Yesterday we had a discussion via Twitter about Happy for Now vs. Happily Ever After. As a romance reader, I’ve long professed my love of HEAs. I think most of us expect an HEA, no? Why else would we read romance.
Talking about HEA’s today. Are they necessary, or you ok w/o one? So far: Romance = HEA; Other genres = doesn’t matter. Your thoughts?
From there we had a lively discussion about whether or not we require a HEA in our books, whether they be part of a series or standalone. Then general consensus was that, yes, we need a HEA. But it made me wonder, what defines HEA? Marriage and baby? Or is being committed/engaged enough? Is an engagement/commitment considered a HFN? Or is HFN just the hope that things will continue?
I believe the answer to all the questions above are subjective. It completely depends on the story, characters and author whether marriage is required, or implied commitment is enough. Some examples I used:
Against the HEA: A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux – I would have liked this book better, had more respect for the author, if she hadn’t written an HEA for this book. I feel like both the hero and heroine were cheated by the throwaway ending Deveraux gave us.
For the HEA: Eve and Roarke from J.D. Robb’s In Death series. I don’t think anything less than the full HEA w/marriage would have worked for this couple. We really needed that full commitment from Eve, I think, to know she was truly serious about Roarke. I think we would have doubted her level of commitment otherwise. I realize this is part of an ongoing series, but even if it hadn’t been (JDR mentioned in an interview once that she’d only planned to write them as a trilogy! I’m so glad she continued on), I still would have required marriage to make the end believable.
Besides the above mentioned, there are many novels I feel require an HEA to make me happy. I’ve never been shy about sharing that I need my stories wrapped up with a nice, neat little bow.
There are times when I’ll accept a HFN, however. Even prefer it, if I’m being honest. I think I’ve become a bit jaded, but too often lately I find myself rolling my eyes that every single couple marries and has a baby and all of a sudden lives happily ever after.
We also discussed how we hate it when a couple gets a HEA in the beginning of a series and then loses it later. Again I used Jude Deveraux as an example: Her Forever trilogy. The h/h got a HEA in book one, lost it in book 2 and never really got it back in book 3. It was very frustrating.
On the other hand, there have been a couple times when a we see a couple from early in the series struggling with something in a later book and I kind of enjoy that. Not that their HEA is compromised, but they’re struggling with some real life conflict.
Again, it’s subjective. I’m curious how the rest of you feel.
Do you require an HEA for each romance novel you read? What about other genres? If you do, what do you consider an HEA? Marriage and baby? Or is commitment/engagement enough for you? Do you find, like me, that there are exceptions to every rule? Or are you pretty set in your beliefs for how a romance should end?