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Happy Valentine’s Day!

February 14, 2012

Today is Valentine’s Day. It’s a day people either love or hate. I’ve always enjoyed the holiday, even if it was made up to take advantage of consumerism. It’s a pleasant day for me. No chocolates or cards or flowers, but a nice day to just remind the one who holds my heart how much he means to me.

It’s also a day to celebrate—in my mind—the happily ever after part of the romance formula. There was a thread in a group recently about how someone was tired to happily ever afters, but I didn’t quite understand why they were so tired of them. Why else would you read a romance? Why would you enter the genre and not seek that? It makes little sense. I know there are authors who are pushing the boundaries of what makes a romance, but the genre has a firm stance on that, and part of it is that happily ever after (or a happily for now).

Why read or write in a genre whose tropes and formulas you shun? I don’t understand it. I read other genres—horror, fantasy, young adult, and some limited science fiction—and in those genres, I go in with certain expectations. It’s no different from expectations when I pick up a romance novel. An author who does not deliver on those expectations (thus breaking the reader-writer contract) is an author I never read again.

Unless the blurb makes it clear the book does not adhere to the genre rules, I feel cheated when I read a romance with no happily ever after, no love. I want a complicated book with a plot, but at the end, I want all the struggle, pain, and angst the characters have gone through to pay off with them riding out into the sunset! To not offer that is to renege on the agreement between reader and author when writing in genre fiction.

There are several publishers I don’t buy from because they have a habit of misrepresenting their works. There are several authors I no longer buy because they have shirked the genre formula without adequately warning for it before purchase. I don’t read to feel bad. I read to escape my daily life and to enjoy a happy story about two (or more) people in love. If that isn’t the base story an author wants to tell, or a publisher wants to publish, more power to them, but don’t call it a romance just so you can take my money. It’ll piss me off and result in a bad review of the product.

So, Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone, whether you like or don’t like the holiday! 😀 I like it because it’s a holiday that makes me feel good, just like the romance novels I’ve been reading since I was fourteen. It’s a wonderful feeling, and I hope authors and publishers keep me feeling this way for a long time to come!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 14, 2012 9:33 am

    Sometimes, however, I do feel in the mood for a heart-wrenching sad, tragic, WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME endings – and I realize they’re actually impossible to find! I’d prefer if there was at least a little supply of those, clearly labelled.
    I’ve once been told that since two characters in a novella of mine broke up at the end, it was impossible to market it as a romance. And I was thinking – what of unhappy ending romances? Are they not romances? Does the love story lose all validity? I mean, Romeo and Juliet remains a great romance, even though the ending makes you want to curl up in a ball and cry…

  2. February 14, 2012 9:52 am

    Cornelia — I know some readers enjoy that (which is why I loved Apples so much), but my problem is mainly in not being warned before I buy it that it’s not within genre expectations. I like being fully informed. 🙂 I think there is a place within romance for the more tragic stories, but readers need to be informed before they buy. I don’t like the bait and switch.

    And, I don’t know about outside the US, but my entire life, Romeo & Juliet has always been marketed/classified as a tragedy, not a romance. 🙂 Even when I performed it in high school (it’s one of my favorite Shakespeare pieces), I understood this wasn’t a romance, but a train wreck. 😄 I’m all for tragic romances (I have a retelling of Tristan & Isolde brewing in my head), I just need to know before committing to buy. Otherwise, I feel sort of cheated.

  3. Carole-Ann permalink
    February 15, 2012 2:43 pm

    I’m all for a HEA – that’s what Romance is about, really (isn’t it??) OK, there are the odd ‘not happy ever-after’ but I DON’T really enjoy those. I can accept a HFN; (and desperately hope that a HEA will follow!); but romance is the epitome of joyous eternity with the one you love (isn’t it??).

    I may be too idealistic , but Romance SHOULD end in a HEA – otherwise, it isn’t truly romance 🙂

  4. February 19, 2012 3:27 pm

    Carole-Ann — Exactly! Romance is about the happily ever after, and if there is more of a bittersweet or tragic theme to the romance, then I at least want to be warned about it. It’s not that I don’t like them (because I LOVE Cornelia Grey’s bittersweet stories), but I need to be prepared and in a mood for them.

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