Epilogues and Christmas specials always remind me that women are ruthless tyrants when it comes to romantic fantasies.
It’s not enough that they fall in love. It’s not enough that they overcome ridiculous odds to be together, strip away considerable emotional baggage to be together, grow into the people they were meant to be. It’s not enough that he owes his allegiance to her for patching together his broken soul. It’s not enough that we are in their minds through narration, hearing their devotion and love at every breath. It’s not even enough when, such as in paranormal romance, they are chemically unable to stray or stop loving their partner for the rest of their long lives thanks to some mystical matebond.
We want our happily ever after, dammit. And by happy we mean blissfully, perfectly, irrevocably
The human female, suspicious by nature, is not going to stop at a wedding scene to make sure that this couple is actually a good match. Nooooo….. we want epilogues. We want her to be big and ugly pregnant and him still attracted to her. We want reassurance that love didn’t dissipate, they haven’t come across hardship, everyone is well and hearty, and his devotion to her only grows every day.
Show me a romance novel with an epilogue that says “…And they lived happily ever after. Until she died from childbirth, and he wasted away from syphilis left over from his rakish youth, which he, by the way, passed on to his children. The End.”
No change in feeling, unless that euphoric love he felt has increased over the years.
Because love isn’t love if it dies when the passion fades. And the story isn’t just about love: it’s about the couple becoming partners. If they loved each other but were actually kind of terrible at working together, then all of it would be for nothing. So many things can go wrong in a relationship, so, dammit, give me the exact perfect ending that shows what their life will be like from here on out.
That’s what I think when I read those overly saccharine epilogues. ABSOLUTE FEALTY. TAKE NO PRISONERS. You have him for life, now run with it!
No romance novel ever explores the possibility that the woman could fall out of love. These men are physically incapable of ever altering their state, but the women are free agents, just normal human women. The assumption, I suppose, is that by making the man a prisoner of his own love for her, man and woman are on equal ground.
It reminds me a of a Sex in the City episode where they talk about how men ready to married are taxis with their lights on. Miranda asks “what about women?” and Charlotte says “I guess our lights are always on.”
I don’t believe that’s true, but I believe that romance novels perpetuate that stereotype. How else would a teenage girl get paired with a hundred year old vampire?
The way I see it, literature is fiction that challenges your beliefs, your perspective, and makes you think about things in a different light.
Hack fiction just reaffirms your own beliefs.
Escapism reaffirms your own beliefs, but not just that. It is a hyped up remix of your beliefs, hopes, and desires into one ridiculous, self-indulgent package.
Christmas Specials, I believe, are Escapism Plus.
First of all, there is such a sub-genre called Christmas Romance, and that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about those series romances, whether they be paranormal, contemporary, regency or other, with a novel stuck somewhere in the chronology that happens during Christmas.
I’ve read two of these books before: Winter Moon by Dannika Dark, and A MacKenzie Family Christmas by Jennifer Ashley. They seem to be a protracted form of epilogue, with a healthy dash of Christmas fuzzy feeling. You usually see characters that have already gotten together live out their humdrum, blissfully happy lives. The conflict is never about the couples (because we settled that, remember? Blissfully happy or DEATH), but instead is some inconsequential thing that could be solved a lot faster if we didn’t spend so much time watching their humdrum lives, which is a bunch of kissing of babies, and cuddling, and married people sex.
It all kinda feels sort of pointless, because there is no conflict, not really. It’s just a quick reunion with your favorite characters. You pull them out of the drawer, shake off the dust, feel the warm fuzzies you felt when finished the book they came from, fold them up and put them away. There might be some kind of conflict started, or hinted at, with new characters, but nothing is definite.
Mostly, it’s like that scene in X-Men that we always love. You know, the one where the X-Men kids use their powers for everyday stuff? We see our favorite characters putting up Christmas trees and picking out presents. Celebrities do everyday things too!
I am a fan of the X-Men scenes, I tolerate epilogues, but Christmas Specials I can take or leave. Just like other self indulgences, the sticky sweetness of the novel sometimes gives me a tummy ache.
Unless, of course, there is a SHIFTER SANTA CLAUS.
Author: Dannika Dark
Series: Seven #7.5
Tags: paranormal romance, shifter, Christmas, SHIFTER SANTA CLAUS
In the tradition of Christmas specials, this little book has absolutely no conflict.
All of the characters have already been brought together, so everyone’s fine. It’s just a little reunion of your favorite characters to make you go, “dawwwwww I remember them!”
Also, SHIFTER SANTA CLAUS. With absolutely no explanation. Just a cheerful older shifter bestoying a treatured gift in the nick of time.
Add this to another one of those times that I am listening to audiobooks in my cubicle at work, and I very quietly and SUDDENLY GET EXTREMELY EXCITED for the most ridiculous of reasons. It involves a lot of me whipping my head around and mouthing words for a minute or so.
I believe in Shifter Santa Claus….