i on Romance: HEA vs. HFN

Posted January 24th, 2014 by in Blog, Features, ionR / 28 comments

Happily Ever After ~Versus~ Happy for Now.


A few years ago, Happy for Now (HFN) was a trend. Now I see it more as a preference that an author makes as he or she writes a book.

What do you consider is a true ‘Happily Ever After’ย (HEA)? Is it a ring on the heroine’s finger? Does it have to include an epilogue that explains what the couple is up to a couple of years down the road?

Most importantly – do you absolutely need an HEA in order to enjoy a story? Is that what makes a romance novel romantic for you?

Here’s my personal opinion. (which you didn’t ask for, but I’m going to give it to you anyway – because I’m at the keyboard)

As long as I can feel chemistry between the characters and connect with them in some way, I can enjoy a book. I think it might be because I love all genres of fiction equally, but romance is probably my favorite. I’m used to severe angst, unhappy endings, horrific situations, and a lot of other things that Sci-fi, Classics, and other stuff can bring.

So I’m okay with ‘Happy for Now’, or even “Not-So-Happy” if I enjoy the writer’s vision and intent, because it means I’ve gotten enjoyment from the story. And if there’s romance woven in, then I classify it as a romance novel. I know there are some of you out there that disagree, and that’s why we’ve chosen this topic to discuss this week.

Hopefully we can get a discussion going – what are your two cents? Do you have different guidelines? Different standards? Let us know if you have preference (HEA and or HFN) in the comments!

28 Responses to “i on Romance: HEA vs. HFN”

  1. msrh0nda

    I like a happy, positive ending. It doesn’t have to a full HEA with marriage or details. If the books ends happily and I smile or think “that was nice” then I’m satisfied.
    I despise cliff hangers!

    • Klindsay

      See, I don’t mind a cliffhanger if I know upfront that’s what I’m getting. Then I can decide whether to gobble it up and wait, or save it until the entire story is ready for me to read. I don’t like when an author springs the cliff on me as a surprise though.

      • msrh0nda

        I agree. If I know before reading it then I’m ok with it. I just don’t like reading something and it just ends and I’m fuming! LOL

        • Terry_S

          I’m never OK with cliffhangers, unless it’s a serial story and it’s advertised as such. in which case I simply avoid it. I despise “soap operas”.

          If the author springs it on me, I’ll ask for a refund and boycott the author – it will be the first and LAST work of theirs I’ll ever read, much less purchase. And I’ll warn people and try to dissuade them from ever buying that author’s work.

          Now, a series is different. Those I enjoy – it’s always fun to find books that have some (or all) of the same characters in them (but dealing with different circumstances), or that take place in the same universe or location, so long as each book is a stand-alone story.

  2. Leanna

    I prefer a HEA with an epilogue. However if the book is part of a series a HFN works for some couples. I like reading later books in the series and hearing that they got engaged, married or moved in with each other.

  3. Michele H

    For me a true HEA is when you get a sense at the end of the story that the protagonists have a strong lasting connection, whether or not they get engaged or married. I do like reading HEA stories, but I’m probably in the minority that doesn’t have to have a HEA to finish the book. If it’s well written, I’ll like it either way!

    • Klindsay

      Awesome! I respect every opinion on this matter, but I’m thinking this is probably the prevailing one.

      Can’t blame the HEA only peeps though.

  4. Debi A

    I love HEA don’t care much for the HFN due to the fact of my money situation. I guess if I could indulge in the HFN to see the conclusion thru (the series or book 2, 3, ect) I would like them. But to just get to the “good part” and have to wait for the next installment is hard on the pocket book. I need my HEA fix too much to wait for the next “book”.

    • Klindsay

      There are books that finish but don’t end with a wedding. That’s mostly the kind of HFN I’m referencing. Although some HFN books do continue if they’re part of a series.

    • Terry_S

      Serial stories (several parts to get the full story) should be labeled as such, so the reader can choose ahead of time whether they want to buy into that or not. It should never be sprung on the reader as a surprise cliffhanger – that’s cheating!

