Commenter Alau had a much different take on the interview given by the editor from Aphrodisia. To wit:
I think the definition of a HEA is changing and that's what Aphrodisia is responding to: as long as the woman is happy, it doesn't matter if she ends up with the hero or not. As long as everyone is happy at the end, to me, that means it is an HEA, regardless of who she's with at the end. I don't care if she's partnered, married, with kids, etc, as long as she's happy. I'm also satisfied with a “Happy for now” ending, which implies that there's an ongoing story. So, no I don't think it's false advertising for Aphrodisia to stretch the genre to accomodate these changing attitudes which is what I think they're doing.
My initial reaction was that a book described above would not be a romance. It would be a chick lit book or more likely, a woman’s fiction book. I have come to rely on the definition provided at the RWA webiste which says that a romance novel is comprised of “a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.”
Romance novels end in a way that makes the reader feel good. Romance novels are based on the idea of an innate emotional justice — the notion that good people in the world are rewarded and evil people are punished. In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love.
The HEA has traditionally been the guideposts of romances. What the HEA entails has varied, ie., a couple being together without being married, having kids, etc. But is the HEA changing? I have seen other authors post at blogs and in comments to blogs that their books may not have the “traditional” HEA, that the conclusion may be open-ended (as in a series) but that the story is still considered a romance. The cynic in me says that these books aren’t romances but the author wants to take advantage of the romance market. (54.9% of all popular mass-market fiction sold). If the HEA is changing, why? Why are authors trying to stretch that boundary within the romance market? Is it in response to readership demands? Or is it because the author wants to have more freedom to listen to their inner muse but still have the market success of a romance? And are the two mutually exclusive?