H for Happily Ever After #AtoZChallenge

Pen-and-Kink-H-button-001Happily ever after first began as a stock phrase in modernized fairy tales signifying a happy ending. I specify modernized because the original Little Mermaid and several other tales were not happy endings. Modern culture watered down many popular fairy tales to make them more palatable and easier to swallow. The Brothers Grimm spun some rather gruesome and deliciously dark tales that to this day creep me out.

Modern fairy tales, particularly the Disney-esque ones that are popular, all have a happy ending. Of course, the characters do go through a lot of trials and tribulations to actually GET to that ending. It’s not very satisfying if everything comes up roses for a character. Viewers like conflict and angst, the more of it, the better.

Romance novels are a lot like that. For a story to fall under the category of romance, one of the stipulations is that a happily ever after (or happy for now) ending must occur. Some of the most satisfying romances that I’ve read are when the characters are put through the wringer. Anything worth having is worth fighting for, and I believe that real love is worth fighting tooth and nail for. I do not, however, enjoy a HEA where the characters are stupid. I want the characters to LEARN from their mistakes. Doing the same things over and over and expecting the same result is not learning or growing.

While I do enjoy a good romance and a happy ending, sometimes I just want to read something darker. I’ve read books where I was so angry that the heroine’s boyfriend was killed off. I’ve cried when characters I adored didn’t end up with who I just KNEW was their soul mate. Where would the literary world be if everything was only about happy endings and riding off into the sunset? Readers need substance and variance, at least in my opinion.

Do you enjoy happy ever afters? Or do you reach out for the darker stories? Is there a combination of both out there? I would love to know your thoughts on happy endings.

Author: Molly Hammerman

Molly lives with her head in the clouds in Georgia. With an understanding husband who knows when to leave her be when she's in the 'zone'. She likes to explore the dark but sweet side of erotica. She loves to explore and try new things, both on paper and in the bedroom.

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13 Comments

  1. HEAs have their place, of course, but after years of reading same old, same old it’s gotten to the point where my suspension of disbelief is stretched to the breaking in an author’s effort to put “obstacles” between two people who get it on by page two, then get separated for 200 pages, and then…

    Well, I prefer the darker side, where all the struggle in the world doesn’t necessarily get you to the altar, or if it does, it might not be what you expected.

    Maybe I should give the Brothers Grimm another read?

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    • There are certainly some very dark tales from the Brothers Grimm. Another interesting note-the original ending to the Little Mermaid from Hans Christian Andersen has her dying (dissolving into sea foam). She didn’t get a happy ending in that tale. It was adjusted later because people didn’t take to it. At least, that’s what I remember from earlier research.

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  2. Happy endings are a must for me. I want to put the book down feeling fulfilled and content. That is not to say there can’t be death, drama, or bad stuff, just as long as everything gets resolved in a positive way, I’m happy.

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    • I love happy endings too. 🙂 They’re not necessary for me, though.
      Thanks for visiting and commenting, Joanne!

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  3. I sometimes hate that today’s romance has to have an HEA in order to be classified romance. I don’t always need everything wrapped up in a neat little package. I’m trying something in my new book (and it’ll probably get me in trouble): I let the main characters in that particular book (the third in the series) have their HEA, but one of the two characters who are foundational to the whole series will have a problem that leads to a cliffhanger at the end of the book. My thought was that, for those like me who don’t have to have an HEA to be happy, it would, as you said, give them some variance. I’m curious to see how it’s received, but it’s my solution to the combination you suggested. Sometimes I think we’ve watched too many “season finales” on TV! Thanks for the great “H,” Molly.

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    • Who*ee, Deandra. Good luck with that. I had a couple of recurring characters in book 2 of my Crow Creek series hit a real rough patch, causing them to split. The MCs had a sort of HEA, but apparently that wasn’t good enough.
      I was tar-and-feathered, in a virtual sense. Some readers had gotten so invested in those two characters, they couldn’t bear dealing with real life problems cropping up.
      I’m learning to wear a suit of armor over the rhino hide 🙂

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      • I remember that, Nya. I love the Crow Creek series, and it’s written superbly.

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      • I’m in the same boat. The two MCs in my first series (which is nearing its conclusion) are currently in a rough patch (that’s putting it mildly! One of them has another love interest at present …). I have some readers cursing me for tearing them apart, and one of my BETA readers is about ready to beat me with a shovel unless I deliver an HEA pretty damn quick!

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    • Thanks, Deanndra! 🙂 This was fun to write.
      Variety is the spice of life! I look forward to reading your book. A good cliffhanger, while groan inducing, just makes me salivate more for the next book (or show).

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  4. I LOVE my happily ever afters. I just love the hope they leave you with. That warm fuzzy 🙂 But I love dark romances as well that are twisted and broken and not your conventional “romance”.

    One hea but not all the way I just loved was Tymber Dalton’s The Reluctant Dom. It’s a menage of sorts where the hero is dying (not spoilerish since that’s the plot of the book) and the mission for him is to have his best friend fall in love with his wife and take care of her after he dies. It was…a hard read. And there’s a HEA for the couple just not all three of them. I sobbed over that book for day! Still get teary eyed a year later. Whew!

    Happy A to Z-ing!
    ~Anna
    herding cats & burning soup.

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    • I have to check that one out, Anna. That sounds so GOOD.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting!

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  5. Great post! HEA definitely have their place, though I don’t require one to enjoy a book. Some of my favorites are rather bittersweet. But some conflicts are so terrible or intense that the story needs a nice HEA to balance it out.

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    • Totally agree, Rainy! I think that’s why I love HEA so much, especially in a darker story. It’s not always about golden apples. 😉

      Thanks for visiting and commenting!

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