Already knowing if the book has an HEA ending… spoiler or not?

by Maryse on July 9, 2013 · 63 comments

in Editorial

Everyone knows I’m 100% anti-spoiler. In fact, for me… just knowing a book has an “HEA” (happily ever after) is, well… sort of a spoiler for me. Not a deal-breaker like some spoilers I’ve come across, but if I already know “all’s well that ends well” in the end, the drama and turmoil that leads me by the nose as I read it, might not be as intense. ‘Cause I already know… they get back together in the end. Or… nobody dies. Or she gets rescued etc etc… I dunno. I mean, what’s the fun in that?

Jeannie: I’m kind of upset because a review gave away a major spoiler for ***. Now the book is just not going to be the same – I really wish people would give spoiler warnings.

Maryse’s Book Blog: I’m so anti-spoiler that I don’t even want to know if there’s an HEA in a book. I know many decide on their reading choices choosing only those they are certain have an HEA, but to me it’s almost kind of like giving away the ending. I enjoy it more if I’m worried the entire time that the author might NOT give me the ending I want… you know? Makes it more intense for me, feeling-wise if I don’t already know “they get back together in the end”.

Jeannie: I know! But it’s kind of like weighing myself everyday, I know I shouldn’t, but I just can’t help myself.

LOL Jeannie! I know. It’s hard going into a book not knowing how you’re going to react by the end. I’ve been devastated a few times, that’s for sure. But still… not devastated enough (in the long run) to want to keep protecting myself under the “HEA veil”.

In fact, I was chatting with an author friend over supper a few days ago, and we were discussing exactly that. At first she seemed to be “good” with knowing a book had an HEA beforehand. It didn’t appear to bother her at all (actually, like most of my reading friends it would seem). She reminded me that true romance has to have an HEA so it was just assumed… accepted… that what you’re reading must end well. True.

But most of what I (we) read isn’t traditional romance, and in fact, that’s what I love about the authors today. They really change things up, trick us, hurt us, throw in some seriously twisted angst and sometimes leave us hanging (and/or… make it all work out in the end). The fun is not already knowing where my current ride  (read ;) ) will end up.

So I gave her an example from her very own book. One that had me inside-out for the whole second half. I recounted a few moments of  extreme “drama”, and reminded her about my volatile reaction to those moments. How intensely I connected and memorized every single detail because at that moment, all I knew, was what I was reading at that moment. Nobody told me that it works out for them in the end, and as I was reading the angst, I didn’t see how they could overcome the issues. So I *felt* it more. I was present in that moment and I couldn’t remind myself (ease myself) that all would be okay, because I didn’t already know.

Knowing it’s an HEA is a bit of a cheat for me. Again, not a deal breaker, but I prefer going in blind (example: in love triangle situations, I may know “it ends well” from an HEA alert, but who it ends with is still up in the air. So knowing it’s an HEA in times like that doesn’t mess with my reading experience too badly).

And I know there is a growing trend (and it’s perfectly acceptable in our reading community) to announce a new great read, and let everyone know beforehand that it has an HEA. And I get you guys. I really do. There seems to be nothing worse (in our reading world) than reading a book, getting attached, putting that much time and emotion only to have your heart obliterated in the end. But really… there IS something worse than that. And that’s having an idea beforehand how it ends, keeping you from fully feeling it every step of the way. Or worse yet, keeping you from reading it (’cause you already know it doesn’t end well). Robbing the reader of that full-on life experience. Anything that can make one feel THAT intensely (HEA or not) just can’t be a bad read, now can it?

I also find that I think hard (and for days) on some of the more shocking or “ambiguous” endings. Almost as if those books resonate on a deeper level. They become… unforgettable to me.

Plus, we all get over the sad endings eventually. ;) And once we do, we can’t stop talking about, and thinking about those books. They mark us. Become a huge part of us. And even though we fear recommending them because of the whole “HEA or not” issues, it would be a travesty to judge a book on it’s ending. In fact, I need to buck up and read a book that I myself, have been avoiding, knowing it might not end as perfectly as i’d like. ‘Cause it would seem the world LOVES this book and I’m just hurting myself by not picking it up.

Mind you… I love the adamant “OMG YOU MUST read this, I cried, I yelled, I swooned, I freaked out, best book ever, this book is CRAZY” recommendations. Anything like that is not a spoiler for me. That kind of honest reaction from a fellow reader… the obvious all out love-fest/hate-fest for a book, only serves to entice me. Just don’t tell me how it ends. ;)

So that’s it. My trouble with the “HEA alert” spoiler. What about you? To HEA alert or not to HEA alert? That is the question.

