Romancing History

When “Happily Ever After” Isn’t Quite Enough — Guest Post & Giveaway by Kathleen Bailey

I’m so excited to welcome another fellow Pelican Book Group author and friend, Kathleen Bailey, back to Romancing History. Kathleen’s latest release, Settler’s Hope, is the second book in her Western Dreams series which follows a group of pioneers on the Oregon Trail. To learn more about the first book in the series, Westward Hope, click here.

Kathleen has graciously offered not one, but three giveaways so be sure to see the details below!

About the Book

Before Kathleen shares her some insights on “Happily Ever Afters,” here’s a little bit about Settler’s Hope.

After years of wandering, Pace Williams expects to find a home in the Oregon Country. He doesn’t expect is to fall in love with a fiery Irishwoman bent on returning home to avenge her people.

Oona Moriarty expects one thing: to exact revenge on the English overlords who took her home. She doesn’t expect to fall in love with a man who looks like he’s been carved from this Western landscape.

Together they vow to trust the unexpected and settle into a life, but when Pace’s ancient enemies threaten to destroy the life they’re building, Oona must choose between helping the man she loves and seeking the revenge she craves.

Available for purchase on Amazon and B&N


When “Happily Ever After” Isn’t Quite Enough

~By Kathleen D. Bailey


Romance writers are in the business of happy endings. Right? Where he gets her and she gets him and, if there are kids involved, they get a complete family. It’s what we do, why our hero and heroine go through whatever they have to go through to, ultimately, be together.

But life is funny. Sometimes we don’t get what we want. Sometimes we shouldn’t have it. And sometimes God does say “Not now.” I was recently pointed in this direction by two novels and a movie.

In “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” starring Julia Roberts, the heroine has been BFFs  with a college friend for most of their post-college lives. They’ve seen each other through crashed relationships, job debacles and more, while never recognizing their attraction to each other. When Dermot Muloney tells Roberts’ character that he has found The One, she begins to wonder if an early attraction to each other should have been, and should be fanned back into flame. The Julia character’s dawning realization of her feelings is thrown into relief when the Dermot character asks her to be his “best person” at his wedding to a very young Cameron Diaz. Things hit fans, Julia tries to sabotage the wedding and at one point steals a bread truck, and Dermot actually begins to wonder himself, even kissing her at one juncture. You’re rooting for the two best friends to get together, you can’t help it. But at the end of the day his future is with the Diaz character, and Julia backs off.

In Lynn Austin’s novel, Waves of Mercy, debutante Anna Nicholson has two men to choose from: her wealthy and exacting former fiance, William, and a young seminary student, Derk, whom she meets on a respite trip to Lake Michigan. Anna undergoes a voyage of discovery that summer, finding out exactly who she was when the Nicholsons adopted her, and cementing her faith in Christ. While William is mellowing and more than ready to give her a second chance, even accommodating her faith, she is drawn to gentle Derk, who has always accepted her for who she is. The reader is drawn to him too. At least this one was.  But Anna knows who she is now, and she goes back to Chicago to serve and learn more about her Lord. She’s still not certain of a life with William, and though she’s fond of Derk, she honestly doesn’t know if she’s cut out to be a pastor’s wife after a life of luxury. Can love overcome all? We don’t know. But at the end of this book, it hasn’t.

 In Debra Clopton’s Betting on Hope, the cowboy does get the girl, with quarter horse champion Tru Monahan and writer Maggie Hope overcoming their painful pasts for a life together serving God. Tru was rendered sterile by a series of childhood cancer treatments. A subplot features a very young unwed mother, Jenna, who desperately wants to keep her baby. Maggie and some townspeople create a plan to support her. But Jenna knows that even with help, she can never give her daughter what a solid adoptive family can. The reader is pulling for that family to be Maggie and Tru – but that doesn’t happen.

When people do the right thing, for their best friend, unborn child or for their own spiritual health, it hurts. It’s not always fun to be the grown-up. In fact, it hardly ever is.

Because there is something even better than “happiness.” It is joy.

The joy of doing the right thing.

