Discussion: do you need a HEA in your books?

Hi dear friends,

I am back this Thursday with a small discussion topic: do you need a HEA when you read a book?

And does it depend of the genre you are reading?

As often with my discussion posts, this all started from a conversation with a follower who also is a friend and author. I posted a home made teaser for Jersey Six by Jewel E Ann with the caption that “This book annihilates everything.”.

My friend’s reply was : But does it have a happy ending? And she added : If it doesn’t, it’s not romance, lol. I’ve read way too many sad books. I can’t deal with that anymore.


And it made me think about my own reading preferences!

As I read romance I need a HEA ….most of the time.


The books that leave the strongest impression and stay in my mind for years are often the ones without HEA!

I won’t give titles here because obviously I would spoil these stories for you if you have not read them but these books generally left me with huge book hangovers!

Don’t think now that I always want a sad ending because that’s so NOT the case!


But sometimes, having one of the main MC and romantic interest dying at the end or having an open ending fits the story better. A happy ending would not have felt adequate for the book. And I can live with it even if it usually takes me days (some years) to recover.


What I can’t stand at all, like I-want-to-skin-the-author-alive are gratuitous deaths.

Some books (dystopian and sci fi among the best known) ended up with the female MC being killed as she sacrificed herself and I swear it was totally unnecessary! It was “just for the sake of it”. Someone else could have done it and the plot would still have been solid.

These endings I can’t tolerate!


Now on a last parting word: of course if you read some genres like horror, you know that people (usually some main characters) will get killed. I think (but I am looking to you my friends fans of horror) often you won’t have a happy ending or rather a half happy ending but it “goes with the genre”. Yes? No?


So do tell me: do you need HEA? Does it depend from the genre you are reading? Are there death you can’t tolerate?

Thanks for reading



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33 Replies to “Discussion: do you need a HEA in your books?”

  1. Mary @StackingMyBookShelves! says: Reply

    In a romance I like HEA other then that I am open to any. On occasion even in a romance there have been sad endings so not always do they have a HEA. I survived. I just prefer them in all genres but can handle it if they don’t. =)


  2. I always want a HEA in the books I read. And I prefer that over HFN or open endings. Open endings drive me bananas lol. I need to know everything works out, I don’t want to have to create their HEA in my head. I even have some bookish friends who warn me when series books end with a HFN instead of a HEA because I always want that HEA lol!!

  3. Yes. That’s it, lol.

  4. I definitely prefer to have a HEA in my romance novels, but I’m okay with not having them in pretty much every other genre I read. Sometimes those heartwrenching endings are the ones that stick with me the most.

  5. I NEED the Hea! Life is challenging enough, so in my reads I need to have the happy!

  6. I definitely prefer a happy ending, but I have read one or two books that give you a “happy enough” ending that feels right. In fact, I just read one the other day. The main couple didn’t end up together in the end, but you got the sense that they’d grown and made peace with themselves and each other—the author actually pulled it off really well. But normally, that would have made me crazy!

  7. I definitely prefer HEA ending! Especially If its a romance book. With no HEA ending in romance, it just leaves me all heartbroken and sad

  8. It really depends on the book. It could go either way.

  9. In most cases I would say I prefer a HEA ending, but I’ve read some more realistic endings, but still relatively happy that worked, so I can see how sometimes a different ending can work. Although in most cases I prefer a HFN or HEA ending, especially in romance books. If it doens’t have a happy ending I think it has to fit the story, not one of those twist that come out of nothing.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Exactly! I hate it when you have a twist that does not add anything to a story or just makes sense!

  10. YES, I need HEA in my books especially in romance books! I read for fun and sad endings always leave me frustrated, disappointed, and angry.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Me too Raven. Too many sad endings and I get depressed!

  11. I love HEA, and in most cases a non-HEA ending will make me dislike a book. But, like you, there are a few out there that were really great books without HEAs. So I guess in general I would say I need a HEA but there are always exceptions.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Same here Brittainy!!!

  12. As my preferred genre is Paranormal Romance a HEA is mandatory – no 5 stars unless it has one. Now the twist comes if the HEA is one that I wasn’t expecting like both MCs dying and transcending the early plane together to spend eternity as one… In one book I read the heroine allowed herself to be turned into a zombie so that they could spend their lives together – it was gross, unexpected but strangely beautiful. That one got 5 stars from me.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Well Flora that one was in fact …romantic! It was love to the extreme so I can understand why it would have been a 5 stars!

  13. Soooo, it took me a while for the penny drop and figure out what HEA is… 😀 I personally don’t need them, but i also don’t read romance. In mystery/crime i don’t think it’s expected.
    Based on personal preferences i don’t think it always fits every story, like you said as well.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Hahha I should have explained what HEA meant Norrie! You were not the only one not guessing immediately.

  14. I do usually need a HEA in romance books. Unless it’s a sub genre like paranormal or suspense. Then I go with the flow.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      I know you are a tough chick Laura what with horror and all LOL

  15. One of the reasons I love romances so much is because those stories are known to have an HEA. I was NOT happy with those non-HEA books trying to pass themselves off as romances. NOPE! I revel in an HEA or HFN. These things make me happy, and I will forever indulge in them

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Sam they do make me happy too! But I have noticed that books without HEA stay longer in my memory. So no HEA once in a while IF the ending is not stupid (see Alexandra’s comment here below) I can live with

  16. I don’t need a HEA ending, but I do hope authors know how to end a book, and that’s not by leaving us hanging, suddenly killing the MC or everyone off, or any other contrivances. That just tells me the author has yet to hone their skill, and learn their craft, or doesn’t understand the fundamentals of storytelling to begin with. And yes, it happens way too much in YA fiction.

    Stupid endings are simply unforgivable.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Well I could not agree more with you Alexandra! When you put it like that the death of main characters that I did not accept in fact were causing stupid endings …

  17. Tanya Atkinson says: Reply

    I’m seeing comments that say that if it’s romance there has to be an HEA. Really? I’m not sure about that… will have to mull it over. For the most part I really, really want/need an HEA. Or at least a hopeful ending that gives the impression things are headed that way.

    Two things I can’t tolerate: 1) Totally open endings. An author that expects me to provide my own ending? No, ma’am. Not happening. 2) Killing off the main character. How dare you? If you kill off the main character you are a monster and I will curse your name forever.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Hahaha I feel like you about the kill of the main character Tanya!!

  18. To clarify. A book is not a romance novel unless it has an HEA. Without the HEA is would fall into another genre. Other genres can have relationships that don’t end in happily ever after. The romance genre is the only one that does. So unless I am reading a romance, nope I do not need an HEA or things wrapped in a neat little bow. I sometimes like open-ended stories where I can imagine the outcome.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Well Kimberly I don’t know in what other genre some of the books I have read “sans” HEA would fall though… just fiction? Or ..?

  19. Oh boy it took me a while to get what HEA was ‍♀️ I’m incredibly tired okay, ahaha

    But to answer your question; I actually don’t have to. Of course i love my romance fluffy and end on a good note, but specially when it consider mental illnesses and such, thoses type of stories are even more poignant when they are NOT ending on a happy note. I’m also quite the fan of thrillers, and while it may turn good in the end- it may turn as the MC being killed too xd

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      I agree with you that no HEA makes the story more poignant. But I need HEA most of the time (or I’ll get depressed).

  20. I’m one of the people who HAVE to have a HEA in my romance.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Welcome to the club my friend 😉

      1. This a club I’ll happily be a member of!

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