That’s the question a lot of romance writers get. So, if the hero and heroine get together in the end, and it’s happy ever after, why read the book?
For the journey, that’s why.
Every genre has an expected ending. In crime novels, the criminal must be caught and punished. In mystery novels, the mystery must be solved. In spy novels, the mission must be achieved, or at least ended. In romance, the hero and heroine (or hero and hero, or heroes and heroines, or any variation thereof) must have a happy ending.
In one book I wrote a ménage, with two mermen and their lucky lady, Liquid Crystal. Although it was an unequal ménage, ie one of the participants made it clear he wasn’t in it for the long haul, some readers were still unhappy with the ending. However, Kai had his own loves waiting for him, and I didn’t want to disappoint them.
A few years ago an author called Cameron Dean published a trilogy of novels, which her publishers promoted as romance. The hero was a vampire, the heroine a slayer, but despite being on different sides of the fence, the vampire and the slayer fell in love. The vampire had a death wish, and there was no chance for the hero and heroine because they were different races. Just the kind of conflict a romance reader adores.
Only, you know what? (I can’t go into too much detail because it would spoil the whole series)
It didn’t happen the way a romance reader would expect. If the series had been marketed as something else – a love story, a story with romantic elements, poaranormal suspense—then the reader’s expectations would have been different, and the ending wouldn’t have enraged the romance reading community. Cameron Dean never published anything else, at least, not under that name.
I don’t know if she was given advice to sell the series as romance, or whether she decided that for herself, but it didn’t work. It’s like having a murder mystery novel where the detective shrugs his shoulders in the library scene and says, “I haven’t a clue who murdered the vicar—does anybody know?”
Romantic suspense is in some ways a cross-genre. There are two requirements—the romance has to have the right ending, and the mystery must be solved, or at least be resolved as far as the hero and heroine are concerned. It’s a tall order, or it can be. I plan my books, so I know where I’m going, like someone relying on GPS to get from place to place. I have no idea how people who write romantic suspense by the seat of their pants does it, but it must surely include a lot of revisions.
When I alter the plot of a book, it’s like a ladder in a stocking—it runs all the way down. That’s even more pronounced in romantic suspense. The ladder has to be followed and repaired, so all the consequences fall back into line. To do that over and over would just about kill me, so I have a lot of respect for people who can hold all the threads of the book in their heads and work it through flawlessly.
I’m sometimes confuses as to what romantic suspense it, to be honest. The one I thought was romantic suspense, “Learning to Trust,” was marketed as a contemporary romance, and I won an award for a book I thought was a historical romance—“Harley Street.” I also write two series, the Department 57 series and the STORM series, which has paranormal secret agents. Kind of James Bond with tooth and claw!
I guess I just write. But whatever I do, it’s always romance, because I’m a sucker for romance.