Favorite Last Lines

We’ve talked about best first lines, but they say while the first line will sell your book, your last line will sell the next book.

Do you agonize over your last line as much as your first? I do. Endings are TOUGH for me. But I kind of like the last lines I came up with for DLB and Hot Shot.

In DLB, very action packed, the last bit of dialogue goes like this:

“I had to know you wouldn’t wait for a proposal.”
“You know me,” she said, twining her arms around his shoulders. “A woman of action.”
He pulled her against him. “Just the one for me, then.”

In Hot Shot, where Peyton has worried about stability through the whole book, the exchange is this:

“Peyton.” His serious tone carried over the walkie. “Come home safe.”
Home. A tent in a fire camp that she shared with Gabe. And she wouldn’t be anywhere else.
“I will,” she said. “Cooper out.”

It also shows they’re married, and that he’s made the turnaround to worry about her for a change.

In Vanished, the exchange is not between the hero and heroine, but between the heroine and her best friend, who they spend the entire book looking for. The best friend has been in an abusive marriage and runs away when she finds out she’s pregnant. She’s had the baby when they find her.

Danny fought back another surge of longing to see Gabrielle holding his child, and went to help his sister.
“What’s her name?” Gabrielle asked, stroking a finger lightly over the baby’s cheek.
“Hope,” Tess said.

Okay, that one’s not as strong as the others, but it does reflect what the story has been about.

I went to my keeper shelf for other examples. Amazing how many end on a kiss, or on a declaration of “I forever do.” It got to be a bit generic.

Here are some of my favorites.

From Karen Templeton’s Saving Dr. Ryan, the preacher has just completed a double wedding and looks from one groom to the other:

“And the good Lord knows it’s about damn time the two of you came to your senses!”
And the congregation shouted as one, “AMEN!”

If you’ve ever read Karen’s books, you know there is always a community, so this fit really well.

In my very very favorite Navy Seals book by Suzanne Brockmann, Out of Control, the last POV is Savannah’s grandmother’s:

Her granddaughter was infinitely lucky. Rose knew this firsthand. She’d had a husband who loved her an eleven, too.

Nora, who is queen of first lines, was less noticeable in last lines. But I liked the ending of The Welcoming:

“You were awfully sure of yourself.”
“No.” He kissed her again, felt the curve of her lips, and the welcoming. “I was sure of you.”

In Diana Duncan’s action packed Midnight Hero, her first 24-Hour book, Bailey and Conall have been trapped in the mall all night, hiding from bank robbers. They’d had a history, but she’d decided they were like fire and water, that they could never mix.

Misty white vapor curled around them, enveloping them in a cozy, rose-scented cocoon. He stroked a wet finger down her cheek. “And together they make….”
Grinning at each other, they spoke as one.

In Evelyn Vaughn’s second Grailkeepers book, Her Kind of Trouble, our heroine Maggi has the Isis Grail. Before she puts it into hiding, though:

For a moment, I felt I was there again – underwater in Cleopatra’s palace, amid submerged artifacts and relics.
“And thank you for allowing me the honor of championing you.”
Then I drank.
And it tasted sweet.

In my favorite Lisa Kleypas book, Someone to Watch Over Me, I loved the exchange between Grant and Victoria:

“Never,” Victoria repeated, holding his gaze. “I wouldn’t change a single thing about you.”
“Well, milady,” he replied softly, “that’s why I married you.”

Emily McKay’s third book, Perfectly Saucy, had one of the sexiest heroes out, Alex Moreno. He’s the bad boy to Jessica’s good girl. She’d crushed on him since high school. The last sentence convinces me they’ll be together forever.

She was the one person in the world he could say anything to. She always had been.

Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale is a classic for a reason. Another bad boy/good girl story, but much more angsty:

A buffle-headed bad wicked man he might be – but he could recognize a miracle when he saw one.

The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley isn’t a romance, per se, but an awesome book. Graham, the hero, is trying to get the heroine to spend the holidays with him, to toss a coin to see if she should go home (heads) or stay with him (tails):

He might be right, I thought – a toss of the coin did seem the only fair way to decide where I ought to spend Christmas.
And it only took four tries to make the penny come up tails.

So what are some of your favorite last lines? Yours or from a favorite book?

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Toni Anderson said...

I love The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley. She is spot on with her accent and setting--but in my version hero is called Davy and that isn't how my version of the book ends--were there different endings? How strange! I love Marianna and Name of the Dragon too.

Great endings Mary :)

Janice Lynn said...

There are tons of last lines I love by other authors! Of my own, in JANE MILLIONAIRE, I love how the last lines tie the entire story together.

If America wanted to tune in, well, he'd let the network worry about what drivel they aired next.
He was busy living a reality all his own.

Now if I could just get the next book to tie together so nicely... :)

Stacy Dawn said...

One of my favorites is from Tanya Michaels's Flipside, Not Quite as Advertized .
Her opening of the book:
Jocelyn McBride was in hell. Who knew it would look so much like an airport.
Her last sentences of the book:
Joss was in heaven. Who knew it would look so much like an airport.

I like my ending for my second ms called Wanna Make A Bet?, because the set up of the last scene is perfect for the last sentence to be: "Wanna make a bet?"

MJFredrick said...

How embarrassing, Toni! You're right! I had gone into the preview of her next novel!

The end of Shadowy Horses is this:

"I am not," I said, "Davy's Verity."
But my protest had no real effect. He only laughed, and rolling to his side, he reached for me, his big hand tangling in my hair as he drew me down toward him. "The hell you're not," he said.
And proved it.

Still good ;)

Janice, I am kicking myself - I still haven't read your book. My TBR is SCARY. Good luck with that next book!

Stacy, I love the Tanya example, and yours. I tried the bet thing in my book Where There's Smoke, but I like yours better.

Trish Milburn said...

Great post. I particularly like your last line for Hot Shot. I can just see that on film on the big screen.

I went and looked at several of mine, and it's interesting how with the more action-packed books, there's a clear, catchy last line. With the women's fiction and more literary YA, it's more of a lyrical ending paragraph or so.

MJFredrick said...

Good point about the different subgenres having different styles of endings, Trish!

Unknown said...

I like conclusion, but I also seem to find, at least in a lot of the romances hat I've been reading, there's a certain amount of almost "non closure" in them... Like it ends with a marriage proposal or something. I wish I'd get an epilouge with a wedding invitation or something!

But I have to brag about my own book ending, for Unified Souls, because i just love it:

Whatever hesitance she had dissolved. Instead of wondering what was coming, Jasmine let go.
For right now, in this moment, all that mattered was this.
Devin Cartell and Jasmine Storm, connected in a way beyond all measure.
Two unified souls.
At least for this moment.

Toni Anderson said...

Sheesh Mary, I didn't say it to embarass you. Lord, I just thought they might have changed it for the American versus UK market. I was curious! I love her work.

MJFredrick said...

No, no, Toni! I was just in a hurry, I guess, and not reading carefully. I should have remembered the story better.

Candice, sounds awesome!

Anonymous said...

I liked how I ended Three of Swords, because it pulled back in the paranormal aspect, referred back to things earlier in the book, and helped the ending ring:

Adrian pulled me closer as the whole gang hurried down the stairs toward us. “You never have to cast a love spell on me, honey. I’m yours, for life.”

I hugged him tight as the girls leapt to throw their arms around us. I wasn’t sure, but I thought I heard the Cailleach’s laughter on the wind.

The spiral was complete.

So was I.


MJFredrick said...

I do love that ending, JoAnn. You are the queen of hooks, too.


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