I was driving and thinking this morning, and decided walking across hell with one shoe is not okay.

I read romance because the genre gives me so much joy. It filled all kinds of potholes in my teenage heart, made me laugh after a long day of fighting in court, let me escape for a few hours from a less than ideal reality, and helped me become a stronger, more optimistic person. Tell me I’m brainwashed. (No, don’t. I’ll kick your butt.) I believe in happily ever afters, and I always will. It ain’t over until my heart stops, and no one can say whether I’ll be happy at the end. Today might feel like sh*t, but in the end, I’ll know I’ve had a happy life.

I write romance because I want to give my readers the joy, elation, hope, optimism, escape, and belief in HEA (“Happily Ever Afters”) that I found in romance novels. As you all know, HEA is like victory – it’s sweeter the harder won it is. But not too hard won. There are amazing literary fiction out there that arguably have HEA’s for the protagonist. It’s filled with depth, thought provoking ideas and novel philosophies. (Just there is no confusion, so are romance novels. It’s busting at the seems with all that and more.) Some critically acclaimed literature are smeared with pain, sorrow, disturbing imagery, and horror that grips the readers and won’t let go. The powerful writing will tear into you and if done properly, you will relate with the protagonist to the extent their pain becomes yours. Those books could be so thought provoking, real, and agonizing that when the book ends with even some of the pain being alleviated or maybe with the protagonist accepting the status quo and thus hurting less, we are expected to be satisfied. Even happy.

In other words, there are books out their that make their characters walk across hell barefoot through hundreds of pages then give them one shoe at the end.  Ta-dah! Happy ending!

I think not!

Walking across hell with one shoe will still burn the other foot. In fact, walking across hell isn’t a happy situation AT ALL. I do not write books that “build character.” You know the whole thing when sh*t happens, grown ups tell you that it builds character and stuff. Don’t get me wrong. Grown ups know their stuff. Never underestimate their wisdom. The older I get, the more I realize how freaking smart are parents are.

Anyways, there is a place for timeless classics and soul searching literature, but there’s certainly also a place for timeless romance and truly happily ever afters. Not less painful or making the best of a crappy situation, but books that have flawed characters growing, mending, and finding happiness and hope in love. There will be conflict and pain for the couple but in the end, they will find happiness. My readers will hurt with the characters, hope with the characters, heal and fall in love together with the characters, and in the end, the HEA will mean that my readers will feel breathless joy and teary elation. For even a few hours, their souls will find rest and time to heal, and hopefully, the happiness will give them enough mojo to tough through real life beyond those few hours.

Lofty goals for a “mere” romance writer? Again, I will kick your pompous ass if you so much as nod in agreement.

The rest of you who are not romance readers, please read with an open heart and give romance and yourself a chance.

And to the wonderfully amazing and marvelous romance readers and writers, you rock now and forever.

Here is to HEAs.