Men of McKenna Downs Serial

Men of McKenna Downs Serial

Thursday, October 13, 2011


I've noticed that erotic romance publishers will often say they want a HEA (Happily ever after) or HFN (Happy for now) ending. Some say they are fine with sad or unconventional endings, but most aren't.
At one of my publishers HEA means that the heroine and hero/heroes are either engaged or married at the end. HFN means they're basically dating or just sexually involved.
That said one of my books ended in a committed Master/slave relationship, which is why they didn't put HFN on it, because there was a lasting commitment there. However, because the heroes didn't say "Marry me, baby" the publisher didn't mark it as HEA.
So at least at Siren Publishing when it doesn't say either HEA or HFN it doesn't necessarily mean nobody ends up together permanently. They very well may. It just means they don't get married or aren't engaged by the end of the book. It can still have a committed happy ending though. Unless it says HFN in which case it just means they're either dating or having a fling.
I understand the appeal of happily ever after. Forever love, endless joy, bunnies and roses. I mean who wouldn't want that? :)
What I don't get is how a happy for now ending is supposed to satisfy me personally. To me that says (to use a quote a man said to a woman in an old movie) "Don't worry about me. If I ever want out of this I'll just drop the sponge and won't be around."
What?! Naturally the woman stayed with him because this movie was made in the fifties I think and they often portrayed women differently back then. I saw one old movie where the woman was abused repeatedly by this guy, but she stayed with him and liked being abused, because she knew he loved her even though he beat her up. Huh.
Anyway, to the quote from that other movie I would have said: "See you, jerk." I mean seriously. They just started dating and he tells her this. What the heck? To me a HFN ending is disappointing. If I read a romance book, the characters don't have to necessarily get married at the end, but they sure as heck better be committed in some way.
The one exception would be if it was a continuing series. Then I wouldn't mind a HFN in the first few books, because the last book would have the HEA. That I don't mind. Those can be fun. :)
Then there is the subject of ETR (epic tragic romantic) ending. I made up the abbreviation myself so don't laugh. Aw, go ahead. Laughing is delightful. Anyway, while I'd have to agree with the majority that HEA is the way to go for most endings, I personally find ETR endings very moving if done correctly to show me the power of love, the tragedy of obstacles and not merely just to rip my heart out for the sake of making me cry. Like the ending in Titanic. Granted they ended up in the afterlife together, so that was happy, but the part before where he dies and she has to go on living without him. That is so freaking sad, but it touched me because as someone in love, I can feel that scene very deeply.
Another example of a well done tragic ending would be Gone With The Wind. I admit I wanted them to stay together. They were perfect for each other and even though Scarlett deserved to be left, at the same time it kind of tugs at my heart because she's in tears and you know how much she loves him. That part where they're on the stairs and she tugs on his arm. The look on his face seemed loving and profound like he might be reminiscing about the good times they had, but ultimately his mind was made up. After he walks out and she watches him leave, I keep thinking freaking tackle him and drag him back inside! Come back!
So while some sad endings are just gr because they aren't done right (like movies where you don't care about the characters and they all just die in the end), some of them are done so well and touch you so deeply that they stick with you for a long time afterward, sometimes longer than certain HEA.
The saddest movie I ever saw was Spartacus. I don't mean the show that's on now. I've never seen that. I'm talking about the old movie with Kirk Douglas and that one lady (I don't remember her name. Jean Simmons maybe?). I got choked up so many times during that. I've only seen it once, but certain parts of that movie are branded in my mind forever. Good movie, but it breaks and touches your heart so many times it almost becomes immortal in your memory because of how tragic it was.
As I said, HEA are the best, but HFN is not satisfying to me because it's basically saying, "eh, we might be together tomorrow, we might not. We may have a future together and all our dreams might come true, or I might just leave you if things get tough or dull."
I don't want to read that. Heck, I'd take the sad, but beautiful and romantic ending that moves me deeply over the "you're okay for now" one any day. Am I the only one who feels that way? Or are there others who would rather have a good cry over a beautiful, romantic tragedy where you know they really loved each other, over the "you please me for now, but we'll see," ending?
Fear not, most of my books end with HEA, only on occasion do I have a sad one, but there is no doubt whatsoever that they love each other in the deepest possible way.
My goodness, how I carry on. I'll let you go and quit ranting. Happy fall! This weather is gorgeous :)


  1. I came to this site to find the definition of HFN. Why bother...that's way to real for me. I read to escape and enjoy. All this to say that I whole-heartedly agree with your statements!!

  2. Thank you, Avidreader! I agree. I don't feel invested in characters if at the end they're all "Eh, we'll see how it goes." If I were the heroine in such books my reply to the hero would be "No, you're mine...forever!" Lol :)