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Happy Endings with Joely Sue Burkhart

I have a sickness. Every time I watch a movie or read a book that doesn’t involve a romance, I catch myself fantasizing about “fixing up” the protagonist with his or her ideal mate.

It all goes back to Gone With the Wind. Who can forget Rhett Butler leaving Scarlett: Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

But I DO give a damn! I can’t help but want to fix their relationship some way, somehow. As a teenager, I read the book three times, constantly dreaming about how I would fix that unforgettable ending. Would Rhett ever come back? Would Scarlett ever grow up and realize how much she loved him instead of Ashley all those years? Or should they have fallen in love with entirely different people in the first place?

The same thing happened when I watched the movie Curse of the Golden Flower starring Chow Yun Fat and Li Gong. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s wonderful, and I don’t want to spoil it for you, but the ending is very tragic. One of those “nearly everyone dies” sort of Hamlet endings. And I couldn’t help it—I wanted to FIX it. The few survivors at the end were NOT happy. They certainly didn’t have love! The romantic in me was overwrought. I watched the movie over and over, loving it, but hating the way it ended at the same time.

I finally decided the only way I was going to fix my obsession was to come up with my own Emperor…and his perfect mate. In walked Jin, the girl with the golden eyes. She knows the Emperor’s darkest secret, and she’s going to help him face it, even embrace it, no matter what.

What movie or book has ended “wrong” and you just wish you could FIX it? One commenter will win a free e-copy of GOLDEN, my latest release from Carina Press!

~ * ~

Joely always has her nose buried in a book, especially one with mythology, fairy tales, and romance. Find her on her website, Twitter, and Facebook. Be sure to check out her free reads!

As part of the release celebration, she’s also giving away a gorgeous HautTote bag! Details.


36 Responses

  1. What a great topic! And I bet you’re preaching to the choir about wanting happy endings!

    I wanted to change the ending to Sommersby. LOVED the movie. Hated the ending. I wanted them to have an HEA.

  2. Welcome to the blog and what a fun topic!

    ending I want to fix–Sweet Home Alabama. I know, what? it’s not what you’re thinking. at the end, when she says “I can’t marry you” or whatever. I want Patrick Dempsey’s character to silent walk away with closed fists. or something. ANYTHING. He was head over heels in love with that chick and she totally walked and way and he’s all “wow, that’s what this feels like” WTH?? come on. that is NOT real life.

    *deep breath*

  3. Doctor Zhivago. I’ve seen it 27 times AND read the book. Breaks my heart every time. Augh! (fun topic:-)

    Pamela Hearon

  4. City of Angels! I hate movies like that. Ladder 12 (I think that was the name of it, with Joaquin Phoenix and John Travolta?) was another one, but at least you could see his death coming. I had NO idea City of Angels was a tragic “love story” until she was riding that bike down the road and they showed the logging truck. I was so mad!

  5. Duplicity! How dare they set up these two people as opponents of the evil corporation and then let the evil corporation win!

  6. I have the same sickness! I can’t leave a not-so-happy, or a tragic ending alone. The first thing I ever wrote was a new ending to Gone With the Wind. LOL

    I agree with Pamela above. Doctor Zhivago was sad. But then those Russian author’s know how to depress you. Anna Karenina is another tragic story.

    I love your cover! It’s gorgeous. : ) Congratulations and good luck.

    • Thank you so much, Shawna! I guess I don’t mind tragic endings — as long as there IS hope, some kind of promise for a future happiness, a reunion, etc. However, I was not happy with the “reunion” at the end of the television series MEDIUM. Not happy at all. Sigh.

  7. Joely: I didn’t always realize why I was so dissatisfied with certain books and movies until I started reading romance a few years ago. One of the books that really ticked me off was DEAR JOHN. I invested too much in those characters emotionally not to have them get their HEA. (Read that one before I realized NS was an anti-HEA writer.)

