While speaking with quite a few authors recently the topic of romance and what defines romance has come up multiple times. I feel like I’m getting beat over the head with the concept “Romance MUST have an HEA.” In fact I’m pretty sure I have bruises from the blundegoning this particular vehemency has left on me. Despite trying to beat this into me – I still don’t get it.
Why does romance REQUIRE a happy ending?
I read a lot in a wide variety of genres so I understand the difference between romantic elements and romance. In fact I would wager that a great many books within the m/m genre are other genres with romantic elements. The fact remains that m/m is still synonymous with erotic romance even if the books within are actually much more broad. And while the happy ending – or even happy for now ending – are by far the most common, they are still books without happy endings.
Now before I hear from everyone that they prefer happy endings, let me state that I, too, like happy endings. If I’m going to read through all the suffering, emotional torture, hand wringing, horrible miscommunications, and so on then I want them to work out in the end and I can pretend that tru wuv exists.
That’s not really the point of this post though. Yes, readers want happy endings. I get it. That said, why does a book REQUIRE a happy ending? That is what I’m getting at because I don’t think it should be a necessity.
To me a romance story is defined by the relationship between two or more people that dominates the story and pushes the plot forward. Without the relationship, there would be no story. By this definition there are numerous m/m books that would exist quite well without the romantic elements. They definitely enhance the story in many ways but the main plot and drive would exist without the romantic relationship. In fact many stories also include a happy for now between a couple that you just know is never going to work out, despite how much you may want them to.
So I ask again – is the happy ending a deal breaker?
Does it have to be there in romance books when so much of “romance” goes beyond the scope of the genre?
While we all may like happy endings, is it a requirement before you read a book that contains a relationship? Explain please!