They Don’t Have to End Happy Happy Happy Happy, Damn it!

This is not an anti-HEA rant, even though it is about HEAs. Happy Ever Afters, for peeps new to Romancelandia.

What irritates me so greatly at the moment is this tendency in paranormal romance series to end every single book Happy Happy Happy.

Take Sherrilyn Kenyon‘s Dark-Hunters, for instance. I used to loooooooove them–she was one of the authors who started me on paranormals.

For some reason, I picked them up to reread again today. And it bugs the hell out of me that she’s made every one immortal.

The short version is that a couple who got their HEA in a shorter book, the hero losing his immortality in the process, became immortal again.

Why does this bug me?

Because I think it diminishes the love they have for each other.

Because I think it diminishes the HEA they originally had.

Because I think that the hero willingly giving up his immortality made him worthy of getting a HEA.

Part of it is simply that I’m puzzled. I don’t understand why an author would do this. I’m not Sherrilyn Kenyon. I am me, and that her vision is not mine is My Problem, not hers. I see that.

The other parts, I’m not so sure.


15 Responses to “They Don’t Have to End Happy Happy Happy Happy, Damn it!”

  1. April 24, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    I think it would make a little bit more sense for them to be getting the immortality thing so much is there seemed to be a reason so many of them needed it. Like if Ash was aluding to some big battle coming up where he needed them to fight at his side or something but since that doesn’t seem to be the case it sort of diminishes the entire thing. Does that make sense?

  2. April 24, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    Yeah, I see that.

    In fact, that’s one piece of advice SL Viehl gave to a writer who asked her how to write a series that she could end at any time, something to the effect of not killing off anybody you wanted to be at the ending.

    Another reason why I’m This Close to swearing off open-ended series.

  3. April 24, 2007 at 6:43 pm

    This is a romance, right? πŸ˜‰

  4. April 24, 2007 at 6:54 pm

    Yeah, but still!

    As far as I am concerned, it’s a HEA if the book ends with the h/h together, so why do you have to go mess with it some more?

    Plus, I admit that I like messy endings. I don’t want everything tied up with a bow.

  5. April 24, 2007 at 7:07 pm

    This is why I make such a big distinction between episodic, spin-offs and story arc types of series. Story arcs require planning, people! They just do. Period. No exceptions. You want to leave out the planning then stick to spin-offs which is not a bad thing.

    Romance as a genre survived for years on spin-offs and did quite well. It still does to some extent. By contrast, mystery survives with episodics, a la the detective cases per book. Authors who understand the difference manage to keep cranking out stories that don’t drive readers nuts. Okay, they may get tired of certain characters, families and groups but they can always leave them alone for a while and come back to them later.

    A story arc, however, is a completely different animal and has to be respected as such. To not to so is to commit suicide as a writer in my humble opinion. Ask anyone who’s completely fed up with any long-running fantasy “story arc” that never seems to end. Dedicated, devoted readers may tough it out but I’m not sure how many new converts an author really gets.

    And when we’re talking about romance story arc or romances with a major story arc, we talking about a truly one shot deal probably limited to a very small number of books. Most series out there have already gone way past that number and don’t even realize they’ve messed up. Big problem.

    Oops, sorry. Major pet peeve as you can see. πŸ˜€

  6. April 24, 2007 at 8:28 pm

    Oh, Bev, but I love your peeve. It’s just like mine.

    I like to see series that have self-contained episodes, whether they contribute to a long arc or not. I don’t really care for serials–where the story just ends arbitrarily at a crisis or minor resolution and we’ll all have to “tune in next week for the next exciting adventure!” And this goes for any genre–Romance, Mystery, SF, Urban Fantasy, whatever–in any media. After a while I get tired of being on tenterhooks and I get the feeling the author doesn’t know where she/he is going, they’re just making it up as the go along with no real end in sight. That’s disappointing and disillusioning and makes me abandon books.

    HEA doesn’t really make sense for some of these Urban Fantasy series. Plots don’t move if there’s no tension to drive them. They just lie around and become pretentiously Literary. So if the romantic relationship is the hub of the series, HEA will kill it dead, dead, dead. Only where the romance is way down the list of important plot threads does HEA become viable as a continuing feature. For instance, Nora Roberts/JD Robb pulls off the HEA in the “in Death” series only by letting Eve’s activities independent of her relationship be the focus, relegating HEA to the background.

    If the main characters are struggling with something sinister, what are the real odds of HEA, anyway? I can accept “Mostly Happy, In the Immediate Future” but HEA? Not so much.

  7. April 24, 2007 at 8:55 pm

    The thing about the In Death books is that at heart they are episodic romantic suspense centered around one main character and her relationship with her husband. The fact that Robb/Roberts may or may not know where the relationship is going ultimately, i.e. have it planned out in advance, is immaterial to an episodic. She could but even if she doesn’t all she has to do is treat them as if they’re simply any other married couple and allow for some bumps in the road. HEA doesn’t mean there aren’t going to be some bumps. It just means they’ll work at them together.

    The difference between that series and something like the Stephanie Plum books is that early on Robb “committed” to their relationship in the books and Evanovich didn’t. There is no promise in the Plum books that Stephanie will ever get together and stay together with anyone. Could you imagine the uproar if Robb broke Eve and Roarke up at this point, though?

    Which in and off itself is probably ground breaking when one thinks about it. Does anyone know of any other episodic detective series where there the detective’s marriage and romance is so front and center? (I know some are married but I’m not sure they have nearly as much, ahem, active sex as Eve and Roarke. ;p

  8. April 24, 2007 at 10:07 pm

    Ok…I’ve never read SK *ducking* but I’ll be honest and admit I like a happy ending–doesn’t necessarily have to be an HEA just happy πŸ˜€

  9. April 24, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    Have you watched LOVE ACTUALLY? If you did and you’re like me, it’s the un-HEA endings that stayed with you after the movie. Suzanne Brockmann started having un-HEA endings with her secondary romances in her STs. In a workshop she gave a few years back, she said those are the ones that she gets the most mail about. It’s JMO, but I think it would be more interesting and would generate a lot of talk if SK didn’t make both the H/H immortal in her next book.

  10. April 24, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    Just curious because I’ve almost stopped reading SK anyway but who did she reset to immortality? I remember reading one where he was a Dark Hunter and he ended up mortal. She was/became a, ah, I want to say wizard but that may be the wrong universe. Can’t remember the title at the moment. Is that the one that got reset?

  11. April 26, 2007 at 10:18 am

    Hmmm. I’m not caught up on SK, so I can’t address the specific issue, but there are HEAs and then there are HEAs.

    If it’s romance, the h/h have got to end up together. Period. If they don’t, it may very well be a fabulous book, it just ain’t romance.

    However, I suspect I’d be just as annoyed with you at the scenario you described. You’re right–it negates everything they went through to get that initial HEA. It’s like the romance I read where a major sticking point between the two was that she couldn’t have children. They worked through it, really struggled (historical–he NEEDED an heir). But then at the end, in the epilogue, guess what? She’s pregnant. So WTF did they go through all that angst for?

    Those are the HEAs I hate–not simply that the h/h end up together, but that all their problems just magically (and unfortunately, in paranormals, it’s often literally magically) disappear. I swear, I’d rather have a *gasp* unhappy ending than the Big Giant Eraser eliminating all the problems.

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