As I come to the end of another book, I've been thinking about epilogues. They aren't always necessary, and can even sometimes be a bit annoying, but as I looked back at my books, I realized that I do them more often than not. I'd rather have the reader get that final taste of the characters being happy than to end on a whopping dramatic note and then nothing else further. Tastes for epilogues definitely vary, however, and there are probably a couple I could have done without. Examining the epilogues I have, I'm going to try to remember why I did them. (These aren't spoilers, because I think we all know that every couple of every book will end up together, no matter how hopeless it seems during the course of the story. These are romances, after all!)
Book 1: SPANISH MAGNATE, RED-HOT REVENGE – Epilogue. It wasn't necessary, but since it was my first book I think I thought I needed it. It doesn't add anything to the story.
Book 2: CAVELLI'S LOST HEIR – Epilogue. This one had a purpose, which was the show the heroine settling into her new life and being happy. There was also a thread about her mother that I tied up here.
Book 3: THE PRINCE'S ROYAL CONCUBINE – Epilogue. Once more, this one had a purpose. Since Cristiano and Antonella were on opposite sides of conflicting nations, and their relationship affected their countries, I wanted to show them a couple of years later and show how relations between the nations had changed.
Book 4 (a novella) – KEPT FOR THE SHEIKH'S PLEASURE – Epilogue. It's a year later and I needed to show how Genie was doing in her new life. Not only that, but Zafir had some things to get used to about her job, so that's in there too.
Book 5: THE DEVIL'S HEART – Epilogue. It was necessary to tie up a thread from the book. Also, I believe it takes place two years later.
Book 6: BEHIND THE PALACE WALLS – No epilogue. The story was complete without it, though I did move ahead in story time by about a year in the last scene, so I technically had an epilogue-type wrap up without the epilogue.
Book 7: THE MAN WITH THE MONEY – Epilogue. There were a couple of threads from the story that needed tying up. No time jump. It takes place right after the last chapter.
Book 8: STRANGERS IN THE DESERT – Epilogue. It's needed in this book to answer a major question that the story raises.
Book 9: CAPTIVE BUT FORBIDDEN – No epilogue. It's all tied up without it, though I do give a quick summary of the next couple of years in the last paragraph.
Book 10: MARRIAGE BEHIND THE FACADE – No epilogue. The story is all tied up without it and there's nothing left to resolve or explain.
There are other books which I've written that haven't come out yet, but I'm not going to talk about those. Clearly, I have a predisposition to write epilogues. I think I just like knowing that the characters are going to be all right, and I figure my readers like to know that too. If the relationship has been particularly rocky or in question throughout the book, I think an epilogue showing how the characters have adjusted is appropriate.
Not everyone agrees with me. Some writers like to end on that high dramatic note and then that's it. Some readers don't seem to mind at all. But I do. As a reader, I really want to know it's all going to be okay. I want to see them together and happy, and know it's going to work. Just because this is a romance with a happy ending doesn't mean I believe the happy ending will last if I'm not comfortable with how the characters are as a couple throughout the story.
Once more, that's a personal preference. So now I want to know what you prefer. Epilogue or no epilogue? Do you have any favorites in books you've read? Any that were totally superfluous (like my first book)? Any you hated?