I Want My HEA!


I really want a Happy Ever After (HEA) everywhere I go to be entertained  – in my reading, in my movie watching, and TV.

I know life isn’t all that happy sometimes, that’s why I want a little escapism. In the reveal shows on TV, I’ll fast forward to the new kitchen, the new bath, the new restaurant. I want to see the delight and the wonder on the participants’ faces.

I like most contestant shows because, although someone loses every week, there’s always an ultimate winner. That’s why I watch The Next Great Baker, for example.

When I read I have to be emotionally invested in the characters. When I watch TV it’s the same way. I cry when I see other people crying. I root for the person I like on cooking shows. This emotional investment is also one of the reasons I can’t get into shows like The Bachelor, for example. I don’t like the premise. Ergo, I’m not fond of the participants. I don’t care about them. Same with the Real Housewives or the Bridezilla shows. If I do watch them, I’m rolling my eyes most of the time.

But when I think I won’t be getting an HEA when I expected one, I find myself getting antsy.

Or I do what I did the other night.

I was reading the first book in a new series by an an author who’s been a little iffy to me. I loved the first book in another series he wrote. The second book ended with the hero (who, up until this point, I really liked) having three-way sex. Okay, that just turned me off. A hero, in my mind, doesn’t do that. Call me a fuddy-duddy. Call me a Southern Belle. Whatever.

In this book in the new series, there’s a succubus or an incubus, or one of the buses that comes onto the heroine, then transforms and comes onto the hero (you can gather the book is a paranormal). When the succubus is banished, it says something like, “But you like girls, too, right?” to the heroine.

After the succubus leaves, the hero turns to the heroine:

“So, it’s true that you bat for both teams?”

“Yes, I’m bisexual. Is that a problem?”

It might not be a problem for the hero, but it was a book ender for me.

NOT because the heroine was bisexual. It’s not my place to pass judgment on anyone else. But when I read, I read for an HEA.

With a bisexual character as the heroine, I know I’m not going to get my definition of an HEA. Maybe we’ll have the hero, heroine, and another woman walking into the sunset and that’s just fine if that’s what you expect and want.

Me? I want the hero and the heroine walking into the sunset alone, knowing they’ll be faithful to each other. The HEA is so important to me that it stopped me from finishing the book.

To the author’s credit, he didn’t bill the book as a paranormal romance. I guess I just thought of a book where there’s a strong male and female lead as a romantic setup.  It’s my fault for not digging deeper.

But what do YOU think?

Do you want an HEA in all aspects of your entertainment?

Is there any situation that would stop you from reading a book – knowing that you won’t get your HEA?

Or are there TV shows you won’t watch because you know they don’t end well?

30 thoughts on “I Want My HEA!”

  1. We get enough of real life in, well, real life. I read to escape, to relax, to enjoy. I want my HEA–that’s not true life. If a story has a good relationship story within it (J. D. Robb for example) while real life surrounds it, that’s fine. I do not enjoy erotic, terror, horror etc.
    All you have to do is watch or read the news to get you fill of that. There are publications enough filled with all that in every variety. Give me a good book by a talented writer with a good HEA and I’m happy.

    • I started reading the most interesting story this afternoon, Whitney. It ended in a way that I can only describe as horror. Why put that stuff in your brain?

    • Whitney, I totally agree about real life. I started reading romance when I was a social worker investigating child abuse/neglect. I wanted the escapism and the HEA.

  2. Dear Karen,

    Not that I think you are, but so what if you’re a fuddy-duddy! 😉

    I’m with you. I expect the HEA even if I know life doesn’t always work that way. Even if I know that chances are they’ll have to figure out spending style, parenting style, morals, et all by the time they’ve been together a month.

    I won’t watch the Real Wives, or Bridezilla (not anymore on the latter; never on the former) mainly because part of me can’t believe there are people who really behave that way. Like the world revolves around them.

    I think an author should be as detailed as possible in the explanations of their books. For instance, mention LGBT in your description as many times as possible. This way, we have enough warning of what the book is about, and can feel free to put it down and keep looking if we so choose.

    I’m not passing judgment on anyone. I really just want to be left alone when it comes to what I believe. People can disagree. I take offense at fill-in-the-blank parades, or what I interpret as this need to let everyone know whether I like sex with men, women, or both. I find this practice to be in your face and obnoxious. I don’t like to be defined by my sexuality…. But I digress.

