Jan 6, 2014

Posted by in Question | 11 Comments

Question – Is It Still a Romance Book Without a HEA?

Question Visual Again

So I’m noticing a new trend.  Okay, it’s not so new but it’s something I didn’t really notice until recently.  And I’m not even seeing it in books that I’m reading but in books that others are and that are being sent to me by publishers.

What I’m seeing is this:  the HEA (Happily Ever After) seems to have a new definition.

Once upon a time, a book HAD to contain a HEA by the end for it to be labeled a ‘Romance’ book.  But lately, the HEA does not happen at the end of the first book – it happens at the end of the second or the third or even the last book of the series!

What’s with that?!

To me, that is something I expect from my urban fantasy reads, NOT my romance reads.

If I read a romance book it’s because I want that fuzzy heart-swelling feeling you get from reading a story of how two people meet and fall in love and find they want to spend forever together.  I don’t want to read a romance book only to find that, after I’ve invested hours and hours reading, the couple breaks up at the very end of the book.  For me that is not fun.

Is it just me?

Noticing that new-ish trend made me wonder if the ‘old’ definition of Romance has changed?  Do you think a book should still be considered a ‘Romance’ book if there is not HEA at the end of the book?

  1. Romance should have a HEA. UF, eh there I can wait

  2. Now that you’re invested, you HAVE to buy the next book.

    Seriously, though, they should make it a titled sub-genre or something so you know what you’re getting yourself into before you start reading. Clearly not everybody is looking for that in their romance novels.

  3. Northwoman says:


  4. I think this is an artifact of 50 Shades of Gray – they break up at the end of Book 1, right? And then it was such a phenomenally successful series that there are tons of imitators. I agree that for contemporary romance, I don’t like it as a reader and wouldn’t do it as a writer. However (sorry to talk about my own books – blah!) in my fantasy romance trilogy Covenant of Thorns, it takes all three books to get to the HEA. Books 1 and 2 end with HFNs, though, not break-ups. Somehow in my head, the fantasy setting makes that more okay. Maybe not? It’s kind of that there’s more to resolve than *just* romance – there’s lots of world-conflict, too. Interesting question!

  5. I read romance for the HEA; so it’s disappointing when there is none.

  6. I read the reviews very carefully these days, and if it says cliffhanger, or trilogy, or whatever, I refuse to buy it. IMHO, most of the books that are being stretched over two or three installments are either being stretched out to get more money, or were not properly edited and shouldn’t be that long.

    Jeffe, to reply to you, I do think it’s different in paranormals and in fantasy romance because those books include worldbuilding so they need more page count to do it right. I have no problem with UF, PNR, or fantasy stretching out over a few books. Contemporary romance, however, should be one book, or at least, an HFN at the end of the book if it’s going to continue on.

  7. I agree, Jen – glad my sense is on target there!

  8. Erica Pillera says:

    I really think if your reading a romance you expect a HEA and you should get it.

    However (I agree with Jen) Im am really disliking these new cliffhanger stories that you have to wait forever for to finish the story.Especially when you realise they could have put the whole story into one novel and not overstretched it to the point of boredom. It really encourages me to skip it until the whole story (installment) is put out.

  9. blodeuedd – We’re on the same page there 🙂

    Iain – I understand why they do it, I just don’t have to like it 😉 I agree with the sub-genre idea.

    Northwoman – LOL. But seriously, tell me how you really feel ;p

    Jeffe – I agree with you and you are doing things right. It’s almost expected in UF or any sort of fantasy book that will be part of a series. It almost makes the ‘ride’ better if there is chemistry but not necessarily a HEA after the first book. If there is a HEA, or we think it it, then the author decides to give the couple some rocky waters later on in the series, that feels like we’re cheated. But HFN turning to HEA in any form of fantasy book is perfectly fine. Not so much in contemporary in my opinion.

    Diane – Yes!

    Jen – I think that new ‘wait for your HEA’ trend is also leading to stretched out stories, as you say. Very good point. No need to make a story longer than it is just for money’s sake. That is insulting to the reader.

    Erica – I almost feel like not reading the book at all out of protest lol…but if my friends are all giving the book/s a good review, I may cave 😉

  10. No, it’s not. I love my HEA in romance, that’s why I read them, because I know at the end everything is going to be clouds, ponies and cotton candy.

  11. No; hate when authors don’t tell you the book is the first in a series or ends on a cliffhanger and the couple isn’t together at the end of the book. I don’t bother buying/reading any more books from those authors

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