P.S. Don’t even get me started on movie trailers. They’re practically the whole movie in scenes (at least the most important parts), minus the very ending. But I can usually figure it out by then (and I’m usually right). Grr!

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{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

Elle Casey July 9, 2013 at 12:03 PM

I hear what you’re saying. But for me, I read romance often because I need that emotional rollercoaster that ends on a happy note. If I want to be depressed and hating the world at the end of the book, I’ll specifically look for that kind of book by reading reviews (or I *would* do that, since I don’t like unhappy ending books and avoid reading them). I don’t like to get that as a surprise, and like you said, lots of authors are mixing up the romance genre a lot and doing things that aren’t traditional. I guess I’m a traditionalist in that way! I think, like you said, that we didn’t see “HEA alerts” on romance novel descriptions before because they all were HEA. Personally, I appreciate them now since the genre doesn’t have any fast rules anymore. I don’t like books or movies with sad endings, but that’s just me. I don’t mind a tortured journey, but I want to know I won’t want to throw my Kindle against the wall when I read the last chapter.

Gina linsley July 9, 2013 at 12:05 PM

I’m with ya all the way Maryse! Don’t tell me a thing except that it was good. I was appalled recently when I looked up a reviewers qualifications to read a book and blog about it. It said you had to have a HEA. That’s crap if you ask me. Lately I don’t read a thing about the book before I read it and that’s better for me. Otherwise you know too much and the book may be good but no fun. On the other hand I read through 2 long books in a series that chronicled a couple from childhood to late 80′s, hoping they would eventually get together (2 very long books) next to last chapter the guy is coming over on a boat called the Titanic!!! I threw my kindle across the room. We all know how that ends. That royally pissed me off!

Maryse July 9, 2013 at 12:06 PM

And see, Elle, I completely understand that and can’t disagree with you. I too, prefer HEA’s. I really struggle with bad endings and the pain that can (and has) lasted me days. Yep. But I guess I just don’t want to be 100% certain that it will have one.

Maryse July 9, 2013 at 12:07 PM

I want to cross my fingers and *hope* that the author wouldn’t do that to me. I might even be okay with being 90% sure (maybe the author has a good HEA track-record ;) )… but I don’t want to know 100%, that there will be an HEA. If that even makes any sense?

I just want that constant inkling of worry… keeping me on my toes and keeping me invested as I read it, right to the very end.

Kathy July 9, 2013 at 12:08 PM

I hate any kind of teaser that reveals what’s going to happen at the end. The fun of reading to me is not knowing what is going to happen till it happens.

Elle Casey July 9, 2013 at 12:10 PM

My favorite favorite reading experience is one that wrings me out with tears and anger and frustration all through the middle, but eventually leaves me happy at the end with love conquering all. I guess it’s for that reason I can forgive someone for warning me of an HEA. I feel like I’m saying, “Okay, I’ll let you hurt me and put me through hell on this journey since you promise you won’t make it last forever.” lol

Devon July 9, 2013 at 12:11 PM

I can’t agree with this more. I feel like if I know one’s coming, it kind of spoils it. Not in a bad way that I would star the book lower, but for my emotional standing during the reading process. I also love when an author throws an unexpected curve in the book. There’s quite a few releases coming out soon and I hope I do not know whether there will be HEA’s in them. I am going to try and stay off social media sites the next few weeks to avoid this! Great post!

Maryse July 9, 2013 at 12:13 PM

LOL!!! Yep. Agreed.

Not a deal breaker for me either, to know it’s an HEA, but…

I always have a stronger, more visceral reaction with books when I have no clue about the ending. (agreed Gina & Kathy :D )

Jeannie Smith July 9, 2013 at 12:18 PM

I recently read a book (which I will not name) ) that did NOT have a HEA and I did NOT expect it. It completely floored me, spun me around and I cried for hours (and hours). It tore me in two and I thought about that book and the ending and for days…..and I LOVED it. That book stayed with me and I love how the author was able to rip my heart out, then make me want to read more of her books. I realized that sometimes, HEA can get a bit boring…..

Maryse July 9, 2013 at 12:20 PM

Yes!! I have two that I can name right off the top of my head that didn’t have an HEA that are favorites of mine.

AND!! I have TWO of my favorites that would have never gutted me the way they did, had I known they would end in an HEA. (They did have an HEA but OMG the authors of both were so good, that I was sure I would die of heartbreak by the end). Again, had I known they would end well, I would have never experienced that pain to the level I did (and my relief and elation in the end, to the level I did, either).

Jeannie Smith July 9, 2013 at 12:21 PM

I have to add that if I had known it did not have a HEA, I might not have read it. And I would have missed out on a really amazing book by an amazing writer.

