I’m not sure how old you have to be to cringe when you hear the K-I-S-S-I-N-G song. For those of you whose childhoods were blessedly free of this rhyme, it went like this:

(NAME) and (NAME)
Sitting in a tree
K-I-S-S-I-N-G!
First comes love
Then comes marriage
Then comes a baby
In a baby carriage!

And that, for many of us, was the happily ever we encountered in romance. Marriage and children were the goal and were found in ending after epilogue.

Mercifully, the definition of an HEA (happily ever after) has expanded both in romance and in society. Love is love and romance novels now grant HEAs to lovers of all combinations and backgrounds. “does a happy dance”

It’s clear the definition of an HEA–a requirement for romance novels–has expanded beyond what it was decades ago. And even the requirement of the HEA is changing. Many novels now have an HFN (happy for now) and no longer do couples have to marry or procreate to ensure their place in the romance novel pantheon.

What do you think? What do you need, by the end of the book, for a romance novel to work for you?