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54 Comments

  1. Deepti Menon
    January 30, 2024 @ 9:09 pm

    Romance novels, in my opinion, always end on a happy note. I think readers pick them up because they want to get away from the mundane and get drenched in romance. Love stories are different… the original ‘Love Story’ ended unhappily, but still had a tremendous impact on its readers, and later, its viewers. Maybe it is time to stir the pot, and allow the authors to tell the stories they want in the manner they choose! An interesting post, thank you!

    Reply

  2. Romila
    January 30, 2024 @ 10:32 pm

    Your post has touched on an ongoing conversation within the romance book community. The debate over the necessity of a happily ever after (HEA) in romance novels has been persistent. The recognition that love stories can be messy and not always result in a happy ending adds an element of realism to your words. Your idea of exploring alternative endings and challenging traditional notions of happily ever afters has definitely made me consider a broader range of possibilities within the romance genre as I do write this genre a lot since my twitter days!

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    • Kaveri Chhetri
      February 16, 2024 @ 1:56 pm

      I am a sucker for romance Ritu n I loooooove happy endings. Just reading your post n the thot that love stories may not have happy endings is sending a chill down my spine😛. I dont think I can handle realistic endings in a romance novel. One reason why I read romance is for the happy ending as it is mostly assured😀

      Reply

  3. Nilshree
    January 30, 2024 @ 10:54 pm

    Reading for many is an escape from the ordinary! Many wish to fantasize romance, while many consider staying and and walking off should also be shown if required! I believe it depends on the requirement of plot and character traits! It’s gonna be diluted for me always I think! Loved the way you presented it!

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  4. Cindy DSilva
    January 31, 2024 @ 9:18 am

    I think the HEA is supposed to give you the satisfied feeling after you’re easy read. People want to get out of their daily lives that may not have had a happy ending and read something that does. But yeah maybe it’s good to check out a book with an alternative ending. Let me know if you find one.

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  5. Anamika Agnihotri
    January 31, 2024 @ 10:50 am

    This was an interesting read. For me, if the journey is satisfying then who cares whether one chooses oneself or the other in the end. Yet, at the same time, the romantic me would be happy if the 2 characters end up together after a good journey.

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  6. Preeti Chauhan
    January 31, 2024 @ 11:25 am

    The ending is important but so is the journey. Thankfully now romance is not limited to young romance, we are seeing mature ones too and with changing times, marriage as the epitome and end of a successful romance may not always be expected.I feel a well told story is what is important.

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  7. Marietta Pereira
    January 31, 2024 @ 4:19 pm

    As a hard core romantic, I love Happily Ever After, but I am also ready and open to more realistic endings because, in real life, there are all kinds of endings. You have expressed your thoughts very well, and this sure made for an interesting read.

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  8. Marietta Pereira
    January 31, 2024 @ 4:20 pm

    As a hard-core romantic, I love Happily Ever After, but I am also ready and open to more realistic endings because, in real life, there are all kinds of endings. You have expressed your thoughts very well, and this sure made for an interesting read.

    Reply

  9. Chandra Sundeep
    February 1, 2024 @ 11:46 am

    I rarely read romance! Give me a killer any day. Lol!

    Reply

    • Raghav
      February 11, 2024 @ 8:42 pm

      Ranbir’s first movie Saawariya was based on Dostovesky’s white nights. Film didn’t work out because of its anticlimatic ending. But for some reason, I loved it.

      Finally found someone who can relate.

      Reply

  10. Tarang
    February 1, 2024 @ 10:40 pm

    I want a happily ever after ending if it’s a love story. I feel ki love story ho to happy ending waali ho warna na ho. 🙂

    But, strangely Me Before You is one of my favourite books. Plus, I love open ended climaxes (both as a reader and writer). So basically it depends on the writing style, storytelling and characters.

    Reply

  11. Zenobia Merchant
    February 2, 2024 @ 3:47 pm

    Romance and books in a post, isnt that therapeutic as love itself. An avid reader myself, romance to me is so much more than the clichéd boy and girl lived happily ever after. For me love is a Khaled Hosseini book or a ’40 Rules of Love’ or ‘The Stationary Shop of Tehran’ where not necessarily all is happy and well, rather everyone is finally at peace and in love with themselves.

    Reply

  12. Jaideep Khanduja
    February 2, 2024 @ 7:37 pm

    Finding beauty in imperfect endings adds depth and authenticity to romance novels. It’s the journey, flaws and all, that makes love stories truly resonate.

    Reply

  13. Tanvi Agarwal
    February 2, 2024 @ 8:13 pm

    Your take on romantic novel is impressive, though I have read a few romance novels only but I can resonate with the points you have tried to cover here. It’s true not all stories ends with HEA because afterall someone have to spill the reality the cycle of birth and death.

