Happily Ever After

The Rebel Cowboy's Quadruplets by Tina Leonard Harlequin American Romance

In recent years romantic fiction has finally woken up to the fact one particular (husband, 2.5, dog, picket fence) version of a happy ending is not a happy ending for everyone, and that it shouldn’t be the same for every character in every book.

Some authors give their heroes and heroines in their series different HEAs. Others make them all live by their own personal idea of how life is “supposed” to be. My favourite authors are those who give their characters the babylogue only if it suits both characters and plot. So, while I expect to see it in historical romances, I certainly expect contemporary characters to give their options serious thought before diving in.

I know some readers don’t understand why not every book ends with the (too often painfully sugary for me!) babylogue these days. A romance isn’t complete unless they have children by the end! one woman complained – a woman who admitted she’d got pregnant on her wedding night and didn’t consider herself “married” until the children arrived.

Holy hell, what if they have children a few years later and take some time to travel and sort out a mortgage first! Why can’t books finish with a promise of the 2.5 and picket fence future instead of cramming it all in the first year the couple is together!

Recently a popular author was posting this image all over social media:

 Instagram Lisa Wingate

Aw. How true. People were saying. That’s exactly how I feel about it.

Firstly, I was a little offended. I thought we were living in an age where women weren’t raised to believe they HAD to have the perfect, loving husband and a couple of perfect kids in order for their life to have worth.

More than that, I thought the romance genre had evolved to the point authors and readers believed that, too! Now, I know your romance is going to be a bit of a disaster if you don’t have your heroine end up with her hero, but I thought the image of life’s worth coming from childrearing, and this image working as an advertisement for the romance genre, was a little bit narrow-minded.

Some romance series tend to feel samey after a few books because everyone ends up with the same happy ending. You have entire series (and some of these are series I otherwise enjoy) where women who had no plans for children all suddenly give up their careers to raise a brood.

A couple of my favourite authors, Robyn Carr and Pamela Clare, are very guilty of this. I have other favourites who don’t impregnate their heroines once every series instalment, and who write heroines much more likely to continue pursuing their other dreams, children or no children.

This works much, much better for me.

All that maternal stuff? It never happened to me. Most people I know have children. Some have four. I have never seen the appeal, never will, and I know I don’t need gorgeous little be-ringleted twins to complete my happy ending.

I hope romance writing keeps taking chances and recognising women aren’t the Borg, and don’t all want, believe and do the same things. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

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