There's an interesting discussion going on over at Romancing The Blog ( about epilogues, which got me thinking so much i decided to blog about it myself.

I said in my comments that the problem with epilogues in romances is that so many of them are the same: weddings and babies, because that is usually the next step for the happily ever after.

One woman commented that, being unable to have children herself, nothing bothered her so much as the "miracle baby." While I was doing intense reading in the early days of Arabesque, I noticed that the books all had similar endings and that no one seemed to be able to make it fresh. For my first book, At Long Last Love (1998), I contributed to the un-excitement by writing the same ending myself (with a wedding, not with a baby, since my heroine wasn't interested in motherhood.) I quickly decided I was going to have to do something a little different; I was boring myself.

My second book, A Love of Her Own (1999) featured an infertile heroine, and I received letters from readers saying that they wished I'd made it so that she somehow managed to get pregnant (it wasn't anatomically impossible since she still had all the parts; just highly unlikely.) I stood (and still stand) my ground on that one: That would have been the wrong ending for the character. I've always injected as much realism as possible into my novels, and the fact is that everybody doesn't get to have children (the ending did involve children, but not children the heroine gave birth to.) The point I wanted to make was that there is still happiness out there to be obtained, even if you feel you got a bum deal by whoever handed out the ovaries.

In my third book, Love Affair, I didn't even have the hero and heroine get married. Lord, did I take flack for that! What readers didn't know at the time was that I planned to feature the wedding of this pair in my follow-up novel, Prelude to a Kiss (2001), because that was a romantic comedy and there was plenty of opportunity for things to go wrong at the ceremony and reception (and because the heroes and heroines of both books were friends.)

Out of all my books, the ones I feel had the most poignant (and therefore effective) epilogues were A Love of Her Own, From This Day Forward (2002), which was the most mainstream of all my romances; and this year's A Love For All Seasons.

One book that used a variation of the traditional epilogue where it was played for laughs and felt fresh was Adrianne Byrd's She's My Baby, published last year by Kimani Press.

So, what's your opinion on epilogues in romance? What do you like? What don't you like? Are they even necessary?

I'd love to hear what you think.


Gwyneth Bolton said...

As a writer I can take epilogues or leave them. They don't make or break a book for me. In romance they do tend to focus on the wedding or the birth or they show the couple years in the future. My first novel had one of those in the future epilogues, but it was cute because it hinted at their son who was born in the novel might travel the same path to love that they did. It was sort of funny. And as a romance reader I do enjoy them. I like to write them too for the cynics like me who want to be extra sure that they really lived happily ever after. I did a test on my blog a while back where I posted the deleted epilogue from my novel If Only You Knew . I sent out a notice to all of the readers who had e-mailed me about the book. And most of them said the epilogue should have been included. A few women even printed it out and put it with the book so they'll have it when the re-read it. It is an interesting discussion though.


Donna D said...

Okay now I feel silly. My final chapter isn't really an epilogue (except it is) and there's both a wedding and a baby, but the labor and delivery ties back into some of the earlier issues mentioned in the story.

I like epilogues because it gives me a sense of closure. There doesn't have to be a wedding or a baby but as long as the epilogue gives the characters a sense of peace and makes me believe that they're going to get their "happily ever after", I'm okay with that.

Now I need to read "A Love of Her Own" because I (and many women I know) struggled with infertility issues. I want to see how the story plays out and then see how the epilogue works with the rest of the story.

bettye griffin said...

Thanks for sharing your views on this topic with us, Gwyneth and Donna!

You, Gwyneth, a cynic when it comes to true love? I don't believe it!

Donna, Unfortunately, A Love of Her Own has gone out of print. I did get the publishing rights back from Harlequin but haven't tried to do anything with them yet (it happened a lot quicker than I thought it would, to be honest.) But maybe you can get a copy from your local library. You must let me know what you think. My friend, the author Sean Young, says that is the best book I ever wrote and remains one of her favorites to this day.

PatriciaW said...

I like epilogues in romance stories. It's part of the happily-ever-after. As a reader, you want to know that the characters get the things they'd been hoping for in the story. And that's the trick, what did the character hope for?

The wedding/baby thing may be overdone but many women (and romance characters) do hope for these things. On the other hand, as another who experienced infertility issues, not everyone has the same outcomes. Some infertile folks go on to have children, as I did, albeit with much effort and anguish. Others don't.

I'd prefer to see some creativity in today's epilogues, however. Getting married and having babies is just one aspect of life after the romance takes off. There are so many others.

bettye griffin said...

I'm all for creativity, Pat! I try to challenge myself with every romance to do something out of the ordinary.