There are doubts along the way, and none of the authors or screenwriters sugarcoat them.

  • From Betting on Hope

            “Maggie walked out of the hospital. Disbelief weighed heavy on her heart over Jenna’s decision. She told herself Jenna’s baby would grow up better than either of them had. That this child would be loved. And wasn’t that what was ultimately important? Not who was raising her. After all, she’d had two parents and both of them had tossed her by the wayside.

            But would Jenna ultimately grow to hate that she hadn’t kept her baby?”

            And finally there is the freedom of letting go. For what isn’t perfect, what can’t be on this earth, but what is right.

  • From Waves of Mercy

            “He pulls me into his arms and holds me tightly. I feel so comfortable there, and as I return his embrace I wish with all my heart that it could be different for us – but it can’t.

            ‘Derk, I truly believe that God brought you and me and Oma together this summer for a reason. All three of our lives have been changed. Now…now it’s just so very, very hard to say goodbye.’

            ‘Then we won’t,’ he says, still holding me tightly. ‘We’ll just say…until next time.’ We finally release each other and stand at the same time. ‘You’ll always be in my prayers, Anna, and I hope I will always be in yours.’

            Tears stick in my throat as I nod. I can’t reply. Derk bends to kiss my cheek, and I watch him turn and walk away. I think I understand how hard it was for Oma Geesje to say good-bye to Hendrik on that long ago day, to watch him walk away into the woods and out of her life forever.


When we give up what we want, in ourselves, for the Better that God has for us. In genre writing there are certain conventions—the mystery gets solved, the Hero and Heroine end up together—but sometimes it comes at a cost. We, and our characters, should be prepared to pay that.

Another cinematic example: “Casablanca.” Rick doesn’t get Ilsa, and it’s his own choice. The man who didn’t “stick his neck out for anybody” gave away the love of his life to a man who had stuck his neck out, and suffered for it. Rick did the right thing, and we know what it cost him.

But the ultimate example of the perfect ending is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He could have come down from that Cross at any time. Hugged his mother, gone to supper with his anxious pals. Forgone the physical pain and the shame of carrying our sins, opting instead for a Happy Ending. Done what made sense to everyone except Him.

He didn’t. Joy trumped happiness, and we are the better for it.

For future reading:

Betting on Hope, by Debra Clopton, Thomas Nelson 2015, ISBN 978-1-4016-9049-6

Waves of Mercy, Lynn Austin, Bethany House 2016, ISBN 978-0-7642-1761-6

About Kathleen

Kathleen Bailey is a journalist and novelist with 40 years’ experience in the nonfiction, newspaper and inspirational fields. Born in 1951, she was a child in the 50s, a teen in the 60s, a young adult in the 70s and a young mom in the 80s. It’s been a turbulent, colorful time to grow up, and she’s enjoyed every minute of it and written about most of it.

Bailey’s work includes both historical and contemporary fiction, with an underlying thread of men and women finding their way home, to Christ and each other. Her first Pelican book, ‘Westward Hope,” was published in September 2019. This was followed by a novella, “The Logger’s Christmas Bride,” in December 2019. Her second full-length novel, “Settler’s Hope,” was released July 17, 2020.

She lives in New Hampshire with her husband David. They have two grown daughters.

For more information, contact her at; or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn or visit her website.


This giveaway has now ended!

Congratulations to our winners!!

Ebook Copy of Settler’s Hope: Annette

Paperback Copy of Westward Hope: Peggy Clayton

NE Gift Basket: Theresa Sissions

Kathleen has generously offered not one, but three giveaways to three separate lucky Romancing History readers–one eBook copy of Settler’s Hope, on paper copy of Westward Hope (U.S. Residents only), and one New England Gift Pack (U.S. Residents only). International winners will receive their choice of an eBook copy of one of Kathleen’s books.

To enter, please share with us a favorite book or movie that has a bittersweet ending.

**Giveaway ends midnight, August 5th, 2020.**


Season of Hope by Carol James: The Story Behind the Story


Author Interview with Ramona K. Cecil & a Giveaway


  1. NANCY

    The Notebook

    positive DOT ideas DOT 4you AT gmail DOT com

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Nancy, Yes that is definitely a tear jerker with a bittersweet ending. Thanks for visiting.

