Romance Novels: To Happy Ending or Not to Happy Ending?
Last week, Book Riot posed the question: Should romance novels always have happy endings? I shared the link to the Romance genre forum for discussion among the alumni and current students of the Writing Popular Fiction program at my grad school, Seton Hill University.
Book Riot directs the conversation this way:
As a romance reader who has been reading the genre for more than a decade now, I honestly feel a little conflicted about books that are labeled “romance” but lack a happy ending for the main couple. I’m sure non-HEA romances existed before the last couple years, but I think the existence of social media has definitely put a spotlight on things that people are upset about. . . .
Most of the time, these endings are not indicated in any way by the jacket copy, which is fair. You don’t want to read a description of the book and have the ending ruined by an, “Oh, by the way, everyone dies at the end.” But when readers come to expect a certain ending, it almost feels a little bit like betrayal. . . .
There’s this unspoken contract between a romance author and a reader, this element of trust. We know that this authors may put us through an emotional wringer, but we know that it’ll all work out in the end . . .
So where is the line? And can a romance without a happy ending still be considered a romance? Do books that bend or break the standard conventions of a genre automatically become something else?
What do you think? Does a book that’s labeled/marketed as “romance” need to have a happy ending?
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