With the upcoming release of her newest happy-ever-after, Cowboy In Wolf's Clothing, we asked Kait Ballenger to share her favorite HEA!
How can you choose just one?!?!
This question has plagued me since I was given this blog post topic. With so many wonderful HEAs, it’s hard to choose. Do I tell you how the ending of Laura Lee Gurke’s The Trouble with True Love brought tears of joy to my eyes? Or how Kari Lynn Dell’s Reckless in Texas made me feel all swoony? I could mention epic romance cult classics like Lisa Kleypas’ Dreaming of You or Beverley Jenkin’s Indigo, or more recent loves like Sophie Jordan’s All Chained Up or Julie Ann Walker’s Hell on Wheels, but I’m fairly certain if you’ve been a romance reader for any amount of time, you’re familiar with the struggle of picking favorites. It’s just too hard to choose!
For me, my favorite HEA is often my most recent—a girl has to give herself some time to fangirl, right?—and at the time of this post, the most recent HEA I’ve enjoyed is from Netflix’s new rom-com Always Be My Maybe. A charming and laugh-out-loud funny film, Always Be My Maybe perfectly exhibits the best elements of a memorable happily-ever-after.
Unless you live under a pop culture rock, you’ve likely heard the hype about Always Be My Maybe. Starring Ali Wong and Randall Park, the movie is about two childhood friends who should have ended up together years ago, but when a teen disagreement causes them to fall out, fifteen years pass before they see each other again. Wong, who plays a celebrity chef named Sasha, is engaged to a successful celebrity businessman Brandon Choi (Daniel Dae Kim) is everything her old childhood friend, Marcus (played by Park), is not. She’s highly successful, driven, and destined for great things. Marcus on the other hand still lives with his dad and works as an air-conditioning guy for his father’s company while his band from high school continues to play 90s style rap beats for their local Los Angeles neighborhood.
The two are an unlikely pair, separated by major socioeconomic realities and personality differences—a solid opposites attract trope. But after a brutal breakup with Brandon leaves Sasha struggling to collect herself, her best-friend calls Marcus’ father’s air-conditioning company to work on Sasha’s house. Marcus and Sasha’s reconnection is tentative, but the two strike up an unlikely friendship, which quickly blossoms into a rekindled second-chance romance interspersed with laugh-out-loud funny comedy, including a particularly hilarious moment when Marcus gets to punch Keanu Reeves (who plays an overly dramatic version of himself) in the face. This movie is perfect for anyone who has ever thought about kissing their best friend.
As if the underdog hero punching Keanu in the face and then later rapping about it isn’t enough to make you want to watch the film, the HEA should be. What I loved most about the HEA of Always Be My Maybe is that this unlikely pair changes one another for the better. They complete each other emotionally, exactly as the hero and heroine in any memorable romance should. Marcus helps Sasha remember the value of her roots and staying true to herself even while facing immense success, while Sasha helps Marcus overcome the fear of his true potential and blossom into his own person.
That sort of emotionally satisfying and sigh-worthy romantic ending between an unlikely pair is what I strive to achieve in every romance novel I write, particularly in my newest release, Cowboy in Wolf’s Clothing, book two in my Seven Range Shifters series where the heroes are cowboys by day, wolf shifters by night. Unlike Always Be My Maybe, Cowboy in Wolf’s Clothing is enemies-to-lovers trope, action-packed, and while there are a few laugh-out-loud funny moments, it’s not a rom-con. But for all their differences, I hope Cowboy in Wolf’s Clothing captivates readers and makes them smile as the unlikely pairing of the hero and heroine complete each other all the same.
What’s your favorite—or most recent—HEA? Share in the comments!