Let’s Talk Bookish: Romances and Happy Ever Afters

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme created by Rukky @Eternity Books and hosted by Aria @Book Nook Bits, and it’s where we get to discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts! If you want to join in the bookish discussion fun, check out the July 2022 prompts!

Now without further ado… The topic asks us about:

Should all Romances have Happily Ever Afters (HEAs)?

(SUGGESTED BY DEDRA @ A BOOK WANDERER)
Prompts: Do you like romances with happy endings? Do you think that all romances should have happy endings? Why or why not? What are some of your favourite romances with Happily Ever Afters?

ROMANCES AND HAPPY EVER AFTERS

My romance-loving era really took off last year when I went into a bit of a slump and struggled to get out of it until romances came to my rescue and pulled me out of what felt like an eternal funk. Readers, I fell in love! And ever since then I’ve been consistently reading romances because who doesn’t love a heartwarming, swoony (and steamy) escapist read that gives you a happy ever after (HEA) or happy for now (HFN) ending? Especially when, on most days, the world seems to be entirely going to shit. Long story short: yes, I love my romances with happy endings and I wouldn’t expect anything else if I decide to pick a romance up.

What is romance without a hea/hfn ending?

It’s not a romance, that’s what! 😂

I’ve seen this topic crop up repeatedly on Book Twitter over the last few months alone and I feel like it’s a topic that makes rounds every so often but there seems to be a definitive consensus from romance writers and readers alike that any book which is categorised under the romance genre must have a happy ending. Whether it’s a HEA or HFN ending doesn’t matter as long as it has a satisfyingly happy or optimistic ending because that’s one of the rules of the genre.

When you pick up any book of a certain genre, you expect certain things from it. For example, you wouldn’t pick up a thriller and assume that the mystery won’t be solved at the end of it, right? It’s something that’s guaranteed to happen—the detective doesn’t just shrug it off and say they give up on finding the culprit at the end. Similarly, if I pick up a book that’s categorised as a romance, I’m 100% going into it assuming the couple will be happily together at the end and I definitely wouldn’t consider it a spoiler because it’s something that I’m expecting to happen. I’d honestly only be upset if that’s not how the story goes! 😂

That’s not to say that all romance needs to be happy, fun, and fluffy—romance doesn’t automatically equal rom-com or constant swoony sweetness. Romances cover serious topics too—ex., if the H/h have personal struggles or heartbreaking pasts they need to address or overcome to be together but as long as the romance is central and the ending is happy, whether forever or for now, then I would still consider it a romance per the rules of the genre. An author can write a book with a romance as the main plot or as the subplot but if it doesn’t have a happy ending I wouldn’t call it a romance—it’s a love story and it can be romantic but not a romance.

a few romance favourites

Thankfully, all the romances that I’ve read have delivered on the HEAs/HFNs that I expected. Here’s a very tiny taste of the books I’ve loved and they all have that guaranteed happy ending, even if the stories get a bit more serious at times and the angst takes us for a ride! 😉

Did you set any bookish/blogging goals this year? How much progress have you made with your goals? Are you happy with your progress or do you still have a long way to go? Any new goals to add to your list? You got this, friends! 💜

32 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Bookish: Romances and Happy Ever Afters

  1. I do usually like when romances have happily ever afters, because, duh, we want everyone to be happy after 😅 Though I will admit there have been some good books where the romance between the characters was great for the most part, but there’s a sad ending or they just don’t end up together in the end. I guess it depends on the story, the romance, characters, and how epic their love was that makes a good romance book… not necessarily how it ends (at least, that’s how I look at it).

    But I do prefer the happy endings 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think what makes romance great to me is that happy ending and the “predictability” of yes, that happy ending will occur because that’s why I’m reading this book! I’ve read stories that have a lot of romance in it and that have a tragic or sad ending but I personally don’t categorise those as part of the romance genre simply because one of the rules of the genre is that there’s a happy ending. I think I’d consider those books love stories or fiction with romance. Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂

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  2. I love this and I agree! Part of what I love about romances is that I know that there is going to be a happy ending. I pick them up when I need comfort for that reason! And it makes me so excited that Sing Anyway is one of your favourites because I have been wanting to read it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, exactly! If I don’t get that HEA/HFN I’ll definitely be disappointed! What’s the point in a romance? Maybe it’s not realistic IRL but there’s so much about how romances flow that’s not gonna happen IRL anyway? 😂 It’s comforting to me knowing how a book will end and that it will be happy cos I’m all for that escape! I hope you enjoy Sing Anyway, Kristin—it’s such a sweet, soft romance that gave me all the feels! 🥰

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  3. Yes! Your analogy with mystery books is spot on. We expect the mystery to be solved in the same way we expect the HEA with a romance [Note – I give space to the when in the case of series]. I have heard the argument (and agree with) there being a distinction between a love story and a genre romance. A love story doesn’t require that HEA (ex – the book Love Story — all the tears), but there is a still a beautiful love story contained therein. And don’t even get me started on “rom-coms”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I definitely agree! If it’s a romance series focusing on one couple throughout the whole series then I don’t expect that HEA/HFN in the first book. And I agree with you about there being a difference between a love story and romance, and it does make me think of Segal’s Love Story cos that was definitely romantic but definitely not (imho) a freaking romance cos it was so heartbreaking. Lol, I think we all feel the same about the ‘rom-coms’ 😂

