Happily Ever After Vs. Happy For Now

Happily Ever After or Happy For Now.

Those are the choices offered in modern romance novels.

As a reader, you may be surprised that there are endings in some romance novels that are "happy for now."

The matter of these 2 endings are still discussed by romance authors, but not as often as when the possibility of an alternate ending was mentioned by publishers several years ago.

To me, a "happy for now" ending means the couple really aren't made for each other. Since the primary focus of a romance novel is the relationship–the love–between two people.

Once, publishers of romance novels demanded writers end the story with a happily ever after. Then, in response to societal changes, publishers decreed that the ending could be, in their words, "an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending."

Hmm. Logically speaking, there's a huge difference between happily ever after and emotionally satisfying and optimistic.

I suppose the alternate ending for a romance novel was supposed to reflect the cynicism of contemporary times. 

After all, one often hears that more than half of marriages ends in divorce, but that's not actually true.

For the last 50 years, the modern romance has held sway as the most popular genre. It has matured and spun off sub-genres like romantic comedy, action adventure, mystery, paranormal which spun off vampires, angels, demons, ghosts, time travel, etc., and just about every kind of story you can imagine.

With all the changes and growth in the romance genre, I guess it's not surprising that happily ever after morphed into the optimistic and satisfying. But, I'm not willing to give up my happily ever after–in real life or fiction.

Takeaway Truth

With the romance novels I write, I aim high. I want that happily ever after for my characters, not just an optimistic, satisfying ending. 

I always say the premise of my books is: "It's never too late to live happily ever after."


  1. I'm old. I like Happily Ever After. I KNOW how much work it is and how worth it it is and that it really, really can happen. And, like you said, it's never too late.

  2. *LOL* I truly think it has nothing to do with age, but with what we expect. For many, it's what they think they deserve. You're right. It is a lot of work, BUT anything worthwhile usually takes a lot of work.