  5. msrh0nda

    If it’s a long series like Virgin River, Fool’s Gold, Lucky Harbor, Chesapeake Diaries, Whiskey Creek etc – I get them from the library or but them at thrift stores. I can’t afford to buy books, even the smaller expense of kindle books adds up.

    • Klindsay

      My local library has an ebook program. I can have four books “out” at a time. Which means I pretty much have a never-ending library. And Audiobooks don’t count towards that limit.

      So yeah, I do the same thing. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. infinitieh

    Either HEA or HFN is fine by me, although HEAs are more expected for historicals.

    “Not-So-Happy” endings and cliffhangers DO NOT belong in Romances unless there are sequels to make the whole series HEA/HFN. I generally read the last pages of a book first just to find out if there is a cliffhanger. If one is present, then I won’t read that book until the next one is out, or I would not read the book at all (nothing gets me frothing at the mouth as much as an unexpected cliffhanger – which is why I would point them out in reviews).

    • Klindsay

      If I’m not sure about a book (untested author, iffy title/cover etc.) I check goodreads. It’s usually a pretty good source of info for cliffhangers or bad content.

      I *try* not to read the last pages to see how things turn out, but I’ve been known to do that in a pinch. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Sara HJ

      @infinitieh I’m with you there… I almost always read the last page to make sure there is no Cliffhanger. If I find there is one and the book is part of the series then it sits on my shelf until the next/final book in the series is out.

      • Yazmin R

        LOL, this is so me with some series too. I really don’t like to be left hanging, I want to know how it ends and if the book has a cliffhanger I wait until the next book is released before I even try to start reading it.

  7. dholcomb1

    If it’s a HFN, I want it to be **neat**, not too ambiguous, else I **need** the HEA. I think I have a tad bit of OCD, and that’s why I prefer a full-blown HEA.

    • Klindsay

      I know all about OCD. I like things at right angles. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I prefer less ambiguous endings, but if it’s written well, I can live with some mystery.

      But truly, when I say written well, I mean WRITTEN WELL. An author cannot just skate by and then leave things hanging with me.

  8. BrooklynShoeBabe

    I think of as a HFN as an HEA. I don’t like epilogues at the end of novels, so I am amusing everything is going to go well even if it isn’t laid perfectly out for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Klindsay

      So you essentially ‘write’ your own ending. That’s cool! I do that with movies all the time. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Tawnya Bentley

    I don’t mind the HFN books, if they are part of a series. I also like to know upfront they are a part of a series, nothing makes me feel like throwing a book more then getting to the end of it and discovering I have a 6 month or year long wait to find out what happens.
    My preference is HEA books, maybe because I need to know it still exists if only in books.

    • Klindsay

      Ugh, I’m right with you there. I prefer a shorter wait. Although if it’s a favorite author, I’ll definitely bide my time. I mean, what’s the harm in re-reading the series to catch back up if you loved it the first time around? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Sara HJ

      @TawnyaBentley I agree with you I hate books where you get to the end only to find out that the author has plans to write Part 2. Ugh!

  10. Liz Joyce

    I like HEAs in the romance genre. I enjoy the emotional journey of the main characters and knowing they will beat the odds and find lasting love.

  11. Terry_S

    The way I understand it, there’s an enormous difference between a SERIES and a SERIAL.

    In a SERIES, the books are stand-alone stories, but tied together in any one of several ways, such as these:
    – same location (town, city, state or universe) – e.g., “The Love Boat” or “Fantasy Island” TV shows
    – same main character(s) – e.g., Mr. Roarke in “Fantasy Island”, Ian Fleming’s James Bond books, or Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot books
    – same theme – e.g., second chance at love or billionaire hero
    – secondary characters in a previous book become primary characters in the new book – each book is a stand-alone story, even though the books are loosely linked together

    In a SERIAL, the books are in a daisy-chain where all the various parts need to be read (generally sequentially) to get the full story.

    I love series and can’t stand serials….

    The important thing is to get some sort of satisfactory resolution to the romantic or mystery suspense tension the author has built up, otherwise the reader is liable to feel cheated, and a reader who feels cheated is a very angry reader! ๐Ÿ˜‰