Happily ever after endings sometimes fit and I adore when they work and make sense. I have to admit though that I enjoy a less than happy ending at times. When writing romance, or erotic romance, readers expect the HEA and an author is obligated to supply it. Don't and you risk losing readers, possibly permanently.
HFN, or happy for now, also works a lot of the time. Again, I'm all for it, when the story goes that way and the characters need that kind of ending.
Okay, get your rotten tomatoes and other assorted tossables. *G* I've written a few stories where the ending isn't really clear. Usually, when I get an idea for a book or story, I know how it's going to end. I may not have the complete story line or plot, but I know Jane is going to rescue Joe from the kidnappers and they'll live happily ever after, or not. There are some stories that simply don't have that clear cut an ending. There are times when the characters don't deserve happy endings. Heck, I've written a few pieces where the characters die horribly and deserve every moment of their torment. *G*
And what about the character who doesn't want happy? Joe Shmuck murders someone and is haunted by the ghost. Joe has a love interest, a nice job and all the trimmings. But, deep down inside, poor Joe wants this ghostie to scare the pants off him. Maybe literally. LOL Say Joe is slipping it to his wife and ghostie whispers something naughty into Joe's ear. Scares him spitless and his wife must know somethings up... errr down... and Joe is happy as a clam. He's paying for the deadly deed but can still take care of his family. Okay, so maybe that wasn't the nicest of scenarios, but life isn't always nice. Right?
Romance is escapism and thus the happily ever after. Apparently it's doing extremely well right now too, and that can't be a bad thing. I think if a book is clearly marked romance, a reader has every right to be upset if a HEA isn't supplied. You really want what you're paying for and an unhappy reader is an scary thing... gulp!
What's your take on how a book ends? Do you think the good guy should always win and the mystery solved or is there room for the not quite answered questions to leave you wondering? Perhaps that ghost really isn't finished with Joe. Perhaps Joe's wife is going to get into the act later.