In romance, as in the broader context addressed by the Christian theologian Clive Marsh, “the gift of salvation that is given [...] is the strength to […] overcome all that, in any given situation or personal life history, could obstruct the capacity to love, be that material lack, disrupted relationships, lack of love shown to us, low self-esteem” (202). By the end of Heyer’s These Old Shades the hero’s friend
tells him: 'You have learned to love another better than yourself, and I believe you will make [...] a good husband' [...]. This is one of the most explicit statements in Heyer's work on the nature of love and it is the lesson almost all her male characters have to learn before they become fit husbands. [...] Heyer borrowed the basic plot as well as her [...] saturnine hero (whether consciously or not) from Ethel M. Dell's Charles Rex (1922) [...whose eponymous hero’s] salvation is [...] that he has learnt to put another before himself. (Wallace 38)
As in the case of the cursed dragon-man, who looks “like Satan,” in Aster Glenn Gray's Briarley (2018), protagonists in need of salvation often need to “learn to love” but they must also “be loved in return.” To be saved is to enter into a state in which one both loves and is loved and it is a state essential to the romance since a novel cannot be classified as such unless, by the conclusion of the text, the protagonists have achieved it.