Heroines in romance novels are the kind of women female readers want to have as their best friends. They’re self-effacing, funny, kind, loving and smart. After all, who wants a stupid best friend? And who wants to read about a stupid heroine?
But my favorite attribute of a romance heroine is her strength. Even when things are tough and it would be a lot easier to just give up, our girl keeps putting one foot in front of the other. I’m currently reading Danger Zone from fellow Carina Press writer Dee J. Adams. I love heroine Ellie Morgan’s strength, not just physically (she’s a Hollywood stuntwoman and can totally kick ass), but emotionally. Because of a learning disability, Ellie can’t read and has trouble with numbers. Despite that hardship, she’s found a place to fit in, and ways to cope. In fact, she’s so adept at coping that only her best friend knows her secret.
My favorite heroines are often the ones I’ve just read, and a trio of heroines from Lisa Kleypas’s Travis Family series falls into that category. Talk about girls with problems! In Sugar Daddy, Liberty Jones becomes an orphan at eighteen and takes responsibility for her two year old step-sister, even though she has little idea how she’s going to support her. In Blue-Eyed Devil, Haven Travis was abused verbally, emotionally, physically and sexually by her first husband. In Smooth Talking Stranger, Ella Varner’s childhood with her horrid, self-absorbed mother was bad enough, but with plenty of counselling, she’s gotten her life on a steady track. But her well-ordered life is turned upside down when her sister Tara has a baby boy and a mental breakdown at the same time. Ella has no choice but to take responsibility for the baby.
Actually, she does have a choice. When Tara abandons the baby, she could have taken her mother’s suggestion and called social services. Liberty could have chosen to give up her sister for adoption, and Haven could have simply given up. But none of them take the easy way out. They all go through hard times and come through the other end happy and whole, and rewarded with true love.
That’s what I love about contemporary heroines. They’re strong. Sometimes, like Liberty and Ella, they’re strong for others who need them. Or, like Haven and Ellie Morgan, decide they deserve a better life, and go out and make it happen.
My heroine Bridget Grant from First and Again falls into the ‘strong heroine’ category. She’s had her share of hard times; divorce, business failure, a teenage daughter who’s acting out. On top of that, she’s experiencing anxiety attacks that leave her unable to work as a chef, her chosen profession. But Bridget refuses to give up, and she refuses to let her daughter give up. She puts one foot in front of the other and pushes ahead.
Who are some of your favorite romance heroines? What makes a heroine special for you?