K. Bromberg July 9, 2013 at 12:26 PM

As an author and as a reader…I hate the ending being spoiled. As a reader, I hate knowing what the ending will be (good/bad/or ugly) because I feel it changes the experience for me in the end…and as an author I hate that the reading experience is ruined for my reader by someone else. It’s a personal preference, but the whole point of reading a book is the journey, becoming involved with the characters, rooting for them, hating them, loving them…but if you know how it ends, you almost don’t ‘feel’ enough and the whole purpose of an author is to make a reader feel in extremes…so take it for what it’s worth, but that’s my 2 cents…

Maryse July 9, 2013 at 12:31 PM

I like (and agree with) your 2 cents and am so happy you brought it here, K! :)

Elizabeth July 9, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Could not agree more. I never want any kind of ending spoiler, reassurance, etc. agree with Jeannie too – I personally would miss out on so many good unconventional romance books if I only stuck to HEAs.

Rachel July 9, 2013 at 12:40 PM

I don’t ever want to read a book where the significant other dies. It’s an intense, real life fear I have, and I don’t need that in my brain from a book. I appreciate knowing there will be an hea b/c I don’t have to worry about awful things happening at the end. There have been a few romance books I’ve passed up b/c it was “spoiled” that the hero died. No thank you! Saved me from some serious anxiety. I agree w/the first poster; I’m in it or the ride of emotions, but I enjoy knowing it will all be ok in the end. It doesn’t take away from my experience or emotions during the book at all.

I read on your blog once, Maryse, that you aren’t a re-reader. I think your dislike of spoilers goes hand-in-hand with that. Any book I enjoy I typically re-read at least once, some multiple times. The stories still affect me even when I know them. But I can understand the other side. I don’t watch movies or shows more than once, and my husband can sit around and watch reruns all day! :)

Maryse July 9, 2013 at 12:48 PM

Rachel, I never thought of that, but I think you’re right. Once I “know”… I lose that original momentum. Although I have re-read Beautiful Disaster many times. I can’t get enough of Travis’s intensity. :P

My husband is more like the HEA-alert lovers. If we’re watching a movie, and it’s stressing him out, he’ll look it up on Wikipedia (while we’re watching) and read all of the spoilers and decide right then and there if he will stay in the room to continue watching or not. The key is trying not to get him to “spoil” parts for me just as they are coming up, now that he knows. LOL!!!

You know what I wish? That Amazon would have a feature in the reviews, or maybe the synopsis that we could “activate” or leave inactive. Those that activate can see right off the bat if it’s an HEA or not, and those that don’t… never have to know. The author can enter that detail in as part of the book’s info.

Nicole July 9, 2013 at 12:49 PM

I’m one of the very few people in the world who like spoilers. I get way too much anxiety reading books if I don’t know how they end, so often I spoil them for myself (weird, yes I know). For me, it gives me a sense of peace reading the book to know if it ends happy or not. But that’s just my crazy mind and emotions!

Jean July 9, 2013 at 12:51 PM

I have to agree Maryse….would rather not know of an HEA so I can experience all emotions fully!! I wanted to let you know that I just started reading The Edge of Never last night based on your recommendation. I am 43% in and have no idea what is going to happen, but expecting to cry!! Not knowing how this book is going to end definitely has my emotions all over the place!! I have to admit though sometimes I (accidentally) see a review or post which reveals too much and I wish I hadn’t seen it………

Mimi Strong July 9, 2013 at 12:51 PM

I’m an author, and my bestseller to date has been the book where I announced HEA right in the blurb. It was a scary decision to make. I had a lot of positive responses from people saying that was what convinced them to buy the book. But, of course, you never hear from the people who decided NOT to buy the book because of that line, so who knows. :-)

Thanks for blogging about this today! I’m following the comments with interest.

Renee Henson July 9, 2013 at 12:59 PM

I’m not a fan of seeing HEA in recommendations or reviews That takes away from the heart wrenching, oh this can’t turn out good, holy cow what going to happen thrill ride that is reading . When your full invested in the characters characters and their lives you sometimes need your heart shattered and not the HEA. Life is not all HEA and giggles. It’s tough kicks you on your butt and makes you pick up the pieces continue to live and to me I would not love a book less if it kicked me in the teeth at the end. Yes,we all dream of happily ever after but knowing how it’s going to work out in the end just takes so much away for me on an emotional fully invested level …I kind of liked holding my breath near the end of Beautiful Disaster and had I known how that all turned out it probably wouldn’t have blown me away and become my favorite book!!!

Debi B July 9, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Guilty as charged… I actually look at the reviews to make sure a HEA is a certainty. I hate cliffhangers, HFN and sad endings.

