Romance is all about pair bonding. Seriously, the entire genre is built around the stage in the life of a man and a woman when they overcome what ever might be preventing them from finding a mate, and forming an attachment to one another. The attachment is presumed to be permanent, or the story is considered inferior from a genre perspective.
From an evolutionary perspective pair bonding is all about reproduction. So far as the species is concerned the whole point of all that sexual activity is the continuation of the genetic material of the male and female involved, and the relationship is designed by nature to nurture the children that result. Presumably individuals with strong families are more likely to live long enough to pass on their genetic material.
So when I pick up a Romance novel I have an eye on the hows and whys of the formation of a strong family unit which will include a man, a woman, and eventually at least one child. Yet I have no problem with the ending of Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie. It’s not because I am a fan of zero population growth either.
When I pick up a Romance I’m not approaching it with the intellectuality of someone reading a how-to manual. I’m looking for the feelings involved in the pair bonding experience. Finding someone who would help make beautiful babies is certainly part of it, but the creation of a condition of love and support is much more important. Ms Crusie achieves it in spades, particularly in Bet Me.
I have read other books in which a condition of love and support is created yet the lack of future children strikes a wrong note. I think in the case of Bet Me it has to do with the theme of self acceptance which runs so strong throughout the book. Also, the resolution shows how this couple can have fulfilling lives without children through their association with the secondary characters.
I’m only scratching the surface on this issue, but if I start to take it any further it’ll be several pages before I let you go. So I’ll call it quits here for now and take it up again on a later date.