Monday, March 01, 2010

HEA v. HFN

In the left corner, wearing red satin trunks and weighing in at 250 lbs of pure muscle and industry history, we have HEA, our alltime heavyweight champion - undefeated by cynicism, divorce rates and statistics on infidelity. In the right corner, wearing purple satin trunks and weigning in at 225 lbs of lean muscle and a new industry convention, we have HFN, with all the romance and none of the certainty for the future.

HEA stands for happily ever after. The concept of course is that two people fall in love, commit to a lifetime together and despite the challenges and obstacles they face, they keep their love alive and their relationship from crashing on the shoals of apathy and dishonesty that account for so much of our divorce rate stats.

HFN stands for happy for now. The concept being that two people fall in lust at least, commit to seeing where things go and may or may not stay together. They'll probably fight for their relationship, after all, they've negotiated the dangerous rapids of romantic conflict and taken the risk to open their hearts - at least part of the way.

My question for you is, if this is your boxing ring and you get to decide with fighter wins the battle for the ending of your favorite books, which is it? Do you want a solid HEA with the certainty this couple is in it for the long haul, or are you okay with the HFN prospect, where the couple is busy enjoying the sharing of bodies and maybe part of their lives, but not necessarily their futures?

And while we're on the subject...what do you think of flipping the happy ending for a book in a series later in that series? When can it work for you and when does it make you so mad you don't buy the author again for at least six months?


I think you all know what I prefer, but the HFN has become more popular, especially in the last five years, that I'm happy to discuss why this ending works for so many readers. :) Some of the erotica publishers even require it, and are unwilling to buy books with an HEA. (I'm talking Black Lace, not Brava style books here.)

So, what are your thoughts? What's your favorite HEA for all time, or even just lately? What's your favorite HFN?

My favorite HEA is always the ending of my most recent completed manuscript. I feel such relief and joy when these characters I've come to care so deeply about finally get together with the intention of staying that way. My favorite HFN was the first Adrien English mystery by Josh Lanyon. Josh had more stories planned and has finally written A&J's conclusion (no spoilers so I can't tell you what it is), but I liked the hopefulness of that book. JL is probably the first author I've read that I wasn't disappointed in a HFN, or the subsequent ups and downs he took his amateur sleuth and police detective through. That takes some talent. :)

12 comments:

Stacy~ said...

I'm a HEA girl myself, and if it's prolonged - ie it takes several books to get there - I am perfectly fine with that. Love seeing the relationship grow.

I get that HFN is more acceptable and realistic and modern, but don't we get that enough in RL???? LOL. I think the HFN is more appropriate for the erotic romance genre, where casual sex is more common, and I'm fine with that. But there's gotta be romance.

So yeah, I prefer getting the fairytale. Give me my HEA, whether it takes 1 book or 5.

Lucy Monroe said...

Hey, Stacy~ ... I love my Scooby Doo endings, everything all wrapped up, but if the author is really good at holding my attention, I don't mind the HEA taking a few books to get there. :)

What I don't like is when each of those books is really short and the price is pretty high for word count and I feel like the author and publisher only spread the story out to maximize releases and income. After getting caught reading a series that could have fit within the pages of a Presents word count wise, but ended up costing about three times as much, I try really hard to avoid making the same (for me) buying mistake.

One series I loved was Mary Calmes "A Matter of Time". It's a gay romance saga and totally riveting through 4 single title length books. I also loved the way Sherilyn Kenyon kept us enthralled with Acheron's story thoughout the Dark Hunters until she was ready to write it.

SO, A QUESTION FOR EVERYONE: what's your favorite ongoing series that is leading to (you hope) or has already led to the happy ending after several books?

Judy said...

I don't care for ongoing series for a single couple. I love series that include a new couple in each book, while keeping the old friends.

Maybe TMI, but you asked. HEA or not at all. The others are just sad, on so many levels. No, I've never been blessed with HEA, but I've seen it happen for others, and I'm happy for them. HFN is too much like the life I lived, and it wasn't happy. To live that life required a lack of respect for others and myself, a willingness to use them and allow them to use me. Been there; done that; never going back. I don't think I'm capable of HEA, but I still believe in it, heart and soul. Yes, I'm alone and have been for a long time, but I finally respect myself and that brings a peace that is absolutely priceless.

Lucy Monroe said...

Judy...between friends, it's never TMI, well, unless you're talking about bodily functions and not the sexy ones. LOL Serioulsy, you've created your own HEA for *yourself* even if it doesn't include a lover, it includes peace and that's something most people strive for daily. :) And you never know what the future will bring! But you do know it can bring something good now that you love and respect yourself, you *can* love someone else. It just has to be the right someone. Smooches!

Danielle said...