Kelsey July 9, 2013 at 1:03 PM

I hate it when people state HEA in the review. This has become such a trend lately and it puts me off totally. I won’t buy the book if I know how it will ends. It’s like saying yeah it’s gonna be ok I won’t agonise about it. No way!! I like to worry and feel that OMG!! Even if its not always a HEA ;) good post Maryse .

Melissa July 9, 2013 at 1:12 PM

I would prefer not see HEA, but I would love for the author/other readers to let me know if the book ends on a cliffhanger. If I know the book is going to have multiple volumes I often wait until all of them are out because 1. I hate the suspense and waiting for the next book– I have to know what happens NOW! and 2. I sometimes forget about a book coming out and never finish the series or I forget specific details in a book and so when I read the next installment I have no idea what happened in the first book!

Lauren July 9, 2013 at 1:15 PM

Totally agree with you Maryse. I’d rather start a book blind and go through the ups and downs without knowing if the book ends well or not. I was reading ‘guilty pleasures’ yesterday and accidently read a review on goodreads that totally spoiled my reading experience. My biggest pet peeve, not hard to state there will be spoilers! GRRR! Biggest example i can think of that im so glad i never found out the ending was ‘The opportunist’… one of my favourite books of all time literally because of the reaction it caused in me once i was finished with it. If i wasnt allowed to go through that journey with them in that book due to spoilers/knowing ending it would have totally ruined my experience/reaction even if it was just knowing if it was HEA or not.

Sadie July 9, 2013 at 1:20 PM

I never want to know if it’s a HEA. If I hear that a book has a HEA, it’s always lingering in the back of my mind and I feel less emotionally invested. For me, it’s the same with movies. Agree that cliffhanger warnings are good because I am with Melissa – I always forget details from the previous book/s so prefer to read the series together if I can. For some, I just can’t wait :)

Katie July 9, 2013 at 1:39 PM

Okay, I am going to be in the minority here. But I hate being surprised in anything. Don’t even think about throwing me a surprise party. It will make me so irritated. I just don’t like stuff like that. In regards to books, I like knowing what is going to happen in a book. Sometimes I will even read the ending before I finish the book (gasp!!!). It’s crazy, I know. The way I see it is why would I invest time in a book if I am just going to hate the ending? I am the same way about TV shows. DH and I were watching Game of Thrones this past season and I had no idea what was going to happen during the Red Wedding and he did. I was so angry that he didn’t tell me what was going to happen and that it was going to be so intense. I am still reeling from not knowing before I watched it. And I don’t like that feeling. Blech! So I made sure I went online and looked up the last episode before the season finale. Just can’t handle surprises and not know what is going to happen.

Cheers, Katie

Celine July 9, 2013 at 1:39 PM

I have to agree with Elle Casey and Rachel – I NEED the HEA, or at least a HFN…its why I read books in the first place. I will not read a book that I know ends badly. I just can’t handle it! I guess I am like your husband, I start worrying about the outcome so much that I focus only on that, I’m pulled out of the story and its spoiled for me anyway. A hidden HEA or No Button for those of us that want to know is such a great idea. (A little OT but a “cheating” tag or button would be great to because that’s another deal breaker for me.)

jen July 9, 2013 at 1:43 PM

I too think that HEA alerts are a little like spoilers! I don’t even read teasers because they ruin the book for me, knowing what scene is coming up! I like not knowing. It makes the book that much more enjoyable wondering how it will end.

Amy July 9, 2013 at 2:09 PM

I loathe books being spoiled for me in any way. When reviewers don’t put any type of spoiler warning and just throw out parts of a story that spoil the plot (whether it is the ending, someone dying, who is chosen in the love triangle, etc.), it really pisses me off. If I know ahead of time what happens, it really skews the way I view the book and characters as I am reading. I want to be blind-sided, shocked and all torn up inside, and that won’t necessarily happen if I know what is coming up in the story. I also don’t like the fact that some books on Amazon actually say in the description that the book has a HEA. Unless I am looking specifically for that, I will actually pass on buying a book if I see that in the description. Once in a great while I will need a guaranteed HEA because I have just read a book that put me in a (beautifully) traumatized funk, and I need something that will for sure pull me out of it. Let me dig for that info if I really want it and don’t just put it out there for me to find accidentally.

Maryse July 9, 2013 at 2:22 PM

Celine – what an interesting take on the reason you need to “know” (and you and people like my husband actually need spoilers). That’s an interesting perspective and I sort of “get” you guys, now:

You said: “I start worrying about the outcome so much that I focus only on that, I’m pulled out of the story and its spoiled for me anyway.”

