As authors of romance, we want to bring our stories to a conclusion so that the two (or more) protagonists go off into the sunset… or at least that’s how the author feels. Going beyond the HEA is tricky and can be a bad thing for the reader. And here’s why.
I read (and listened to) the first three books (Try, Take, & Trust) of Ella Frank’s Temptation series several years ago. I fell in love with Logan Mitchell and Tate Morrison. I also fell deeper in love with Cole Madison, who I had read in the book “Edible” which was about him.
Cole was dominant, loving, and all kinds of hot.
About a year ago, Ella released book 4 of the Temptation series. Worried about how one continued after an HEA, I didn’t read it. Each time I saw a new book come out until the series was complete at 6, I noticed, but had no desire to read.
Until she released the first book in a new series this month: Robbie, which is part of the Confessions series. Now, anyone who read the Temptation series knows who Robbie was. I jumped at reading it. And loved the three main characters. Which was why I purchased the last three books in the Temptation series because I wanted to find out more about Priest and Julien.
And this is where the ‘going beyond the HEA’ issue comes in. Logan and Tate’s story was fantastic (though the midpoint in Tate nearly broke my heart for Logan). I loved how Ella tied up all the storylines in book 6, including both of their mothers.
However… the books took Cole and his wife past their HEA to where they were settled with two kids. That totally destroyed the image in my head. Cole was settled. He was no longer the hot guy cemented inside my head. Instead? He was a dad who had moved to the burbs and was settled.
Ugh. Settled. That was the last thing I wanted to see in my book boyfriend. If he was ‘hot’ in his book, I wanted him to remain ‘hot’ in my head. And suddenly he’s not. He’ll never take Rachel against the library ladder again because two munchkins might walk in – not to mention they now live in a completely different place that probably doesn’t have said library ladder.
There was no way for Ella to continue Logan & Tate’s story without bringing in Cole, but… it’s a perfect reason why going beyond the HEA can destroy a character for a reader. Perhaps some liked Cole becoming settled. I did not. It made him ‘less than’ in my head. As though he’s no longer COLE, he’s just a dad.
And that’s sad.
And if a reader hadn’t read Cole’s book, if they only got to know him with the original Temptation series, they wouldn’t notice. To them, Cole was already a married man with a pregnant wife. He was already settled. For someone like me who read him in Edible, it was a letdown.
Which was a reminder for me, as an author, not to change my characters so drastically. Because – OMG – I never want to destroy anyone’s book boyfriend the way Cole was destroyed for me.
And this is nothing against Ella – I loved the Temptation series. She’s the author and had every right to write what she needed to.
But it reminded me that once I pen a character and publish the book, that character, while belonging to me, also in a way belonged to his/her fan base as well. And made me rethink continuing Logan & Christian’s story from All They Ever Needed. Dear dog, I don’t want to put them in that position.
I’ll strive to protect your book boyfriend… though I make no guarantees 😉 Sometimes characters do strange things all on their own.