Romance readers expect a lot.
They expect a good story. They expect characters that can relate to, in some level, or at least like.
They expect a romance when the book is labeled as such. 😉 And some of us like to find romance subplots even when the book isn’t labeled romance.
They expect a HEA.
These are the things that every romance reader expects…and basically, it’s one they are entitled to. How the writer gets them there is up to the writer.
Have a less than HEA? It’s the writer’s job to convince the readers that this was the only HEA option viable. Before the story ends. For instance, my book Hunter’s Salvation, although it did have a HEA with the H&H ending up together, it didn’t end as some expected.
Spoiler below… highlight to read it…gives away details from the book. If you don’t want to read them… skip ahead. 😉 You’ve been warned.
The hero was a witch, he fell in love with a mortal. A gifted mortal, but mortal none the less. He was also tired-he’d lived nearly 200 years, most of it alone. He wanted normalcy. And considering the life he’d led, he deserved it. In the end, he ended up losing his magickal abilities and becoming mortal. He got to spend the rest of his life with the woman he loved. He didn’t have to keep fighting a battle that was destroying him inside, he may go on to have kids and lead the kind of life he’d always dreamed about. That was the HEA he wanted. Not for his heroine to somehow become immortal, like a vamp, or very long lived, like a shapeshifter. He would have hated it~as would she. This was their only chance at a HEA.
But this was the only option for them. Some readers didn’t like it, but I explained my rationale, throughout the story, as well as I could. That’s all I can do. I was prepared that some readers wouldn’t like it, and I’m okay with that. I wrote the story as it played out in my head, I kept my characters happy, whole and together, and I gave them their HEA.
If you’re going to throw a serious wrench into the idea of a HEA, a writer needs to be prepared to catch some flak over it. I don’t think every reader expects orange blossoms, a white picket fence and 2.2 kids on the way before the story concludes. At some point in time, that may have been the expected outcome, but the genre has evolved over time, giving a little more freedom on how to achieve the happy ending.
But there’s only so many things a writer can do, because readers want their happy ever after. That’s what is expected when you pick up a romance. When I don’t really care about the HEA, I’ll read horror, sci fi, fantasy,
literature… okay, scratch that, I won’t read lit. It just bores me. But you all get the point.
The bottom line is when I read a romance, I want a happy ever after, or at least the promise of it. Is there a romance reader out there who doesn’t expect that?
BTW…make sure you check out the BOMContest for November!