No. A book CAN’T be a romance without a HEA. Stop asking.

I apologise for this rant, but I’m frustrated.

Without fail, every month or two, a book blog will inevitably ask the question ‘Can a book be classified as a romance if it doesn’t have a happily ever after?’ (The latest from Heroes and Heartbreakers, who I’m sure have asked this question at least once before) And the answer, from romance readers and writers alike, will be a resounding ‘Hell No’.

It’s literally the one constant in the romance genre. It even says it right here on the Romance Writers of America website. I’ve written before about why it’s so important here. So why do people keep asking the question?

Mostly it’s from people trying to make romance money, without adhering to our most sacred tenets. Like this person. And the person that wrote this book. They ask the question to legitimise their decision to end the book without a HEA—and still market it as a romance.

And for all the authors talking about how they have to follow their muse and end it the way they feel the story must go, they still choose to disrespect our genre by marketing it as a romance. Even when knowing PERFECTLY WELL that Romancelandia wouldn’t consider it a romance at all. If you want the romance money, then you have to write an actual romance – ie, a book with a HEA. If you want to write the book you want to write (without a HEA), then market it as general fiction with romantic elements. Simples.

So why do well-respected ROMANCE bloggers still ask this same question? It’s baffling to me. Stop legitimising an author’s decision to mess with our genre by asking this question again and again! It makes them think they can get away with it, as if the answer might one day be yes. (Spoiler alert: it won’t ever be a yes. No HEA = not a romance. Forever and always)

Bloggers – stop asking this question. Please. I beg you. The discussion has been had. It’s done. Over. I know you like the click-baity question, because romance readers and writers will jump to defend our genre against all the trolls that pop up – and we’re a passionate bunch when Romance is threatened. And the trolls like the question, because at any excuse to shit on Romance as a whole, its “predictability”, and the women that read the genre, they are going to show up and rub their misogyny all over us. But despite the page views and retweets I’m sure you get, it does nothing to serve our community to have this discussion yet again.

So, how about we put it this way: Every time you ask the question ‘can a book be a romance without a HEA?’ a fairy loses its wings. So stop.

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