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    • Swati Mathur
      February 11, 2024 @ 10:32 pm

      Personally I like happy ending in any romantic novel but I think I would like to see something different as you mentioned. This might be more creative and challenging too.

      Reply

  14. Tulika
    February 3, 2024 @ 1:05 pm

    Challenging set norms is the only way to keep things interesting. I have to admit I absolutely love happily ever afters. For that reason I am no fan of love triangles or people dying in love stories. It’s too heartbreaking. And yet in some books (like Me Before You, for instance) it just wouldn’t have been right. Authors should keep the story as organic as possible. If a parting in inevitable or if the protagonists are happier apart, that’s a happy ending for me. Forcing a HEA, or an end that is too neatly tied up in predictable ways annoys me as a reader.

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  15. Neeta Kadam
    February 3, 2024 @ 11:16 pm

    Romance in novel is always with A happy Ending. But I personally prefer to have happy ending but in reality it is not happening. I feel there should be change , discovery of self love, personal growth are too beautiful considering point. I love your post the way you pen down.

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    • Anuradha
      February 13, 2024 @ 1:09 pm

      One of my favorite Author wrote a love story which I didn’t actually relate to the ending as it felt like a Bollywood movie ending. I don’t knew if I should negate with the way of Author ended the novel. I can relate to this article.

      Reply

  16. sadvik kylash
    February 4, 2024 @ 7:39 am

    Previously I was a positive/self-help reader. Recently shifted to Romance/Adult Fiction/Dark Romances.
    I would want to confess that I do love reading them. And always a happy ending is not seen much in these genres of books. But being happy for now is always my thing.

    Reply

  17. Matheikal
    February 4, 2024 @ 12:19 pm

    What’s romance without a happy ending? Personally, i don’t read romance fiction. But i can’t imagine romance without joy.

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  18. Charvi Koul
    February 4, 2024 @ 1:18 pm

    This is a great post, Ritu and you raise a very interesting question. I hadn’t thought of it myself, but yes I do expect a happy ending when I read romance. It’s what I primarily read for escapism so of course I want a HEA. But if not a happy ending, at least some sort of emotional closure like at the end of RW&RB and What If It’s Us is definitely a requirement. If a book is purely a romance book then it’s main goal is to have a romance readers root for, which means making sure that the relationship flourishes overall and ends at a high.
    I’d say there’s more of a leeway if romance is a sub-plot because then the readers aren’t there solely for the romance and can rely on the larger plot for satisfaction and closure.

    Reply

  19. Suchita Agarwal
    February 5, 2024 @ 12:01 pm

    A very interesting debate here. I agree, when I pick up a romance book, I usually expect an HEA but I will still say what I mean by that is a happily ever after that makes emotional sense for the characters. Like La La Land or the closure that Alexis gets in Schitt’s Creek. I quite hate too neat stories.

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  20. Neha Sharma
    February 6, 2024 @ 11:50 am

    I love a good romance with a HEA, but a realistic twist can add depth. It’s about the journey and emotions, not just the fairy tale ending. But a romance book should feel like one, I would not want to end a book with tears and questions without any answers. Well, it’s a great debate!

    Reply

  21. Samata
    February 6, 2024 @ 8:55 pm

    Your opinion and perspective on romance books with imperfect ending gives me a clear indication about the way you observe, analyze and feel the content of the book. I am not at all in love with happily ever after or he meets she, type of romance books. Love  or romance is not that simple which many believe is  for all. Majority of the authors even today write on the same line and that is what made me take a shift from the romance genre. I love to read realistic stories which can have an imperfect ending but appealing.  Hats off to you Ritu.

    Reply

  22. Janaki
    February 7, 2024 @ 11:47 am

    I have never given a thought to this question. For me HEA was a given, perhaps. But true, why should it be. I’s not even realistic. And again we read romantic books to escape from the drudgery of daily lives so we want happiness there. So, in conclusion I think…its just a personal choice. We cannot have a rule of thumb for romance novels.

    Reply

  23. Ninu Nair
    February 7, 2024 @ 11:53 am

    I am guilty of always craving for a HEA, no matter how absurd it may look for the plot to suddenly make a turnaround and feed me that happy moment! Although it’s been a long time since I read a romance novel, so wish to be inundated with recommendations this month.
    This was an amazing post and maybe someday I will begin to embrace imperfect endings.

    Reply

  24. Manali Desai
    February 7, 2024 @ 6:51 pm

    “Closure. Self-discovery. Personal growth. The protagonist prioritizing self over continuing in a relationship with fingers and toes crossed? These can be considered emotionally satisfying too.”

