Guestpost: Lea's & Tori's perfect HEA

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Today we are very happy to welcome two ladies here at Secret HEA society again. Tori & Lea usually blog all around the interwebs, Closetreader, DIK and Book Lovers Inc just to name some of them. Today they are here to talk about their idea of the perfect HEA. Please give them a warm welcome and share your thought with us in the comments.

Tori and I were delighted when Susi and Caro extended an invitation to travel overseas and spend a little time at the Secret HEA Society. Along with their hospitality they asked that I offer my thoughts on the Happily Ever After in romance.

I’ve blogged about this topic before and it is one I’ve personally pondered a great deal because it is ever evolving. I truly believe that it comes down to the question of what in our modern romance reading world, is a "traditional HEA"? I mean, we have humans, aliens, demons, vampires, shapeshifters including werewolves, and any number of other shifter folk, sorcerers, witches, etc. etc. Then of course there are the various sub-genres of romance that all these species, human or non fit into, contemporary, erotic, paranormal, suspense, military suspense, fantasy, m/m, historical and so on and so on.

So, what am I getting at? On more occasions than I can count I've noticed fellow romance readers responding in blog comments, readers groups etc. that they've "gotta have their HEA". I'm not saying that is bad because it isn't, at all! I mean, I look forward to a happy ending incorporated into the conclusion of my current read too. However, are we talking a "traditional" happy ending here, as in a white wedding dress and white picket fence, or as modern women and men reading a variety romance sub-genres are we more open minded regarding an HEA? I would like to think and hope the latter is true.

As an example, if we are talking about a bad boy hero or heroine who has major 'issues' that they work through over the course of a story, wouldn't a more open ended Happy For Now (HFN) seem more appropriate? Maybe the hero and heroine decide to live together or make a commitment to be monogamous and see what happens. In the case of black ops or military heroes, who live on the edge with danger and intrigue at every turn and will likely to continue this life despite finding their love match, I find it more realistic if there is a non-traditional commitment at the end of the story to be together and see how things work out. Now, I'm not saying that a white wedding dress and picket fence isn't appropriate in this type of scenario, because it certainly depends on the characters and the plot of the story. However, for me a more open ended, nontraditional ending is perfectly acceptable too.

Which brings me to paranormal beings, and I'm going to use the example of Larissa Ione's seminus demons from her Demonica series. Now these guys don't just mate, they bond, for-ever. In fact, the female takes on the same dermaglyph markings as the male when there is a blood exchange and sex during what is a physiological as well as emotional bonding ritual.In Lara Adrian's Midnight Breed Series, her alien male vampires mate for life with a unique human female breedmate who has the blood composition the male requires to sustain him. These are just a couple of examples of HEA’s and there are certainly a litany of others in the thousands of paranormal romance novels on the shelves. There quite often isn't a traditional wedding ceremony or white picket fence when you are reading paranormal romance, and it likely wouldn't fit given the dark tone and the alternate societal structures developed in the storyline. Would it?

I do think historical romance readers tend to see a more traditional HEA in that genre as it has to be kept in context with the times. Traditional marriage was the norm otherwise the woman was considered a whore and the man a hedonist. Of course the guy playing around was accepted and often expected in the good old days but that is a whole other topic, and don’t get me started. (I think in some respects that archaic attitude still prevails today. lol)

In contemporary and erotic romance I've read a number of more nontraditional types of HEA's, HFN’s or even one night stands where there is no commitment expectations whatsoever and I have been very satisfied. In fact, as I mentioned above, for me anyway, this type of conclusion added realism to the story. As a case in point in the polyamorous romance I like it when the conclusion is more open ended because I feel the lovers involved in this type of relationship dynamic would have significant issues to sort through - jealously being the major one. I guess, from my perspective anyway, I find it much more appropriate for there to be an HFN - "I love you both and we will see where this takes us", conclusion rather than a rush to the church for wedding bells (not to mention in many places in the world polygamy is not only considered taboo-it’s illegal - lol).

So what is my favorite type of HEA? As you can see from my ramblings above, I don’t have one. I like a conclusion to the love story that fits the relationship development in a compelling well-written romance, no matter what the sub-genre.

So, what are your thoughts regarding a Happily Ever After in a romance? Does it have to be wedding bells and the white picket fence, or can you handle a more open-ended relationship commitment?

Many thanks to Susi and Caro for inviting me to blog at the Secret HEA Society today. :-)


SusiSunshine said...

I agree with all you said. *hides from Caro* I'm all for the HFN when it fits the book. Some of my favorite authors mostly write those and I still get the happy happy feel at the end.

And thanks so much for coming over!

Robin S. said...

I don't necessarily need a traditional "white wedding" HEA but I want to feel like the characters have a better than average chance of being together long term. And, that if we peeked back in to their lives in a few years, they'd still be happy together and we could "catch up" like old friends.

Great blog post!

Dottie (Tink's Place) said...

