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Thursday, February 25, 2010


Thank you Gracen, and Moonlight, Lace, and Mayhem for having me on you blog.

I’m Jan Bowles. I’m a contemporary romance writer, who lives in Lincolnshire, in the East of the UK. I have two books published with Siren-Bookstrand, ‘The Return’ and ‘Love Lessons with the Texas Billionaire’.

When I was considering what to write for Moonlight, Lace, and Mayhem, I kept coming back to what romantic fiction is all about. The beautiful ending, with the Happy Ever After, and I wondered, do we really need one? I personally think it is essential, but have any of you read a book, and felt short-changed? Maybe the hero or heroine died. Did you feel that you’d been conned?

When one buys a romantic novel, we’re buying into the fantasy. We expect there to be angst, and problems thrown in their way, but we know that ultimately there will be that happy ever after. That lovely warm glow, that permeates us, and makes us feel good.

I admit, I love the HEA. Ah, ‘sighs’, that final moment when the hero and heroine ride off into the sunset, with life and luck on their side. It makes me smile. They make the best love stories don’t they.

Or do they?

Take films for instance. I can think of quite a few love stories that never had the HEA. For instance Love Story created quite a stir when it was first released back in the seventies, sending the two actors, Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal into stars overnight.
And what about Titanic, by James Cameron, when Rose says her last goodbye to Jack, surely we wanted them both to survive? In the English Patient (my favourite film of all time), there is such bitter sweet love and devotion, and yes passion. Passion oozes from every single frame of the film, and yet we already know that it is not going to end well. How could we forget Patrick Swayze in Ghost when he slowly fades away to the heart breaking tones of Unchained Melody? There was not a dry eye in the house. I’m sure there are many more too.

Did we feel short changed? No—we cried our eyes out, and loved every minute, and we go back for more of the same. We know that the film is not going to end happily, but we stay with it, until the final heart breaking moment, with a tissue at the ready.

The best romantic films don’t always have a happy ever after, but perhaps you feel that the best romantic fiction should always end well.

Don’t worry my latest book ‘Love Lessons with the Texas Billionaire’, features a HEA, and if you you’d like to find out more about me and my books please visit or my website

I have to have a HEA in a book, but in a film anything can happen. Please leave a comment. I’d love to know what you think on this subject ♥ Jan

11 Moonbeams (comments):

Molly Daniels said...

I like to follow characters wherever the plot takes them. There are some authors who never seem to give the HEA, and I find myself hoping the next one will be different. At the same time, authors who always have the HEA, it gets predictable because you KNOW that no matter what happens, the hero will overcome it. So yeah, I like a little realism thrown in my stories! But not ALL the time. I don't want to read one story, fall in love with the characters, only to have one of them die in the sequel, or have them disillusioned with each other in book #2. Make sense?

Titanic is one of my favorite movies, along with The Notebook. I cry at the end of both, because they DO get to be together at the end. And that's the best kind of HEA, imho.

Jan Bowles said...

Hi Molly

Thanks for your comments. I know what you mean about falling in love with characters only to have them die, or become disillusioned with each other.

It makes absolute sense.

I've thought about writing a sequel to my latest novel, 'Love Lessons with the Texas Billionaire', but I know I would have to find conflict from somewhere, and I'm sure this would become frustrating to a reader.


Stacey said...

Hi Jan,
Great blog! I love reading romance. Even though I'm almost always guarantee a HEA (If I don't get it, I'm not a happy camper) with a romance, I love it when I truly believe the characters won't obtain one. To get so invested in a story that you're cheering the characters on and feel their joy at the end, is the best kind of romance.
Real life doesn't always end up so pleasant, so it's nice to escape into a fantasy for a few hours.

Laurie Ryan said...

To this day, I remember being a teenager and watching the first movie that didn't, IMHO, turn out right. Sabrina. Audrey Hepburn was supposed to end up with William Holden, NOT Humphrey Bogart! She was, she was, she was. I'm a bit older now and love the nuances of that movie, but it made me, um, particular about my HEA's.

Do I think romances must have HEA's? Yes. I really do. When I pick up a romance, I want to know how it's going to end. But not all stories end in HEA's and that is what makes literature interesting. And it makes me go outside the romance genre for balance. But I know opening it up that it could go either way.

Great blog, Jan. Thanks for making me think.

Jan Bowles said...

Hi Stacey

We all love that final few pages don't we, when the hero finally says he loves the heroine....something we knew before he did.

If only he could have heard us cheering him on...but then the story would have ended sooner...LOL ;-) Jan

Jan Bowles said...

Hi Laurie

When we are teenagers we are so sensitive, we worry about every litle detail.

I wonder if all those great films, without the HEA, were directed by a man?

I'll have to look into that.


Unknown said...

JAN--very good question about HEA. I'd forgotten about those tragic love stories that made us bawl our eyes out. Those are okay in small doses, but if I read a romance, it better have a HEA.So far, I've not encountered one that didn't. But I've read sequels--or series--in which either the hero or heroine is the main character, and he/she has lost her love to death. Now, I don't like that either. The hero I loved? Then I have to think about that person as dead. Uh-huh.
I'm so adamant about this, I've become angry when reading a non-romance in which there is a little romance, or a H/H I absolutely love--and that character dies. Then I feel badly. Ewww. don't like unhappy books. Celia

Jan Bowles said...

Thanks for stopping by Celia

When we buy a romance novel, I'm sure we want that happy ending. Who cares if we know in advance that they'll eventually iron out their differences.

The journey is what it's all about.


Megan Johns said...

Great blog, Jan.
There seem to be differing perceptions as to 'what is a romance', but at least there is broad consensus about the HEA.
Very interesting topic
Megan Johns
'The Path of Innocence'

Jan Bowles said...

Hi Megan

I'm glad I've asked the question, and all your answers have underlined that we need...even demand a HEA in a romance book.


Jane Toombs said...

Idon't need a definite HEA, but I sure want a hint tnere'll be one. The exception may be in series books with a continuing character. Mystery writer Jonathan Kellerman does a neat job with his psychologist hero, not only with the mystery, but with the hero's love life. Lots of different temporary romances for this guy, but we know sooner or later, the guy's real love, Robin, will once again surface. I do agree that Sabrina had poor casting--Bogart was not a good choice to fit that particular hero, much as I love Bogie in most of his movies. I think bad casting more or less ruined that movie. HEAs, though, are why I write romance. Only the one horror story I wrote doesn't have a happy ending because I feel that weakens the horror, which is the point of the book. I'd categorize many of the two-hankerchief movies I've seen without Heas as mainstream rather than romances because of the many other elements in their stoies. And I do feel mainstream doesn't nrcessarily require Heas. Romance, though, should at least leave us feeling there's a chance for one. Jane