By Cassandra Gold (Guest Blogger)
I admit it—in real life I’m a cynic. I’m always trying to stifle a natural inclination toward pessimism. Maybe that’s why I love the romance genre so much. No matter what trials and tribulations the characters face, love wins out in the end.
True romances have a couple of possible endings: happily ever after (HEA) or happily for now (HFN). Some people always prefer one or the other, but I prefer to see whichever fits the story best. If the characters have only just met, I find declarations of undying love a bit hard to believe. Other characters face such huge obstacles that anything other than an HFN would ring false. Sometimes the hope provided by a happily for now ending is enough for me.
Not every story can pull off the happily ever after ending. Recently, I’ve read several books with happy endings that seemed tacked on. The characters’ problems were miraculously solved in deus ex machina fashion, and everything was perfect. Rather than being left with a warm feeling, I was annoyed. The characters didn’t have to grow to reach their happy ending, and the whole story became unrealistic as a result. I read romance for the conflict as well as the ending, so I felt cheated.
I have to confess, though, when it’s well-done I’m a sucker for the HEA. The idea of people finding their soul mates, whether they live forever in wedded bliss, a same-sex partnership, a D/s relationship, or a happy ménage, is incredibly appealing. I guess that’s why most of my own writing ends with HEAs. Granted, I tend to make my heroes work really hard to get their HEA, but I guess I’m just mean like that. To me, it’s important that characters grow and learn over the course of the book, and that conflicts are resolved in a realistic manner. Only after I’ve dealt with those things can I give my characters the happy ending they deserve. After all, the more difficult the journey is, the sweeter the ending seems, at least to me.
What about you? Do you expect every romance to have the traditional HEA ending, or are you fine with HFN? Have you ever been annoyed by an ending that felt too happy, or not happy enough?
About Cassandra: By day, Cassandra Gold is a middle school teacher who spends most of her time trying to get sixth and seventh graders to read. On nights and weekends, she can usually be found reading and writing stories about men falling in love. To find out more about Cassandra and her writing, go to her website at www.cassandragold.com.
Coming January 31 from Amber Quill Press: Quinn’s Hart