Monday, June 30, 2008

Tough Heroines

Rough and tough heroines, that's something we never talk about in the romance world. I'm personally all for heroines being independent, strong, intelligent, but what I don't like are heroines who seem so tough they don't really even need the hero. I've noticed this seems to be a new trend in today's romance books. Kick-ass heroines.

At some point I like a tough gal, but I want her to have a soft center too. I want her to be a little vulnerable. I think it lends to the romance of the story. I guess I like those big, strong heroes to come in and save the damsel in distress. I'm a romantic at heart and there's nothing more romantic than a manly man wanting to protect and cherish his lady.

Of course that's not to say I don't love those feisty heroines with the attitude and the witty comebacks. I love when the heroine can put the hero in his place, how fun is that, right? But I don't want her to be so tough that she doesn't, at some point, show a softer side. This is clearly a personal preference. And I'm curious who else feels the way I do? Do you search out books with Alpha males who swoop in and save the day? Or do you find those types of romance books annoying?

What's annoying to you? Tell me your favorite type of heroine as well as you least favorite...

Here are a few titles that I've read and loved, in part because the heroine was smart and tough, but also sweet: Christine Feehan's Dark Fire--Tempest was street tough, a mechanic, but vulnerable too. Erin McCarthy's Mouth to Mouth--Laurel is deaf. She's sweet and shy, but strong. Lori Foster's Too Much Temptation--Grace was shy, a little overweight and unsure of herself, but she also knew what she wanted and she wouldn't be swayed.

For my own stories. In my upcoming release A Diamond at Midnight my heroine, Diamonique is one tough gal, but underneath the smartass attitude is a woman betrayed and hurting. I loved creating her character because I think a lot of women will be able to relate to her. Also, in my current release Tasting Candy, Candice lives in fear of men, but she doesn't let that stop her from trying to take back her life. She's another character that I grew to admire.

Now it's your turn. Tell me what you like in a heroine and give me an example. I'm ready to add to my TBR pile!


joyroett said...

Hey Anne

I like kick-ass heroines with a soft center just as I like alphas who are mush when it comes to their girl.

Since you mentioned Christine Feehan it was easy to come up with an example-Saber in Predatory Game.

Heroines I don't like are the dumb ones, the ones that are too stupid to live and ya just want to smack them! Can't think of an eg of those cause I avoid them :)


Kelley Nyrae said...

LOVE Alpha's. Love that line in your post where you said something about a tough man cherishing his woman. YUM! I love feisty heroines, smart mouth, sassy but I too want a softer side at some point. It add more to her character.

Can't stand heroines that are TSTL and get themselves in trouble making stupid decisions the whole book.

Cindy said...

Hey Anne,I like my heroines to be strong, but I like my heros to be stonger,if that makes since.
The thing is for me,is that I don't need a man to fix my car,or to fix my faucet,I can do those things myself,I need a man to love me for who I am,tuff on the outside & soft on the inside.
An example would be, Kaderin in Kresley Cole's NO REST FOR THE WICKED , or Shara in Susan Kearney's ISLAND HEAT.

Kelley Nyrae said...

Love this part of Cindy's answer,
"I like my heroines to be strong, but I like my heros to be stonger,"
That is a perfect way to word it.

Anne Rainey said...

Joyroett--I totally agree about the TSTL heroines!

Anne Rainey said...

Cindy--I've never read Kresley Cole, but I think you and I have very similar taste in books so I know I'll love her!

Regina Carlysle said...

You'll love, Kresley Cole, Anne. She's really really good. I've been calling these kickass warrior women and they make me grit my TEETH. Tough to an extent is okay as long as they don't lose their femininity. What's wrong with intelligent and sassy???? I really like that much better than a chick who wears leather and has bigger muscles than the hero.

Sorry I've been AWOL everyone. The edits-from-hell today. ACK. Wine. SOmeone please get me a glass of wine...maybe two. Whew. At least I'm finished.

Great, great post Anne. This is a very interesting topic and one that's been on my mind a bit lately.


Laura J. said...

We're suppose to pay attention to the heroines? Oops, I was just concerned about the heroes....heehee

Actually I got to say that Candice from Tasting Candy was a perfect example of a good heroine. She was vulnerable but still very strong. She went through something tragic but she still wanted to move beyond that and reclaim her life. She knows it's not a easy task and that is where her strength is. There are no false expectations that it's going to happen overnight even after her HEA with Blade.

I want my heroines (and to an extent the heroes) to seem real.

Two other good heroines I've liked recently are Heather from Tall Tales and Wedding Veils by Jane Graves and Adele from Not Another Bad Date by Rachel Gibson. They are fun, tough and smart.

Anne Rainey said...

Laura J.--Thanks SO much! What a great compliment. It's not always easy to create a heroine readers will admire, so I'm glad I managed it in Tasting Candy! :)

Fedora said...

Very interesting post, Anne! I agree that I like a heroine with backbone, but I do find heroines who are too intent on being independent a little annoying--sometimes there's a good reason, but sometimes it's because they're just stubborn, and that's not attractive. I also dislike those heroines that are supposed to be fun-loving/spunky/risk-taking, but somehow cross a fine line over into annoying foolishly rushing into danger. It ends up feeling a bit like those overly obvious horror movies where you're screaming, "Of COURSE you shouldn't go outside the house alone! DUH!!!"

One example of a sassy heroine I loved is Susan Elizabeth Phillips's Sugar Beth in Ain't She Sweet. She's got some apologizing to do, and she does, somehow without being either too sappy or too flip. Or Jane, from Rachel Gibson's See Jane Score--no dummy, that one :)

Anne Rainey said...

flchen1--I SOOO know what you mean about the heroines who are the risk takers, rushing into battle so-to-speak. I just read a book like that and god was it annoying! I actually put it down. It's a book by one of my favorite authors too. I won't give up on her, of course, but neither will this book get my rec!