Call it formula if you will, but as far as romances go, the happily-ever-after ending is a given. The hero and heroine fall in love and, if they aren’t married by the end of the book, they’re at least committed to each other and more than likely heading that way. How they get there is up to the author.
But a lot has changed in the HEA (Happily Ever After) of romances since the era of the bodice ripper. Gone are the days of the heroine cowering in the corner, biting her nails, while the hero risks life and limb to save her from the villain at the very last moment. It’s come to a point where we don’t want to read about damsels in distress anymore. Who cares about Dudley Do-Right saving Nell from another runaway train? *yawn* And Snow White and Sleeping Beauty slept through the entire ending of their stories while prince charming (and the dwarfs) did all the dirty work. *zzzz* Nope, nowadays, readers want their heroines to have more brains, more courage, more backbone. Heck, we want them to kick some bahookie.
Don’t get me wrong. We don’t want all of them to be big, tough Amazon warriors. And we also don’t want to diminish the hero to wimp status while we’re at it. But what we do want is for the heroine to take part in her own happy ending. She needs to have a hand in her fate. Take Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz for instance. She was the one who went after the witch at the end and got her HEA by golly. If there had been an eligible guy around, she would have gotten him too. *G*
So when you’re ready to wrap up the ending of your story, don’t put all the pressure on the hero to save the day. Give your heroine a little credit and let her slay a dragon or two. In fact, mine does just that in my latest book. *G*