Romance gets disparaged for the happy endings. But all genres have expectations and all genres require narrative resolution. But it’s disparaged because it’s happy. And if it was important, it would be tragic. Which is bullshit! Look at Much Ado About Nothing – everybody is happy!
NORA ROBERTS, The Observer, Nov. 19, 2011
Raise your hand if you can predict the ending of a romance novel.
Yep, as I thought. Everyone’s hands are raised. I got to thinking about this because of a few reviews I’ve gotten for CRAZY FOR HER, ones that said something like this. “Even though it had a predictable ending, the twist and turns made it worth reading!”
Of course the ending was predictable. By the standards set by Romance Writers of America, a romance must have a Happily Ever After to qualify as a romance. For those of us who love our romance novels, we would throw the book against the wall and yell bad words at the author if the love story ended badly.
I’ll tell you a secret. I read the back of the book first. Well, not the very first thing. I’ll read a chapter or two, get to know who’s who, then off to the last chapter I go. I’m not sure why I feel the need to do that on a romance. Maybe I’m just making sure the author isn’t going to trick me somehow. Once I’m assured the ending is exactly what I’m expecting, then I happily go back to the first or second chapter. This drives my husband crazy, although I don’t know why. It’s my book and I’ll read it backwards if I want to.
I no longer ride a Harley, but when I did, I had a T-shirt that said, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” That right there is a perfect motto for a romance novel. We know our hero and heroine’s destination, it’s predictable. It’s how they get to that destination—the land of Happily Ever After—that keeps us turning the pages. Whether our hero and heroine start out as friends or enemies, whether it’s love at first sight or the love comes slowly, something will happen to threaten their happily ever after. The obstacles they face will keep us turning the pages as our lovers journey to their destination.
This past year there have been numerous idiots writing articles disparaging romance novels, and I think Nora Roberts nailed the reason. It’s those happy endings. It can’t possibly be literature if there’s a happy ending can it? To echo Nora, I say bullshit. I read a lot, and not just romance. Some of the best books I’ve ever read have been romance stories. The emotions, the character development, the plot—no other genre compares to the depths many romance writers reach in their stories. I’ve laughed helplessly, and I’ve cried while reading a romance book. I’ve marveled over an amazing plot, and I’ve been transported to far away lands and long ago times. I’ve felt joy in my heart when an author’s words sing to me. And all that happens even though I can predict the ending to a T.
Since today’s post is about Happily Ever Afters, I’m going to share with you the predictable last chapter of CRAZY FOR HER.
“No one said you had to get up,” he told the Doberman. Luke’s answer was another yawn.
The baby monitor crackled to life. “Wont Uke.”
The dog scrambled to get his feet under him and took off. Logan chuckled. It was a toss-up which of the two were more besotted. Regan considered Luke hers, while Luke thought the baby belonged to him. Sadly, they hadn’t been able to save Matthew, but John and Mark were deliriously happy hunting alligators with Decourdeau. Logan thought Luke had gotten the better deal.
He turned back to the sun, rising bright yellow over the water. Yellow was a happy color, and he hoped her toenails were painted that glittery color that day, their wedding day. He looked out over the gulf and thought of his friend. “I’m marrying her, Evan. I hope you’re okay with that.”
A group of pelicans flew past. One broke from the flock, veered toward him, and left his calling card on the railing in front of him. Logan jumped back. “Son of a bitch, Evan, always with the jokes.” Logan stared down at the gray and white wet pile and grinned.
His heart might not survive the day. Everyone was there but his soon-to-be wife and her mother. His sister sat on the sand next to Buchanan, Regan on her lap and Luke leaning on the baby. His new daughter gave the Doberman a smack on his head. “Uke,” she said. Logan would swear the dog’s eyes blissfully crossed.
Jared and Scott, smiling at Regan’s antics, sat next to Mrs. Jankowski. He’d flown the two men in the day before as a surprise for Dani. Dani’s father stood near the stairs waiting to escort his daughter to Logan.
They’d had dinner the night before on the beach with all their family and friends around a roaring fire, sharing in their joy. The numerous toasts had been embarrassing in their insinuations, and he couldn’t wait for them to come true. Dani had, for reasons he still didn’t understand, put a hold on sex of any kind until they were married. “So you’ll be really horny on our wedding night,” she’d said. He snorted. As if he didn’t always have a hard-on any time he was in her general vicinity.
