Why I like romance novels that DON’T have a happy ending

I feel like I can talk about this now – the fact that I looooove romance novels, but always want to vomit a little when the (“happy”) endings are either: A – a marriage proposal, B – a wedding, C – a baby. I just don’t buy it – the happy endings which tie up all the loose ends. I’m mean, really – REALLY?!

No, not really, and for romance readers that’s just the point. They demand that their heroes and heroines fight obstacle after obstacle to be together – but in the end, that they do live Happily Ever After (HEA) or are at least Happy For Now (HFN).

The first book I read that did not have a happy ending was Love Story by Erich Segal, I’m also a fan of films / books aka stories like The Way we Were, Up Close and Personal, Me without You, The Promise of Stardust and The Fault in our Stars. The fact that the couples don’t end up together does not tarnish from the beauty of the love story, not in the least. On the contrary, the fact that their love is bitter sweet is the very element that resonates with me. I buy that 100%.

This morning I read Riven, a novel by local SA author Lissa Del, in one sitting. It was plot driven, brimming with romance but without the HEA. And believe me, she pulls it off effortlessly. I can’t help but wonder if this is not the way romance fiction is going, maybe one day there will be a sub-genre for romance without the HEA? What do you think?

Obviously, if you’ve read my book, you’ll already know that I don’t care much about subscribing the traditional happy ending. But I won’t lie, I was put under quite a bit of pressure to write a follow up book that would give Alkan and Victoria their happy ending – so I did, and that will be released before Christmas 2017.

So, if I’m not a huge fan of writing true romance, then I why did I do just that for Full Circle, the conclusion of Alkan and Victoria’s story? Because they are soulmates. Because some couples get their happily ever after and live it too! But that kind of love is rare, so, so rare.

And I just want readers to know that, and respect the fact that the greatest loves are messed up, but that that should not detract from the beauty of a great story.

Cindi Page Author




A writing lesson from the Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Cindi Page author writing tips

I can’t believe I waited this long to watch my first spaghetti Western! My Beloved, took me on a date, and we watched the Clint Eastwood classic, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly at a one-of-a-kind rooftop cinema in the middle of Cape Town. I kinda loved it. It came with margaritas, a picnic and a love seat, so I was one happy lady.

Having never watched a cowboy movie before, I had no idea what to expect, but what I definitely was not prepared for, was being reminded of a thing or two about great writing.

Here are the top three writing tips I took away from movie.

Defining characters clearly, makes them memorable

What was Clint Eastwood’s character’s name? No idea? Well, that’s because no-one ever calls him by his name, but he is referred to, more than once, as Blondie. In fact, in the credits, he is listed as ‘character with no name’. Brilliant! Other great ways to make  your characters more memorable is by giving them an accent  or a speech impediment, or a repetitive habit. When I think of memorable characters, I quickly recall Death in Terry Pratchett’s book, because he always spoke in CAPS. And Yoda? What I mean, you see.

Conveying expression without dialogue is powerful

I think that’s what surprised me the most, the long stretches in the film without dialogue. There were many close up shots of faces, from which the actor’s expression told the audience what he has thinking. See what I mean in the clip below.


In writing this technique is as important and often overlooked. We forget, as writers, that 95% of communication is non-verbal. For example, instead of spelling out that a character is anxious or nervous, that emotion could be conveyed with a description of him drumming his fingers on the table, or his eyes darting around the room.

Everybody loves a bit of poetic justice

Not only was the story great, the ending served up some delicious poetic justice. The Ugly one, Tuco, got exactly what he wanted, the gold, but was left in the desert by himself with no ride out, so what good would it be? Loads of memorable stories do exactly the same. As a writer, we get to “take revenge” on a bad character, and give them what they deserve, without detracting from our hero’s victory. Roald Dahl did this so well in ‘Danny, Champion of the World’ when the nasty Mr Hazell’s expensive car was over-run by his very own pheasants.

So, as it turns out, I’m even thinking about writing on date night. But I really did enjoy the film and the company of my Beloved too:-)

Now back to work! I’m so close to finishing the final book in the Full Circle series!!

Cindi Page Author




Feature image credit from Cultjer.