Friday, April 1, 2016

Do we always need to have an HEA in romance?

Remember the books we read when we were little?  The fairytales that had the good, the bad and the evil.  But, no matter how sad the story became. No matter how frightening that wicked witch was. No matter how much turmoil the Princess endured… you always knew that the handsome Prince would come to her rescue, and they would all live happily ever after! 

So what happens when you write a modern day love story with a twist, that *shock horror* does not have a HEA?  

As a writer that has broken the unspoken golden rule in romance, by not having a HEA in my debut novel:  I can tell you that the opinion of readers is, very much—divided.  
Let me set the record straight, none of the story was written for shock value, it was written from a place deep within my heart. A place that my mind had never been to before.  I did not set out to write a story that did not have a HEA.  The story took on a life of its own, it was very much character driven.  I have to tell you, writing Till Death Us Do Part was very emotional for me.  There were several parts of the story, where I broke down crying.  When my sister read my novel, she became so emotionally invested in Austin, that when she reached the end, she begged me to change it. But you see although I could change it, this is how the story was meant to be.  

For me, romance runs so much deeper than riding off into the sunset. Romance for me is about how far you are prepared to go for the one you love.  Take Romeo and Juliet for example. One of the greatest love stories ever told, they fought against all the odds to be with one another, and yet it ended in tragedy.  Or did it?  Two star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately reconcile their feuding families.  

Perhaps in the world we live in today, people want to use books as a means to escape.  To have that warm feeling that makes them go fuzzy inside.  I get it.  I really do.  Sometimes after a hard day, I too like to kick back and watch a rom-com, or just read something ‘easy.’   Since writing my novel, I almost feel like I should put a warning label on it.  I can’t give away too much here, just in case you do plan on reading the book, but something amazing did come out of Mimi’s journey.  It really depends how you look at it.  I write about matters of the heart. I cannot promise a HEA in my next novel, but I can’t promise that it won’t have one either.  What I hope I can do is turn my words into emotions! 

The fateful day Mimi Marcus has dreaded begins with a phone call...

The wife of a U.S. Marine, Mimi spent countless nights worried that her husband Joel would fall in the line of duty. He had fought valiantly and served his country with honor. That’s exactly what they tell her when they deliver the news—Joel was taken by the enemy in Afghanistan. Her husband is dead.

In desperate need of closure, Mimi travels to the one place Joel still has ties—The Marcus Ranch in Texas, inherited by his handsome younger brother Austin.


New beginnings are only an illusion...

The closer Mimi grows to the Marcus family, the more she considers it home. But when suspicions of Joel’s past surface, Austin refuses to disclose family secrets—even to his brother’s widow. It’s only by accident she uncovers evidence of Joel’s tainted past. Devastated by his lies and betrayal, she slowly opens up to Austin, and together they unfold layers of pain and grief.

Mimi is sure she’ll never love again, but is Austin the man to prove her wrong? Then the unthinkable happens…

Just as Mimi finds new hope in a future with Austin, Joel returns home from war. Enraged, traumatized, and teetering on the edge of insanity, Joel confesses to a history of deception, revealing yet another secret—this one too terrible to forgive.

In an awful twist of fate, Joel proves marriage vows are made to be honored.

No matter what.

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Author Info
Novelist, movie addict, and animal lover, Cristina Slough is the author of Till Death Us Do Part, her debut novel.

Cristina has always been a bookworm, rarely seen without a pen and paper in her hand, she loves delving into a literacy fictional world of her own.
At the age of 11, her junior school teacher told her mother that she would be wasting her life if she didn’t become an author. Throughout her teenage years and beyond, her parents spurred her on to keep writing. She later began a career in commercial real estate, working in London’s West End, a corporate bubble where she was unable to fuel her passion to write.

It was on her Californian honeymoon in 2012 that the bug to write was becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. After visiting Yosemite National Park she was inspired by the natural beauty of the land that surrounded her. Holding a special place in her heart, Yosemite would later be written into her debut novel.
She finally gave up the ‘big smoke’ when her son, Lucas, was born in October 2013.
When Lucas was a newborn, Cristina was told to sleep when the baby sleeps. She never could. There was a calling inside her to write. After getting to grips with her new role as a mother, she began working a psychological thriller, but she couldn’t fully connect to the characters she created. She ditched the manuscript and started Till Death Us Do Part (Limitless Publishing, 2015).

Cristina is married to Adam, who runs a successful business; together they share their Bedfordshire home with their son, crazy white German Shepherd and three spoiled cats. They can be found trekking through woodlands, or around the many shops Cristina loves to explore. As a family, they love to travel frequently, the United States being a firm favorite.

Author Links Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads


  1. What a great post. Everyone has to write to their own muse!

  2. Your book sounds incredible, and deeply emotional. We need books like that in the world!

    I don't really like what "HEA" implies (that nothing bad ever happens again) because what a romance is providing is the belief, at the end, that the couple will be able to be together and weather whatever they have to deal with in the rest of their lives.

    I confess that the best way for someone to make me hate them is to say "this story is a romance" and then have the couple not be together at the end. That's not a romance. Romance is never a tragedy. The book may contain romance, but isn't A romance.

    So I totally sympathize with your situation! I hope the book does well, because like I said, it sounds intense. :)

  3. I believe that romances should have a Happy Together ending. If the book ends without the two lovers together, then it's romantic fiction to me.
    I will say your blurb does at least imply that it's NOT a romance. Don't get me wrong, your book looks interesting. I just have to be in the right place to read something like your story versus a romance.

  4. I like the idea of turning what most people think of as HEA on its head! Lots to think about


Sign up to receive our newsletter