    I would have, thus, been as turned off as you.

    • I have definite fuddy duddy tendencies. For example, I don’t want to read male/male romance. Not interested. Not my thing. But if Person A likes it, who am I to say they shouldn’t? I just don’t want to read it. I also don’t want to read graphic horror, or stuff written as if it’s intended to shock the reader.

      I’m kind of odd, probably, but I think there’s a compact between a writer and a reader. You see it demonstrated in blurbs, covers, and promotion – and which you alluded to. This is a romance. Here is what you’re going to get. This is a romantic suspense. This is what you’re going to get here. It doesn’t mean that books can’t cross genres or merge genres. It means that you don’t disappoint the reader. For example, you don’t kill off the main couple in the last chapter of the book. That smacks of a “gotcha” moment that the author has perpetrated. My problem with the book I read was in assuming that it was a romantic suspense. That mistake kind of makes me a little leery of self-published authors now.

      You can take the constraints of a genre and be wildly inventive within them. I’ve always compared a genre to a dance studio. Here’s this gorgeous wood floor and all these windows and mirrors and light. Dance to your heart’s content. Dance the polka or the waltz or the mazurka. Only keep your dancing within the studio. No fair dancing down the stairs and onto the street.

      In British television, they’ll sometimes kill off a main character. That’s both exciting and edgy. I never completely invest in British TV for that very reason. I’m a little aloof, watching what happens. That emotional investment is what make fanatic fans, people who genuinely don’t want a series to die, like Southland. They’ve become so invested in the characters that they want to see what happens to them. You see the same reaction in long running series.

  3. Omg I’m so glad I’m not the only one who thinks like that. HEA is my favorate part it makes me so mad when your left hanging or it just ends no walk into the sunset uggg lol I’m upset just typing about the just ends … I can’t watch the bridezilla or the real housewives shows they just make me mad and or I’m like yeah right

    • Don’t you just want to tell those guys who are marrying the Bridezillas how stupid they are? “Why aren’t you running for the hills?” The Real Housewives? Tres Tacky behavior.

  4. I totally agree with you, Karen. One reason I’m really not into reality shows is because they always manage to stir up some turmoil that makes you take sides and leads you to not liking someone you thought you liked previously. If I want irrational drama, I’ll watch or read one, better yet, I’ll just visit family. ; )
    In my reading, I’m fine with a book not having a HEA if the book I’m reading hasn’t been promoted as a romance. I have a statement in my blog’s book review policy telling authors that if they tell me their book is a romance and it turns out not to be, I will not review it on my blog. Don’t cheat me or my readers, in other words. I’ve been burned a couple of times.
    As for killing off characters I’ve become invested in – I hate it. I’m totally love the GAME OF THRONES series but I am seriously thinking of not continuing since so many of my faves have been killed off. Without that emotion to keep me attached, what’s left?

    • I totally agree with your points, Amy. The writer needs to make sure s/he agrees to keep the agreement with the reader.

      I remember once killing off a character. My editor went berserk. She asked me, “Do you want readers coming after you with torches and pitchforks?”

      I didn’t understand, then – it was my 3rd book, I think. I do understand now.

        • I still remember the lecture.

          The book was Heaven Forbids, and it was perfect to kill that one character, tying in with the theme of retribution and repentance, and all that. My editor actually screeched on the phone. She sounded like a chicken being murdered. “Are you nuts?” Needless to say, I rewrote the book. Now I can only wonder what readers would have said (after they tarred and feathered me).

  5. Margie, your post made me laugh. Your poor husband got blamed just because he is a man, that’s hilarious.
    Thank you for the laugh, I needed it.

    • I’m with Rita. But I totally understand. Ever wake up from a dream and be hacked off at the man next to you – even though he wasn’t really there?

      • Karen, I have done that!
        Glad I could give y’all a chuckle! If the Internet had been around back then, I could have posted a review and warned people away from that book and not taken it out on my husband.

