Forbidden romances. Dystopian worlds. Unimaginable creatures. Dark nightmares. Beautiful dreams. All within the Realms of an Open Mind.
Typically, a "happy ending" is supposed to wrap things up beautifully, leaving you with a warm/fuzzy feeling, ending on a contented sigh and and a smile. Typically...
I've never been that fond of happily ever afters. It's not that I don't want the characters to end up where they want to be, it just seems so... cliche. Maybe not even that. Maybe it's because real life, while it has its moments, is quite unpredictable and, while things have a way of falling into place, it's never puzzle-piece fitting, neat and pretty and tied up with a big red bow.
Characters have a way of getting under your skin, of making you laugh, making you cry, breaking your heart... And while we all want those we care about to achieve what they desire most, sometimes it's just not in the cards, and to force it through unbelievable circumstances is just... it just botches the whole thing. You can't set up all these extraordinary obstacles only to have them fall at their own will in the end.
My idea of a great and believable ending? Although I know it isn't the end ~ it is the first in a series ~ The Immortal Rules made perfect sense. Allison's a vampire. A feared monster in the eyes of humans. As much as she'd love to, she can't stay with the people she's grown to care about. She can't be with Zeke, as much as she wants him. She needs their blood, and there's no way she'd survive or keep herself from killing without it. She doesn't compromise or try to pretend that maybe it will all work out. That everyone will get to know her and not see her as a monster. Instead, she does what she can, using her abilities to save those she loves and leaves them to the hard-won safety of their paradise. Maybe things will change for her, but she'd rather be alone than wish her curse/gift on anyone else. So for the meantime... She'll fight alone.
Don't get me wrong. Sometimes a happy ending works. Katie McGarry's Pushing the Limits and Dare You To both overcome obstacles and demons and land in a place of hope and promise. It's not forced, and while there is still some messy, it's beautiful and, most importantly, believable.
A forced ending would be like Midnight Bayou by Nora Roberts. Roberts is the queen of romance novels and ever afters, but I just felt like the conclusion wrapped up way too smoothly given what we learned throughout the story. Lena's a wary and hesitant character when it comes to love, and even over the course of a few months, she holds on to her stubborn will to remain independent. But BAM... in the last few pages she flips a switch, and not even just admitting that she wants to be with the guy, but going so far as to propose marriage, and it's butterflies and rainbows and six kids for her and Declan.