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  4. You said this beautifully! This shouldn’t be a debate at all. A book isn’t a romance novel without an HEA/HFN. If it doesn’t have that, it’s just a love story in some other genre. And the whole rom-com thing is annoying. Publishers have messed that one up with their poor marketing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Deanna! I also don’t think this should be a debate because it’s literally the rule of the genre and if you disregard the rule, then literally anything can be considered a romance. The rom-com thing I feel is something else entirely but I agree that it is freaking annoying! Definitely poor marketing and just latching on to terms that they think will make readers happy, not realising that it makes readers irritated cos they’re not getting what they’re told they would be. It’s like, why? 🙄😂

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  5. Aw, i love romance genre because it also always manages to get me out of a reading slump if nothing else helps. As for the happy endings in romances i agree that it’s a pre-requisition; a rule of the genre otherwise what’s the point. If a romance doesn’t have a happy ending, it’s a drama then! Besides, i believe that in romance the ending plays a second role but the conflict – the path characters endure in order to find love, that is what really keeps a reader reading a romance book.

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    • I’m glad you agree! Just like you said, what’s the point of the rule of the genre is disregarded? Then anything could be considered a romance if they deem that it has enough romance to be considered one, which again, defeats the purpose of being a genre rule. And I like what you wrote about the HEA/HFN being secondary to the conflict because that’s a really good point! Yes, all romances have that happy ending which does make it predictable but it’s what the characters go through before that which shakes things up and keeps it interesting! 😍

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  6. So funny, Dini, because the reason you love romances is the reason I hate romances. xD I don’t want everything wrapped neatly in a bow! People don’t always get to live happily ever after! I definitely agree that if it’s going to specifically be branded as a romance, though, that’s sort of an expectation of the genre. I’m not sure a romance would work as well if there weren’t some sort of happily ever after in the end, because that would sort of miss the point of the romance genre. xD

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    • Haha, I know life doesn’t always give the HEA but I think that’s probably one of my favourite things about romance. I mean, I feel like a lot of the things that happen in romance aren’t entirely realistic (maybe that’s just the cynic in me) cos yeah, things don’t work out that perfectly but I think that’s part of why I read romance. It’s just a comfort to know that things will be happy and the couple you’re rooting for get that HEA/HFN moment they deserve? 😂 But I mean, at the end of the day, if one of the rules of the genre is that the story has that happy/satisfying/optimistic ending, then it makes sense that a book without that isn’t a romance. Like you said, it’d miss the point of the genre! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I responded to your comment on my post so I won’t bash you over the head with it again 😂, but I whole-heartedly disagree. It’s about quantity for me. If the majority of the book is a romance, mystery, horror, etc., it belongs in that category, no matter the ending. I think the “rules of the genre” were created by readers and publishers and are meant to be broken. Haha! I think predictability makes genres stagnant and sometimes it’s good to shake things up. I do love my happy endings, I just don’t require them. I’ve enjoyed getting everyone’s thoughts, though, and I now at least understand them better. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, fair enough. I mean, I personally read romances for that HEA/HFN so that predictability factor is something that brings me comfort because that’s what I’m looking for. If I’m not looking for that happy ending, I won’t read a romance 🙂 It’s interesting to see how people see it though and thanks for suggesting a great discussion topic!

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  8. Absolutely agree! It doesn’t have to be an all out perfect, happy, tie-it-with-a-bow ending but it needs to be something! I pick romances when I’m feeling stuck or down because I know they will give me a pick me up!! Great post. You will be happy to know that I’m starting this meme this week!!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I mean, thankfully it hasn’t happened to me yet when I’ve picked up a book that’s categorised as a romance but I’d be so annoyed if it does happen. I read romance for that HEA/HFN and if I didn’t want that then I’d pick something else!

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  9. While I think that there’s room for different kinds of HEA and HFNs in romance, I totally agree – there has to be at least something *close* to that for a book to be considered a romance! It’s a key expectation of the genre and if I see a book that doesn’t meet it, I’m just skeptical about how much the publisher/author really knows about the genre.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree that there are different kinds of HEA/HFNs but if a book is categorised in the romance genre, I’d expect that element to still be present otherwise, I’d wonder if it’s just a gimmick to get the book attention because the author/publisher knows what readers want to see. Ngl, it’d probably put me off reading the book 😕

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  10. I didn’t get time to post on this one but I am one of the strange breed who can enjoy a live story/romance without a HEA.
    The Ribbon Duet by Pepper Winters has a heartbreaking ending but it also features one of my very favourite romances too.
    I love dark romance too and you can have a relationship where they are content and together but a HEA wouldn’t ring true without massively altering (usually) the antihero.
    I do believe that any romance without the classic HEA/HFN should clue readers in to that fact as most ARE looking for that perfect ending

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