  2. Sabrina Templin

    A Walk To Remember

    • NNnRe9EC7Kathy Bailey

      Oh, yes, Sabrina. I cried over that one. Thanks for stopping by.

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Sabrina,

      Oh yes, that one is a tearjerker for certain. Thanks for visiting the blog and good luck in the drawing.

  3. Annette

    I loved titanic but there was another movie where she throws the pendant into the water above the wreck of the Titanic. Loved it.

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Annette, that movie really speaks to what Kathy was speaking about — that real love is self-sacrificing. Every time I watch that movie I want Jack to live but its so beautiful how he changed her life in just a short time. Thanks for visiting Romancing History today.

  4. Virginia Campbell

    Forever Young

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Virginia, I’m not familiar with that film either but the title alone tells me to get a handkerchief! Thanks for stopping by the blog and good luck in the drawing!

  5. Theresa Sissons

    Somewhere in Time

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Theresa, I’m not familiar with that movie but since you’re the second person to mention it I’ll have to check it out. THanks for visiting the blog today!

  6. Pat Hawk


    • romancinghistory

      Hi Pat, Oh I’d forgotten all about Ghost! Yes, excellent example.

    • NNnRe9EC7Kathy Bailey

      Believe it or not, I have never seen “Ghost” so I’ll take your word for it. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Chrissy Harrison

    I would have to say ‘The notebook”. What a heart wrenching one.

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Chrissy, yes that was a definite tearjerker.

  8. EC7Kathy Bailey

    OH, yes. That is so far from a happy ending, but the young men learned something from it. Thanks for stopping by.

  9. Connie White

    I love Steel Magnolias. My two daughters and I have watched it no telling how many times. What makes it more bittersweet is that it’s based on the same real life story of the author’s sister and how his mother and the ladies he knew reacted to the heartbreaking situation. My youngest daughter had her friend over just about 3 nights ago. They were starting the movie when I popped my head in to see if they needed anything. I mentioned them watching the movie yet another time when my Kelly stopped me and said her friend had never seen it before! I love watching movies I’ve seen, but my friend hasn’t seen. I can think of lots of movies with a different ending I wasn’t expecting and a movie I knew the sad historical ending of, but I loved it enough to watch it again and again. One is Casablanca which is my favorite movie ever. The second is Last of the Mohicans which is my very, very close, almost a tie, 2nd fav movie ever! The last is The Alamo with John Wayne. Everyone knows how it ends, but retelling this true story, even with a few scriptwriter’s change of perspective, made the viewer feel the true epic nature of what really happened.

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Connie, Wow, what a great list of movies — yes all not the ending I’d choose but could definitely be argued was the right ending for the movie. In Casablanca, I’m always wanting her to be standing on the tarmac when the fog clears, which is terrible since her husband is on the plane. Ugh.

    • NNnRe9EC7Kathy Bailey

      Connie, you have obviously given this a lot of thought, or I caught you on the right day. I’m a John Wayne nut, I have to be to write Westerns, and “The Alamo” packs a punch every time I see it. The way they knew they were dying and yet they did it because it was the right thing to do. And now we have Texas because of them! Beautiful. Thanks for commenting.

  10. Laura Brown

    Steal Magnolias

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Laura, excellent example!

    • NNnRe9EC7Kathy Bailey

      Oh, yes, “Steel Magnolias.” When Julia Roberts was dying and Sally Field refused to leave her side. Broke my heart.

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Becky, Oh man, this one made me ball like a baby. What a beautiful love story.

    • NNnRe9EC7Kathy Bailey

      I saw that. It was heartbreaking. Always is when a young person dies.

  11. Kimberly Bowie

    Gone With the Wind

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Kimberly, I hadn’t thought of this one but you’re absolutely right. This is another one that makes me cry. Scarlet finally figures it out but its too late. Rhett has had enough. I always want him to give her another chance. I’m a hopeless romantic.

