In writing romantic fiction about two male love interests, one might think there was little room for heroines, but that’s hardly the case. Sometimes, it allows for a different take on them—heroines who are independent of any love story, who explicitly have their own agenda. They can be any age and they can advance the plot—as well as the romance—in any number of ways.
In the Foundations of Magic books, Kristan is the most prominent female character. She begins as a bit of a caricature, seen through the eyes of a jealous young man, Lindsay. All Lindsay can make of her is that she’s exceptionally beautiful—a shamelessly voluptuous red-head—and that she has the interest of the man Lindsay admires, Dane.
But Kristan is more than that, and proves it again and again. Her magic may involve seduction and manipulation but magic is not her only power. As conditions deteriorate, her ruthless drive to survive, her sharp intellect, and her intense loyalty to her family of choice come to the fore.
Kristan’s magic is dangerous, it compels people against their will, and this means that she has learned, very early on, how to control and command it. She is ethical with it in her own way, even when she need not be. Of all the younger generation of mages, she has the greatest facility with her magic—a remarkable skill given that she was raised in the mundane world. She may lose all her finery and baubles along the way but who she is as a person, and a powerful mage, shines through in some of the darkest moments of the story.
Escape Velocity (formerly Runaway Star) features a very young heroine at its core. Katy is not yet born when her brother Sender leaves to become a test pilot but she learns who he is through video calls and letters and stories her mother tells. When tragedy strikes, Katy struggles to carry on through her grief like any person would.
In circumstances that would be very difficult for anyone, much less a small child, Katy shows the stoicism of her strict upbringing. She adapts and learns to live a new life in a world she didn’t know was real, surrounded by strangers. When she almost loses her brother, though she has her moments of frustration and sadness, she allows yet another stranger into her life—Elios—and learns to trust him as well.
It is Katy’s honesty and forthrightness—her certainty of what she wants—that makes it possible for the heroes to realize their love for each other in the end. With a child’s adaptability and her personal strength of will she makes the best of a bad situation over and over again. Her hopefulness and her love for her family are key to the evolution of the story.
Neither Kristan nor Katy are romantic leads but they are vital to the story. It is their inner strength that makes important moments possible. Their heroism is grounded in their character and their deep love—though don’t tell Kristan we used that word—for the families of choice they help build and sustain. Their stories wouldn’t be the same, wouldn’t even be possible, without them.