Unpopular Opinion: Why Athena Wright Loves Cliffhangers In Romance

Cliffhangers: love ’em or hate ’em, they’re prominent in today’s publishing world. Today author Athena Wright gives us her pro-cliffhanger stance. Have at it, Athena! 

Maybe I’m an emotional masochist, but I love cliffhangers. That feeling of needing something so bad, but being denied it. It makes my heart clench in my chest. It makes stomach drop. It makes my nerve endings tingle with heat. That sense of denial is delicious and torturous at the same time.

Every author wants to make a connection with their reader. They want to invoke some sort of reaction or emotion within them. They want them to care. If an author can literally bring about physical and emotional pain in a reader, they’ve done their job. I’ve read a lot of books in my day and been tortured with a lot of cliffhangers. It’s hard to pull off a good one. 

Cliffhangers That Rock

His Gift by Aubrey Dark

If you had been sitting next to me as I finished part one, you would have heard me utter “NOOOoooo….!” out loud in the middle of a crowded subway.

Without quoting word for word, the end went something like this:

“You lied to me. Now I’ll have to punish you.”

The problem? The author didn’t explain what the main character had lied about. I had no idea what it was, how he had found out about it, how serious it was, or what the punishment was going to be.

You want to know how desperate I was to know what she’d lied about? I got off the subway at the next stop, left the station to get above ground, navigated to the kindle website on my phone, immediately downloaded part #2, then got back on the subway and continued on my way. Yes, I interrupted my morning commute to work because of Aubrey Dark.

Revenge and Blue Shoes by JJ Knight

Honestly, I was mostly hate-reading these books. I didn’t particularly care for either of the main characters, as they were flawed in ways that usually turn me off. However, the tension kept growing with every page and by the end I was salivating for the next part.

Many of JJ Knight’s endings focused on two characters having conversations that you’d been waiting the whole book for them to have. Is he going to answer the phone? If he does, will he be able to explain himself? Is he going to be angry with her? Will she be angry with him?

IndebtedThat’s the mark of a good cliffhanger: When you complain and grumble and hate every minute of it but can’t stop yourself from continuing on.

Indebted by Pepper Winters

I was also on the subway when I finished the last page of Indebted’s part one. My mouth gaped open as I lowered my phone and just looked around in utter disbelief. How could the author end it like that? This was a life or death situation! I was silently choking on my own tongue and mouthing words of astonishment. I can only imagine what the other riders must have thought.

Cliffhangers That Stink

I read one book in particular that tried to end on a cliffhanger but failed. Part one ended something like this:

“Take a look at the front page,” my friend said.

I took the newspaper from her, glancing at it quickly, then gasped when I saw-.

That was it. That was the end of part one.

I don’t believe that’s a true cliffhanger. The author simply ended the story in mid sentence. I have no idea what the main character saw in that paper. How do I know I’m even going to care? A proper cliffhanger should give the reader a reason to continue. For example:

“Take a look at the front page,” my friend said.

I took the newspaper from her, glancing at it quickly, then gasped when I saw it.

The man I’d fallen in love with was wanted for murder.

Now that’s a cliffhanger. It gives you enough information to leave you wanting more. You care about what happens next.

As an author, I love cliffhangers because they get the reader to continue on with the series. It’s mercenary, I’ll admit. However, I felt that way long before I ever published my first book. The feelings I get from cliffhangers, the shock, the denial, the delightful agony, is something I can rarely find elsewhere. 

Athena Wright

You can find more about Athena’s writing here. Her latest release, Given, is cliffhanger friendly. What are your thoughts on cliffhangers? While you decide, why not check out some other steamy stories on our Everything Erotica page? 

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