Friday, February 25

Where's My HEA?

I love romance. Especially the HEA. Unfortunately, I haven't always gotten it. I don't think everyone, outside romance writers, knows the difference between a romance and a love story. I settled down one evening to watch Nights in Rodanthe. It was listed as a romance. My sister told me how much she thought I'd love it. She knows I love a good romance.

The movie started off beautifully. The hero and heroine helped each other get over their issues and they had a lovely, passionate, make you sigh romance. Spoiler alert. The hero dies at the end. I was pissed! Where was my HEA? I felt cheated. Don't get me wrong. I liked the movie, but I wanted my HEA!

That was not the first time I had this experience. The same thing happened when I went to see Titanic. I knew people were going to die. I know the Titanic's history. But damn, damn, damn! The hero died at the end. The movie Green Card. The hero gets deported. This has happened time and time again.

Sometimes I'm in the mood for a love story. When something is listed as a love story, I know things may not work out, and I'm prepared. But you don't often see a movie listed as a love story. Maybe someone should clue in the networks.

This is why I like reading romance novels. I always know what I'm going to get at the end. My HEA.


  1. With you all the way, Shawn! I hate those love-stories-that-aren't. Makes me crazy... Yeah, I love a good drama (or comedy or horror flick), but billing a movie (or book) as one thing and delivering another? Me no likee.

  2. Amen, Shawn! When I read a romance, I want to escape from "real life stress" and slip into a world of heart-thumping scenes that culminate into a happy sigh when I reach that last page. I DO NOT want to be left feeling more depressed than I was when I finished filling up at the gas pump. GIMME THAT HEA!!!

  3. Oh! My husband and I were just talking about this! He used Titanic as an example. He asked - Wasn't the movie Titanic a romance? I said - No, it was a love story. A love story can have a tragic ending. A romance cannot. How interesting!

  4. I had to callmy sister and explain to her why Nights in Rodanthe wasn't a romance. And Maeve,you're so right. Movies that end without an HEA can leave you depressed.

  5. LOL. Love your post. Haven't you noticed when men write love stories, someone always dies? I don't actually read Nicholas Sparks books, I just flip to the end to see who dies. But consider the romance/love stories written by men (Anything written by Sparks, James Patterson, Cold Mountain, Bridges of Madison County). Apparently men feel that to have a true love, someone needs to die.

    Best romantic movie of all time (in my humble opinion and that of my sister and my daughter) Dangerous Beauty. I highlighted it last week in my post, but seriously a great love story with gorgeous actors and hot sex and your requisite HEA.

  6. Margie, I need to get that movie. And yes, I have noticed that men tend to kill off someone.

  7. I took some university classes on literature, aesthetics and philosophy that might shed some light on this problem. Please don't get scared off yet. The word "Romance" originally referred to stories sung in the medieval ages in the romance languages --French, Spanish, and Italian-- as opposed to Latin. From today's perspective these stories are science-fiction/fantasy. Retellings of these romances invariably goes on the SF shelf. Only recently has "romance" been used for HEA love stories. In French and Spanish, "romance" still refers to any novel regardless of subject matter or ending. In English, "romance" can mean: a novel, a poem written in the medieval ages, a love story, or a love story with a happy ending. The English language sure gets confusing.

    So back to philosophy. Bear with me for some history. Aristotle, the first person known to have written literary criticism, recognized two types of stories: comedy and tragedy. Comedy means HEA, and isn't necessarily funny. Tragedy means sad ending or as some put it-- the stage covered with bodies in the third act. Aristotle also wrote about modes of music. If a story is a tragedy is usually apparent from the beginning. It's similar to being able to distinguish between minor and major musical keys.

    The earliest love-story romances were predominantly tragedies. I mean stories like Tristan and Isolt, Lancelot and Guinevere, and Romeo and Juliet. They typically feature unrequited love. So Titanic is truly a romance and deserves that title because it's quite similar to these other stories of unrequited love. It also has plenty of dead bodies in the third act. It's tragic romance, same category as Romeo and Juliet.

    Modern American culture has a strong preference for comedy over tragedy. Very few American writers or producers will deliberately try to pass off tragedy(dead bodies in the third act) as comedy(HEA). Tragedy is a tough sell, so it better be damn good to get on the screen or published.

    In the book store, the books on the romance shelf are all comedic romance, but tragic romance can be found on other shelves: mystery, horror, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction. Sometimes with "A Romance" written on the cover. I believe I can tell the difference by either the artwork on the cover or by the trailers.

    To avoid reading tragic romance read off the romance shelf in the book store and watch moves labeled romantic comedy. But then sometimes you might find that tragic romance is so good that you just have to read it.
    For finding HEA it may be better to key in on "comedy" rather than on "romance."

  8. Good to know, Shawn! You can tell I'm a newbie. I didn't know the difference. This may have kept me from making my future readers irate! I'll have to distinguish because I write both. Thanks for the head's up. -Kara