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Wednesday, September 01, 2010:
Is the HEA in danger?

Last night on a Twitter chat, I asked the author a question about the HEA - that much coveted Happily Ever After - and whether or not an HEA could end in future books of a series. In her case she said "yes". That nothing was safe in one of her books. Now granted, she writes paranormal, so there's a lot that can go on in a paranormal story that I can accept because that's almost an unwritten law in paranormal/urban fantasy. Yet for me, one thing that is very important to me is the HEA. By the end of the book or the series, that is one definite that must be met in some fashion. Otherwise, don't you dare label your book a romance. A romance has the payoff, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Now I understand that a lot of authors - as well as readers - want a more compelling, realistic story. They are hungry for books that push the envelope and challenge them. I get that. Real life is not all hearts and flowers, and sometimes your soulmate can end up being the scum of the earth. But I am one of those people that turned to romance for the escape of all of that. And I want it to stay that way.

If an author chooses to kill off a beloved character or end the forever kind of relationship they first created, ultimately that is their decision. I'm not going to say "think about that really hard first" because I'm sure they are fully aware of the ramifications of such an action. But what I would like to see is some type of indicator in the book or series letting me know this is not a traditional romance. Something that is going to say "be ready for anything". A disclaimer or warning that your heart might end up broken by the end. Because once you kill my happy, I'm gonna be mighty cranky about it, so you'd better warn me first.

What are your thoughts on the risks of the HEA?

Are you open to anything, or is the HEA sacred in your eyes?

Why or why not?



  1. Ahh the HEA, I like you crave it. I can handle not getting it one book, but the end of the series I really want it to be that way. Like the Fever series by KMM, I really really want Barrons and Mac to end up with each other.

    I was really upset in the Night Huntress series when book 1 ended I was like "NO!" but at least there were more in the series.

  2. When I read a romance a HEA is a must for me. I read to enjoy, to have some fun and to be happy about what happened in the book. When I finish the last page of a romance I want to have a smile on my face and I want to know that there is/will be a HEA.

    There are some very successful series in which it's clear that the main characters have a happy relationship and I don't think that a HEA makes a series unattractive. It might be harder to make the story interesting but it's possible.

  3. I feel like I'm in trouble here. *ducks* Since I'm the author in question. :-)

    Truthfully, in my romance, you'll ALWAYS have a HEA. In my urban fantasy -- it's unknown. I like to torture my characters, so I've been known to write things from time to time that people don't like (the death of Disco ring a bell?).

    I'm not necessarily a HEA person so long as it justifies the means. What I mean by that is if it makes sense that the death/accident/whatever happens to the protagonists or secondary cast member.

    I remember reading Vicious's book (from BDB) and thinking that I would have preferred it if Doc Jane died. Because for me, the ghost angle was a bit much. Granted, it is romance so you can have that but it was my immediate reaction.

    Don't worry -- the characters you like in Crimson Moon and Dead might meet obstacles you won't like, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel -- or the next book for that matter.

  4. He HEA. Im fickle about it. I love a good HEA especially if I had to work for it (didn't come till book 3 or 4)but I can handle not getting one if the circumstances are right. I don;t like being led to believe there will an HEA then getting the carpet riped out from under me. That turns me off. But if the story line hints and retracts I can handle that-as long as there is plenty of action to hold my attention. Don;t give me no HEA AND no action. That's just mean. :)

  5. My first love is romance. In romances you always get the HEA. When I started reading PNR and UF, I learned that a HEA is not guaranteed or doesn't happen at all, especially in UF novels. I've had a hard time coming to terms with that. I've started to not expecting a HEA so that I won't be disappointed if there isn't one. I love the Fever series. There's no HEA (so far) but there is a lot of sexual tension and Chapter 4. I think everyone is hoping that Mac and Barrons will end up together but I don't think I will be disappointed (much) if they don't. Okay, that's a lie. I'd probably be highly upset. But I wouldn't be shocked because the series is labeled as Urban Fantasy. And my peeps who are familiar with the genre have told me, UF books tend to not have HEA.

  6. I don't expect a HEA in UF - BUT - I want one! LOL. Like Mac/Barrons, Curran/Kate, Mercy/Adam - you can torture me, you can have them together, and than painfully drag them apart..but damn it - at THE END in the final book, please let them be together. Please.

    In all other romance, I expect HEA.

