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Day 10 of the 31 Days of Books Giveaway – Must There Be Marriage In Order To Have Happily Ever After?
January 10th, 2014

Congratulations to Kitty Bucholtz, who won yesterday’s drawing! I’ll be emailing Kitty to arrange delivery of her choice of book. Kitty has won twice now, which puts her into the Hall of Fame!

Let’s get back to romance novels. Traditionally, the structure of a romance novel has been boy meets girl, obstacles prevent boy and girl from getting together, obstacles are overcome, love is declared and the couple marries. This is the story arc that has satisfied romance readers for decades. But I’m wondering, given the society of the 21st century, do you feel the hero and heroine have to commit to marriage before the book ends? Or can they just be together in a committed relationship, like Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell have been for thirty years?

Hear me out. Yes, you have to believe the hero and heroine are together for good when you get to The End. Otherwise you don’t have that satisfaction from the Happily Ever After, which is, after all, the entire purpose for reading a romance novel. We romance readers want that warm and fuzzy feeling at the end of the book, that optimism that this couple, in whom we’ve invested so much emotion, will always be together. For many people, that means marriage.

Is it enough for you to know at the end of the book that this couple has committed to their relationship, even without any talk of formalizing it? Would that be satisfying enough for you as a reader?

Tell me what you think. Those who comment get entered in today’s drawing for a free paperback title from my backlist!


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18 Responses to “Day 10 of the 31 Days of Books Giveaway – Must There Be Marriage In Order To Have Happily Ever After?”

  1. Yati Hadi says:

    yes, there must be marriage in order to have happily ever after …add to it maybe kids in the future which able to make readers imagine future undertakings of both hero and heroin 😉

  2. susan meier says:

    The happy ending for me is all about knowing that no matter what happens, these two will be together 50 or 80 years from now.

    Can we do that without a marriage? Sure.

    The marriage in an epilogue, or a proposal with an engagement ring, is sort of like the icing on the cake. 🙂

    susan meier

    • Debra Mullins says:

      Look at Kurt and Goldie. They’ve been together for 30 years now with no marriage. But I am convinced they are living HEA 🙂

  3. Isabel Mas says:

    What I look for in romance is that the two parties end up together at the end of the book. Whether or not they are married … well, it is not what will sell me a story, nor what will make me consider it as unsatisfying. It’ll be in the way the tale is told, more than how it ends 🙂

    • Debra Mullins says:

      I am sort of in the same boat. If there is a solid commitment to the relationship, I am there. I believe Jayne Ann Krentz did that in her book GIFT OF GOLD. That couple seemed perfectly happy just being together.

  4. Diane Patricia Diamond says:

    I must be honest in that when I’m reading a book, I do love it to end with the couple married, and living happy ever after. However, I have very dear friends’ who have been engaged now for thirty years. They’re as happy now, as the day they first met. My friends’ said that a piece of paper makes no difference to them. They don’t have any children, but if they had done, then they probably would have married.

    • Debra Mullins says:

      I think for a lot of romance readers, the marriage seals the deal. They know they can put the book down with the knowledge that the couple is together for good. Yet I can see being together with mutual commitment as being just as good. These people might decide to get married down the road for legal reasons–children, significant other’s rights if the other person is in the hospital, tax reasons, etc., but the relationship might be just fine without the formal papers otherwise.

  5. I need to not only believe the hero and heroine are together forever, but that they intend to get married and continue their adventure. Kurt and Goldie are the happy exception, not the rule. I went to a wedding once where they pledged to be married “as long as we both shall love.” Well, that’s just hogwash! That’s not a commitment. (They are, by the way, divorced.) If I were reading a book where it was implied they were going to move into together and have his and hers checking accounts, I’d burn the book.

    Um, yes, I DO have an opinion on this. LOL!!

    By the way, YAY about the Hall of Fame!! LOL!!

    • Debra Mullins says:

      Yes, Kitty, you join Raonaid in the Hall of Fame. 🙂

      These diverse opinions are one of the reasons I thought this might be a cool topic. In some cases, what you feel for yourself in your own relationships might be different from what you feel about fictional characters in a romance novel. Or it might be exactly the same. Fascinating stuff.

  6. Raonaid Luckwell says:

    When I read a book the author must convey that the heroine and hero are going to be together for the long haul. And it doesn’t have to be marriage. Marriage is not for everyone.

    Take what I’m writing for example. Neither are the relationship type. But they manage to transcend that, they go through their obstacles but they don’t marry

  7. Joyce Ward says:

    They may not have to marry at the end of the book, but I like when there’s a commitment or a promise of marriage later.

  8. Lisa says:

    Absolutely not! You don’t need a happily ever after either.

    • Debra Mullins says:

      In romances, you do. It’s part of the genre. A romance without an HEA would be like a murder mystery with no murder *G*.

  9. Melissa Dennis says:

    I don’t think that marriage and happily ever after need to be saddled together. So long as the couple is in for the long haul that is fine. Not everyone needs marriage to be happy together.


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