I have always been blamed by my readers for 'harsh, merciless stories'. With regards to characterization, I've been told that I typically hate my characters and fail to give a happy ending. But I believe that happy endings are typically nonexistent in real life, and since I am writing realistic fiction, I want some realism in it! Nonetheless, the latest complaint I've received is about a female character who has lost her husband and brother and ultimately rejects her lover's hand in marriage since he was the reason she lost her brother. Some of my friends said that was harsh and the character should've been shown happy by marrying her to her lover - but that doesn't happen in real life! You don't just marry a man who murdered your brother, especially if you love your brother. Any comments/suggestions?