In life, no one is guaranteed a happy ending, but in romance, everyone is. Writing romance there are only two musts.
1) There MUST be a central love story.
2) There MUST be an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.
As I said above, happy endings aren't "real" life, but who wants real life when you want to escape? I mean, come on, a story that ends with the hero and heroine with the wrong person, or worse, dying, is something that can keep you in a fog for days. Ok, maybe not you, but it does me. Nothing but the happily ever after stuff for me. Call me crazy. Call me delusional. Call me an optimist, but happy endings are the only way to go.
My very favorite romance author is Julie Garwood. Her historic romance books based in Medieval Scotland were my first taste of romance, and the first romance books I actually spent money on to collect. I've read them all, some of them three and four times. My favorite of all of those is Ransom. If you like historicals, you'll love this book. My husband once made a comment about my reading "sex" novels. I challenged him to read that book. Even he loved it. It is full of interesting and exciting storylines with a bit of romance on the side.
My favorite romantic comedy movie is While You Were Sleeping. I just love Sandra Bullock. Who can resist Lucy's pull to have a family again? Not me. That scene where she finally admits to falling in love with "not that one. That one." gets me every time.
So what are some of your favorite happily ever after stories-movies or books? I'd love to hear from you.