Sometimes I’m in the mood for a super specific, really niche trope. It’s like a food craving, where only that certain brand from that one store will do. In this case it’s a good old grovel. Not the little token apology with immediate making-out, ohhh no. I want the real down-and-dirty, sincere, I-fucked-up, oh-my-god-I-was-so-dumb, dawning realization.
It doesn’t particularly matter to me which character (hero or heroine or all three heroes in a reverse harem) is doing the groveling. There just has to be understanding of the fact that whatever they did hurt their beloved. I need to end with the feeling that we are on an emotionally even level and an equal footing. The scales have been balanced, there’s been true remorse expressed, forgiveness has been earned and I can close the book feeling extremely satisfied.
Starting out with paranormal and alien romance: The Immortals After Dark series, by Kresley Cole, has some of the best groveling you’ve ever read in nearly every book, but especially in Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night
Lothaire, also by Kresley Cole, has a journey with the emotionally constipated hero groveling; while Demon From the Dark has both hero and heroine asking for forgiveness. And let us never forget Dark Skye for this list.
The Darkest Secret, by Gena Showalter, also has some heroine groveling, along with deep empathy from both characters.
Barbarian’s Redemption, by Ruby Dixon, has THE MOST emotional scene of understanding and true remorse from the hero I’ve ever read. Period.
Romantically Inclined wrote an entire post promoting the cathartic groveling bits in the Orc Sworn series by Finley Fenn. To warn you, there are some specific kinks in these books you may want to warn yourself about before hand, but the books get great reviews.
In the historical romance realm, To Seduce a Sinner, by Elizabeth Hoyt, has a beautiful, intimate groveling gesture from the hero which makes my heart squeeze every time. It’s just the best.
A Kiss to Remember, by Teresa Meideros, both hero and heroine grovel, plus there’s an amnesia plot. Win-win.
Duke of Pleasure, also by Elizabeth Hoyt, my favorite type of ohhh-I-fucked-up realization from the hero (YASSS).
The Prize, by Julie Garwood, has some old-skool groveling, which might not seem like enough to more modern readers but which I found satisfying coming from a conquering Norman warrior.
Her Protector’s Pleasure, by Grace Callaway, the hero has to confront the definite ways he totally misjudged the heroine AND HE DOES. Humbly. Also the entire plot of Callaway’s The Lady Who Came In From the Cold is structured around answering the question; ‘how much groveling pays for a decade-long lie perpetrated by your wife, and when does that groveling cross the line into all right you need to accept this sincere apology, you emotionally constipated idiot?’
Daring and the Duke, Sarah MacLean, I haven’t personally read but I’m told it contains superb grovel from the anti-hero main character.
Oh! How could I forget Elisa Braden? She writes SUPER spicy historicals and nearly every book has some sort of gut-wrenching emotional moment. But When a Girl Loves an Earl and The Madness of Viscount Atherbourne both contain excellent groveling. Viscount Atherbourne nearly sacrifices everything (i.e. the love of his life) for revenge and it is immensely satisfying to watch him realize how badly he has erred.
@gigireadsromance on Instagram did a Tuesday trope rec post specifically about groveling. So we owe her thanks for adding: Judith McNaught’s Perfect (swoony grovel) and A Kingdom of Dreams (EPIC grovel): Suzanne Robinson’s Lady Gallant (impressive grovel although the novel never makes it clear whether the hero did what he was accused of): Patricia Gaffney’s Lily (the hero makes sad choices and wins consequences): and Ruthless by Lexi Blake (yet another hero thinks he wants revenge more than love, poor misguided dude).
I don’t read a ton of contemporary romance but I do know Courting Catherine, by Nora Roberts contains a good, sincere apology from the hero.
Love and Other Words, by Christina Lauren is an emotional second-chance romance spanning literal decades with a little mutual groveling sprinkled in.
Kiss an Angel, by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, has an over-the-top gesture involving a tiger.
Too Close to Call, by Tessa Bailey, is more about the sex than the groveling (because; Tessa Bailey, and that’s why we love her!) but there is some empathy and understanding going on in-between the dirty talk. And Wound Tight (part of her Made in Jersey series) has some hurt/comfort elements along with a little groveling from Renner, the alphahole, when he treats Milo badly.
- Special Note: Dear Author has the awesome article about the reasons for a grovel and why we find it so satisfying which got me started on this whole list in the first place.