  7. I don't always expect an HEA, especially in urban fantasy because well, it's not romance. But the end of a romance,what I do expect is a HE-for-now. I expect the love story to be resolved. The plot might not be, the bad guy might still be running loose, but the hero and heroine must be together. Now that doesn't mean in the second book shit can't happen. A perfect example of this is JD Robb's Death series. Roarke and Eve fight, they have their problems, but at the end, they always remain tight. And I expect this to run through a romance series. If a character, one I've struggled with and come to love, is killed off, I expect the author to have a really good reason.

    The problem is urban fantasy and romance are so similar. Some romance has the dark, gritty feel of urban fantasy and a lot of urban fantasy has romantic elements. But with urban fantasy, there's so set formula (boy meets girl, boy fights for girl, boy wins girl), it's more a crap-shoot. You never know just what you're going to get.

  8. Lily, I agree. Just from rumblings I've heard, I'm worried Barrons & Mac won't get that HEA.

    Sabrina, I like at least having hope by the end of the book/series. They don't have to get married or even declare undying love, but knowing that they intend to work on it makes me happy :)

    Jaime, no, not in trouble *g* I just thought about it, and my concern is the possibility that more books catergorized as romances are going to go for the ambiguous ending, or not have something really tragic happen. Death and separation are dramatic, and I think a lot of readers are more apt to accept it these days. But you're still in good with me LOL

    Tori, yes! That's exactly it. I know that horrible things happen to good people, but not in my books LOL. I don't want to settle in with that floaty, dreamy feeling and that get gutted. I'd feel betrayed.

    Marq, that took awhile for me to get used to as well. But you're right. Now when I read UF, I know anything could happen, and I can't complain (much) if it does. But at least I can prepare myself for any eventuality.

    Mandi, I am praying for those couples to find their HEA so badly! Let them be dragged through battle, have them fight and go through hell, but let them find happiness in the end with each other.

    Madelyn, I agree with you for the most part, but if JD Robb goes and kills Eve, Roarke, or any of the characters that have been around for ages, I will revolt! I know that these things happen, and Nora might decide that she'll have to kill off a character, but I will hate her for it. Rational or not, I couldn't forgive her for doing it.

    Just thought I'd add that at this point, with the way I feel about the series, I don't care who Stephanie Plum ends up with, or if she doesn't end up with anyone at all. After reading 14 books, I'm done caring. I'll still read them, but I don't feel connected to them in any way. I think it's jumped the shark and it's time to resolve things. Evanovich ain't no Nora in that regard.

  9. I don’t think I could handle being given a HEA in one book and three books into the series have it taken away! Honestly I would divorce an Author for something like that. And I’ve only divorced one Author so far and it was due to an HEA.

    But then if the book isn’t a romance I don’t think I would get as mad. Because when it’s not romance I don’t expect an HEA in the end, my expectations aren’t as high. But even in a series that isn’t romance and a couple got their HEA and a few books later one of them died I think I would be pretty pissed. I mean I get fights and arguments as long as they make up before the end of the book, but to end it completely might be too much for me.

  10. I read to leave the cares of the world away, so I have to have a HEA, or at least the premise of one.

  11. I love a HEA, however I think in some genres like PNR and UF it's disappearing. I think that with a series authors want to create tension..but I think this can still be done with a HEA at the end of a book. I don't know why I want a HEA in my books, I just do. :)

  12. Romance books MUST have an HEA or at least a happy "for now" ending. If it's urban fantasy, then the HEA isn't guaranteed, but romance books YES!

    For me personally, I need the HEA. Or a well done UF - like the Kate Daniels series. BUT, if things go south for Kate and Curran, I'll probably stop reading the series. PNR is MY ESCAPE and I need the HEA to make me feel good inside. If the book ends and there is no HEA, or promise that we'll get one sometime, then I can't do the book.

    The most effective PNR series for me is when each book focuses on one or two couples - each get an HEA at the end of the story, but there is an overall story arc that continues from book to book to keep the series moving. Great example: Psy/Changling by Nalini Singh.

  13. If I'm reading a romance than I like a Hea with the main characters.


  14. If I wanted to read a book without a HEA, I would stick with post-apocalyptic YA books. The only reason I read romances at all is the HEA. If there isn't one, I'd go back to reading mysteries and sci-fi (and depressing YA novels).

  15. I love a traditional HEA but I started to like the realistic ones, too. You know these where we only get the chance of it all working out? I has to fit the book for sure but sometimes I think it's just better to not force the story in an complete happy ending.

    BUT I hate when the hero or the heroine days. That drives me crazy and I would love to through the book out of the window and cry for hours. You can't just make us love a character and then kill him/her. I don't approve of that.

    Wonderful post hon.

  16. HEA's are mandatory for me!!

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