Guest Author: Laura K. Curtis on HEA vs. HFN

Hi friends! As you see we’ve got the totally awesome and wonderful Laura K. Curtis visiting with us today! Not only is she great in general she also stepped in at the last minute with not only a great post, but also a giveaway! Whee! So without further ado …


TwistedHow do you like your happy endings? And get your mind out of the gutter, I’m talking about the ends of your romance novels, not your massages. For as long as I can remember, the two major tenets defining a novel as a “romance” were:
1. Central love story between two (or more) characters
2. The relationship is successful, culminating in a “happily ever after.”
But a few years ago, the genre stretched as it became more realistic to include “happy for now” as well as “happily ever after.” That is, the couple (or however many—I’m just going to use “couple” as shorthand) is in a relationship at the end of the book, but without the promise of forever together.

I’m a big proponent of realism in romance. I’m not a fan of the billionaire romance, or the alpha-hole miraculously redeemed by love, or guy who can’t take no for an answer but who is otherwise respectful. I’d rather read a pure fantasy romance than a fantasy like that masquerading as reality. So part of me approves of the HFN trend. After all, many romances take place in the span of a week—or less—so to marry the couple off at the end would seem to be pushing the limits of one’s suspension of disbelief. LostEspecially in my preferred genre, romantic suspense, where the couple often spends the whole book running from killers, hiding in jungles, concerned with little more than how they’re going to live through the next hour—it’s a bit much to expect that the hero and heroine are ready to pledge everlasting love by page 300.

Still, I’ve read some romances lately where the “FN” part of the HFN is so strong that I wonder whether the books even qualify as romance.

If there’s one thing you can depend on in the romance community, it’s that people will disagree on where the line is between any two things—erotic romance vs erotica? sensual romance vs. erotic romance? new adult vs contemporary with younger heroine? Romance readers love to argue! So I know we’ll never reach consensus on just how committed the couple has to be at the end of a romance novel. Toying with his AffectionsI’ve had people tell me that if the romance helps the characters grow, it’s okay if they part at the end. And as far as I’m concerned, yeah, that’s a fine story, but it’s not a romance. Others say that the couple has to be married by the end for them to be satisfied. The huge number of pregnancy epilogues indicates that a number of authors feel that way, too!

My own line falls somewhere in the middle. I need to see an actual commitment. I need the words “I love you.” Even when I read a book with a HFN ending, I always have to imagine that the couple will move from their HFN to an HEA. It’s the only way I feel really satisfied by a book. And when I’ve written HFN books, it’s always with the understanding that the couple would stay together, even if you don’t see it on the page because to show it wouldn’t fit the scope of the book. To me, the HEA is why I read romance instead of any other genre, so if I’m not getting that, I’m not happy.

And don’t even get me started on cliffhangers!

Which do you prefer? (Personally I don’t care for HFN.) Let us know your thoughts and you could win a copy of Echoes in the format/from the e-tailer of your choice! Because two is almost always better than one! 😀

EchoesWho is she?A single photo of herself as an infant on a beach, taken before the date on her birth certificate, throws everything Calliope Pearson knows about herself into question. Hoping to find answers, she takes advantage of her job as a travel writer to make a reservation at the Caribbean island resort in the picture.

Resort security chief Mac Brody distrusts Callie on sight. After all, she looks exactly like his deceitful missing wife, Nikki, who owns half the resort. But when Nikki’s found dead, Mac’s facing murder charges, and he’s sure that Callie must hold the key to proving his innocence.

The deeper Callie and Mac dive into the mystery of her past, the more bodies surface. And they’ll have to learn to trust each other, or become victims of a dark danger neither could’ve imagined….

8 thoughts on “Guest Author: Laura K. Curtis on HEA vs. HFN

  1. willaful

    I’m fine with HFN as long as I believe it’s a precursor to HEA. I don’t need marriage or even a specific commitment, but I won’t be happy if there’s an indictation the relationship is temporary.

  2. Limecello Post author

    I don’t need the characters to get married or anything – although it is a nice sign of definite commitment … and I think for historicals, “necessary” for me. I mean, I don’t need to see them get married, but to know that’s what’s going to happen.
    I don’t like HFN though – it’s too open ended … and, for cynical me, I think of it as bait for a series/more. I don’t like being, or feeling manipulated.

    1. willaful

      I guess it can be, especially in NA. But I usually see it more as a way of enlarging the kind of stories that can be written without making them implausible. If the story is short, or the action all takes place within a week, or some such, vows of eternal love and proposals seem forced.


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