So… how “knowing” the end before the end ruins it for me, ’cause I don’t get to stress (which is my thrill), it’s that very same STRESS that ruins it for you.

Wow. Makes sense. Fair enough. ;) :D

P.S. My husband is not an adrenaline-junkie. He doesn’t ride roller-coasters or anything. Curious to know if those that “need to know” an HEA exists, also hate rollercoasters? LOL! Nothing very scientific, but just curious if there’s a correlation.

Tina July 9, 2013 at 2:55 PM

I agree with Melissa. I don’t want the HEA spoiler, but I need to know if it’s a cliffhanger. I don’t want to read a book when the sequel won’t be out for another six months to a year. Just give me a cliffhanger warning, nothing else!

Emily July 9, 2013 at 3:31 PM

For my own sanity and the safety of my iPad, I like to know that there is an HEA. I can handle all of the angst and strife if I know (after lots of blood, sweat, and tears) that the characters will get their happy ending. That’s why I love to read and get lost in all the romance and fairy tales! :) **** made me want to punch something when I finished the book. **** almost made me toss my poor e-reader out the window (and that is one of my FAVORITE books – which I’ve now read at least 4 times) I totally get what you’re saying though! In regards to the adrenaline question, I myself am a HUGE adrenaline junkie (There’s not a roller coaster big enough, jumped out of a plane 3 times, zip lined in the jungle, etc.) but when it comes to my books – I like it wrapped up in a pretty HEA bow! ;)

Emily July 9, 2013 at 3:37 PM

PS – I totally re-read (and then tried to delete) my post because I realized I named 2 books in my HEA chattering! ACK! I am so sorry. Please forgive me for any spoiling. :(

Maryse July 9, 2013 at 3:41 PM

Fixed. :)

Emily July 9, 2013 at 3:49 PM

Thank you!!

Ginger Voight July 9, 2013 at 4:58 PM

As a writer and longtime reader of romances of all sorts, I don’t care much for the “rule” that it needs to have a HEA or HFN. If I know what’s coming, why read the book? If my audience knows what’s coming, why tell the story? I can save us all $$ and say, “Yeah, so-and-so and so-and-so go through a ton of stuff, and then get together.”

Most really memorable love stories have been tragedies, both in movies and literature. To say a romance isn’t “true” if it doesn’t have a HEA limits the genre by limiting the kinds of stories we can tell. I’m not a fan of that. Personally, I like the drama. I like the gut-twisting. I like that OMG-WTF-totally-didn’t-see-that-coming sort of thing. I like that bawl-my-eyes-out-feeling-totally-gutted kind of thing. Those are the stories that stick with me most and leave me in the most awe… so those are the kinds of stories I want to write.

I figured out I was an oddball in this when researching the whole HEA thing while writing one of my stories. It was then I realized that I can either buck the system and tell the story, or force the HEA and cheat the story.

Some books just can’t have a HEA… and I had to make my stand that I was OK with that. (My books that end with those OMG-WTF-totally-didn’t-see-that-coming story lines outsell by a wide margin my loyal HEA books, so take what you will from that.)

With all that in mind, I wrote a blog last year that pretty well puts a warning on anything I write, without giving anything away. If you need a HEA, don’t read my books. Some have them. Some do not. And I’ll never tell you which are which. In fact, if you’re a stickler for any romance “rules,” my books aren’t going to make the cut. I write realism, which gets ugly. There are cheaters, and frank conversations about birth control. The only rules I follow are the rules of honest storytelling. My characters lead us where we need or want to go, and I trust them to make it worthwhile.

I invite and welcome readers willing to do the same. :) For anyone who needs something else I wish them happy reading elsewhere. I know there are certainly no shortages for the other types of stories.

Tammie July 9, 2013 at 5:05 PM

I only want HEA….I love the angst and emotional roller coaster also but I want everything to be happy in the end. I think I feel this way because I read to escape the sadness that is real life sometimes. Give me my HEA. I have read some books that didn’t have a HEA and I can’t seem to be able to get over them. I don’t like that.

Lauren July 9, 2013 at 5:16 PM

I HATE spoilers.i was really looking forward to reading ****** then I open up a review on goodreads with all of 4 lines telling me the ending! What’s the point? I’ve put that book to the side for now I know how it ends! Grrrrr

Michaniya July 9, 2013 at 6:08 PM

Great topic Maryse and I’m with you 100%. I hate when I’m told that there’s an HEA. I know that there will be an HEA, but that point where I can’t think of a possible way that the MCs can get back together is my favorite part of any book.

PS: I’ve seen a lot of authors doing this too, they include in the synopsis that there is an HEA. I’ve seen about 3 or 4 synopsis on goodreads like this.

