Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Cheesy endings...

A long time ago, my oldest sister (who is also a romance fan) read the third book I'd ever written (not one that will probably ever be published) and said she loved it except one thing.  The hero had really messed up with the heroine and while he'd promised never to make the same mistake again, my sister wanted to see him faced with a similar circumstance and this time make the right choice so she could believe in their HEA.  I'll never forget her words, or what I gleaned from them.  When a hero or heroine fails a test, for full redemption and a believable HEA, s/he needs to face the test again in some way and succeed.  Not every author gives this, but it's something I try to do in my stories.
It is also something that can really bother me when it doesn't happen in a story I'm reading.  Not always.  But sometimes.  I remember a book where the hero called the heroine a slut throughout the book and only came to his senses as she was near death.  He never proved he could face a similar set of circumstances and believe in her and I literally threw the book against the wall.
But what about the ending that isn't a full-on HEA?  The one in which the hero and heroine are in love and even maybe going to get married at the end, but circumstances prevent them from being together full-time?
Or the book that ends with the h/h starting a new life together as strangers (the soul-mate in different lives thing)?
Or the ending where the truly jerky hero never actually apologizes, but expects the heroine to understand his explanation sans apology?
None of these types of endings have ever worked for me in the myriad forms I've read them in.  And lately I've read some books by authors I'd been really eager to read and found their endings so disappointing that I doubt I'll give these authors another chance.  I want a solid HEA, but maybe I'm not representative of most readers.
What works for you?  What doesn't?  And book titles, no names (of any kind) and don't be so specific that we can't help knowing what the book is.  Believe it or not, the examples I give above have been in way more than one book I've read and therefore I'm not really worried about anyone knowing exactly which books I'm talking about.  Please respect my desire to keep my blog author friendly at all times. :)
But please share... :)


Jennifer L hart said...

I know what you are talking about Lucy, I too am a fan of what I dub the Scooby doo finish. The good guys catch the bad guts, the h/h combat all the obsticals and live happily ever after.

I have read so many books, especially ones required for school, where the main characters suffer to the bitter end with no reprieve. Honestly, real life has enough of that kind of pain, I don't need to seek it out in the books I choose for entertainment, or the ones I write.

Holly said...

I, too, know what you're talking about. I can't stand reading a book where the h/h don't have a full on HEA at the end.

It bothers me a lot, just like your sister, when the hero doesn't prove he's changed. He can profess his undying love all he wants, but saying the words and proving you mean them are two entirely different things.

I read a book a few years ago where the hero accused the woman of promiscuous behavior throughout the book. At the end, he walked in on her with several other men in the room and didn't bat an eye, something he never would have done in the past. I think that, more than anything else, made up for his past behavior.

I don't like books where the h/h are separated for years before they get their HEA, either. Not through the book (because some of my favorite types of stories are the "one that got away" type) but at the end. Example: When the last chapter ends with them apart and then there's a prologue set several years later where they finally reunite. Because more often than not, the story was filled with drama anyway...why make them separate for years, too?

Just my thoughts. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but I dislike endings like those for the most part.

Maura said...

I have to chime in on the really wanting a HEA. I want that closure. I want in my own mind to know they've come through it all, prevailed and are living on in happiness.

I don't like jerk heroes who are practically verbally abusive and suddenly turn sweet yet the heroine doesn't punch their lights out anyway. I want to see them change AND grovel!

I may be one of the minority of people who will, in general, not read series books where the HEA is put in jeopardy again. Once I get a HEA, I want to keep it, not struggle for it again and again.

Stacy~ said...

Yeah, I know where you're coming from on this. HEA is extremely important in the books I read. They don't have to be married or on their way to the church, but a commitment is necessary, otherwise I feel cheated.

One thing that's been driving me crazy is when there's great conflict, but it's resolved too quickly or too conveniently. It really bothers me because then I'm wondering what the heck just happened. Why was this such an issue if it could be resolved so quickly. I want the payoff to be as rich as the conflict. Don't wimp out on me, people!

The other aggravations were mentioned here, with the disrepect from the hero/heroine that is forgiven too easily. I don't want to read about a doormat - I want to read about strong, passionate people who respect themselves as well as their soulmate.

Miki said...

I haven't read TOO many (in this decade any way) where the hero was a complete jerk for the entire book, then suddenly, it was L-L-O-O-V-V-E-E. Seemed big in the 80s, early 90s.

I want the HEA, but I also want it to be appropriate to the story. Short stories and novellas with "I'll-love-you-forever" endings, even though the h/h hardly no each other, drive me crazy! I wrote to compliment an author who'd written a novella in which the couple decided they "had something" and would continue dating at the end of it. For the length of the story, it was perfect.

I'm also with Maura - I don't want a series of books to put a couple's relationship in peril book after book, either. I love JD Robb's series with Eve and Roarke's evolving relationship. I even enjoy the inevitable bumps in the road. But the books that try to put you through an emotional "will-they-stay-together-or-not" wringer in every book? No thanks!

