And they all lived happily ever after…the end

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I was having a conversation with Sybil who emailed me, asking if my Kensington book had an HEA.

I said, “No. It has a happy ending but not an HEA in the traditional sense*.”

*I define traditional as a wedding and/or babies.

Sybil said she thinks of an HEA as the couple ending up together, though not necessarily married.

Which brings me to my point, apparently HEA is in the eye of the, er, be-reader.

What do you think of as an HEA? And, to take it one step further, do you expect an HEA in erotica (vs erotic romance which I personally, DO expect an HEA in just as I do a romance or romantic suspense)?

34 thoughts on “And they all lived happily ever after…the end

  1. For me, a HEA is when the hero and heroine end up together in some sense at the end of the story. They might not be married or have kids, but they’ve committed themselves to a romantic relationship.

    That feels far more “real” to me than the books where an epilogue is added that features the heroine either pregnant or as a new mother. Frankly, a lot of them feel fake because the heroine never made any mention of wanting kids. I have a huge problem with the career-oriented heroine giving up her job to stay at home and be homemaker with the kid when there’s nothing in the rest of the book to indicate that’s the sort of thing she would do.

    Let me say, I have nothing against homemakers, and I don’t mind this in stories where it’s in character for this to happen. But when it’s tacked onto the end because, after all, isn’t that what a HEA is supposed to be?? … then it really annoys the hell out of me.

  2. Marty! LOL definitely qualifies as an HEA

    Nonny–thanks for stopping by! I have to admit, I’m a total sucker for an epilogue with a baby or a wedding HOWEVER I agree with you on the career oriented woman appearing in an epilogue pregnant and happy baking cookies. Doesn’t work for me either! :die:

  3. I don’t necessarily have to have a HEA in erotica, but, like you – HAVE to have it in erotic romance. And my definition of HEA is together, committed, “I love you and only you” exchanged. And epilogues if they fit. And prologues if they fit too. And sex. Lot’s of it. Frequently. Like bunnies. Anywhere and everywhere. (oops, someone has been reading erotica this morning …)

  4. As long as NOBODY DIES,:uzi: and the H/h end up in some sort of arrangement/relationship that their both happy/content with *at the point* the story ends, is enough for me.

  5. if it is classified as a “romance” and whatever sub-genre – then yes I do. But if it doesn’t say romance then it could go any which way… but that’s just me :hideme:

  6. I want HEA damn it! But I am not pissed if it is erotica, I go into that knowing I will get what I get.

    And well I try to just stay away from WF πŸ˜›

  7. I just wrote a blog post on this. HEA for me is couple ending up together. Not necessarily marriage – but some type of committment.

    In erotica I don’t expect a HEA but I do expect the heroine to be a “better person” at the end. She doesn’t have to get her man, but she should be stronger. More confident. Just more of a kick ass chick in general.

    Erotic romance – I expect the HEA.

    Oh, and I never expect babies in the epilouge. In fact, if the author gives me a “baby free” epilouge and the heroine isn’t defined by her ability to squirt out baby after baby the author gets automatic bonus points :woot:

  8. I just want the couple ending up together in whatever I read. If you introduce a love story as a secondary plot, then it better end happily.

  9. Eve….HEA=Bunny Sex

    So Jaq…..if it’s a suspense can someone die /off smart ass

    Sybil πŸ˜› Yourself!

    *glances guiltily at Wendy* I’m SO ashamed :crazy:

    JOrdan…….agreed :tater:

  10. HEA – couple is happy, whether they are together or apart. Hell, even in my own life, I can say that some of my best relationships with women ended after the second cigarette.


  11. Hmmm…
    I EXPECT a HEA in romantica/erotic romance, yes. I define that as the couple ending up together, and being happy at that POINT. (forever, after all, is a long, long time…) :poof:

    In erotica, I expect lots of sex. If the main couple ends up together, I love it! If not, the LEAST I expect is that the heroine will have made some kind of journey, at least from point A to point B.
    If there’s no ‘journey’, then it’s just all about exchanging body fluids–and in that case, I feel like the heroine’s not the only one who got screwed. πŸ˜›

  12. I like a HEA, doesn’t matter if they are married at the end, but if there has been a relationship of sorts, it feels kind of open ended to me if there isn’t a..well closing? I ended one of mine with the female walking away from the relationship stronger but okay on her own. But it’s a Mystery…:smile:I think it depends on the expectation build up. I too am a sucker for epilogues of happy ever after, but I don’t feel cheated if it’s not there, so long as there were resolutions to the characters journey or growth. I won’t say which publisher but I tried to read supposed mature women’s fiction that left me cold because of that ( brought them through hell for nothing) felling :wtf:
    I felt like why bother? Then again, I think erotica has the freedom to leave it open ended… I don’t know that it’s expected and that gives the author some challenging and exciting options doesn’t it?
    EvieMac…who didn’t spell check πŸ˜†

  13. Cece,

    I like Happy For Now endings. If the couple is committed to each other at the ending of the book, then I’m happy. I don’t need to know if they’re still together five years later or anything like that. I have enough imagination to provide my own story after that. :flirt:


  14. Happy for now is enough for me, too. I can fill in the blanks myself. I know happy for now makes a lot more sense in some books where the characters have known each other for all of a week, or perhaps a day (with those new 24 hour romances).

