Saturday, November 03, 2007

Don't Mess with My HEA

I took Drama Queen, two of her cousins and my mom to see Disney Princesses on Ice last night. We had quite the adventure getting there. Driving downtown - *in the dark* - is not my favorite thing to do and since I took my mom, we had to take her car as it's fitted for the scooter she rides. (I never minded pushing the wheelchair, but she likes the independence.) Anyway, so her car does not have a GPS and true to form, I took a couple of wrong turns and ended up driving through a pretty rough part of the city. Did I mention this was AT NIGHT? Yeah, lots of fun. I got turned around in the parking garage too, but that's another story. Fact is, we made it. In one piece, or five people as the case may be.

And the show was awesome! Beautiful skating, amazing pageantry, lots of glitter and humor and happy endings for all involved. It got me thinking about what is absolutely necessary for me in a romance. And that is the HEA. I call 'em happy beginnings, 'cuz it takes work to keep that happiness and love alive, but I assume the romance protagonists I read about are going to do that. Right? That's why they're *in* romance for me.

About a year and a half ago, I read two books in a trilogy. The second book overturned the happy ending for one of the couples, leaving the most giving and heroic guy without a mate or pretty much any hope at the end of Book 2. I wrote the author...I wanted to know if he was going to get another love...I wanted to tell her she was uber talented 'cuz she really tapped into my emotions (both good and bad). She assured me Book 3 would have the HEA, but when it came out a couple of months ago, I couldn't make myself buy it. In fact, since reading those other two books, I can't make myself buy anything new by this author.

Why is that? I mean she's VERY talented and her characters are so real. But I realized that there are certain things I need in my romance - one that I absolutely do not compromize on. I want the HEA and I don't want to read a book down the road that flips that HEA and doesn't resolve the pain of loss before the end of the new book. I know there are a lot of readers who don't mind a bittersweet ending and that's cool with me, but not my favorite thing. I've discovered I have zero tolerance for a flipped HEA though. I think I get more involved with characters than the average reader...maybe because I'm a writer. All I know is that my characters feel real to me and so do the ones I read about by authors who know how to tap into my emotions.

I know I've chatted with several readers who feel betrayed when certain elements aren't present in a book for them. Like I felt when I finished that second book. That feeling of betrayal is a personal thing. It doesn't mean the author isn't wonderful or that his/her books don't absolutely rock. We all have our buttons and when they get pushed, we react. The readers and reviewers I love talking to the most are the ones that truly recognize that. Being aware of our own limitations is a good thing though, I think. It helps us avoid falling in pits in the future. I'm a huge fan of because it helps me avoid that hollow sick feeling I get when an ending I expect to be victorious isn't.

So, what element is a total must for you in your favorite books? Well developed characters? A strong plot? An absolutely error-free book? A virgin heroine? An experienced heroine? An alpha hero? Marital faithfulness? An exotic setting? Wealthy characters? Not wealthy characters? A paranormal element? Steamy love scenes? What?

I don't want to focus on what bugs us in books (I think you all know me well enough to know that), but honestly - what one element (if any) do you absolutely need to make a story work for you?


P.S. I'll be drawing our weekly blog winner tomorrow and announcing some fun stuff I've got planned to lead up to the release of Deal With This - in stores in 25 days!


Estella said...

I also have to have a HEA in the books I read.

Dev said...

As far as what I want in a book ~ First and foremost is the HEA. I'm one of those who reads the last few pages of a book. If it doesn't end the way I want it to, I don't read it. Simply put ~ there's just way too many other options out there to read so why suffer through something that doesn't end the way I want it to?

I also want a strong plot, strong characters, and something that plays with my emotions. I want the story to touch something in me, I want to care about these characters and what happens to them, and at the end of the story I want to feel that a little bit of their story has become a part of my soul. I mean, I've invested my time in this story, I want to remember it. I want to laugh, I want to cry, I want to be so thoroughly angered that I can't stop reading in anticipation of what happens next.

I guess I want it all ~ when I pick up a book I want to know that to know that the story is going to be every bit as good as I was anticipating it would be.

Amy said...

The main thing for me is the HEA. I also love the Alpha Male Hero's, steamy love scenes and a good story line. But, a book can have everything and not the HEA and I will not read it.

Several Year's ago I read a book by a author, her books are wonderful and I still buy her books but in this case the book was the second book. The first book was about a couple and the second book was about their daughter. The dad got shot and killed in the second book. I would not buy the first book and read it because I could not stand knowing that the hero in the first book gets killed even if it was 20 years later. When I started the second book I did not know it was the second book in a series.

I am one of those readers who loves to get involved with the characters, I want to feel what the character's are feeling. Sad, Happy, angry etc.... so the author's ability to pull me into the story would also be among my must have's in a book.

Lucy Monroe said...

Dev...I do that too! LOL People have always made fun, but I tell them that I not only want to know it's going to be an HEA, but that it'll be one I can believe in. Considering how much I read, I think it's obvious I'm not super picky, just cautious. Unfortunately, one drawback of buying a book online (whether print or electronic) is that you cannot do that very thing. :)

Estella..a woman after my own heart. ;-)

Amy...I so hear you. Exactly!

Jen in WA said...

I really wanted to break from the pack and say that it was the plot or a well written character that makes me enjoy a book. And while that's true, it's the HEA that keeps me reading romances. I think that's the main reason I can't stand most general fiction or chick-lit.

I got a smile out of Dev's response. I, too, am a peeker. I often read the last page or two of the book to make sure that the main characters are together and happy.

Jennifer Y. said...