Sarah July 9, 2013 at 8:55 PM

I agree that I do not want to know the ending and whether there is a HEA. However, sometimes my anxiety level is so high reading the book that I have to skip to the end just to get myself calmed down. I just read enough to know how it ends, then I go back and read from where I was. I do like to know if it is going to be a series so I can decide if I want to wait to read it all at once.

Jacque July 9, 2013 at 9:01 PM

I agree with you, I don’t want to know…BUT with all of these series I would like to see something like a movie trailer about the first book in the beginning of the second. I am okay with a cliff hanger but if I have to wait a year to find out what happens I need something to spark my memory.

Maryse July 9, 2013 at 9:36 PM

Michaniya, I was going to point out that some authors have mentioned to me that there’s an HEA in their book (when sending one my way).

I understand they may feel the need to mention it, but there’s no need to, with me. ;) I prefer the fear-factor. The unknown. The “what if she ruins me in the end”? Ahhhhhh exciting! :D

Maryse July 9, 2013 at 9:38 PM

P.S. thanks to the authors for weighing in! And to everyone. This conversation is fun. Keep ‘em coming.

Marisa July 10, 2013 at 12:05 AM

A HEA is a must for me. I won’t start a book if I don’t know if it has one. I’ll look for reviews until I know what I need to know. I’ve had some real hard blows in life in the last years and I love reading, but I need the books to give me hope, to make me happy, to let me believe that life may be hard but it all ends well. If I want to suffer, reality does that just fine, all you have to do is pick up the the newspaper. I’ve even stopped reading a book that I thought was “going bad” until I knew for sure it had a HEA. I’m the other way around, not having a HEA or not knowing there is one for sure, is a deal breaker for me. I don’t mind crying my eyes out or being scared during the read, I can take the darkest read, as long as I know it has a HEA. Maybe I’m crazy, but when the book is really good, when the author is sooo good that you don’t see how things are going to be resolved, you don’t see a way out, even if I KNOW there is a good ending, I’m scared. What if I’m wrong? What if I was fooled? So knowing doesn’t take anything away for the experience for me. I hope people continue giving away the HEA or choosing books will get harder.

Marisa July 10, 2013 at 12:28 AM

PS I love roller coasters. My husband hates them and also hates any kind of spoiler in books, including HEA alerts. In parks I’ve always been the one to nudge my kids on the more adventurous rides and he stays safe on the ground taking pictures but he can’t understand how I sometimes have to read the last pages before I can go on with the story. But, it kind of makes sense cause you wouldn’t get on a coaster if you didn’t trust it to deliver you safe and sound at the end of the ride. You get on, scream, feel scared, let the adrenaline rush take over. That you know/believe/trust that you will be getting out, unhurt and safe, on the other side does not take away from the experience.

Ruthie July 10, 2013 at 2:55 AM

I totally agree with you Maryse about books and movies…the less I know the better. I no longer read reviews or watch trailers (they show the whole dam movie these days). I also stopped reading the synopsis if it is a highly recommended book…glad I knew nothing about The Edge Of Never, made it so much better! I’ll see a review after I’ve read a book (not yours) and it makes me mad how much they give away…its like telling how a movie ends…I don’t get it! I trust my favorite authors and your blog to keep me reading great books! Thanks to you I’m reading the latest Dex right now…man I missed him!

Suzanne July 10, 2013 at 2:57 AM

Great thread and interesting variety of comments!
A HEA isn’t pivotal to whether or not I enjoy a book and the best reviews IMO, come from people I know that have enjoyed similar books to me that don’t rely on using spoilers (unless their hidden).
What makes a book an awesome read for me relates to the journey an author takes me on, all the better if that’s a ride I wouldn’t have willingly gotten on and their ability to stir up emotions, good, bad and sweet!
From now on though, I think I’ll leave out, or hide whether a book has a HEA or not.

Leah July 10, 2013 at 4:02 AM

I was thinking the very same thing this morning. I am loving a book that has been receiving a lot of great reviews recently, just disappointing that some reviews did state that it has a HEA. I have evened questioned myself why I am still reading it ….. but it is a great book & I am enjoying the journey with the characters ….. just would be better without the spoiler! :)

Nicky July 10, 2013 at 6:17 AM

I totally agree regarding the spoilers!! The whole point of reading a book is to get tugged into that imaginary world, being bedazzled by the characters and experiencing everything with them for the first time, NOT knowing the entire story from the outset! I prefer a book with a HEA for obvious reasons (reading is my escape and the world we live in is screwed up enough thank you very much!!), but sometimes the stories that stay with you the longest are the ones that rip your heart out and then grinds it to a fine pulp.. The scriptwriter for “Titanic” knew this and boy, did that movie have an impact on my life! I have yet to read a novel where there wasn’t a HEA, but I am sure that those novels with sad endings have a reason to be that way, and will also be memorable in a different kind of way! Remember, shock and heartbreak are also strong emotions to evoke in a reader, and authors know this! Reading is a much more intimate experience than watching a film, because you actually get to know the character’s thoughts and feelings, and invariably you always have a stronger connection with book characters.. I think that is why we all have such strong feelings on this matter!

