Guest blogger: Brenda Gayle
‘The end’. A short time ago I wrote those very satisfying words to mark the completion of my contemporary romance, The Forsaken Heart. But it was more than just the ending of a book, this was also the end of my Heart’s Desire series; the wrapping up of a story arc that ran through three books and involved three cousins searching for love and family acceptance.
As I was writing The Forsaken Heart, I was aware that, in many ways, the entire book was a finale of sorts, and I began to feel a heavy burden of responsibility to “do it right” for the reader.
As authors, I think we often expend more effort perfecting the beginning of our stories. We work hard to create a compelling hero and heroine, to set the stage for their meeting and mutual attraction, and to introduce a conflict that will keep them apart. We want to capture the reader and draw her into our story.
I suspect, however, for readers, it is the ending of the story that matters most. It’s not enough that it simply wrap up all the loose ends and have the hero and heroine ride off into the sunset; the ending must leave a reader with mixed feelings of satisfaction and disappointment. I want her to be satisfied that the hero and heroine are finally together and all is right in their world (this is romance, after all), and disappointed that the book is finished and she can’t continue on their journey with them.
As I was writing The Forsaken Heart, I kept asking myself what makes a truly satisfying ending? How can I reward the reader for her emotional and time commitment to my story/series?
Although the each of the Heart’s Desire books can be taken individually, I wanted to give readers who had followed the series the opportunity to revisit the heroes and heroines of the previous books, as well as some of the more interesting secondary characters. So while The Forsaken Heart focuses on the relationship between Anna and Callum, readers can catch up on what’s been happening in the lives of Hunter and Nora (The Hungry Heart) and Chad and Shelby (The Doubting Heart). And the conclusion of the book provides a glimpse into everyone’s future.
I won’t know if I have been successful in creating an emotionally satisfying, “damn, I wish this book/series wasn’t over” type of ending until The Forsaken Heart is published early next year.
In the meantime, though, I’d like to know what you think. What makes the perfect book ending? Do you have any examples you can share? One commenter will receive a digital copy of The Hungry Heart, book 1 in the Heart’s Desire series. (The giveaway is now closed. The winner was Yvonne.)
You can find out more about me, my Heart’s Desire series, and other projects at www.BrendaGayle.com.
Nora rubbed the condensation off the mirror and stared at the face looking back at her. She tried to be objective, but all she could see was a woman about to turn thirty-five. Tiny lines were beginning to form at the corners of her eyes—he’d called their color café noir when they’d first met—and there were more lines just above her top lip.
Her age had never bothered her—in fact, she’d always felt she’d accomplished a lot while still quite young—at least professionally. But dammit, it would be nice to experience fantastic sex at least once before I’m thirty-five.
What was it about turning thirty-five that disturbed her so much? It was just a number.
Her lips were a rosy pink and slightly swollen. She touched them gently, remembering the feel of Hunter’s mouth as it grazed hers, and then the hard urgency with which he had kissed her in the garage.
She turned away, frustrated. This was getting her nowhere.
Forget it. Forget him. None of it mattered anyway. Tomorrow morning she’d be back in her real world, and all this would be nothing but a memory.
She heard a noise and paused to listen more intently. Was that banging?
She slipped on a robe—the scratchy generic one provided by the hotel, not at all like the luxurious plush one she’d borrowed from Hunter—and opened the bathroom door.
Yes, someone was definitely pounding on her door.
“Who’s there?” she called, tightening the belt of the robe.
What? “I didn’t—”
She stepped up on her toes to peek out the peephole. Her knees felt like jelly and she leaned against the door, closing her eyes and murmuring a heartfelt “thank goodness.” Then she looked again to make absolutely certain her eyes weren’t playing tricks on her.
Hunter was magnificent in a fresh pair of dark khaki pants and a red golf shirt. His hair looked damp, as if he had just stepped out of a shower, too. In one hand he balanced a platter, covered by a large silver lid. He was impatiently shuffling from one foot to the other.
She pulled open the door and stepped back, waiting.
Hunter’s eyes widened and then he dropped his gaze to take in her bare toes. Slowly he raised his head. His appraisal of her was slow and intense. She felt exposed, and rubbed her palms against the fabric of the robe just to assure herself she had actually put one on. When he got to her face he paused, and then broke into his seductive, heart-stopping grin.
“I see you’re expecting me,” he said.