Steel under Silk

imageThe importance of strong female characters in romance novels

If you read enough romance novels, you are bound to come into contact with one of my least favorite tropes – the overly helpless heroine.  This is the heroine who has to be saved by the hero several times in a story.  And I always wonder – doesn’t he ever get tired of saving this lame fuck?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against characters needing to be saved – it’s important in many thrillers and mystery novels (as usually one of the main characters becomes some kind of target of the bad guy/girl).  I’m also totally okay with the heroine needing a bodyguard for one reason or another…especially if he’s moody with sexy stubble.

But, if your heroine has to be saved by the hero more than three times, I think you need to rethink your heroine and remember a few key things –

  • A heroine who needs to depend on a hero to constantly save her does not equal true love. It means she has dependency issues. :p
  • Accident prone is only funny or a vehicle for making out a few times.  Again, if it’s more than three times, you need to rethink if your heroine is accident prone…or just an idiot.
  • Strength in heroines – physical, mental, emotional – makes a sexy heroine and empowers the reader.

So many women underestimate their strength of mind, body, and soul already.  Do we really need to make that fester by creating heroines who must constantly be rescued?

Just remember, it takes strength to do a lot of the things that some romance novels gloss over: to trust and love again, to run a business, to have a career, to take care of ailing friends or parents, to recover from a miscarriage, to have children, to raise children, to overcome health issues, to be independent, and of course… it takes serious strength to have crazy, monkey sex with the hero all night long and still be fabulous in the morning.

So, stop underplaying your heroine’s strengths.  Being wimpy and weak makes your heroine annoying and your storyline tired.  Plus it makes it harder for all of us strong women in the real world to relate to and like your characters. 😉

Review “Shadow Spell”

Review of “Shadow Spell” (the second book in the Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy), by Nora Roberts

image The tricky thing about trilogies is some (this one, for example), really should be read in order.  Not because who they end up with is some great mystery or if they’ll defeat the bad guy is really up for debate (one would assume it will happen in the third book, as Nora Roberts never disappoints).  But because there is a lovely flow of events as the main story, spread across three books, enfolds.  But that’s just me.

In “Shadow Spell,” we follow the story of Connor (a witch and a ladies man) and his very good friend Meara (a tough and smart woman).  The three O’Dwyer cousins and their three friends (and current/past/prospective mates) are still trying to battle to vanquish the evil Cabhan.  But their enemy is a crafty one, who can seep into one’s mind and invade dreams.  In the midst of the planning and fighting, two friends decide to mix a little business with pleasure…

Ah yes, so it’s to be a sweet friend romance for the second book of the trilogy – and I’m quite pleased with it.  Friendship romances tend to be on the softer, gooey-sweet side of the romance spectrum – like a gently toasted marshmallow, so sweet and yummy.  And Nora Roberts plays them perfectly  – not too sweet and silly, not all about sex, but somewhere in the blissful middle – all the while, building up the tension for the final epic battle (and the last love story) of the trilogy.

5 out of 5 starts for the 2nd book of the trilogy and one complaint – why?? Why must I wait for the book that’s going to be soooo delicious with its characters and completion?  The third book in this series (which is sure to have plenty of longing, yearning, and “oh no, I’m not sure we should be together” in it) doesn’t come out until October!  OCTOBER!  Hmph!  I’m going to pout….and in the meantime, crack the binding on another delicious romance novel. 😉

Smutty Saturdays

Ah yes, a smutty quote or a smutty scene can brighten up any day. But Saturdays are the day we enjoy them most. Why?  Because on Saturday, you get to read your smut while loafing about at home…instead of on the metro, where that weird guy keeps leaning over your shoulder to infringe on your novel’s sex scene.  Seriously dude, so not cool.

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Today’s selection of smut comes from Nora Robert’s second book in the Dark Witch Series, “Shadow Spell,” which I love, of course. 🙂

“He touched where she ached to be touched, tasted where she longed for his lips.  And found other secret places she hadn’t known longed for attention.  The inside of her elbow, the back of her knee, the inside of her wrist.  He murmured to her, sweet words that reached into her heart.  Another light to glow.” – “Shadow Spell,” by Nora Roberts

Yep, no one writes a love scene like Nora Roberts.  Sweet, sweet, romantic smut. 😉

I hope you all enjoy the weekend!  Happy reading. 🙂

How to employ your hero…

So, I’m doing  a major re-think of my heroes in both of the rough drafts that I recently finished, including their jobs.  In romance novels, it seems like the heroine can have just about any job or none at all, but heroes have more limitations in terms of employment…

Popular hero employment in romance novels:

  • Construction – a hero typically owns the construction company or runs it, preferably with his hot brothers.  Regardless, he’s never the low man on the totem pole.  But, he still knows how to work his tools and often slings on a tool-belt (which hangs low on his hips) to help with the work.
  • Police – If you’re reading a mystery romance novel, then there’s a damn good chance that the hero is a cop.  But generally, he’s not just a patrol officer, this stud is at least a detective – with a sexy shoulder holster – raaaaawr.  Extra points if he’s a FBI agent, has a gruff voice, sexy stubble, or a secret mushy side.
  • Spy – oh yes!  Like you even need to ask! :p
  • Military – Of course.  Extra points if he’s a ranger, fighter pilot, or a seal.  Extra, extra points if he’s got aviator sunglasses, stubble, and a tan.
  • CEO or Heroine’s Boss – You can’t get far into the romance genre without coming across a CEO or boss romance.  Ugh.  I’m not really a fan.  Why?  Well, when was the last time you saw a single, hot, fit, CEO/boss with a full head of hair and sexy stubble? NEVER! Talk about fiction. 🙂

*Side note:  If you are a fit, single, sexy, full head of hair CEO and are annoyed with me, I say this:  Why are you mad?  You’ve won the life lottery.  Go count your money and brush your hair.  :p

  • Billionaire playboy – bitch, please.  Of course this is a suitable occupation in romance novels.
  • Doctor – Yes, especially if he’s a surgeon.  If this is your hero, he’s got to have long, probing fingers….but no calluses.
  • Thief – Yep.  It kind of seems counter-intuitive, especially alongside billionaires, CEOs, owners of businesses, and cops….but it’s still rather popular as long as he: 1) has plenty of witty banter, 2) a dashing smile, 3) eyes that can see into the heroine’s soul, 4) plans to go legit…oh, and did I mention sexy stubble?
  • Politician – Ugh.  You can try, but it will be messy.  Just remember how low Congress’ approval rating is…
  • Random Office Worker – Well, this is the category that most of us fall into.  Pencil pushers, was what my grandmother used to say.  There are a few heroes that fall into this category, but there could be more.  Writing opportunity here, people. 😉  Your hero could be an accountant..or, better yet, the hero could be the heroine’s underling. 🙂 Don’t knock it! It might be nice to change-up the typical romance tropes….maybe that’s what I’ll do with my romance novel heroes or maybe not.  I’ll just keep you guessing.  :p

And hey, you can always buck the trends of the romance novel industry and make your hero have any job… That’s the beauty of being the author, you get to build whatever you want. 🙂