    Also, TRUE BLUE by David Baldacci sets up a nice tension between the H/H without delivering the payoff. That’s when I realized all of my old go-to (mainly thriller) authors were no longer my go-to authors.

    Great topic. Your book sounds like a lot of fun!

    • My husband was watching Dear John a few weeks ago. I snarked about someone dying (not sure if that was the actual ending of the book, but it usually is) so he didn’t watch the end. Then it was on again a few days later, and he watched the last 20 minutes and was mad at me because he said it ended happily. So I don’t know if his definition of happy ending is different from mine, or if they changed the movie. 🙂

      • Natalie: Your husband is partly right. No one died (well, no one of romantic importance). Hate to say it, but that was one book/movie where I was rooting for the other guy to die. Movie dialed things back a bit, but still no HEA for the couple I cared about.

    • Ugh, I’ve stayed away from Dear John too, Gwen! I know what you mean about tension/setup but no payoff. Another reason I read less fantasy nowadays unless it’s more romantic. I like my payoff!

  8. I have to agree with City of Angels. Ending so dumb.

  9. One movie that i absolutely hated the ending to & felt cheated was Six Sense. I know it was a romance but I felt like Bruce Willis’ character needed closure and maybe one last meeting with the kid.

    Maybe it was just me but it just left me feeling like ok – that’s all there is?

    Welcome to the blog and congrats on your book. the cover is very nice.

  10. I really loved the Twilight books, and after reading them (many times), then watching the first 2 movies I lost interest in the next movies. I know, why adapting a book into a movie, things are not going to be perfect. I know this (from the Lord of the Rings movies) but still, I had high hopes. Of course I was let down… grrrr lol I do my best not to get my hopes up about books-to-movies anymore.

  11. Honestly, I’m okay with non-happy endings, so long as they’re satisfying. What I hate is endings that just STOP. Case in point: “Welcome to the Dollhouse”. This whole flick sets up this innocent, naive, geeky little girl against this little punk boy. I watched the whole darn thing, not invested by at least interested, and then… it just stopped. She’s sitting on a bus, by herself in the seat, looking out the window. She starts humming a little. AND THAT’S IT.


    I’m assuming it’s supposed to be a symbol that she’s slowly starting to join the normal world or some such, but dude. Seriously. Just… no.

    • Ha, I know you’re the Ice Queen, Sis. But totally agree — the ending has to make sense and resolve, not just “end.” Haven’t seen Dollhouse — and now know not to!

      • Seriously, don’t. That was back when me and Derek were living with Josh, who had THE WORST habit of picking bizarro movies to plague us with. Some weren’t bad, admittedly, but some were just pointless.

        You know me. I got nothing against either foreign films or indie flicks (in fact, I love haunting the horror section for indie flicks because sometimes you find a real gem), but some of the stuff he brought home. *shakes head* “Dollhouse” was one of those ones I coulda done without.

      • Here’s a link to the Wikipedia page. I don’t remember all of this, but boy, do I remember the never-ending stink of failure and angst well enough to know I’ll never watch it again. Especially that ending. GUH.


  12. The winner is HABREWER!

    Habrewer, please email me at joelysueburkhart AT gmail DOT com with your desired format, and I’ll send you a copy of GOLDEN!

    Thank you, everyone, for participating!

  13. I’m with the City of Angels comment and a little peeved (not really :)) to be remineded about it. I still love the movie, but at the time, I resented the tears I shed!
    I didn;t know that Golden came out. Joely – do you have an email list blog-follower or newlettery-type thing? I randomly found out that Golden was released. I love your work and would love to keep up-to-date on what you’re doing.
    Perhaps, I can win this book. I’m sure you won;t remember, but I was introduced to your work through a contest when I won Dear Sir, I’m Yours.
    marajbrandon AT earthlink DOT net

  14. Mara, thank you so much for your interest in my work! I don’t currently have a newsletter but I’m looking into different services to get one started.

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