Posted by: Judy | November 5, 2015

Happily vs Perfectly Ever After

I write Christian romance for anyone who doesn’t know. I’m not ashamed of what I write. I love it. I enjoy giving my characters all the things I want. I work out questions and problems through my characters.

I’ve often heard that romance novels aren’t realistic. They weren’t intended to be realistic. They’re a chance to escape, for a little while.

I read my first romance novel at nineteen. I thought it was the worst possible representation of love, but I also knew it was better than what I had. I devoured hundreds of books. I learned a lot of what I didn’t want. Anger was a common theme. I didn’t like it. I gave a few Christian romances a read and found them to be so sweet my teeth hurt. I took a break.

My next foray into romance novels I discovered Elizabeth Mansfield, who wrote Regency. I bought every book I could find. I tried other Regency books but was again disappointed by the heavy use of anger. I enjoyed Janette Oke, but again, most Christian romances were so sweet I couldn’t identify with any of the characters. I grew tired of being disappointed in my search for good books to read. I quit reading for a number of years.

About 13 years ago, I decided to give romance novels another chance. A friend recommended Diane Gaston, a Regency writer. Loved her. Because I bought her books, Amazon recommended Anne Gracie and Elizabeth Rolls. I was hooked, once and for all.

The trend to use anger had ebbed, for a while. Looking back, the anger was a character all its own in most books. Still don’t like it. A little is spicy, but a lot overpowers the story.

The accusation that romance novel love isn’t real gave me the opportunity to step back and do a little introspection.

I write Happily Ever After not Perfectly Ever After.

Most people believe HEA means the couple has no more troubles. All their strife is over. From here on, everything is wonderful. Smooth sailing is all that’s left. The couple never has another disagreement or difficult. Everything is perfect.

Perfectly Ever After.

I don’t believe in Perfectly Ever After. I don’t write Perfectly Ever After.

I write Happily Ever After.

One is able to be happy in the midst of tribulation. Life is filled with trials and would be miserable if one couldn’t.

I don’t know about anyone else, but in my life strife doesn’t end. Smooth sailing is the calm before the storm. Difficulties abound. Everything is decidedly imperfect. This truth doesn’t keep me from being happy. In truth, joy is often found in overcoming weakness, conquering a flaw, surviving pain with grace, and helping someone else who is also struggling.

The point of the HEA in a story isn’t that the story is over and no more troubles exist. It definitely doesn’t mean that the couple never has another obstacle to overcome. HEA means they are no longer facing the future alone. They stand together in their dilemmas, giving each other strength. When one is drowning, the other throws a flotation device. They give each other a hand over the stumbling blocks and rejoice together. They work through life together, however imperfectly, with the hope of happiness being a part of their souls.

Happily Ever After.

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