I'm a stickler in that regard. I want the HEA. I feel a bit cheated when I read a romance, go through the ups and down, and see that the couple might stay together, or they are just enjoying the sex and seeing where it goes. That doesn't work for me. I like the culmination of a HEA romance, the satisfaction of knowing that love conquers all. I don't see that with a HFN. Maybe that's realistic for some, but that's not why I read romance. I read it to see love win out in the end. I'd prefer to see the HEA in the same book. I don't mind if the couple is introduced in one book, but I'd rather their relationship culminate and be consummated in their own book, with a HEA following. Great question!

Pamela said...

Gotta have my HEA! Can live with HNF if I can visualize a HEA from it. Also not fond of the ongoing romance through multiple books.

Amy said...

I want my HEA always. I love catching up with couples in previous books when a author writes a series and keeps bringing back previous couples. It drives me nuts if I have to wait and read book after book for a couple to finally wind up together in their HEA.
I have only read 2 series like that so far. The first series was Sharon Sala's Cat Dupree Series. I buy all her books so it was a no brainer for me.
The second series is by Keri Author her Riley Jenson series. I started reading this series because I was out of new things to read and happen to pick up a copy of one of the books in the middle of the series. The book hooked me so I had to go back and get the books that came before it in the series. It has driven me nuts waiting several years for the final book to come out for Riley to get her HEA. The final book will be out later this year, I am waiting impatiently for it.

Lucy Monroe said...

Danielle...and seriously, what's so unrealistic about a long term committed relationship? I've been in one for almost 24 years (23rd anniv coming soon and one year together before that). We knew each other a whole 3 months before we got engaged and not quite a year when we got married. Ups and downs? Doesn't every romance have one? But love and laughter and joy and tears both good and sad? Yep, all that too. :)

Pamela...me too, but doesn't it seem like some authors go out of their way to emphasize the precarious nature of their possible HEA? I absolutely hate when the last thought I get to read of a character's is their uncertainty about the future with the person they may or may not love. Then again, if a really talented author gets me hooked on a long series with this type of thing, I can deal. LOL

Amy...sometimes those sneaky hooks are the best though, right? I would never have read the first book in some series that became my favorites if I hadn't read one down the line. And me an absolutel OCD postergirl for reading series in order! ;-)

erahime said...

I prefer HEA over HFN. I get it that HFN is good for some genre, but if I want a romance, I want it to be HEA.

I like erotica, but I don't read it often, so I guess HFN is good in that one.

As for other romance, it better be HEA in the end. I don't mind secondary characters having a relationship in the background of a series IF said relationship eventually gets its own HEA story.

As for other genres, it really depends on the author and the story/series. HFN can be good in them, and I'll be satisfied with that so long as everything is resolved in the end of the story/series.

One HFN that I accept would be J.D. Robb's Death series with the heroine and her man's relationship. That is acceptable to me because I didn't read the series for the romance, though it is an added bonus, but for the mysteries the heroine solves in each book. That is one good HFN series.

As for HEAs, I can't think of a good example right now but there are plenty of them in romance. As a commenter mentioned, you don't see a lot of HEAs in RL, but they are there, just not in the forefront. That's why I love HEA in romance books.

Lucy Monroe said...

Erahime...you bring up a good point. The genre can change the expectation of an HEA. I've read a lot of what the author's called Romantica, or some such, which was erotica and as such could be expected to have an HFN, but when they market it as a romance, I want my HEA. Though I think the romance genre itself is changing some in that regard and while I know what I want to read and write, I can see that the change is making some readers and authors happy.

Call me sappy, but I want people to be happy. LOL

erahime said...

Lucy, times are changing, but there will ALWAYS be some people who prefer the tried-and-true HEA. Yes, romance may have great suspense/mystery/etc. interspersed in the story, but the relationship is still a core point of the story. How it comes about and what happens after is up to the authors' discretion.

Also, writing style changed. A fad may come and go, but so long as the romance genre is still popular, I'm okay. I may not read some of the sub-types of the (romance) genre, but I know I still have some types that I will read and I know will always be popular because of past and recent historical sales showing that it shows a strong following with readers.

So if readers prefer the HFN as the trend is showing, then fine. I know that I'll have HEA romance books in stock and feel pretty sure that there will ALWAYS be HEA books no matter the trend. That's what's good about literature. It brings up new innovations/ideas/etc. but behind it will always be the veterans, like HEA.

So Lucy, keep on writing to YOUR enjoyment. HEA and/or HFN, whatever pleases YOU.

Lucy Monroe said...

Erahime...you are so right! While I often write about modern issues, I also write a very traditional romance arc, complete with HEA and so far, there have been plenty of readers who appreciate that. :) I'm not sure we're trending toward HFN as much as making room for it in a big market - where ten years ago, it was as rare as my recommending a book with infidelity. ;-)