Tuesday, December 15, 2009
The menz, Tori and I are lined up in a row along the beach watching Mitch surf this morning and I got to pondering about the HEA's in the romances I've been reading lately. Many of them have been quite non-traditional but that has been a good thing because the ending has suited the context of the story. I asked my heroes if they felt the HEA in a romance novel had to be traditional versus a more open ended type of conclusion to the story (I mean, they are after all, heroes) and I got a number of very weird looks.
"You know, the 'Happily Ever After', for the heroine and hero in a romance that comes at the end after plenty of sexual tension, conflict and hopefully interesting plot," I clarified.
"Oh, you mean bonding." Eidolon responds.
"No, she's talking about marriage." Nicholai pipes up rolling his eyes.
And, herein lies the crux of the question. What, in this modern 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, on 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 climax of my current read too. However, are we talking a "traditional" happy ending here, as in white wedding dress and white picket fence? Or, as modern women/men reading a variety romance sub-genres are we more open minded with respect to the HEA, particularly when it is a riveting well-written story?
I would like to think and hope the latter is true. When you are talking about a bad boy hero or heroine who has major 'issues' that they work through over the course of the story, hopefully with the help of their partner, for example, wouldn't a more open ended type of HEA seem more appropriate? As in 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 a life of danger and intrigue and are likely to continue this life despite finding their love match, I find it more realistic if they have a non traditional commitment at the end of the story to be together and see how things work out.
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 they exchange blood and are intimate 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 they require to sustain them. These are just a couple of examples and there are certainly a litany of others in the thousands of romance novels on the shelves of HEA's in the paranormal sub-genre. 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 when you live in dark places because sun exposure will turn you to dust. Would it?
I do think historical and contemporary romance readers like to see a more traditional HEA in their reading. Certainly with respect to historical romance, the HEA has to be kept in context with the times and marriage was expected. However, in contemporary and erotic romance I've read a number of more open ended types of HEA's that have left me very satisfied. Particularly with polyamorous relationships or again when one of the partners is working through some traumatic life issues that don't resolve overnight. I guess, from my perspective anyway, I find it much more appropriate for there to be an "I love you and we will see where this takes us", at the end of the novel rather than a rush to the church for wedding bells in this type of a situation.
So, what are your thoughts with respect to the HEA 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 depending on the story?
Tomorrow is my last day on the island until the New Year, and I'm looking forward to another holiday luau tonight to celebrate. Wow, 2010 is almost here, and tomorrow I'm chatting about New Year reading resolutions. :)