Brandy said...

I also must have a HEA in a book. I need to feel that the story is complete. However the futuristic series mentioned is the only on-going couple who continue to have a HEA in each book that still feels fresh. As for the heros who constanly bully the heroine the entire book..., if it stays the same through-out half, I am likely to put it down. If the tone has changed, then I give through the end.

Danica said...

I love love your sister's advice. I'm going to remember that! In fact, now I know why this book I STILL haven't submitted hasn't sat right with me. Oooh! Off to write, my friend, off to write!

Lucy Monroe said...

Jennifer...I love the term "Scooby Doo finish"! That's exactly what I mean...I want it all wrapped up nice and tight.

Holly...I know what book you are talking about and I loved it for the same reason! As for the long separation before the, I don't like that either. Of course there are authors that can make anything work, but I'll be honest...chances are I won't be reading them if this is the direction they take their stories.

Maura...I know what you mean. I actually love series, but I have to know that the characters who have achieved their HEA before are going to stay together and safe, even if the world around them is blowing up. That's one of the things I love the most about Lora Leigh's Breeds and Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunters. The sense of immediate danger is there in every book, but you believe that the couples who have found their HEA are going to stay that way.

Stacy...I so hear you! When there is a build up and then a let down, it's worse than a backed up sneeze. LOL I almost did that with WVOR - not on purpose but because of word count restrictions. My editor said, "fix it" and gave me permission to go over word count if I needed to. Thankfully. :)

Miki...actually that ending (even in a novella) usually does not work for me, but I'm glad it works for you. I guess because my dh and I fell in love and got engaged and then married so quickly and have had a fantastic marriage and are deeply in love after almost 18 years, I have no problem buying into the full HEA on a novella...when it's believably written. How neat that you wrote the author you liked that ending though...I love reader letters and I know most other authors do too. It just means so much to hear the stuff you work so hard to get across actually made it into someone else's heart. :)

Brandy...I'm a book skimmer. If the story goes on in that fashion, I skim to the end.

Danica...KT is one smart cookie. She knows what she likes to read and how to articulate that. It's an invaluable gift to me as a writer. :)

Thanks everyone for sharing!

Lucy Monroe said...

P.S. I meant to mention that it's perfectly okay to name authors or books you love. :) I just don't every want anything even resembling author or book bashing on my blog or website.

This discussion is really helpful to me as an author because I like hearing what works and what doesn't work for readers. That kind of stuff gets filed the same place as my sister's comments and will influence my subconscious as I write future books. This is a good thing and valuable. This is positive.

Ragging on someone or a particular book is not...which is a blog for another day. :)

Vivi Anna said...

I don't need a HEA. I want a happily for now...I dont' need the hero/heroine to say I love you and want to be with your for the rest of my life..I just need them to want to try.

But in romance I think you MUST have either, or it isn't romance. It coudl be woman's fiction with a romantic element.

Lucy Monroe said...

Hey, Vivi :) I get what you are saying, I really do...and I think for me, that ending can work if I get the sense they are *really* going to try. I'm not as fond of, "Let's see where this leads," as I am, "I think this is leading someplace special." LOL But like I said before, some authors can make pretty much anything work. :) And I think that there is a whole chunk of readers out there like you and Miki who find the "let's try" ending more enjoyable in certain circumstances. Those readers need to books that touch their hearts as much as I need books that touch my own. :) Don't ya think?

lidia said...

Wow! I just found this discussion. So many of you touched on points that are "hot buttons" for me.

I don't mind if a H misjudged a h initially -- because based on what he knew at the given time it was an "honest" mistake. However, I cannot believe a HEA if the H mistreats (emotionally NEVER physically) the h throughout the book and in the last few pages apologizes and everything is OK -- not very realistic.

Books that have the h accepting the blame for all of the problems the couple faced annoy me. The h ends up being a doormat -- I don't see how that type of relationship will ever last.

I do love ALPHA males. However, there is a HUGE difference between being a true ALPHA whose actions are based on true beliefs and a real BULLY.

Long separations in books can be very tricky for the authors. One the one hand, if a married couple is separated for five years, it is highly unlikely that the H remained celibate. Makes me wonder what kind of man he is that he didn't file for divorce, do something, instead of staying married and being unfaithful. Ususally I am dissatisfied with the book, how the issues are resolved and wish that the h would go her merry way and find someone more deserving.

What probably distresses me the most is reading a book by a favorite author that manages to push my "hot buttons." I wonder if the books is a "fluke" or if the author is turning in a new direction.

Great discussion!

Lucy Monroe said...

Lidia...the thing that is hard to discern is that of course, when a fave author presses a hot button, she could be doing either. Fluking or changing and you really can't know which until you've read another book or two by her. I've been fluked a few times and also have had some authors move off my autobuy list - not because they aren't still writing really good books, but because those books are really good for someone else. :)