Evangeline Holland

Sweeping Drama ⚜ Larger than Life History ⚜ Exquisite Romance ⚜ Diverse Perspectives
May 21st, 2013 by Evangeline Holland

What Is The HEA?

Does it assure readers that the h/h end up together till death do them part, they’ll have lots of babies, and are never poor?

Or is it a promise that no matter what life throws at them, they will remain deeply in love with one another?

In my WWI series, many of my protagonists can’t “waltz off into the sunset” at the end of the book–one has to return to the Front, one is a POW, another is a spy, and still another nurses on the front lines. In my head, I see each book as an episode in a TV mini-series like Downton or Upstairs Downstairs, where everyone weaves in and out of the main narrative, and the storyline of each h/h continues after their book. But does this toy with the concept of the HEA? Does this move my series into HFN territory despite each couple being in love for good (and don’t worry, I’m not killing anyone off!)?

I’m definitely pondering this as I look at the ending of book 2 in All That We Had, We Gave, since there are legal impediments to the traditional HEA.

What do you think about the HEA? Some gripe that it limits the romance genre entirely–I disagree–but is the expectation of what it specifically entails limiting? Would you find an ending where the hero or heroine must leave their significant other at the close of the book emotionally satisfying?


6 Responses to “What Is The HEA?”
  1. For me, the HEA means that the hero and heroine have each other, are exclusively committed to each other, and they’ll take whatever comes at them as a team. There may be babies, there may not be babies. They may be wealthy or lose everything but each other.

    Since I write and read historical, we know that these couples aren’t going to live in Utopia. There will be wars, diseases, diasters, etc, but neither hero nor heroine would be facing them alone.

    I have read and liked stories where a hero or heroine must leave their beloved, but don’t count those as genre romance; Remains of the Day, for example. Still a great story, but not a genre romance.

  2. pamela1740 says

    Since I enjoy reading series, I am sometimes OK with HFN, and following the h/h through multiple stages of happy for now, or happy enough… but it has to be emotionally satisfying and transport me, or it’s too ambiguous, like real life! I don’t like cliffhangers, though, and I get cranky when a novel ends with partial resolution but many unanswered questions which are obvious teasers for the next book. So it must be tricky as a writer to get that balance right — and I think the romance genre has seen a lot of creativity around this tension between having each book in a series stand alone as the story of one couple and having a set of books with multiple overlapping couples and storylines in the manner of, say, the Outlander series, or the more recent J.R. Ward novels, which some fans didn’t like because the central romance became less prominent and the story arc was broader, with multiple HFNs.

  3. pamela1740 says

    A second comment – first I just had to respond to your post about HEAs and genre! But I am back, and you may not thank me for it… If you want to play, you’re on my list of “nominees” for blog kudos known as the Liebster blog award…. information and other shenanigans here: http://badassromance.com/2013/05/25/a-blog-award-for-badass-romance/
    Congratulations!?! I think?

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