Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Hero and the Grovel

This past week I read an interesting review where the reviewer took issue with how the hero didn't take enough responsibility for his actions in their relationship, and that the grovel at the end felt tacked on.

Now, I'm willing to put up with a lot in my heroes: alpha-bordering-on-asshole-ish behavior (all to "protect" the heroine, of course), jumping to conclusions, etc. HOWEVER, while I'm reading about these misquided actions and character flaws, I'm thinking two things:
  1. "I'd better be seeing to really great character growth in this guy."
  2. "I'd better be reading a great grovel scene at the end." The late, lamented Rip My Bodice blog had a great definition for grovel, which fortunately, I'd quoted over at Renee's Book Addiction, so I have it saved for posterity:

    Grovel, The [Pronunciation Key: gruhv-uhl] -verb 1. situation whereby hard-headed hero who has greviously [ sic ] wronged the heroine through unforgivable actions (see also entry for Alpha Male, The) is made to prostrate himself before her in an attempt for forgiveness. The Hero will often resort to tears, impassioned pleas and grand gestures. Artfully perpetuated by certain authors (see also entry for Ms Judith McNaught), the potential for heart-wrenching drama and tearful emotion is enormous, especially if The Hero is normally taciturn and unfeeling . . .

And, undoubtedly, the bad behavior must be proportional to the drama and size of the grovel. Of course, the grovel isn't meant to emasculate the hero, but demonstrates that his acknowledgment of how fucked up he's been, how sorry he is, and thus makes him an even more awesome hero.

I remember reading Anne Stuart's Ice Blue, and really liking the hero, Takashi O'Brien, though he was one of those bordering on asshole-ish. Throughout the book, I kept thinking, "Oh, his grovel's going to be goooood." Yet, when he finally meets up with Summer, the heroine, and the climactic reunion at the end, the grove never happened. I was SO pissed! I felt like I'd been cheated out of something after over 350 pgs. It made Takashi appear not to be a man who has seen the error of his ways (and is man enough to admit it), but just a guy who is kind of a jerk.

My stand out grovel scene comes at the end of the Adrien English series, in the last book The Dark Tide.
If you haven't read this and don't want any spoilers, skip to the end of the post. To read the scene, highlight the blank area, below:

Jake, who has admittedly put Adrien through hell over the course of the 5-book series, finally comes clean with Adrien. It's an emotional, soul-bearing scene:

He spoke so quietly I had to strain to hear, “You remember asking me if I'd ever begged?”. . .

“And you said you did beg once—and you got what you asked for.” I waited, wondering if I was going to like what I was about to hear.
Jake said, “When your heart stopped on that fucking boat.” The sudden fierce glitter in his eyes had to be a trick of the light. “I begged then.”
I couldn't think of a thing to say. It was the last thing I'd expected. Almost the opposite, in fact, of what I'd expected.
“I've never been that afraid. Not even close. I worked over you, and I called you every name in the book.” His face twisted. “I cried. And then I begged. You're damn right I begged. I promised—not that I had anything worth promising—but I was willing to give anything for you to be able to walk away from that.” His smile was the rare one, the wide and unguarded one. “And you did.”
I caught a ragged breath. Sat up so fast, we nearly head-slammed each other. “Jesus, Jake. If that's true, why the hell can't you say it?”
He looked confused.
“If you do feel that way, then why have you never said it? It would have helped. Because to not say it at this point feels like you have some reason for not saying it, that you're making some point by not saying it.”
He was shaking his head. “I don't know what you're talking about. Of course I—what do you think this is about?”
“Knowing and believing are two different things.”
He was looking at me like something had been lost in translation.
“Why can't you say it?” I hardened my voice. “Because I'm telling you, you never have. I'd have remembered.” He stared at me with disbelief. Then he lunged forward, pushing me flat in the pillows once more. He leaned over me, his mouth a brush of lips away from my own, his breath warm on my face.
“Love you? Of course I love you. Baby, I fucking worship you.”

*clutches heart*

So, what about you?
Do you like this kind of hero?
Do you need a grovel scene at the end to make things right with the world? If so, what is the best grovel scene that you can think of?
Thanks for visiting me here at the Island. And, don't forget
to come by and visit me at
Renee's Book Addiction.


JenM said...

There's nothing like a good grovel, although they are hard to find sometimes. These are my favorite types of romances because it usually means there's been lots of angst and emotional torment preceeding the grovel. I really can forgive the hero just about anything as long as he grovels well.

One that comes to mind is Barely a Lady by Eileen Dreyer. The hero believes she is cheating and completely destroys her life. However, at the end of the book, he makes up for it with some excellent groveling. Another one that I just finished was Seducing the Duchess by Ashley March - that book is one long grovel on the part of the hero although initially he tries to hide the fact that he's groveling.

Tam said...

I read m/m but nothing ticks me off when the one treats the other like crap and then says "Oh yeah, you know when I called you a raging slut and said you stole my ipod and your dog was ugly? Sorry about that." "Oh, yeah, no problem." *kiss* *kiss*

Excuse me? Oh hell no. I always say maybe I'm a vindictive bitch but I think the other guy should have to suffer at least as much as the one he wronged. As you said, otherwise it just seems like it's a license to behave that way again and they didn't learn anything or grow from realizing they screwed up. So I'm with you, a good honest grovel scene does my heart good. :-)

Renee said...

JenM: That's true, about the angst involved. There is usually a great amount of it, due in part to the hero's drama.

lol. I like that, "initially he tries to hide the fact that he's groveling". Nice try, but no cookie for him.

Tam: I definitely have a different tolerance irl, than I do in fiction. I'd NEVER allow an actual person to treat me that way, but I think since there's an expected HEA in romance, I know that (at least in theory) the hero of the book will make up for his drama by the end. Preferably, with a good grovel. ;-)

Chris said...

I seem to read more books where the grovel/apology scene feels like it was tacked on at the last minute and doesn't do anything to redeem the hero. Grrrr.

Also, most clever way to include a possible spoiler EVER. :)

Renee said...

Chris: See, a tacked-on or half-hearted one is almost as bad as no grovel. I've got to FEEL the angst!

And, of course, for m/f romance, if the heroine is being the jerk, SHE needs to do some groveling, too.

lol. I wish I could claim the white font as my idea. I don't remember where I first saw that. Clever, isn't it? That way there's no accidental spoilage happening. ;-)

Sheree said...

Yes to the grovel! At the end of "That Scandalous Evening", Blackburn actually got on his knees to beg Jane not to leave him (or at least take him with her if she really wanted to go).

Ingrid said...

What the others said, It is satisfactory to see a good grovel.
I remember that scene from Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh in the dovecot. That made the book.

Anonymous said...

I love the grovel at the end of Heaven, Texas. It is so well-written, the jail break, the chase, the grovel - so so good.

orannia said...

That grovel scene in The Darkest Tide...Blew. My. Mind!

Copyright © 2008-2011 Desert Island Keepers All Rights Reserved. Proudly powered by Blogger

  © Blogger template Starry by 2008 Modified by Lea

Back to TOP