Hi Lea! *pets Tori*

I more than agree with the modern take on the HEA (the white wedding syndrome as come to pass in most every instance except historicals, and as you pointed out, it is time period specific). I love a story where the HEA is found, but HFN is good too. And as for menages... I'm still trying to figure out which body parts go where... (I find it easier to read upside down....), though I more than enjoy a good menage too, lol. I have trouble seeing an HEA in menages, but whatever floats your lipstick, it just seems to me, someone would feel left out, but that's just me.

I do enjoy paranormal romances (A LOT), the hotter the better, and I'm glad that all creatures of various size, shapes, and dimensions are finding their place. The new genre are just more for me to love.

I definitely don't need wedding bells and picket fences, lol, but a relationship that works toward together is great. There will always be a place for the white wedding... I'm just glad we have other options.

Thanks for sharing!!

Dottie :)

Blodeuedd said...

Great post Lea :)

*looks suspiciously at Susi* Do I have to go and stand in Caro's HEA corner...

Lol, yes I am a big fan of traditional HEAs

anachronist said...

Great post and thoughts...HEA for me depends on the story. If the book deals with contemporary times HFN is much more logical and realistic than HEA but...what woman doesn't secretly dreams of a good solid HEA which gives you a solid-rock basis for the future? Well, maybe apart from Susi...;)

JenM said...

I just like to leave the story thinking that the couple has a realistic chance to make it. HFNs are fine and I don't need marriage. I guess I'm easily satisfied.

Menages are the one arrangement that I just can't buy. I live in a very progressive area and know lots of people in unconventional living arrangements and I've never known anyone currently or previously in a menage relationship. I don't think they actually exist in real life, or if they do, they are quite rare. Because of that, I don't believe in the HEA or HFN in those, so I don't usually read them.

Aurian said...

I usually like the HEA in a book, not necessarily meaning marriage and kids, but just being together. Most Urban Fantasy series or cozy mystery series have only a hint of romance, or need multiple books to get the personal relationship in order, which is perfectly fine with me.
But I could not stand to read a book with a bad ending. So yes, a happy/good ending is necessary for my enjoyment.

Lea said...

Hi Susi!

Thanks to you and Caro for inviting you and I.

I know you like Megan Hart's work as do I. Her books tend to have those unconventional endings often I think and I've really enjoyed her stories. :-)

Lea said...

Hi Robin!

Thanks for your excellent comment. Yes, I always like in series books when the author shares tidbits about what is happening in the lives of the hero and heroine of the previous story. It is satisfying to find out if they are enjoying that HEA! LOL

Lea said...

Hi Dottie!

Thanks for your comment. LOL re your menage description.

"a relationship that works toward together is great. That is a lovely way of explaining it and I think that is what I enjoy too whether it is that HFN or HEA sort of ending. ;)

Lea said...

Hi B:

I think standing in Caro's corner is awesome too. When it comes to romance that traditional ending is certainly wonderful in many stories too, especially in a wonderful historical story. ;)

Thanks so much!!

Lea said...

Hi Anachronist:

HEA for me depends on the story. If the book deals with contemporary times HFN is much more logical and realistic than HEA but...what woman doesn't secretly dreams of a good solid HEA which gives you a solid-rock basis for the future? Well, maybe apart from Susi...;)

LOL re Susi!

Excellent comment and as I mentioned in my ramblings I think along the same lines. I'm pretty flexible with the sort of relationship an author crafts for her hero and heroine, as long as it fits with the romance plot of the story. ;)

Thanks so much!

Lea said...

Hi Jen!

I just like to leave the story thinking that the couple has a realistic chance to make it. HFNs are fine and I don't need marriage. I guess I'm easily satisfied.

Yes, I feel the same way, I've set a book down and sighed when it's been a HFN ending but the whole story was sigh worthy and I think that is the key too. ;)

As for menage stories? Hey we all have themes that just aren't for us. Mine is heavy BDSM, as in club settings. I don't mind stories with light bondage and submission but once the whips, chains, canes and candle wax comes out I get squeamish. LOL But that's just me. ;)

Thanks so much!!

Lea said...

Hi Aurian:

But I could not stand to read a book with a bad ending. So yes, a happy/good ending is necessary for my enjoyment.

I think that is why I shy away from Nicholas Sparks novels. Someone always seems to die! :( Or, end up demented. :(( Those sorts of stories don't work for me. While I don't necessarily need a HEA as the other ladies noted a good feeling at the end is required.

Thank you!!

Mary G said...

Excellent post Lea! Just brilliant and well thought out. I love when authors are brave enough to do something different. I read a book that stayed with me for days after I finished. It was Steve's Story by Jess Dee. The heroine had a disease which gave her a short life expectancy. Jess still made it work. I agree that the HEA/HFN has to suit the story & the genre.

Lea said...

Thanks Mary!

I've not read Steve's Story but for the author to make a storyline like that it must be very well done.

Thanks again for your kind comment. :)

Nadia Lee said...

I totally agree w/ you. I don't need the wedding and everything, but I have to feel convinced that the couple has a very good chance, etc. by the time I get to the ending.

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