I Got This: Damsels Not in Distress and the Importance of Strong Heroines
I love romance. I always have. They have a been a favorite of mine since I used to sneak them home from the library in my early teens and my love multiplied when I discovered and moved past ‘Harlequin romance’ and branched into the dynamic story telling and world building of some of my favorite authors. Romance to me isn’t only about the love story. I do enjoy the slow build of two people falling in love, but my favorite type of romance to read, is when two people have to work at being with one another. It’s not easy, life isn’t handed to them, and they have to fight to be with each other, even if it’s against personal obstacles. I like my fantasy tinged with real life.
For that reason, and many more, I love strong women in romance. I’ve grown bored of a man swooping in and putting everything right. And it’s fine if you love those kind of books, safe space here, everyone should be reading what speaks to them, but I want to read more books where the heroine saves herself, and everyone else for that matter.
If you follow me on social media, it’s hard to miss I’m genderqueer. (Extremely hard to miss) For those of you who’ve never heard the term, I identify as both genders. Male and female, and in between, but neither wholly. Strong women are important to me. I connect with strong, hard headed, even stubborn characters, of both genders. Lila comes to mind from A Darker Shade of Magic. She’s a cross dressing thief and she’s determined to take care of herself. (ADSoM isn’t a romance intentionally, but romance does bloom throughout the second book) She wants to be an equal in all things and fight beside them. I identify on more than one level with Lila, wanting to be seen for what she does, and not how she appears. She’s not perfect, but without her, Kell (the hero) wouldn’t have survived, and throughout the book they had to save each other.
I’ve been drawn to books with strong women for a long time now. Another one of my favorite series featuring a kick ass woman is The Original Sinner’s. Tiffany Reisz has a switch, Nora Sutherlin, who is the definition of powerful and sexy. There isn’t a man alive who wouldn’t fall in love with her. But there is one man who she doesn’t have to be powerful for. She can hand over her power to Soren when she submits and she may not like it but the Blond Bastard, as she calls him, is always right. She has always been the kind of heroine who saves herself. She doesn’t need Soren, but she wants him. Being with him is her choice. One they make together through every hardship. He no more saves her than she saves him.
I think it’s a hard balance to find in a good romance. It’s romance. I want the couple to need each other. Find strength in each other, all that sappy stuff I keep going to romance for, but I also want to see them stand alone. I don’t want some big bad ass guy to swoop in and be the savior, making everything alright with his billions, sure it sounds kind of nice in parts, (who wouldn’t want to be courted by a billionaire) but I just don’t find it realistic at all. I have to like both characters, but more than that I have to connect with them. I have a hard time connecting with stories I can’t find realism in. Even Sci-fi and fantasy I need that element of possibility. I think what I like most about Nora is part of her strength comes from Soren, but not all of it. She knows when she can submit to Soren but she also can take charge and fix her own life. I took the series to heart, as so many writers do. I love when books make me think and make me want to write better. So when I set out to write Ever So Madly (my first m/f book) I thought a lot about the balance and the power Nora wields over her own life. In Ever So Madly I wrote Jocelynn as a hard headed strong woman set to inherit part of an empire. She had luxuries but she wasn’t free. She was tied to her position, but she was okay with it. She had a strong sense of duty. I wanted Madden to show her love outside of that duty, and open her eyes to what the universe really was.
But as I continued to write, Jocelynn took over. Sure, Madden started the avalanche, but after the first stone fell, she realized she couldn’t sit by and let life happen to her. If she wanted him, she was going to have to make it happen. And from rock bottom, Jocelynn had to take charge of her own life. She had to save herself, and suddenly the book took an entirely different turn.
I didn’t read ADSoM until after I wrote Madly, but I loved that I felt strength in Lila like I did in Jocelynn. They could each rule their respective universes and at times were even hard headed, but the men in their lives softened them. Took them back to a human place. The men could stand at their sides and not be less for it. There was no jealousy there. It was equal.
One of the first reviews to go up for Ever So Madly said ‘We need more empowering characters like her,’ in the headline. People feel it. They are hungry for those types of characters in romance. It’s nice to see a man get saved, even if they don’t come out and say they need it, at least we are showing the next generation that women can come to the rescue.
New Book Buzz:
Thaddeus Dupont has had over eighty years to forget…
The vampire spends his nights chanting the Liturgy of the Hours and ruthlessly disciplines those unnatural urges he’s vowed never again to indulge. He is at the command of the White Monks, who summon him at will to destroy demons. In return, the monks provide for his sustenance and promise the return of his immortal soul.
Sarasija Mishra’s most compelling job qualification might be his type O blood…
The 22-year-old college grad just moved across the country to work for some recluse he can’t even find on the internet. Sounds sketchy, but the salary is awesome and he can’t afford to be picky. On arrival he discovers a few details his contract neglected to mention, like the alligator-infested swamp, the demon attacks, and the nature of his employer’s “special diet”. A smart guy would leave, but after one look into Dupont’s mesmerizing eyes, Sarasija can’t seem to walk away. Too bad his boss expected “Sara” to be a girl.
Falling in love is hard at any age…
The vampire can’t fight his hungers forever, especially since Sara’s brought him light, laughter and a very masculine heat. After yielding to temptation, Thaddeus must make a choice. Killing demons may save his soul, but keeping the faith will cost him his heart.
Vespers is a complete novel with no cliffhanger. It can be enjoyed as a standalone or read as the first book in the Hours of the Night series.