Why do we love romance so much? Some of us–ahem!–have a hard time returning to the literary fiction that gave us that degree. Literary fiction can be so incredibly depressing, and I’ve found that I need a frequent application of HEAs to keep my leisure time happy. I haven’t given up literary fiction, but I have given up thinking I will be satisfied at the end–more like stirred up and sad, although that has its place, too.

But that doesn’t mean it’s all kisses and witty banter in romance; the romances that resonate the most with me are those that have at least one ‘ohmygod-how are they going to overcome this–don’t leave yet, he’ll be here soon with an explanation–she did it because she loves you, you moron’ moments. Some of Mary Balogh‘s books (The First Snowdrop, The Secret Pearl, The Last Waltz) do this spectacularly well. You can feel your heart in your throat as you start reading the penultimate scene. Carla Kelly is a master of it, especially in Reforming Lord Ragsdale, where the h/h almost don’t get together, and you have to let go of a long-held breath at the last moment.

These moments are particularly heart-wrenching in films–think about when Anne reads Captain Wentworth’s letter in Persuasion, and dashes out to make sure he knows to be at the gathering that evening. Thank goodness she runs into him on the street! Notorious–quite possibly the most perfect movie ever–does this moment so incredibly well, with Hitchcock building the suspense until you almost can’t stand it. Beauty And The Beast has it, as does The Philadelphia Story, and my latest obsession, Elizabeth Gaskell‘s North And South.

What are your favorite heart-in-throat moments, from either film or book?