Spread out on blankets, Barbie, Ken, Turner, and the rest of his employees chatted while they waited for the ceremony to begin. Logan stood ankle deep in the gulf and waited for his bride. Movement at the top of the stairs leading down to the beach caught his eye. Lifting his gaze, he let out a sigh. She hadn’t run away. Why that had worried him, he wasn’t sure, but until she appeared, he hadn’t been able to believe he could be this blessed.
With her father on one side and her mother on the other, Dani held his gaze as she approached, a beautiful smile on her face. Logan’s heart did a merry dance. In a matter of minutes, she would be his. On seeing her mother, Regan pushed away from Maria and crawled toward Dani. Dani’s father picked her up and brought mother and child to Logan.
“I believe these two belong to you,” he said.
Logan glanced down at Dani’s toes and smiled. “Yes, they do.” He married the woman of his heart with Evan’s daughter in his arms and Eli’s dog pressed against his leg.
The three-quarter moon was high in the sky, the fall night warmer than normal. Logan walked up behind Dani and pressed himself against her back. He put his arms around her and lowered his mouth to her ear.
“I love you, Mrs. Kincaid.”
She turned and in her hand was a yellow rose. “Ditto, Mr. Kincaid. Friends forever?”
“I prefer friends and lovers forever.” He took the flower and traced the swell of his wife’s breasts with the petals. His wife. He’d never believed he would have one. Yet, there she was, his ring on her finger, and looking up at him with soft, warm eyes.
Well, hell, what a lucky bastard he’d turned out to be. Since one of the benefits of having a wife was that he could kiss her any time he wanted, and God above, he wanted, he lowered his mouth to hers. He tasted the spicy berries of the wine she’d been drinking, felt the warm wet of her tongue on his, and heard her soft sigh. He lifted his hand and slid his fingers through her hair. The fragrance of her shampoo drifted to his nose, and he breathed deep, drawing in her scent.
Trailing kisses across her cheek to her neck, he nipped her earlobe. “Apple pie. You do know I’m going to have to lick you from here,” he said, tapping the rose against her forehead, “all the way down to your yellow toes?”
“Technically, it’s not my toes that are yellow.”
“Technically, I don’t give a damn.” He broke off a large part of the rose’s stem, dug off the thorns with his thumb, and then slid it into her hair, over her ear. Leaning back, he admired his handiwork.
“Perfect,” he said before lifting her to sit on the railing.
“Whoa.” She grabbed ahold of his shoulders and looked down.
He wrapped his arms around her waist and pushed between her legs. “I won’t let you fall. Ever. I have something I want to tell you, wife, so listen. Last night, I told Buchanan I wouldn’t be going on any more operations. I’ll still train with the men, help plan their missions, and run the business, but when we were in Arkansas, I realized something.”
He put his finger on her lips. “Let me finish. We both know there are no guarantees in life. Something unforeseen could happen to either one of us tomorrow, but missions are dangerous, high-risk business. You’ve lost one man you loved, and I love you too much to put you through that again.”
Her eyes searched his. “I’m not sure you can possibly know how much that means to me, but I came to terms with what you do and would never ask it of you.”
Her tears and trembling smile went straight to his gut. He’d just given her a gift she would never ask for, but wanted more than anything. “I know. I’ve been thinking about it for a few weeks. When they took you, I couldn’t think straight, and that made me a danger to you and my teams. That’s never happened to me before, but I’ve come to the conclusion that if I did participate in an operation, all that would be on my mind would be getting home safely to you.”
“That wouldn’t be good for your men, would it?”
Logan pulled her close and pressed his lips to her forehead. “My wife is a smart woman.” It still amazed him he could call her wife. He silently promised she would never be sorry she married a man such as him.
She slipped her hands under his shirt, down the back of his loose trousers, spreading her fingers over his ass. “Are you going to talk all night, or are you going to make love to your bride on her wedding night?”
He hissed at the touch of her fingers. “The second thing you said.”
“Jeez, husband, you’re so easy.”
“You’ve no idea.” Logan scooped up Mrs. Kincaid and carried her to their bed, where she had spread yellow rose petals over the sheets. He planned to keep her there until it was time to leave for their first Christmas in Asheville.
His last thought as he slid deep inside her was that he was one lucky son of a bitch.
Then, he stopped thinking.
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Trivia Question: What color are Dani’s toenails? Enter your answer here