Suffer the Vengeance!

I’m in a cranky sort of vengeful mood today, which I tend to foster by thinking of all the best revenge and just-dessert plot twists that have happened in romances I’ve read.

There’s Julia Quinn’s An Offer from a Gentleman where Sophie smacks her evil stepmother around and delivers the final smack: “THAT was not for not loving your daughters EQUALLY!” That was rather savory – not only was stepmother d’eville smacked around and ruined socially, but Sophie reserved her final smack-down not on her own behalf, but on the behalf of her step-sister, who was standing right beside her during the ruckus. A selfless smackdown. Ahhhh. 

And there’s the one Anita Blake novel where she kills a human to invoke her necomancy, thereby making it nice and soupy powerful, raises a few hundred zombies, and then turns the zombies on the humans who have been keeping her captive. The zombies reduce them to shreds – very nice!

There’s also a very nice amount of just-desserts in the end of Sullivan’s Island by Dorothea Benton Frank, in that the heroine ends up very, very happy, and her ex-husband ends up remaining in the mess of his own making, enabling the heroine to say, “He’s a fool for staying there, but I wish him well.”

I know I get frustrated with books where the villain doesn’t get enough punishment for their behavior – this is my fantasy, after all, and I definitely want checks and big ass balances. But I also do enjoy a book that ends with the heroine getting over her anger and saying to herself that sometimes, it’s best to let karma take care of the imbalance, instead of risking her own karma to get revenge. I do, of course, love it much when the book details how that karmic boomerang came around and whooped the villain in the ass, though.

What about you? What’s your favorite savory just-desserts story resolution from a romance novel?

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Random Musings

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  1. 1
    E.D'Trix says:

    I, too, am a big fan of the Cinderella-style revenge, with the bitter, twisted relatives getting the Karmic smackdown as their (step-)children, relatives, etc. gain a wonderful life and they are left to rot. Of course, I am completely unable to come up with titles and examples right now.

    One book that I just finished rereading, With This Ring, (I am on a Carla Kelly rereading binge thanks to our discussions a week ago!) has an interesting twist on the Cinderella punishment. Rather than having the big “f-you” in front of the parents and sister who treated her like a worthless piece of crap, the heroine embarks on a journey and leaves her family to save herself.

    After travelling her own path and finding happiness with the hero she receives a letter from her father (an extremely downtrodden coward who refuses to speak up to help his daughter) updating her on the family’s status, etc. None of which are tragic—in fact, things seem to be going well for them.

    It is a testament to Kelly’s skill that, despite the fact that the family is presumably well, and there is no overt punishment for their horrendous treatment of the heroine, you KNOW that they will eventually fall. They have been described so well that you know that those people cannot possibly go another month without bringing about their own social ruin.

    So, despite the fact that you do not get the whole “slap in the face, run out of town on a rail” scene, you are still more than satisfied with the ending of the book. *Happy sigh* The mark of a great writer…

  2. 2
    Sarah says:

    Ohhh, social ruin! I LOVE social ruin, especially when the ones who hold themselves in such high authority as to treat their surrounding peers so badly suffer SO greatly for their own loss in status.

    Eloisa James’ A Wild Pursuit ends with Esme Rawlings’ holier-than-thou and unbearably selfish mother getting a royal set down by her friend, the dowager Marchioness Bonnington, and the implied ostracization by the well-connected dowager serves notice to the reader that Esme’s mother will get what’s coming to her for her self-absorbed behavior. I think the reader last sees her after she has outraged and alienated everyone, including her daughter, at tea and driven them one by one from the room, leaving her sitting alone with dozens of cups of cooling tea and no one in the room but herself for company.

    Sometimes you end up knowing that a badly-behaved character’s behavior will bring about their downfall in the end.

  3. 3
    E.D'Trix says:

    Yup, the best kind of social ruin is when the child they pin all of their hopes on (usually the pretty younger (step)sister) is soooo spoiled because of her preferential treatment in the family and being catered to above all others, that she is utterly incapable of treating most anyone with manners, thus offending the entire ton.

    It is so rewarding win the parents realize (and sometimes even more rewarding when they don’t, LOL!) that the apple of their eyes has caused their downfall.

    The moment of realization that occurs when they realize that “ohhhh, she really does have absolutely no manners whatsoever” is ‘tingly’ good.

  4. 4
    Sarah says:

    Oh, I KNOW, when they realize they have no one to blame for that social misfortune but themselves? Oh, how I love that.

    And I also love the subtle bits of honor and fair play that some authors write into the power structure of the haute ton. It’s not like they were a mass of moral individuals, but when the group as a whole cuts someone off justifiably for their poor behavior, it’s very satisfying.

  5. 5
    Robini says:

    My favorite comeuppance scenes has got to be at the end of Saving Grace by Julie Garwood:

    When the heroine’s first husband – and old and controlling man who would “discipline” her with a stick – makes an appearance to try to reclaim her,  she realizes him for what he is and takes his stick. She can’t break it alone, but with her new husband’s help she snaps it in in front of him. Take that, you wifebeating coward!

  6. 6
    Jennifer says:

    I love it when the girl gets revenge, because in real life I NEVER get to! You can’t be that outrageous and “bad” IRL without consequences, but novel characters can. Yay to that.

  7. 7
    Jonquil says:

    Jennifer Crusie, Crazy For You. You think you’re being set up for the hero to rescue the heroine, but instead she beats the stalker silly and has to be pulled off him by the hero.

  8. 8
    Sarah says:

    Oh yeah, being up Bill in Crazy for You was immensely satisfying. We all wish we could go batshit insane on the people who hurt us sometimes, I think. It’s lovely to find that, in fiction, we can get away with it.

  9. 9

    Another Carla Kelly classic, MISS MILTON SPEAKS HER MIND, has the revenge against the relatives offered by the servants.  The butler explains to the nasty woman whose son is going to inherit that the master has given them all pensions and the first thing they’re going to do when he dies is leave, so that the evil, grasping heirs will be deserted in an empty house.  That may not sound like much, but put it in the context of Regency society.  When word gets out that every servant left rather than work for them, they’ll become laughingstocks and their social standing will be affected.

  10. 10
    Amanda says:

    Ummm. this isn’t a romance example, but the best smackdown, social ruin ending ever, IMO was in the movie Dangerous Liasons. Glenn Close enters her box at the opera/theater & the entire audience boos her! Awesome!!

    Can’t think of any romance examples not listed. I’ll post ‘em if I can think of any.

  11. 11
    Alyssa says:

    This is an interesting topic and not one I usually think about. I had to go to my bookshelves to get some ideas:

    Linda Howard’s To Die For: I get a kick (ha ha) about how that suspense plot is resolved.

    I love how a bully and rapist in Living Dead in Dallas is killed after attacking Sookie.

    I’ll have to think of more.

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