    I think HEA has been scaled back over the years, but I do like the couple together, unless it’s not a romance, of course.

    All that said, when it fits the book, I’m happy to have babies and marriage in the epilogue.

  15. *gasp* Mark! Only two? πŸ˜†

    Wendy I’m STILL laughing at ‘squirting out babies’

  16. >>forever, after all, is a long, long timeÒ€¦

    Boy you ain’t kidding, girl!

    Eve exactly! We’re talkin’ ’bout a resolution, well you know……oops where was i? :mybad:

    TA I think it’s an execution thing, but lots of times happy for now works for me too. However I mostly read suspense, so you know, LIVING often qualifies as happy for now.

    Ok I’m being silly 😎

    >>I know happy for now makes a lot more sense in some books where the characters have known each other for all of a week,

    Jorrie Exactly!!!!! As much as I do love the romantic HEA, especially in erotica Happy for Now works for me as a reader and especially as a writer! I (usually) won’t write it because as a reader I know I wouldn’t buy it.

  17. then itÒ€ℒs just all about exchanging body fluids

    I don’t have any problem with that …:woohoo:

  18. I do not expect a HEA in an erotica but I think those books should be clearly marked and not shelved in the ROMANCE section because I don’t care to read about a woman’s sexual journey. I want to read about two individuals falling in love and ending the book in love. Even if it is a man and his dragon.

  19. In erotic romance, I do expect a HEA in the sense that the heroine and hero will be together. That doesn’t mean marriage and kids. Just that for the time being their are happy in love. However, in pure erotica, no, I don’t expect a HEA or HFN (happy for now). Erotica is more an exploration of the sexuality and self, so whatever emotions there are directly towards the self. For instance, a woman who has a terrible self-image gets a master and learns that she can be beautiful and totally sexy and erotic. The fact that they don’t even fall in love is totally irrelevant.

  20. I think of HEA as the hero and heroine as ending up together. But happy ending doesn’t always mean that. For me, as long as you feel satisfied and good at the end, that’s what matters to me.

  21. Love all the answers you’ve had posted – agree – it’s not a ‘romance’ if the H/h dies, and commitment is the key, not necessarily weddings, babies, etc…

    Good blog.

  22. As usual I’m late to the party. Like you all I agree, if it ‘s an erotic ROMANCE it should have a happy for now, or HEA.

    Erotica doesn;tneed that.

    However, This puts me in a yucky place. I’m prepared for readers to be a bit pissed at me because my story The Crib, in Pure Sex doesn’t have a HEA, and it’s now labeled Erotic Romance. But when I sold it to them, the line was supposed to be erotica…and for whatever reason, they switched it ER. So…what happens there? I mean, they could’ve asked me to rewrite the ending…but then the ending wouldn’t have suited the story at all. It would’ve been obviously tacked on… So as a reader, when reading an Erotic Romance for a new Line like APhrodisia…are you willing to give it some leeway if the ending is true tothe characters and the story…and leaves room for a sequel….:ohdear:

  23. I think of an HEA as the hero and heorine getting together. Not necessary married or having a kid. But just BEING together. Whether it’s forever is up to the reader. I love your new smilies! πŸ™‚

  24. Eve *snicker*

    Jane….my problem with that is that erotica is usually shelved in very hard to find places, at the back of the store. That doesn’t work so much with erotica going mainstream, HOWEVER I don’t see any reason they couldn’t shelve it in fiction (instead of romance/women’s fic) like they do a lot of chick lit (and Danielle Steele).

    If nothing else, I do think it needs to be properly labeled (IE the bait and switch pulled with some of the early Cheek books that were reprinted with cartoony covers to make them look like chick lit). That’s not right at all. It’s like buying a Porche and discovering a 79 ford escort engine under the hood.

  25. Silma I need at least a HFN (as long as however it wraps up makes sense).

    Sunny there’s a reason they call it an institution! :kiss:

    >>Erotica doesn;tneed that.

    Sasha I’m not sure I agree..and maybe I need to quantify that by saying, “I need a happy for now for the main character.” (but I’d prefer a HFN for the couple). πŸ˜‰

    >>are you willing to give it some leeway

    Sasha…Even though it’s not my first choice, absolutely I’ll give leeway IF it fits the story. (Remember my fave genre is suspense where HFN often means catching a murderer, ya know? )

    I’d bet most readers would too. 😎

    Mik thanks! I stole them from Sharon!

  26. All my stories have a Happy for now for the characters… but ti doesn’t always mean it’s romantic, or as a couple. But it is a satisfying ending for them.

    I guess without giving the whole thing away I can’t say much more.. so we’ll have to wait and see. lol

  27. I need a commitment. Not necessarily wedding bells, but the idea that two people who belong together are going to stay together. They’ve been through hell already to find each other. I need to know they’re not going to wimp out now that the danger and intensity are over.

    I’m not big on the baby ending, either, unless it’s been an issue in the story. What I HATE is when the h is unable to conceive but in the epilogue a miracle happens and she’s pushing out twins. All it took was the manly man’s manly seed and everything he touches is now fertile. Bleagh.

  28. you know – the more I think of it, as long as SOMEone is getting some :woohoo: then alls the better – at least I can live vicariously!

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