The definition of romance has come up again around the blogosphere, due in part to publishers
defrauding readers adding Romance to spine labels in order to get good real estate and attract the multitudes of romance readers. I am, first and foremost, a life-long romance reader, so here are my two cents:
If it doesn’t end with happily ever after, it’s not a romance.
Boy meets girl. Conflict ensues. Boy and girl almost get it right. Conflict heightens. Boy and girl get it right. Happily ever after.
That’s not to say I need an epilogue showing their wedding or showing them one year married and welcoming their new baby into the world. But there had better be something that lets me believe they’re in it for the long haul.
Whether a book is a paranormal romance or a futuristic romance or a historical romance or an erotic romance, that “spine” had better remain the same. If the hero dies in the end, or if the boy and girl part ways but the girl has “found herself”, I’m going to be pissed. I’ll read a paranormal novel or women’s fiction and love it. I’ll read a novel with romantic elements and enjoy it. But if it says “Romance”, then it had better be one or I’ll be pretty damn pissed.
It’s a matter of trust. I trust Silhouette Special Edition, for example, to give me my happily ever after. I didn’t trust Bombshell. Clearly I wasn’t alone. I don’t trust Aphrodisia. I don’t trust Spice. I don’t trust a lot of the paranormal romances right now.
It makes me tight with my money. And aren’t there commerce laws to protect consumers from knowingly and willingly being sold a product that’s not what it’s advertised as? I guess not or publishers/editors wouldn’t be so freely admitting they’re doing it.
Anyway, to me: Romance = HEA. No exceptions.