I’ve had readers tell me that they prefer romances to end with at least an engagement and maybe even a wedding. I’ve had others tell me that they often don’t “buy” that kind of ending because they don’t find it believable that the heroine and hero are ready for that level of commitment.
Of course preferences depend in part on the reader. For example, for those who grew up reading the romances of the 1950s and 60s, marriage was pretty much the only true happy ending, and I imagine a lot of those readers still feel the same way. For others, in today’s uncertain world, I’m guessing they love to see the security of wedding vows at the end of a book. But for others – and I’m one of them – the wedding vows may not always seem realistic.
For me, it’s all about what rings true for the characters. If a book takes place in a short time frame, and if the heroine and hero didn’t previously know each other, I just don’t buy that they’ll be engaged at the end of that short timespan. Or, if they are, it’s going to take a lot to convince me as a reader that they know each other well enough, and have done the necessary hard work, to ensure their love will last. Or that it’s even love, not just lust, hormones, pheromones, or whatever you want to call an initial passionate attraction that may very well fizzle before long.
For whatever reason (I guess it’s part of my writer’s “voice”), a lot of my stories take place in a week to two weeks. And of course my heroines and heroes have some personal issues to deal with, some growing to do. So, as they speak to me through my fingers on the keyboard, they don’t tell me they’re ready to leap into marriage by the end of the book. What they say – and what I believe – is that they’re coming to care deeply for their new love, deeply enough to make a major commitment and to begin talking about a possible future together.
Now of course I have written stories that have ended with a higher level of commitment, for example in a reunion story where the couple knew each other previously. It’s all about being true to the characters.
In my upcoming Brava, Body Heat (which will come out at the end of November), Jesse Blue and Maura Mahoney meet for the first time when he rides his motorbike down the lane of pink-blossomed cherry trees in front of the seniors residential facility where she works. She’s a buttoned-up accountant; he’s the bad boy on the Harley. Care to speculate how this book ends? Well, I won’t give away the details, but you can bet there’s a HEA for this “attraction of opposites” couple!
How about you? If you read romance, what’s your ideal ending for a book?