Or, in writer's jargon, the HEA. If you plan to write a romance novel, it's something you've gotta have. Just gotta. No ifs, ands or buts about it. In one way or another, there's to to be a HEA. Because that's what readers want. And savvy writers...well, they give readers what they want.
In romance novels the Happily Ever After can be accompanied by any number of things. Hearts. Flowers. Heaving bosoms. Manly stirrings (you know the ones, don't you? Come on, think about it for a minute. That's right, those stirrings. Now you've got it!). Proclamations of love or faithfulness. Passion. That's right. The Happily Ever After in romance novels is often accompanied by passion, or at least the hint of passion.
But have you noticed the HEA is hardly ever --never, almost-- set against the whine of a dying transmission? Shrouded in the stench of a backed up garbage disposal? Or that undying love is rarely proclaimed with a runny nose? Wearing stinky sweat socks? Or muddy boots? Bosoms never heave while wiping cat fur from the front of a Save Lives! Spay an Animal! sweatshirt? An manly stirrings? Why don't they ever stir while the man attached to the stirring is stirring a pot of soup, cooking up a lasagne or even grilling a cheese sandwich? Hmm? Why?
Does it mean that romance doesn't have all these less-than-lovely components? Absolutely not! It just means that most readers want to see the glow, surge of passion, delicate touch of lips and, let's face it, the heaving bosom and manly stirrings of first love.
But, as those of us who have been fortunate enough to find our own HEA know, those things aren't really the true HEA. They're merely the start of the whole adventure. Happily Ever After, with all the trimmings, commitment and foreverness is accompanied by soup, sniffles, pesky appliances, animal fur, bigger-than-planned-for expenses, noisy mufflers, stinky socks and clogged drains.
I know you're shaking your heads right now but I'm serious. Happily Ever After, if it's true, until-death-do-us-part love, comes with its share of glitches, bumps and hurdles. And getting past all those things to remember the love that brought about the arrangement?
Now that's a real Happily Ever After. The stuff that, you know, romances are made of!