The ending to every book is crucial. I’m sorry, but it just is. You can write a stellar book, keep the reader spellbound the entire time, but if you mess up the ending, what does the reader remember?

That’s right. A lousy ending.

But what makes a GOOD ending in a romance?

I mentioned in my “must haves” for romance novels that a happy ending is essential. For me, personally, as a reader and hopeless romantic, I’ll even go one step beyond.

Hero and Heroine have to be TOGETHER at the end. Not always married, but pretty close!

There, I said it. Debate it if you will. Disagree with me or what not. But when I reach the last page of a “romance” novel, I better be 100% sure that these two people are going to end up together. No probably. No foreshadowing. No “I like you so let’s see where things lead….” Blah, spit in the sand, throw book across the room. (So I’m a wee bit dramatic….)

Now, if you write suspense with layers of romance, that’s a bit different. Same with women’s fiction with a romantic element. If romance is secondary and you aren’t branding the book as a romance, then do with it what you want–as long as you still have a happy ending.

I know I’m coming off highly opinionated on this one, but it’s important. There’s a trust issue that comes into play when a reader invests time to see how this romance will play out. If the book ends with the romance unresolved, the trust is broken.

By the way, a sequel that resolves it does not make things okay. The only time I lived with that was Francine River’s Mark of the Lion series. But I gotta tell you, unless your first name is Francine and last name is Rivers and you end with the heroine being eaten by a lion… good luck with that:-)

DISCUSSION: Please feel free to disagree or agree. Am I the only one that feels this way? In ROMANCE novels (different than love stories) what do you think is essential for an ending?



  1. For sure, in straight up romance novels (not literary or women's fiction or love stories), hero and heroine have to be together at the end. For me, this doesn't need to be marriage or a proposal or anything like that. But a kiss and a declaration of love is nice! 🙂

  2. LOL I'm with you. It really isn't a romance if the characters aren't together by the end. That's where there's the difference between love stories and romances.

    I'm with you Krista, definitely with you!

  3. I wanted to go…"Duh"!!!!

    Of course romances have to have a happy ending!!!! Who wants a sob story ending???? Romance is all about the love and happily ever after. The chase and the catch….not the catch and release.

    Give me a hot kiss ending and I'm a happy gal! 😉 (okay, so the ending doesn't necessarily HAVE to be a kiss….but it's sure nice.)

  4. I totally agree, Krista. In fact, I'm stalled at my "big ending" right now. I have about 3K left to write, and I'm not feelin' it. I want to wait until I can nail it, then move on. 🙂

    And I also agree with the together ending. I'm even more greedy than you–I want them married, and love epilogues with babies. (I'm an incurable romantic. What can I say.)

    Great post!

  5. For sure! So, how do you feel about books where the romance climax comes too soon? I tend to skim the rest of the book. But I'm curious what others do.

  6. It's so funny you mention the ending of A Voice in the Wind – I can remember reading that book when it first came out (yeesh was that '93 or '94…good grief that's been a while!). Anyway, when I came to the end AND THAT WAS IT, I can remember throwing the book across the room and I am pretty sure I screamed. The year wait for the sequel just about did me in. 😉

  7. Jody, I have mixed feelings about it.

    I think the climax can also come too LATE, but that's a personal opinion. It's frustrating and unrealistic when the hero/heroine hate each other the whole book, but then on the last page, realize their undying love for each other, kiss, and the end. I want to see attraction well before that.. (and personally a kiss before the last page too! *grin*)

    I'm trying to think of my own books… My heroine/hero are attracted to each other and want to be together the whole book, or most of it, but conflict and things outside their control prevent it.

    but you're right… when there are no surprises left half way through the book, or even 3/4, it gets boring to read.

  8. Ruth, thankfully when I read it, the sequel was already out. I ran to the story within the hour and purchased it:-)

  9. Gosh isn't HEA mean together at the end? It wouldn't be an HEA for me if they weren't. If I haven't already congratulated you, huge congrats on the baby! I spied on twitter you'll learn the gender next week. I'm thrilled for you!

  10. Gosh isn't HEA mean together at the end? It wouldn't be an HEA for me if they weren't. If I haven't already congratulated you, huge congrats on the baby! I spied on twitter you'll learn the gender next week. I'm thrilled for you!

  11. I agree! Hero and heroine must be in love, must be together, and must declare it emphatically. I want to laugh, cry, and get that goofy look on my face when something utterly sweet happens!

  12. I'm with you all the way on this one, Krista.

    After reading a whole book and journeying toward the big finale, I don't like endings that leave you guessing.

    Susan 🙂

  13. Jill and Ruth, thanks for the good laugh! Jill, I know all about that goofy look, and isn't ALWAYS when the hubby walks in the room? He just groans and walks right back out. Great post, Krista. I totally agree.

  14. LOve, love this post! YES! Yes!
    I need a satisfactory ending, something that gives me hope. I DO like when writers (including those of the romance type) vary the formula a bit. I'm thinking Casablanca, Becoming Jane, etc.

  15. I think that's a fair expectation for a Romance novel. I write women's fiction so it's a little different. But I expect the same from a romance novel too.

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