HEAs for Tragic Characters

Fiction writers are clever people. They just are.

I’m frequently impressed by their ingenuity. There’s nothing I like better than to begin reading a novel—smugly thinking that I’ve already figured out the ending—only to discover the author has crafted a plot that takes a creative turn I hadn’t anticipated.

And aren’t stories with a twist the best kind of stories?

I’ve been reading a series of novels that feature the kinds of twists I’m talking about. Written by award-winning, best-selling authors, each book in the series offers a new take on a classic character from literature.

For starters, each novel is set in Georgian England (my favorite place and time!) and retells a tragic character’s story so he or she has a happily-ever-after ending.

Think about the classic characters who fell from grace because of their greed, envy, misplaced loyalties, or just plain poor decisions: the big bad Sheriff of Nottingham from Robin Hood; or tortured, brooding Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. Do they deserve to have their stories retold with a happy ending?

The answer is, Yes, they do!!

Here are the books in the series so far:

The Monster Within, The Monster Without
Author Lindsay Downs retells the story of Frankenstein..

When bodies start turning up in Whitechapel, Miss Steen returns to London with Lord Cartwright and the Countess of Harlow as her chaperone to solve the murders. Little does she realize she will be introduced to the last person she wants to meet — and hunting down the murderers proves a lot more difficult than they had anticipated.

I Shot the Sheriff
Regina Jeffers reimagines the story of the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood

William de Wendenal, the notorious Sheriff of Nottingham, has come to London, finally having wormed his way back into the good graces of the Royal family. Yet, not all of Society is prepared to forgive his former “supposed” transgressions, especially the Earl of Sherwood.

However, when de Wendenal is wounded in an attempt to protect Prince George from an assassin, he becomes caught up in a plot involving stolen artwork, kidnapping, murder, and seduction that brings him to Cheshire where he must willingly face a gun pointed directly at his chest and held by the one woman who stirs his soul, Miss Patience Busnick, the daughter of a man de Wendenal once escorted to prison.

The Colonel’s Spinster
Author Audrey Harrison gives Pride and Prejudice’s Colonel Fitzwilliam the story he deserves.

Colonel Fitzwilliam is a second son, often overshadowed by his titled, older brother and his cousin, Mr. Darcy. Returning from Waterloo, he knows it is time to find a wife with a healthy dowry, but he longs for a love match. Unfortunately for Fitzwilliam, love doesn’t put food on the table.

Miss Prudence Bamber has never known her mother’s family. A woman with her own mind and full life, she indulges her father’s wish to visit her long-lost relations. Mr. Bamber hopes his daughter will find a husband; she wishes nothing more than to find out more about her mother’s history. It turns out to be a journey she won’t forget in a hurry.

Fated Hearts
Alina K. Field retells the story of Macbeth

Plagued by hellish memories and rattling visions of battle to come, a Scottish Baron returning from two decades at war meets the daughter he denied was his, and the wife he divorced, and learns that everything he’d believed to be true was a lie. What he can’t deny is that she’s the only woman he’s ever loved. They’re not the young lovers they once were, but when passion flares, it burns more hotly than ever it did in their youth.

They soon discover, it wasn’t fate that drove them apart, but a jealous enemy, who played on his youthful arrogance and her vulnerability. Now that old enemy has resurfaced, more treacherous than ever. When his lady falls into a trap, can he reach her in time to rescue this love that never died?


The Redemption of Heathcliff
Author Alanna Lucas offers a new take on the haunting love story of Wuthering Heights’ Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw

Her wild ways tamed, Catherine Earnshaw has launched into London society. Only none of her marriage-mart suitors excite her because her heart still lies with another; whatever happened to Heathcliff, her childhood soul mate?

Markus Bell left Yorkshire to find his true identity and turn a fortune. Now the talk of the ton, he has Catherine in his sights, not to woo her but to seek revenge; he can’t forgive how she spurned him.

Catherine is puzzled where the gossip dogging her through the season comes from. Until she meets Markus, who’s as dark and devilishly handsome as her Heathcliff, and her world is turned upside down. Markus is her Heathcliff, she’s sure of it, just as she suspects he’s behind the rumors. What is she to do when her reputation is almost in tatters, yet her love for him is as strong as it ever was when they roamed the moors together all those years ago?

Captain Stanwick’s Bride
Author Regina Jeffers retells Longfellow’s “The Courtship of Miles Standish”

Captain Whittaker Stanwick has a successful military career and a respectable home farm in Lancashire. What he does not have in his life is felicity. Therefore, when the opportunity arrives, following his wife’s death, Stanwick sets out to know a bit of happiness, at last—finally to claim a woman who stirs his soul. Yet, he foolishly commits himself to one woman only weeks before he has found a woman, though shunned by her people and his, who touches his heart. Will he deny the strictures placed upon him by society in order learn the secret of happiness is freedom: Freedom to love and freedom to know courage?

See what I mean about clever writers? I love the idea of giving these beloved characters a chance at happiness, and the romantic streak in me appreciates the beautiful love stories these wonderful authors have created.

I think anyone who loves to read can think of a tragic character or two they’d like to see reformed and given a chance at true love. What about Caroline Bingley from Pride and Prejudice? Or Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby? Or poor doomed Ophelia from Hamlet?

Which tragic character from literature would you like to see find true love and have a happy ending? 

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