    These were my exact problems with the romances that I read and somehow did not enjoy a 100%. As the saying goes, “Be the change you want to see in the world”, I took these up in my own stories. Yes, it does leave some readers unsatisfied, but hey, I’m bringing about a change and also, I write for myself first. 

    Thank you for this post, Ritu. We need more readers to understand and embrace these things. 

    Reply

  25. Sonia Dogra
    February 8, 2024 @ 8:08 pm

    I prefer realistic endings. Also, what you say about formula romances, I am tired of formula writing in every genre. Market demands? Phew!

    Reply

  26. Careena
    February 9, 2024 @ 4:50 pm

    I whole heartedly agree with you. Romance is my escape genre. So a happy ending is a must. That said, it should make sense for the characters and the journey they’ve had till this point. So it doesn’t have to end at an altar as long as the characters themselves are in a happy place, if not forever then just for now. Great take on this lasting debate!

    Reply

  27. Ambica Gulati
    February 10, 2024 @ 7:50 am

    There’s something endearing about HEA! I do love the Mills and Boon for that. But yes, my most memorable books have been those which didn’t have the perfect end, they left me with a longing, a yearning to create a HEA. Realistically, I read romantic books and love stories to fulfill that HEA need, but I enjoy other endings too.

    Reply

  28. ruchi nasa
    February 10, 2024 @ 5:17 pm

    I prefer realistic endings. May be my protagonist did not get the prince charming, but she embarked on a journey of self-growth. A Walk to remember is one of my favourites, where Jamie dies, leaves you teary eyed, but is such a beautiful love-story.

    Reply

  29. Docdivatraveller
    February 11, 2024 @ 8:52 am

    I really get where you are coming from. Realistic endings are great but somehow when we pick up a rom com, we expect to sail to a perfect ending. I recently read a book where protagonists grew up with each other, from the age of 4 to 21. Only to break up thereafter. Somehow I couldn’t accept it although I myself know such people who have been with their childhood sweethearts for 2 decades only to marry someone else. Anyways such is life.

    Reply

  30. Kanchan Singh
    February 11, 2024 @ 10:39 am

    The way you dissect the traditional notion of a happy ending in romance novels and question its necessity is refreshing, i am totally agree with it. I also want to see more in romance than happy ending and cliches

    Reply

  31. Sindhu
    February 11, 2024 @ 11:16 am

    I’m someone who does not look forward only to HEA. Becaus I sometimes feel why is it even necessary to have if you know that is not realistic. I’ve not liked certain books because it looked like it was a forced HEA..but the question of argument is never-ending.

    Reply

  32. Anjali Tripathi Upadhyay
    February 11, 2024 @ 3:28 pm

    As someone who loves romance stories with happy endings, I totally get where you’re coming from. But you’ve got me thinking about how real life doesn’t always give us fairy tale endings. You’ve done a great job of sharing your thoughts on this topic, and I found it really interesting to read. It’s got me thinking about how romance novels can reflect real life in different ways, and how there’s room for all kinds of endings in stories. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

    Reply

  33. Madhu Bindra
    February 11, 2024 @ 5:47 pm

    Back in the days I used to read romance novels, I was expected a happy ending. Times are changing and realistic stories are now in demand. Good or bad, that depends on the reader.

    Reply

  34. Aditya Sathe
    February 11, 2024 @ 7:43 pm

    I just don’t like a deleberate “rona dhona” in the name of realism added to the nice story which had a complete recipe for a success and happiness

    Reply

  35. Felicia Nazareth
    February 11, 2024 @ 7:46 pm

    I’m torn on this one. On one hand, I love the comfort of a predictable happy ending. On the other, there’s something refreshing about a story that breaks the mold.

    Reply

  36. sadvik kylash
    February 11, 2024 @ 9:12 pm

    I have started reading romance of lately and I love reading them. Yes as you said, even if it not a happy ever after I would want to have a happy for now. thats what I would look out for

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  37. Harjeet Kaur
    February 11, 2024 @ 9:12 pm

    The conclusion holds significance, yet the path is equally vital. Fortunately, romance is no longer confined to youth; mature love stories are emerging. In the present era, marriage doesn’t always signify the culmination of a successful romance. I believe a well-narrated story takes precedence, always.