Georgia July 10, 2013 at 8:08 AM

HEA, are something you expect in a romance novel. I love happy endings, but I also expect it to be a believable happy ending. I do love the books that make you work for the HEA because real life works that way. It has it’s ups and downs. What I don’t like in books is that in the overview of the books the entire story is given to you. If you’ve read enough books the ending is predictable which is not good and NOT fun reading. I like the bulild up, the surprises and twists especailly when you don’t see them coming. The journey to the HEA is the most enjoyable ride if you care for the characters and take the ride with them.

Becca July 10, 2013 at 10:04 AM

I understand your pov, I feel that way about movies and other books…any other genre of books. But for me, romance books are my adult version of watching a Disney movie to bring back the warm fuzzies after watching a skin-crawling horror flick or a drama that puts me through the emotional ringer (like, Saving Private Ryan). When I pick up a Romance, it’s because I NEED those warm fuzzies of the HEA. If the book doesn’t have that HEA, that’s okay. If I like the plot summary and reviews and so forth, I’ll still read it. But to me, it’s not really a romance Romance book anymore, but some sort of cross-over, hybrid genre. Does that make sense? I have come across more than one book, that didn’t have the HEA, and it threw me b/c that’s what I was banking on. Then I had to double up on my happy endings after that :-D Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is that I do like going in blind. But when I need a book to help lift me up, I don’t mind knowing that it’s going to have that sparkling ending of happiness.

Natasha July 10, 2013 at 10:09 AM

As a writer .. I struggled with my ending because all my betas and two critique partners told me that I couldn’t end it the way I did. But the story needed, no, DEMANDED, to be told the way it was. And when I read some reviews that tell everyone else what the major plot points are, or the way it ends – I get SO UPSET for the rest of my readers. I want them to read the last few chapters with the emotion intended, because that’s just a taste of what the main characters are feeling. And to rob readers of those emotions – is to rob them of the reason we all read in the first place – to immerse ourselves in another world for a little while, and tap into our deepest emotions and empathies.

An Author Maryse Has Read July 10, 2013 at 10:27 AM

(I’m writing this anonymously so I don’t spoil anything in my books. I’m also going to be a little vague about them.)

Okay, I was reading this while driving home, and I couldn’t wait to respond. I’m probably going to get a little off-topic, but I think it’s all relevant.

I don’t have issues with the expectations of the traditional romance, where the story has to have an HEA… or else. What I do have issues with is the fact that there’s no real genre for romantic stories that might make a character work for the HEA or HFN. As an author, it sucks being genre-less.

I never really considered my books romances, but they don’t really fit anywhere else, with the amount of sex in them. If I try to market to the general public, I get complaints about “graphic” sex scenes (and by the way, mine really aren’t). If I try to market to the romance readers, I get one-star reviews because they don’t live up to the preconceived notions people have of romance novels (which, by the way, have more rules than just “it has to have an HEA ending”).

I just wish more readers would strip their minds of what ‘genre’ they’re reading and go into a book with an open mind. I really think they would find more enjoyment by letting the book actually tell the story that needed to be told.

What about series that wrap up with the HEA, but the different books in the series may not? Just because the story that gets you there is longer, is that any reason to NOT like books one or two? Apparently there are, because people will simply stop if they aren’t pleased with the ending of the books leading up to the final one, no matter how much work an author does to truly engage the reader in the story. Some readers of one of my books have become so attached to my characters that they don’t want to read on when what they expected to happen doesn’t happen. (Who’s telling the story here!? ;) )

The truth of the matter is, I write because I have to. I write the stories that the characters tell me, and if that means that a book doesn’t wrap up in a pretty little bow at the ending, well… I have to write it anyway. This may be one of the reasons I’m not traditionally published, and one of the reasons my books haven’t really caught on to the masses. Yet.

I (and a lot of my readers) spend a lot of time trying to convince people to read on. It’s a matter of trust. They don’t know me, and they don’t know what I do… but plenty of people believe in my series enough to do everything they can to persuade the readers to read on… that maybe the unexpected things that happen may be the right things to happen, in the end. They just won’t find out until the end of the series.

