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Ever After

Happily ever after. According to my mentors, this is the sine qua non of the romance genre. These days, romance can be sweet or steamy, with any mix of genders and quite a level of flexibility in numbers, but the story must conclude with the protagonists in love and together for the foreseeable future.

“Happily” I get. But “ever after” can be a practical problem, especially in realistic contemporary romance, which is mostly what I have penned thus far. Taken literally, “ever after” means “eternally”, or at least, “until death do us part”. Alas, most of us know all too well how elusive such enduring love can be. Divorce or death, wars or disasters, disease, aging or simply the inevitable changes in personality that people experience over time, tend to work against the dream of “ever after”. Yet it remains a delightful fantasy that perhaps only romance can fulfill.

“Ever after” requires more than sexual compatibility. It goes far beyond physical attraction, and runs deeper than emotional sympathy or congruence of interests, values and desires. “Ever after” is about a heart and soul connection that transcends the physical world, a spiritual bond that cannot be severed no matter what may come to pass.

Paranormal romance may offer the best opportunity for believable “ever afters”. This might account for some of its popularity. Vampire couples have eternity together. Demons and angels, fairies, elves and other creatures of power and magic cleave forever to their predestined mates.

One of my favorite paranormal concepts is the notion of lovers continually reincarnated, finding their way to each other arms age after age despite all obstacles. I first encountered this theme in H. Rider Haggard’s classic adventure She. It’s eloquently expressed in the song “Old Souls”, from the musical Phantom of the Paradise:

Our love
Is an old love, baby.
It’s older
Than all our years.
I see in strange young eyes
Familiar tears.


Our paths have crossed and parted.
This love affair was started
Long, long ago.
This love survives the ages.
In its story lives are pages.
Fill them all.
May ours turn slow.

An advantage of the reincarnation device, from a writer’s perspective, is the fact that it automatically provides a source of movement and conflict. “Ever after” runs the danger of becoming static and boring, after a few centuries or millennia. In the reincarnation scenario, we know in our gut that the protagonists will finally recognize each other and find happiness (again), but a skillful author can play on the risk that maybe this time, things won’t work out. Plus there is the bittersweet knowledge that eventually, death or some evil influence will part the lovers, leaving them to discover their connection anew in a future life.

All of this background brings me to an exciting announcement (exciting to me, at least!). Total-E-Bound has accepted my first full-length paranormal romance, Serpent’s Kiss, for publication. If the heavens continue to smile, the book should be available in May.

Serpent’s Kiss is a shape shifter novel based on ancient Mayan mythology. It’s full of perilous rituals, supernatural visions, and apocalyptic confrontations between age-old enemies. Furthermore, it uses reincarnation to give the lovers the ever after they deserve.

I didn’t originally intend that Elena and Jorge should have known each other from previous lives. About half way through the book, I realized that was what was going on. Why else would they be so irresistibly attracted to one another? Where else could they have acquired their knowledge of each other’s souls? I’m contemplating writing a prequel to explore their connection during earlier rounds through the cosmic cycle.

Since Serpent’s Kiss hasn’t been edited yet, I’ll save excerpts for a future blog post. However, all this discussion of eternal love has got me thinking about my own life. As a teenager and young adult, I was convinced that everything was transient, especially relationships. My high school yearbook quote was a set of lines from Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Leaves that are Green”:

Hello, hello, hello, hello
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye
That's all there is.

Surrounded by divorce in every branch of my family, I was certain that I’d never find a life mate. It is rather a shock, twenty eight years later, to find myself that I have been living with, and in love with, the same one man all this time.

Maybe there’s more to this happily ever after stuff than I thought.

Read my latest releases!

Tomorrow's Gifts - MM BDSM Paranormal Seasonal novella

Brits in Time - MMF Historical short

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LuAnn said...

I've often wondered about the concept of happily ever after, too. How do two people put up with each other for 60 or 70 years? You'd think she would have strangled him way before that!!

Anonymous said...

When I hear about people no understanding about the ever after, I know that person hasn't been as lucky as I am to find their other half of their soul. My dh have been together 25 years, married 21 of those and I am hoping for another 25 years. Even though we are battling his health probelms and my worries about his health I still would not trade a second of my time with him and keep hoping for lots more time with him.

Chris Roberts

Pat said...

My parents were together for 45
years before my dad passed away.They the magic to a good marriage is to work on it and always do for one or the other

Christine London said...

This has been a question on which I have focused in my internal life for a few years now. Our culture has only recently gained the medical knowledge to allow people to survive into their eighties, nineties and beyond. For time immemorial people died in their thirties or early forties if lucky. Now that is the age on the cusp of life's most exciting years...those of leaving legacy, making contribution and enjoying the fruits of your labours.

Monogamy has made sense thus, nearly forever. It was the glue of family and the shield of protection to assure offspring made it to an age where they could fend for themselves. Now we have more than half our lives ahead after the babies leave the nest. The case for monogamy is therefore not as pressing.

And so I ask---is it possible to love more than one man or woman? ANd if not love, then what of the pleasures of getting to know another of the opposite sex intimately? Is there room for this in a society where partners are living forty or fifty years past the need for this intense nesting? Does it necessarily weaken the bond of love or is it possible that it could strengthen it?

Just as it is fun to travel and experience new people and places, is it thus possible to to do the same intimately---always happy to return home and the warm familiarity of the one true love?

What do you think?

Thanks for touching on this subject, Lisbet. I think it is immensely important to our ever changing society/mores and lifestyles.