    Reply

  38. Sakshi Varma
    February 11, 2024 @ 10:25 pm

    The minute I started reading your blog I thought about Gone with the Wind and my heartbreak when Rhett leaves at the end. I think I read the sequel too just for the happy ending but that was not a well written book and I barely remember anything from that book. So yes, I would love to have a happy ending 🙂

    Reply

  39. Pooja Jha
    February 12, 2024 @ 3:32 am

    I loved reading love stories but I do understand that all love stories can’t have Happy ending. Of course I took a little while to realize this but, now I enjoy the journey of the book more than wanting a happy ending.

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  40. Ishieta
    February 12, 2024 @ 3:33 am

    In the first go, I was going to say, Yes, it has to be a HEA, otherwise, WHY would I read it… but as I went on to read your article, i realized that, you are right, my emotional satisfaction is ACTUALLY what I am after – and as long as I am satisfied by the journey, development and ending, that I am happy at the end of the book – that is more important that a Happy ending itself.
    As you rightly said, if a story has toxic elements, that I would rather that the folks break up, move out, move on, get on with life, heal and live.. and that for me, would be a happier book. Rather than, stories where I see a lot of abuse, toxic behavior and language, and in the end, their is compromise and an allusion to a happily-ever-after! na-uh! here, a breakup is the happier ending 🙂

    Reply

  41. Pamela Mukherjee
    February 12, 2024 @ 1:51 pm

    I am a hard-core romantic and love to read romance novels. I do agree that a happy ending is very important in romance novels, but at some points where there is no happy ending , those books scrawl a little more in our hearts and minds. My favourite authors whose novels ended with sad notes are are Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Rabindranath Tagore, bamkim Chandra Upaddhyay, Emily Bronte, etc. But if I talk about my fav romantic authors who give me goosebumps with amazing happy endings, they are Jane Austen, Nicolas Sparks, Nimai Bhattacharya, Danielle Steel, etc.

    Reply

  42. Krina
    February 12, 2024 @ 9:58 pm

    Oh. You got me. This is why I have stopped read Romance books. I always tell people a. It’s not real. B. I miss the stabbing that I find in Fantasy books.! Jokes part, loved this.

    Reply

  43. Geethica
    February 12, 2024 @ 11:11 pm

    I am happy with a romance novel only if it has a happy closure and no open endings or sad ones. Romance is an escape from the real world so this has to be as per my happiness. I will be happy only if the protagonist rests happily in the end.

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  44. Chinmayee Gayatree Sahu
    February 14, 2024 @ 9:35 pm

    People mostly pick up a Romance Novel to feel good. A love story might have a realistic ending and readers are evolving too with the change in societal norms. They may want to read more realistic endings. A thought-provoking post and an interesting take on the prompt!

    Reply

  45. Aastha
    February 14, 2024 @ 11:38 pm

    I feel readers pick the happily ending books because they read those as an escape from their life or the situations they wanna get away from in real life.

    Reply

  46. Neelam Sharma
    February 15, 2024 @ 1:34 pm

    For numerous individuals, reading serves as a departure from the mundane aspects of life. While some yearn for romantic fantasies, I reckon it hinges on the demands of the storyline and character development. Personally, I suspect it will always feel somewhat diluted to me. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed your article of it!

    Reply

  47. Prasanna Raghavan
    February 16, 2024 @ 12:57 pm

    Hi, Ritu,
    Your post touched on a confusion I had ever since I concluded the last line of my story, Under the Bakula Tree (citing as a personal example). Its theme was sisterhood, and romance was a subplot. Should I end it following the romance convention, as HEA was my concern? I resolved it, making it HFN or comfortable. A few of my book reviewers pointed out the readers would feel I hurried over the end. (I respect their point of view) So, I was pondering whether I did justice to my readers. However, after reading your post, I feel that it was ok. I am familiar with the discussion on the topic in the writing community. Some are for the HEA ending, and some for the other. And the point of realism you have touched on is another exciting concern. Do the happy-ever-after balloons and rituals guarantee love? Love is commitment and romance, showing love.

    Reply

  48. Aditya Sathe
    February 17, 2024 @ 2:58 pm

    If you want reaism, life is playing it for us everyday… that’s why I enjoy happily-ever-afters…..

    Reply

  49. V. Ananya
    February 17, 2024 @ 5:05 pm

    I see where you’re coming from. This HEA or no HEA debate has been around since I joined social media.
    My opinion? I personally love stories that look like they’re steered in the directon of a tragic ending, then suddenly, take a turn towards a happy ending. Consequence of watching Asian dramas? 😉

    Reply

  50. AJOLA GANESAN
    February 19, 2024 @ 10:32 am

    I am always after happy endings. In fact before reading a novel or before watching a movie, I ask the people whether it is a happy ending or sad ending one. If its a sad ending, I don’t watch the movie or read the book. Your explanation for the romance novels and love stories is amazing!

    Reply

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