the glymera would say.” She crossed her arms over her chest. “After having been burned by high society once, I'm no longer afraid of the aristocracy, and I would have been proud… to stand at your side. But yes, I am sorry I was with you.”

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana GabaldonClaire and Jamie Frasier’s love affair has spanned both time and eras in their quest to be together. Diana Gabaldon’s romantic elite couple has seduced and beguiled many a reader as we have watched them love and lose one another time and time again. In Dragonfly in Amber, Jamie has to send a pregnant Claire back to her own time in order to save her and their child’s life. Tears will fall and lips will quiver as this couple’s despair rolls off the pages and into your heart.

“Claire,” he said quietly. “Tomorrow I will die. This child…is all that will be left of me—ever. I ask ye, Claire—I beg you—see it safe.”

I stood still, vision blurring, and in that moment, I heard my heart break. It was a small, clean sound, like the snapping of a flower's stem.

At last I bent my head to him, the wind grieving in my ears.

“Yes,” I whispered. “Yes. I'll go.”

It was nearly dark. He came behind me and held me, leaning back against him as he looked over my shoulder, out over the valley. The lights of watchfires had begun to spring up, small glowing dots in the far distance. We were silent for a long time, as the evening deepened. It was very quiet on the hill; I could hear nothing but Jamie's even breathing, each breath a precious sound.

“I will find you,” he whispered in my ear. “I promise. If I must endure two hundred years of purgatory,

two hundred years without you—then that is my punishment, which I have earned for my crimes. For I have lied, and killed, and stolen; betrayed and broken trust. But there is the one thing that shall lie in the balance. When I shall stand before God, I shall have one thing to say, to weigh against the rest.”

His voice dropped, nearly to a whisper, and his arms tightened around me.

“Lord, ye gave me a rare woman, and God! I loved her well.”


Tori Benson, Smexybooks and at Twitter.

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EC Spurlock
1. EC Spurlock
"poinquent"? I think you mean poignant. And yes, they are. Some of them roll over your heart like a bulldozer. We romance readers can be such masochists when it comes to scenes like these!

And in honor of Jamie my capcha word was "Scotland"!
EC Spurlock
2. Laurie Evans
*sigh* I liked reading all of these excerpts. I haven't read Dragonfly in Amber...on my list!
Jena Briars
3. CutMyTeethOnKleypas
What?!? God, no! NO! I HATE goodbyes in my romances. I love the HEA - that's why even with Lover Awakened, I was just a little bit scared w/ how JR Ward was going to pull that off. And we know that not all characters are safe with her books... so yes, I WANT the HEA to be in my romances. The stress of the goodbye is awful. UGH.
Jasmine Ray
4. JassyBaby
I have a love/hate relationship with goodbyes in romances, especially if I'm veryyyy fond of the couple!
I love that a writer can make me emotional and wrench my heart with scenes like these. Yes, I'm embarrassed to say! But it makes them finally getting back together all the more sweeter, most times. I also agree with CutMyTeeth..., no one is completely safe in JR Ward's books.
mandy troxel
Ugh!! The goodbye is always the worst part for me. I am more of a later kinda girl. hate goodbyes.
Vanessa Ouadi
6. Lafka
I love goodbye scenes, even if I know the break-up is to be only temporary. So much angst, so much drama! Goodbye scenes always make my heart beat faster and my eyes burn. Bring them all!
EC Spurlock
7. Torifl
EC Spurlock-LOL I swear the word was spelled write when I send in post.
EC Spurlock
8. Mary Castillo
One of my favorite good-bye scenes of all-time was in the Sam and Alyssa storyline by Suzanne Brockman. When he told her that he was marrying what's-her-name, I remember gripping the book so tight. It was such a gutsy move and I'll never forget the visceral reaction from us readers! Thanks for sharing this really great and often overlooked aspect of romances. You sparked an idea in my head!

EC Spurlock
9. Susan00024
J.R. Ward's Lover Unbound. When V made hot chocolate for Jane just before he had to wipe her memory. That goodbye broke my heart!
EC Spurlock
10. SassyT
J.R. Ward wrote some real tear jerkers. OMG, I'm tearing up now just thinking about them (I swear I'm usually not this weepy....only Beaches predictably gets me crying). That scene with Zsadist and Bella (not to mention Rhage and Mary) totally ripped my heart out. Sherrilyn Kenyon's The League series had some that had me reaching for the kleenex too. Maybe I'm more of a crybaby than I thought.
EC Spurlock
11. Minx Malone
Oh man, the hot chocolate scene in Lover Unbound was a killer. Especially when she's standing there after he wipes her memory and doesn't know why she's crying but just knows her heart is broken. *gawd*
Tonya Campbell
12. tnicole1976
oh that diana gabaldon one had me really bad when i read it. every time i read that book i cry. and i cried at the end of the first book of the 50 shades book.
EC Spurlock
13. kat905
Twilight series. When Edward left Bella and the blank pages that followed. OMG; the first time I ever cried over a book-breakup. It was the aftermath of the breakup and the emotional pain that followed that was so heartbreaking.
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