I was looking back at some reviews I’d written and it struck me that I always commented on whether or not a heroine was truly strong or kickass or not. This is important to me, as a reader and an author actually.
I write a lot of heroines who are warriors in some sense. Whether they’re actually physical warriors like Mei or Tegan, (and Rowan and Maya from books you haven’t seen yet) or have a just cause to fight like the Charvez women or Tracy and Nina. I still I always have to work hard to find that line between too hard and believable in the circumstances (an assasin is not going to be all kittens and bunnies).
Even when they’re not witches charged with a compact to protect the innocent, I want heroines to be strong and self sufficient. Maggie and Cassie are strong that way, Tess is strong that way. They don’t have to wield a firearm or know judo, and it doesn’t mean they aren’t wounded in some way, but they’re not going to give up.
I was reading a book recently (and I read this a lot, sadly) where the heroine was one we were supposed to believe was “kickass” but really? She was a whiner. And stupid, impulsive and a doormat for the hero who was an A all right but not an alpha. This is higher on my annoyance list than heroines who scream every time they have an orgasm and double dipping in anal scenes.
Look, all these “experts” keep telling us to show and not tell. So what you’re showing with your whiny heroine is not that she’s strong and smart. You’re showing she’s a doormat. The kind of woman most of us wouldn’t want to hang out with and certainly not anyone you could trust to get your back or tell you when you had egg on your face and to suck it up. The author can tell us the heroine is spunky but that’s not what she is at all.
Heroines like Sugar Beth from SEP’s Ain’t She Sweet are such a great example (and also, another example of a risky book that totally works). She’s got a lot on her plate and most of it deserved in some sense but she does not give up. I love that!
I want a heroine that I could aspire to be in some sense. I want to think of at least one quality I admire when I read. I don’t have to be a bodyguard or an assasin or a regency era virgin, but I would like to be smart, witty, resourceful, etc.
That’s the kind of heroine that hooks me into a book. A three dimensional person I like to read about.