Viva La Bad Girl

Creating the perfect romance heroine can be tricky. By comparison, heroes are easy. Just don’t venture too far beyond the constantly moving line between alpha and flat-out asshole or make him a spineless wonder and you’re off to a good start.

Love Me Not by Reese RyanBut the heroine is usually the primary protagonist. The person whose eyes through which the reader watches the story unfold. And since the majority of romance readers are women, it’s essential that the reader can empathize with the heroine.

That’s what makes flawed, bad girl heroines dangerous territory.

Call me a glutton for punishment, but that’s my favorite type of heroine to read or write about. Give me a gritty, tough heroine who kicks ass and take names. A woman whose life isn’t glamorous or filled with sunshine and rainbows.

Why do I like this type of heroine? Maybe it’s because I’ve experienced my share of the uglies and spent a lot of years feeling like a victim. Too afraid to speak up for myself, lest I make waves or…shivers…cause confrontation.

One might expect such a person to prefer slipping into a fantasyland where life is perfect. Sometimes I do. Yet, more often I’m intrigued by stories of women who have experienced hardships, but who learn to rise above them.


No instachanges allowed. The most valuable lessons in life often come at the expense of bloodied knees and broken hearts. I want to be taken on an emotional rollercoaster, experiencing the highs and the lows of the heroine. To cheer her on as she learns that she doesn’t always have to be a bad ass. Sometimes it’s okay to be vulnerable. To watch as she learns to trust again.

I enjoy watching the evolution of the character and the role that the romance and her relationships with friends and family play in it. The hero doesn’t change her, yet her relationship with him is often the catalyst for her change. 

Jamie Charles, the heroine of my late December release, Love Me Not is definitely a bad girl. She’s got the ink, F.U. attitude and criminal record to prove it. However, we quickly discover why Jamie is as tough as nails. The more we learn about her, the more we empathize with her and want to see her get her happy ending. The one she doesn’t believe she deserves.

By the end of the book she’s undergone some major changes–inside and out. She hasn’t sprouted angel wings or turned into Betty Crocker. She’s still a bad girl who isn’t afraid to say what’s on her mind. Just a kinder and gentler one.

Who are your favorite bad girls in books, television or movies? Or do you generally avoid bad girl heroines at all cost? If so, why doesn’t this type of heroine appeal to you?


Viva La Bad Girl — 3 Comments

  1. A great post, Reese. I don’t avoid bad girls, but I can’t write them. :-)You have my admiration because you can! I’ll admit that sometimes they don’t change fast enough to suit me and I lose patience because I want to like who I’m reading about.

    • Therein lies the tricky part. The heroine’s evolution can’t happen too quickly or it doesn’t feel real. But if it takes too long, readers will be pulling their hair, or worse…closing the book. Thanks for your comment, Liz!

  2. The heroine of your new book sounds very intriguing. I’m assuming life has made her the way she is,and her attitude is a kind of defense mechanism. It’s a really hard character to write because as Liz says, as readers we want to like our heroines. I can hardly wait to read how you handle this bad girl!

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