(I will say that, reading some of these comments, has made me better understand the one-star reviews. Some people explicitly read romance because they have a need for the HEA. That’s WHY they read what they read. This is just further proof that there needs to be an off-shoot genre… but if there was, I guess that would be somewhat of a spoiler, too.)

So we’ve come full circle. Have I contributed anything?
And a ‘hello’ to Jeannie Smith, because I have a feeling I’m her un-named author. ;)

Stacy (StacyHgg) July 10, 2013 at 11:41 AM

I am so glad you wrote this post Maryse! Let me tell you why…
Many of my absolute FAV books DO NOT hava a HEA… And I NEVER knew ahead of time–I would have HATED for someone to tell me. But lately I have been reading a lot of reviews that state HEA’s and reading blogs that post about loving HEA’s only… So I did a few reviews that stated the book had an HEA, and I just didn’t feel right about it, even while I was writing it. But I said to myself that this seems to be what people want, so?? I should have listened to my instincts. So that is why I’m so glad you wrote this post. :-)

Nicole A. July 10, 2013 at 2:49 PM

I’m so glad you brought this up, Maryse. I love going into a book completely blind. (I normally don’t even read the synopsis because I feel it (sometimes) gives away too much.) So it has been driving me absolutely crazy how many bloggers (and even authors) will post right on their Facebook status whether a book has a HEA or not. I really wish bloggers (and authors) would take into consideration the people who don’t want to know and find a different way to inform those who do. (I don’t understand why they can’t post it in the comments section that way people who don’t want to know won’t and people who do just have to click on the comments)

P.S. I’m not a fan of roller coasters. LOL ;)

julie o July 10, 2013 at 5:38 PM

Maryse, that is why I usually only look at reviews on your site b/c I know you won’t let the cat out of the bag and I appreciate it. I have had very good experience with trusting you and and your followers and have read a lot of great books. (Still have not been able to start the Experiment
in Terror series, I know Dex is supposed to be great, but the overall
concept just doesn’t bring it for me.) But I will get to the first one soon, I promise. Would never have read Escape from Paradise or Surviving
Raine if not for your recommendations, would’t have thought I would
go dark.Thanks Maryse

Gina Linsley July 10, 2013 at 6:17 PM

I just learned what HEA means and now all of a sudden I’m noticing it on a lot of other bloggers. Front and center, can’t miss it. It’s making me angry! I may have to stop following me, what’s the point? I now know it’s got a HEA, I’m done now!

maxima July 10, 2013 at 7:06 PM

For me it’s not so much knowing that there is a HEA, as much as not knowing it’s a cliffhanger, I really hate to get to the end and find out I have to wait for the HEA.

Linda July 11, 2013 at 11:26 AM

Maryse that’s why we all love and respect your reviews. You give us an honest and always accurate point of view. That said I have to say because I’m such a romantic or maybe a softy I do want my hea even if its a Stockholm syndrome scenerio. My emotions are so all over the place with perfect reads as Real, Surviving Raine, Beautiful Disaster etc. I could go on and on!! But just knowing there’s an hea helps me get through all the angst and doesn’t make me feel the subject matter any less. I have read most of your recommendations so I’m devouring the variety:-) Loving This Man series right now. Amazing!!! Thank you Maryse. Xoxxo

Katie July 11, 2013 at 11:49 AM

Just wanted to add that I love spoilers and I love roller coasters :) My sister is even worse then me when it comes to spoilers. She reads the ending of a book even before she even gets into the book. I usually read about 1/4 of the book and then determine if I am going to skip ahead. Sometimes I don’t feel the need too and I read a little bit more. Other times I just can’t handle not knowing what is going to happen. But I would never ever spoil it for someone else. I think that is rude.

Ruthie July 11, 2013 at 3:44 PM

Now I want to know what books/series “An Author Maryse Has Read” is??? I need to read this series if I haven’t already!

Maryse July 11, 2013 at 5:30 PM

It’s good, Ruthie!! ;)

Jennifer C January 8, 2014 at 3:04 PM

Oh yah…. I like to know and I like to have a HEA. I have a hard time with books (or a series) that don’t have a HEA… more specifically, I guess… a book that doesn’t have a HEA and then leaves you hangin and left to figure out on your own what happens next. Hate that. I read 2 books like that in 2013. Everyone else gave them 5 stars… I gave them 5 stars still the ending where it left me hanging…. not with a cliffhanger….but just a non-HEA and a “just figure out on your own what happened next…” I LOVE books within a series that leave me without a HEA… because than I want to keep reading… but I definitely want the series to end on a good note! If not a HEA… I want it to have an ending and not leave me wondering….

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