The Happy Ending

September 28, 2009 at 4:28 am 6 comments

by Rebecca York

rebeccayorkWhen I talk about books in public, I try to stick to the ones I like.  But I’ve just finished a “guy book” that upset me a lot.  So I want to discuss it a little.  I won’t tell you the name of the book.  But it was about a woman lawyer whose husband was accused of murder.  She loved him and defended him at his trial.  During the course of the book, I got to know and like the heroine.  Several times during the story, she questioned whether her husband was really innocent.  But each time, she regained her faith in him.  She won an acquittal, and they joyfully went home again.  Then the author had the brilliant idea of having her find out that the guy was really guilty. Not just guilty, but a psychopath.  When she confronted him, he tried to kill her.  And she ended up shooting him in self-defense.

What fun! Not.

I’d gone through a deeply emotional experience with the heroine.  I rooted for her to win the court case–in the face of a hostile judge and a lot of dirty tricks from the prosecution.  Not only that, during the trial, she almost gets fired from her job.  But she triumphed over all of that.

What was her reward?  Her life was destroyed.  Why?  Because it was a neat twist for the end of the book?

As I read, I started suspecting that the author was going to pull a zinger at the end.  But I kept hoping for the best and I kept going because I liked the heroine and wanted her to win–and walk away happy.  I was involved with the story, but now I’m really upset with investing so much time and emotional energy in the plot–and the characters.

There is no way I’d ever write a story like that.  I put my hero and heroine through terrible trials.  I test their resolve and their character and their love for each other.  But I end the story with them happy together.  Because that’s what I want to read.  And write.  There’s enough bad stuff going on in the world without inventing more.

That’s why I love writing romantic suspense. My latest is DRAGON MOON, out from Berkley on October 6.MM cover.indd

The heroine is Kenna, a slave from my alternate universe, sent here to help her ruthless dragon-shifter master invade our world.  She meets werewolf Talon Marshall and desperately wants to tell him her frightening secret.  But every time she tries to reveal her plight, excruciating pains stab into her head.  Even as Kenna and Talon fall in love, he can’t trust her.  And she struggles to break through the barriers that control her mind.  It’s classic romantic suspense, with the paranormal twists I love.

It’s a very emotional story.  I put my hero and heroine through a lot of grief.  But there’s one thing you can count on in every book I write. The hero and heroine are going to live happily ever after.

So what do you think about endings?  Do you hate being jerked around by an author who gets you hooked, then pulls the rug out from under you?  Or do you love those nasty twists that only a guy would think of?

New York Times, USA Today best-selling novelist, Ruth Glick (aka Rebecca York) is the author of 125 books. She writes paranormal romantic thrillers for Berkley and romantic thrillers for Harlequin Intrigue.  Her many awards include a PRISM Award for “Second Chance” in MIDNIGHT MAGIC (Tor, May 2006).  She has received two Career Achievement Awards from RT BOOK REVIEWS magazine.  Her KILLING MOON was a launch book for Berkley’s Sensation Imprint.  Her Berkley Moon series continues with DRAGON MOON (October 2009)   Her latest Harlequin Intrigue, MORE THAN A MAN, was out in August.  Also the author of 15 cookbooks, Ruth loves cooking, craft projects and watching defunct TV series on DVD.  Her garden contains rocks she’s collected from around the world.


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Time-out Racing for the finish line


  • 1. Teresa Bodwell  |  September 28, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    One of the reasons I love reading romance is that guarantee of a happy ending. I know the characters will face hardships and challenges in the future, but I want the story to leave them in a good place with a promise of more good things to come.

  • 2. Mary Marvella  |  September 28, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    Ruth, if i know I’m not reading or watching a romance, I can accept a surprise or unhappy ending if I can remember seeing the clues along the way. I don’t like to see the main character killed in the end of a movie or book!

  • 3. Debbie Haupt  |  September 28, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    I read romance for the same reason Teresa does, I need my HEA. And I DON’T read romance authors (who will remain nameless) that I can’t trust to give me one. The HEA is essential to my reading enjoyment and it’s not that I don’t enjoy the occasional serial killer, etc thriller as long as the hero and heroine end up riding off into the sunset.
    If I wanted reality I’d watch the news

  • 4. Rebecca York  |  September 28, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    There’s so much sad and disturbing stuff in real life that I want fiction that ends well.

  • 5. Judi  |  September 29, 2009 at 1:12 am

    This has touched such a nerve with me, I had to comment. I read (insert BIG NAME AUTHOR’s BOOK here) while on a trip my husband won for business well done. I was there with the other spouses, all of us hanging around the pool in Cabo San Lucas. They were chatting and I had my nose buried in a book. Now, I’m a voracious reader, but more than that, I’m a social butterfly. When the 2 collide it has to be a damn good book to outdo social-butterflying.

    It was.

    So there I was, reading amid the chatter and mai tais. They teased me, these other spouses. But it was a GOOD BOOK. I was invested. I loved that the hero had gone through such hell and had found happiness. I reveled in the HEA I was certain was to come. Rooted for the new happy couple.

    UNTIL (and you KNEW there had to be one, didn’t you?) UNTIL the idiotic, moronic BIG NAME AUTHOR had the hero do something so UTTERLY TSTL that I couldn’t believe I was actually reading it. “No,” I thought, “he’s NOT doing that assine thing that’d ruined his life in the first place, is he?”

    Yes, I’m sad to say, he was doing that same idiotic, moronic, stupid, incomprehensible thing that had started the whole mess to begin with. Where was the hero I’d fallen in love with? The man who’d made GOOD choices and had me rooting for him? Where? What happened to him?

    I’ll tell you what happened to him. BIG NAME AUTHOR went for shock value instead of the natural flow of the story.

    Well, I gave Mr. BIG NAME AUTHOR some help with that flow. I threw his book in the pool.

    IDIOT. I have never bought another one of his books, nor have I seen any of the movies. He let the reader down. He’d built it up for a HEA then threw it all away. Talk about not fulfilling reader expectations!!!

    Now, the guy is still selling and selling big, but he’s lost one reader. In the scheme of things, this won’t hurt him, but I just can’t endorse TSTL. Can’t do it.

  • 6. Teresa Bodwell  |  September 29, 2009 at 2:14 am

    Okay, Judi. Tell us what you REALLY feel. 🙂

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