Should All Romance Novels End with a Marriage Proposal?

By Ellie Darkins, author of Hiding from Hollywood

Hiding from HollywoodI’ve an important question to ask you. *Shuffles nervously* How do you feel about … marriage.

I’m going to come right out and say it: I’ve got marriage on the brain. I’m heading up the aisle in three months’ time, so marriage and weddings, dresses and flowers, name changes and registrars and bridesmaids and honeymoons and – you get the picture – are a pretty huge part of my life at the moment.

But what is marriage?

Five hundred years ago, a marriage could be formed with a few whispered promises, known to no one but the bride and groom. Marriages were made for a variety of reasons, many of which concerned economics rather than affection. A century ago, marriage was still the only acceptable way to have a family, but the institution was horrendously discriminatory towards women – a wife’s adultery was sufficient grounds for divorce, for example, but a husband’s was not.

A decade ago gay couples in the UK were still fighting to have their relationships acknowledged in law, and just this year the UK government passed legislation that means from 2014 same-sex couples will be able to marry in England and Wales.

So marriage is an ever-changing, evolving institution, and this is reflected in the romances we read and write. Where once a proposal was essential part of the Happy Ever After, it’s often forgone these days in favour of some other form of commitment. This reflects real life – the number of cohabiting couples in the UK doubled between 1996 and 2012, and many couples spend joyful lifetimes together without ever formalising their union before a priest, judge or registrar.

But what makes a happy ending for you? Do you like to know that your hero and heroine will be heading to the altar, or are you just happy to see them together?

As for my own story, will Abby and Ethan be thinking about matrimony? There’s only one way to find out … Hiding from Hollywood was released 13 January 2014!