It’s a phrase we all know, an ideal we strive for in our own lives, and one we enjoy reading about again and again.
The promise of a happily ever after is what drew me into romance years ago, first as a reader, then as an author. The idea that obstacles can be overcome and happiness can be found gave me hope, not only for the characters I was reading about, but also hope for my own life. It still does today.
When I started reading romance novels, my husband had just taken a job back in my hometown, my life was uprooted from what I had known for the past few years, and we were staying with my parents until we could find our own home. This was when my mom, a librarian and life-long book lover, went blind and needed me more than ever before. In that straining time, books were there for me, giving me hope.
We all have struggles, but within the pages of a book we can watch struggle come to a tidy end in just the length of time it takes us to devour words, eat up sentences, and flip pages to the end of a story. And in the book’s conclusion we find comfort, peace, and happiness of our own.
Much like in our own lives, the happiness these characters find isn’t handed over on a silver platter, instead it’s earned throughout the story. They face insurmountable odds and we love them all the more for it. Villains, unfortunate circumstances, and inner demons top the list of adversaries that heroes and heroines must defeat. It makes our own problems seem small in comparison to the character’s need to save the world from certain destruction, and the one love from the clutches of evil, right?
“Torture your characters.” I’ve heard this saying so often that I’m not certain who should get credit for this piece of writing advice, but it’s true. Without this torture, the love and happiness of the end of the book wouldn’t be so sweet.
After chapters and chapters of struggle, all the threads of this character’s life are finally bound together and wrapped into a neat little bow. I love this part of writing a romance! It’s seriously my favorite part of the job. And to be honest, it’s the reason I sat down at my kitchen table one day and started writing romance novels.
Things had changed since I’d started reading romance. By then I was living in yet another city. The industry my husband worked in was crumbling. I had a newborn baby. And my mom’s health had gotten worse—a lot worse. You see, there were things in my life I couldn’t control, but what I could do was help the characters in my stories find love and happiness. Through weaving the threads of the characters’ lives together into a satisfying ending, I found my own happiness.
The characters in the stories we love have grown from who they were on page one by the time they get their happy ending. Their relationship with the one they love has been built on a solid foundation, and they’ve faced their fears by the final page. I believe that our lives are much the same. We struggle. We fail. And we keep fighting for our own fairy tale ending. And through it all, we have hope.
Have you found your happily ever after? Or are you still working to create it? I wish you all the best on your journey.
Ms. Michels is giving a copy of The Rebel Heir to three lucky US residents. Make a comment below to be entered in this giveaway.
The Spare Heirs Society Cordially Invites You to Meet Ash Claughbane: The Imposter
Lady Evangeline Green is living a lie. To please her family, she masquerades as the perfect debutante…until she meets the wickedly charming Lord Crosby. With him, there are no rules. She’s finally free to do as she desires—but freedom comes with a price, and Lord Crosby is not what he seems…
Ash is not Lord Crosby. He’s a con artist, a noble Spare Heir living off his silver tongue. When the Greens ruined his family, he swore he’d make them pay, and he never doubted his devotion to revenge…until he met Evangeline. Now, caught in a web of lies, torn between duty and desire, what’s a con to do but deceive all of London and steal the one lady who dared match wits with the devil himself?
Elizabeth Michels grew up on a Christmas tree farm in rural South Carolina. After tip-toeing her way through school with her focus on ballet steps and her nose in a book, she met a boy and followed him a thousand miles away from home to Kansas City, Missouri, before settling down in North Carolina.