I tend to prefer the HEA as well...actually it is pretty much why I read romances. I am like dev...I will sometimes read the end of a book first to make sure it ends the way I wanted...LOL.

I will pretty much read anything and any type of story...I am not that picky...a good story and good characters is usually all it takes to make me happy (that and a HEA). I like to lose myself in the stories and the characters' lives to the point where I feel like I am details, emotion, etc. are important to me.

Also, to me a great book is one that makes me feel something...anything really...happiness, sadness, pain, joy, compassion, etc. It moves a good way. It is those stories that stick with me for a long time after I read them.

Maura Anderson said...

I'm another that needs their HEA to remain intact. I will avoid stories where the HEA is broken up.

I also have to have some sweet with my hot. I like honor and love and my alphas have both.

Lucy Monroe said...

Sounds to me like a lot of us are stuck on the HEA. Like I said in my post...I know now that it's something I simply cannot tolerate being flipped or put in too serious of jeapordy.

Nathalie said...

A true genuine love is important with sincere characters!

Lori said...

Yup, I think Dev said it. I want it ALL! But a HEA is the one thing I won't compromise on. And do not mess with them later, either. Example: I read the Highland Lord series by Karen Ranney. Loved the entire series. But in the last book, the parents (who were the H/H of the first book) were revealed to have been lost at sea. Huh? It broke my heart!

Lori said...

Oh, I forgot to add, I just read an excerpt from Deal with This in the back of Sylvia Day's A Passion for Him. It looks Great, Lucy!

Kelley Nyrae said...

I have to have a HEA as well but I also want a really strong, believable, passionate, love story. I want to really feel the love between the Hero and heroine.

Chantal said...

Great question. Like everyone else, I need not just a HEA, but lots of romance and wooing.

I also like more than a simple 'I'm sorr'y after the big conflict. In the books I read it's usually the Hero who has been a jerk, so he better do more than say 'I love you' and 'I'm sorry' in order to make it better with the Heroine.

I'm always thrilled when there is a pregnancy involved, plus I crave the POV of the Hero as much as the Heroine.

ruth said...

I enjoy a dramatic and meaningful plot with well drawn characters whose relationship is realistic and hopefully long standing. HEA is a nice touch as well if possible.

PattiF said...

Hi Lucy!

A HEA is a given for me. But I want there to be a chemistry between the couple that sizzles, and not just sex betweeen them. There has to be that emotional connection which makes me care whether there will be that...yep..HEA!

Cathy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ellie said...

HEA is a requirement but I must have well portrayed characters whose lives are filled with trials and tribulations. A plot that is compelling and riveting as well is a must.

Stacy S said...

I want the HEA!! Well developed characters,a strong plot, marital faithfulness. Those are some other things I want in the story. Pretty much what everyone else wants!

Looking forward to Deal With This!

Brandy said...

Definitely a HEA! I, too, am a peeker. I cannot stand to read a book and become invested in the character and then have NO hea! I like a strong plot and characters I can "feel" with, but if there is no HEA, I won't read the book. I know this has limmited me in some way, I won't read Urban Fantasy often because with most of those, there is no HEA.
Glad your family had a good time! Um, does your cell phone support the newest GPS/MAP/Navigation program?

Laura J. said...

I'm glad to see I'm not the only one that reads the ending.

I like HEA too! I also want strong characters. I've read a couple of books recently that were just okay because I couldn't really like one or both of the characters.

One other element I really like to have in books that I read are humor and it doesn't necessarily have to be from the main characters.

Dev said...

Well, I'm glad to see I'm not in the minority with the peeking. I get teases unmercifully by my friends about it, but I've always done it and always will. I make no apologies :-)

Oh, and I should mention that the last time I went shopping with a friend who teases me about my peeking ~ she had me read the end of a book she was considering before she decided whether or not to buy it. I had to read the ending of two books and she bought the one I though ended best.

...and yet, she still teases me about the peeking.

Lily said...

Happy endings are a MUST!! Just hate it when the heroes dies in the end!

Judy F said...

I want my HEA dang it. That is a must have for me. I don't like when one of the people in a supposed committed relationship cheats either.

I read a while ago a series book that the author had the couple from book one break up and date other people for two or three books. I had such a hard time reading it even though they got back together. I just took away my joy of the first book I felt.

I like strong characters, good plot, lots of steam. LOL

Joyce said...

I definitely want HEA!! Even my two married sons will tell me not to see or read such and such because there is no HEA. They know I like happy endings.

Stephanie said...

Like others, a HEA is definitely something I have to have. I also need chemistry between the two people and for me to believe the characters are real. I love when I can feel the emotions of the characters. When I can laugh and cry with them, then I will buy the author again and again.

Lucy Monroe said...

Yes! A strong book is a must...the HEA has to be built on something believable, yes?

And Brandy...I didn't even think of that!!! But I know it's possible, as dh used it on his phone (which is older than mine) while we were in Reno. Sigh...coulda saved myself a heap of stress. LOL

lidia said...


You know that I need a HEA at the end to make reaidng the book worthwhile. (I also peek at the end!)

However, the book also much contain strong characters (both of them need to be strong in some respect), lots of emotion, and a believable conflict -- with a good resolution -- not just a "I'm sorry" in the last few pages of the book.

Sometimes the heroines/heroes that frustrate me the most actually make the best reading material -- as long as they don't step over my own particular "hot buttons." LOL

The best books are the ones where I can't put them down -- have to read them in their in one shot.

Lucy Monroe said...

Lidia...great to see you here. Hoped you'd chime in on this topic.

I have really enjoyed ALL the comments - thank you EVERYONE for chatting and just being here.

Hugs to all,
Lucy :)