Monday, May 18, 2015

Love is in the Air: The Appeal of Happily-Ever-After

Women who love reading books about love, believe in the beautiful fairy tale of boy-meets-girl stories that end with "and they lived happily ever after." But how attainable is such a happy ending in real-life?

Today, I invited inspirational romance author Amanda Cabot to my blog in order to talk about happy endings in real-life and on the page. 

Enjoy! :)

The Appeal of Happily-Ever-After
A guest post written by Amanda Cabot

“And they all lived happily ever after.” For as long as I can remember, the stories that caught my fancy were the ones that ended with those words. They didn’t have to begin with those other famous words, “Once upon a time, many long years ago,” because I was just as happy reading books about happily-ever-after in modern times, but one thing was definite: I wanted a happy ending. I loved the books and the movies where the hero and heroine walked off into the sunset, hand in hand, leaving no doubt they would have their happily-ever-after. Why? Maybe it’s because I’m a hopeless romantic. But then so are many others. That’s why romance is the best selling form of genre fiction.

Love is definitely in the air … and on the page. Though romance novels are often considered the Rodney Dangerfields of the literary world, not getting much respect and being dismissed as little more than cotton candy, they have literally millions of loyal readers and represent sales of more than a billion – yes, that’s a “b” – dollars each year.

Were you surprised by that? That would be a lot of cotton candy, wouldn’t it? But romance novels aren’t cotton candy. They’re books that celebrate a fundamental aspect of human life: the need to be loved. Embedded inside each person is the desire to find that one special person who knows us better than anyone else, who puts stars in our eyes, who makes us feel complete. And when we do find that person, the world seems a better place.

My friend and fellow romance author, April Kihlstrom, says, “The message of romance novels is that one can be true to oneself, really true to oneself, and find love and acceptance. It’s about men and women coming together in ways that empower both and diminish neither. It’s about love and fidelity and commitment – too rare in our society these days – and it’s about empowering women to imagine all the possibilities open to them to live fulfilling lives.” Wow! That’s a mouthful, isn’t it? And it’s true.

There are other reasons why romance novels are so popular and why they outsell other forms of genre fiction. The first is that readers know what to expect when they pick up a romance. The contract we authors make with our readers is twofold: first, we promise that our protagonists are admirable characters. They may be flawed, but they’re intrinsically good people. You won’t find a serial killer or a psychopath as the hero of a romance novel. The second promise we make is that there will be a happy or at least a satisfying ending. In a world of ambiguities, we provide certainties, and that’s satisfying to readers.

But just because we have basically honorable people who will eventually find their happy ending doesn’t mean that the books are fluff. No, indeed. Some romance novels deal with heavy subjects, everything from domestic violence, death and serious illness to PTSD and drug abuse. That doesn’t sound like cotton candy, does it? It sounds like real life. But it’s real life within what some refer to as a “safe” framework.

What do I mean by safe? It’s that contract we authors make with readers, that there will be a happy ending. Including serious and sometimes heart-breaking subjects in a romance novel gives readers the opportunity to confront their fears and to overcome them by indentifying with fictional characters who face the same problems but manage to surmount them. Knowing there will be a happy ending allows readers to experience the pain and sorrow that the fictional characters endure, because no matter how dire the circumstances, readers know that at the end they will find healing along with the characters. For some readers, this is therapy without the high price tag. For others, it’s an affirmation that while their lives may not be perfect, they’re better than the fictional heroine’s. In either case, these serious romances deliver the message that love heals, and oh, what a powerful message that is.

Whether they celebrate the sometimes humorous bumps on the road to true love or the way love can heal even the deepest hurts, romance novels share several characteristics. They are powerful; they are empowering; they celebrate a fundamental human need. That’s why I love reading and writing them. So, let’s celebrate, because love is in the air.

Author bio:
Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of more than thirty novels including the Texas Dreams trilogy, the Westward Winds series, and Christmas Roses. 

A former director of Information Technology, she has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages. 

Amanda is delighted to now be a full-time writer of Christian romances, living happily ever after with her husband in Wyoming.

Blurb for Amanda's book, In Firefly Valley:

She’s lost her dream job—but has she found the man of her dreams?

Devastated by a downsizing, Marisa St. George has no choice but to return to the small Texas town where she grew up. Though it means a giant step backward, she accepts a position as business manager at the struggling Rainbow’s End resort. The only silver lining: Blake Kendall, a new guest who might make her believe in love at first sight. But will Marisa’s dreams of happily-ever-after be turned upside down when she discovers Blake’s real identity?

This warm and witty story of dreams deferred and mistaken identity will have you believing in second chances.

Buy Amanda's book, In Firefly Valley: -
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  1. Great blog post, Amanda! I kept nodding my head all the way through.

  2. April -- I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'm still amazed at how many misconceptions there are about romance novels.

  3. Amanda, I enjoyed reading your article. Love is, indeed, powerful and in a world where it sometimes seems frightfully lacking, it's reassuring that love is alive and well in families, friends, lovers, and novels!

    1. Marilyn -- I agree. I think we need that reassurance, especially when the news is filled with so many tragic stories.