  6. I do want a HEA. However, I can live with a HEA that is different from my reality. I can accept a poly-amorous HEA. By the same token, I don’t always like all HEA’s. This thread reminded of a book I read decades ago. I cannot remember the title or the author, but it was a category romance. The hero had been a POW in Vietnam and his captors had deliberately switched his dog-tags with a GI who had died so his family thought he was dead. In captivity, they had ‘forced’ him to be with a woman who then had his child. Humph. They later killed the woman and the child to punish him. Then he escapes and comes back home, but NOT to his wife. He first visits the woman who thought her husband was still MIA to tell her that he was in fact dead. Oh, and he has sex with her-to help her heal or some crapola. Then he goes home to his ‘widow’ and tells her he’s alive and expects her to drop her boyfriend and take up where they left off a decade earlier. Later he tells her about his lover and child. Later still he tells her about the other widow he stopped to sleep with on his way home to her. She forgave him=HEA. That book made me so angry, I was actually ticked off at my husband just for being a man. I walked around for days angry about it and now, years later it still makes me angry. I hated that HEA! I would have kicked him to the curb. Had I known that was coming, I would have never read that book. Sorry for the rant but I really felt cheated by that book.

    • Wow, I would have hated that book, too.

      Not a rant, but it is, I think, a perfect indication of the trust and relationship a reader has in a book/author. The author blew it with you and you feel justifiably cheated. The unspoken agreement wasn’t honored.

  7. I read romance because I want a HEA at the end. It’s pretty much a rule in romance that it has an HEA. I read erotic romance with multiple partners and I’m OK with that if everyone is happy and satisfied at the end of the story on how it all worked out in the end. I read for escape and entertainment. I don’t want to be sad or frustrated at the end of the story. I don’t want to have main characters I’ve fallen in love with killed off. I don’t care for romantic tragedy, i.e. Titanic. I also don’t read male authors in romance. They break the rules with HEA’s (Nicholas Sparks) and I haven’t found one that truly can write the emotion I’m going for. They are men after all. Thanks for giving me air time for my soap box, lol.

    • The only exceptions to the male authors would be the men who wrote Steel Magnolias and Terms of Endearment. Granted, neither of those are happy endings, but I think they portrayed women pretty accurately. In Terms of Endearment, I saw my mother’s and my relationship to a T.

      I have mentioned this before, but I never forgave Susan Isaacs for killing off a main character in the last few paragraphs of a book. I kept staring at the last page, thinking, “What just happened? What? What happened?” It was a “gotcha” moment.

  8. I agree with everything you wrote. I want my HEA or I don’t want to waste my time. I also want the hero and heroine walking into the sunset alone, I don’t read that other crap.

    • I just don’t want to be depressed, Rita. I like to be uplifted. Give me some reason to want to smile.

  9. I can accept a not so happy ending but occasionally. Sometimes it’s the tragic ending that makes a book or movie stick with me – such as Gone with the Wind, Love Story, Romeo and Juliet. etc. I wouldn’t want a steady diet of it. And I totally agree with your comment about the premise of The Bachelor – oh, please!!

  10. I don’t look for an HEA in everything that I read/watch for entertainment because, for me, that’s just not realistic. Yes, I know this is supposed to be escaping real life, but I apparently I can’t let go enough to believe/expect the HEA. Knowing I won’t get an HEA in a book won’t prevent me from reading the book, either. Sometimes, the story has to end the way it does. The only TV shows I won’t watch are the ones that when I hear about them think the money could be better spent (even though they are wildly popular). I’m a little off center, I know.

    • Not at all off center, Karen.

      I think a little angst, trauma, and despair is good in small quantities. I couldn’t stand all rainbows and roses. That would be cloying. But a steady diet of either? Um, not for me.

  11. Karen, those are my feelings, EXACTLY. I want the HEA in all my forms of entertainment. There are so many things in life that we cannot change, but we do have choices in how we are entertained. I don’t watch most reality shows; don’t read paranormal or time-travel books etc. I am not a prude and enjoy good juicy books, but when a book (which is supposed to be good) is really nothing but one sexual act after the other and has no real story line I’m done. I think we all subconsciously want to be Cinderella and find our Prince Charming (even if it’s just in our dreams.)

    • I definitely want things to be more enjoyable in my entertainment than they are in real life. That said, I’m a news junkie. But even that gets to be too much sometimes and I require a time out of several days.

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