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Saturday Conversations 06/08/2013

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I love to read romance stories. While I prefer the paranormal sub-genre, I also enjoy historical, erotic, contemporary, and GLBT romances. The one thing they all have in common – and the primary reason I read romance – the HEA… the “happily ever after” or even the HFN: happy for now. In general, romance stories tend to focus on one or two primary couples, who, by the end of the book are together and there is a sense of HEA/HFN. Even books in long-running romance genre series tend to be “stand alone” when it comes to the romance part. This is why I read these books – I love the sense of closure and happiness at the conclusion. While things may be rough during the book, I can get through it because I know in the end, things will be worked out.

Earlier this week, Sylvia Day released Entwined with You, the third book in her wildly popular Crossfire Trilogy. What came as a shock to many of those who read what they thought was the final book in a trilogy, is that the series isn’t ending… yet. While my post isn’t about Ms. Day’s decision nor about extending a series, the twitter discussion that centered around her book is what prompted this post.

What is with romance books that to not have an HEA/HFN at the end of the book? This does not sit well with me.

Books such as those in Ms. Day’s Crossfire series are examples of what I call the “non-HEA romance.” These are books in a series that focus on one or two couples; however, they do not get an HEA/HFN at the end of the book. Things are left open and incomplete. The couples are not fully together, and we have to wait until the next title to see if they do, in fact, make it. Another widely popular example of this is the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy.

Why is this happening? What happened to romance? I want to be swept off my feet and know that when I’m done with a book, my new favorite couple will be riding off into the sunset. I don’t want to worry whether or not they will have their happiness.

What are your thoughts? Do you like a couple’s story to be at an HEA/HFN by the end of one book? (Note, I am talking about romance genre only – NOT urban fantasy) Why do you think authors are extending romance novels over the course of three or more books and not giving the readers an HEA/HFN? Is this a growing trend?

Thanks for stopping to chat!

  • Love romance books and seeing the couples working to get to their HEA/HFN. I think that even if a series is a trilogy, each book should end with a HEA/HFN. I don’t like it when they are not given either.

  • I’ve had to learn more and more about the romance genre as a writer since my reading has tended toward the paranormal and urban fantasy strongly. One thing I’ve learned is that more readers do prefer the HEA/HFN scenario but there may be a trend toward the darker reality that romances don’t always have those. For my own works, I’m working to ensure that there is a HEA or HFN ending, even if the romance isn’t the strongest element of the story. Just seems the right thing to do.

  • In Romance, I really do want the HEA/HFN. That’s why I read them! I’d read just standard fiction, if I didn’t! But I am much more forgiving of ParaRoms leading me on… :p

  • I see this as a growing trend. The lack of a HEA/HFN is actually OK with me, given a few things:
    1. The plot has to be set up so that the pacing seems like it will naturally arc to resolution over the course of several books.
    2. I want to know AHEAD OF TIME how many books it will take to reach the HEA. There MUST be a HEA eventually, if these characters are going to be put through hell for three-ish books.
    3. There needs to be significant, meaningful content within the titles. The same content needs to grow/evolve in as a natural extension of the development of a relationship.

    That said, if I have to wait too long to get to the HEA, I’m probably not going to invest myself in the characters as deeply.

    People read fiction for entertainment. I strongly believe that there’s a limit as to how long readers should be expected to wait for characters to be happy or have their resolution. My perfect example is Ward’s Tohrment. He’s mentioned in every single one of the BDB titles. However, as readers, we weren’t ready to see his Happily ANYTHING for a long time. When Ward finally told Tohr’s story, I think we (readers) were (mostly) ready to see Tohr move on. It’s similar for these trilogy (or longer) series that are popping up, except that we’re seeing cliffhanger endings.

    I think the extended plot arcs are intriguing, but the story needs to have an appropriate set-up, pacing to support the story, and a ROCK SOLID plot. I think that foreshadowing in events in the final title of a trilogy should be done in the first book. If there’s enough content to honestly support a short series of this nature, go for it. But keep the elements essential to the plot and reserve scene usage for driving the plot, not just to lengthen a title.

  • Not to sound cynical but I think the lengthening of HEAs over series is purely twofold: 1: the author gets contracted for more books and 2: they can give readers more of what sells. I’m not going to be upset if a series gets extended but what drives me nuts is the ridiculous/suspend the disbelief scenarios that are thrown into the couple’s way. When the series/character arc doesn’t flow well or becomes repetitive, I might tap out. I think each book needs to stand a bit on its own so even if the overall HEA isn’t achieved, some kind of growth or progress should still be there. I’m getting really irritated at the abrupt “cliffhangers” that are becoming all the rage now. It’s making me rethink buying books as they release, instead getting the entire series once it’s done.

  • I recently read, no–consumed Taryn Fisher’s The Opportunist. Fisher achieved a sort of closure, there were seemingly permanent couples, but not the pairings for which the reader is hoping. I think it qualified as a HFN, but every reader who made it through that book is begruding it and depending on the “for now” with the hope that there will be some rearranging before the end of the trilogy. It left me feeling hungover, not satisfied. It wasn’t a cliff-hanger, but I wasn’t happy even by a HFN.

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