Adam, the hero, asks a reader of the ‘sensation novels’ written by the heroine
“Doesn’t the fact that you already know the identity of the villain and that he will meet with an unpleasant fate take all of the surprise and astonishment out of the story? What is the purpose of reading a novel if one knows the ending before one turns the first page?”That's not why I read romance. I'm one of those readers who still takes sneak peeks at the endings. Yes, I know I'm reading a romance, and yes, I know it'll all end happily, but I still double-check sometimes. I really do need the happy ending. Why? Because, as the RWA suggests, these endings are ones which are 'Emotionally Satisfying' to me. I read romance because I like happy stories, and I can't think of any emotion that's made me happier than feeling requited love. I'm an unashamed romantic, and in the world of romances, I read about other people finding that same happiness.
Harold regarded him with acute bewilderment. Then Adam saw the light of comprehension strike.
“I take it you are not a great reader of novels, sir,” Harold said, sympathy as thick as cream in every word.
“No.” Adam sat back in his chair and gripped the arms. “I do not count novel reading among my vices.”
“Allow me to explain, if I may. Of course one knows that in a sensation novel, the villain will pay for his villainy, just as one knows that the hero and heroine will be rewarded for their good hearts and noble actions. Those things are givens, as it were. They are not the point of the business.”
“Indeed? Well, what in blazes is the point?”
“Why, it is seeing how the characters arrive at their various fates that compels our attention.” [...] “It is the series of startling incidents in the various chapters that entertains and amazes, all the twists and turns and emotional sensations. That is why one reads a novel, sir. Not to discover how it ends, but to enjoy the strange and exotic scenery along the way.” (2004: 108-109)
So why do you read romance? Or, if you're not a romance reader, is there something about the happy endings and the focus on relationships which you find off-putting?
Quick, Amanda, 2004. Wait Until Midnight (London: Piatkus Books Ltd).