    • nRe9EC7Kathy Bailey

      Kimberly, yes, “Gone With the Wind” is a classic example. She would have driven him nuts if he’d stayed. The skill Margaret Mitchell showed was that she made us feel sorry for Scarlett. Which isn’t easy to do.

  12. yenny garcia

    West Side Story

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Yenny, Oh that is a good one, too! I always cry. Thanks for visiting Romancing History and best wishes in the drawing.

    • Connie White

      That’s a great one too!

    • EC7Kathy Bailey

      OH, yes. That is so far from a happy ending, but the young men learned something from it. Thanks for stopping by.

  13. Dezi A

    It’s been a long while since I’ve seen it, but I think Life is Beautiful was very bittersweet.

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Dezi, I’m not familiar with Life is Beautiful. I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for visiting and good luck in the drawing.

    • EC7Kathy Bailey

      I’m not familiar with it either. But thanks for stopping by.

  14. Linda Dreher

    The Last Song

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Linda, Welcome to Romancing History. I’ve never heard of The Last Song. Thank you for visiting and good luck in the drawing.

    • EC7Kathy Bailey

      Linda, I don’t know that one either, will have to check it out.

  15. EC7Kathy Bailey

    Peggy, a lot of people don’t do e-books and that’s fine. You are entered! Yeah, how about that Titanic? The other thing that strikes me is they were both SO young, and she had to live her entire life without him. Life doesn’t always give us “happy” endings but that’s okay, this life is a rehearsal for the next one.

  16. Janet Lessley

    I would love to read Settlers Hope! I think my movie with a bittersweet ending is The Notebook

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Janet, Oh my, yes! An excellent choice! Made me ball like a baby!

    • EC7Kathy Bailey

      Janet, I’m ashamed to say I’ve never seen or even read “The Notebook,” but I know millions of people have so that gives it credibility. Not always the happy ending, but the right ending.

  17. Peggy Clayton

    I think the book sounds so good and from the comment above that would be neat to go to the graveyard of the Titanic and then it would be The End to everything Titanic. Thank you so much for giving away a print copy as battling a disease and can’t do ebooks so hugs and stay safe peggy clayton

    • romancinghistory

      Hello Peggy, Thanks for visiting the blog. I really enjoyed Kathy’s book and have just started Settler’s Hope but am confident you’d enjoy that one too. I think Titanic might be the quintessential bittersweet movie Kathy was speaking of. Good luck in the drawing.

    • EC7Kathy Bailey

      Peggy, a lot of people don’t do e-books and that’s fine. You are entered! Yeah, how about that Titanic? The other thing that strikes me is they were both SO young, and she had to live her entire life without him. Life doesn’t always give us “happy” endings but that’s okay, this life is a rehearsal for the next one.

  18. Kathy Bailey

    Okay, I get it, the FRESHEST comments go to the top.

  19. Kathy Bailey

    Going out for a while, lunch with daughter and shopping, back later.

  20. Kathy Bailey

    Kelly, my comment on Sommersby somehow ended at the top.

  21. Kathy Bailey

    We do the right thing, most of the time, but sometimes it tears our hearts out.

  22. Kathy Bailey

    I have never seen that one. I’ve got to!

  23. Wonderful post, Kathy. You are so right about joy! We recently went on a cruise in Canada and we visited one of the Titanic’s graveyards. That reminded me what a bittersweet ending the movie “Titanic” had. Sigh!

    • 52REKathy Bailey

      Thank you, Carol. “Titanic”! That was a good one. Her heart went on without him, and she apparently had a full life. We’ll never know…Thanks for stopping by. Love my Pelican Peeps.

  24. Kathy Bailey

    I am so pleased to be here today with my good friend and fellow Pelican author. Looking forward to chatting with whoever stops by.

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Kathy, Great to have you hear on Romancing History. One of the bittersweet movies that comes to mind is Sommersby. I cry all the time when he chooses not to reveal his true identity and stay with the woman he loves but doing so would ruin the reputation and character of the man he’d become. It’s the right ending, and the right thing to do but still I’m hot, balling mess when I watch it!

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