I’ve written three very different heroines in The Salvation Series. Each unique in their struggles, demons, and emotions. I feel like they had obstacles that if the other one faced, they’d handle that same situation completely different. It’s what makes them special. Makes them real. But it also makes them a target.
We’ll get to that in a few.
Then we have the hero. The man. The alpha and omega of the story.
My guys are all (in my opinion) still sweet. Jackson, Liam, and Mark all have huge hearts and love with everything they have. Now, what if they were assholes?
What if Jackson had done something AWFUL and unforgivable? If Liam had been an asshole? If Mark had cheated? Would you be able to see past it? I think yes.
We’ve all read the books with the “hero” who cheats, f*cks and chucks, and verbally belittles the heroine in the story, but we love it. We think: he can be fixed. Or whatever goes through our minds as we get lost in the story. I’ve read books where if I were EVER dating that guy … he’d be gone. But as a book boyfriend … TAKE ME NOW!
That guy comes in and I’m ready. I want him. I want to be that girl he’s after because I can fix him.
But what about the girl? What do we think of some of the most popular heroines in romance novels? We hate them.
We think they’re too whiney, weak, stupid, immature … but why? Why can we forgive the asshole alpha male who spit on her?
I’ve been thinking about this more and more as I’ve finished my last book, DEFENSELESS. Charlie is unlike my previous two heroines. Catherine (BELOVED & BEHOLDEN) is much weaker. She’s been through a different kind of trauma in her life. She’s definitely not as strong as she wants to be. But that is her journey. She’s trying to find that strength to be the woman she pretends to be.
Then there’s Natalie (CONSOLATION & CONVICTION) is often called too sad. But then I think … well, wouldn’t you be? I mean hell, she’s been through the damn ringer! Her husband died, she’s alone with a baby, and trying to figure out how to breathe let alone love again. I want to cry just thinking of her.
And lastly, Charlie (DEFENSELESS). Charlie is badass, she’s a CIA operative, tough as nails, and pulls no punches.
She’s ready to kick your ass and would smile while doing it. She’s my idol. Yet, I’ve had those say she’s too tough.
So let’s recap … we have too weak. Too sad. And now too strong.
I wonder why it is that as women we have no trouble putting the heroine’s down. I can tell you as a reader it’s usually when I can identify with her or I can’t even begin to reason with her decision. I’m a pretty emotional woman. I cry a lot. I get angry a lot. I’m also pretty strong in a lot of areas of my life. My husband was military and I learned how to survive. Hell, he was just gone for five months and my kids are all accounted for. I also can shoot a gun pretty damn well, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want those new Jimmy Choos (hint, hint).
Each of our characters offer something. The men, the women, the kids, the friends … they all bring a dimension to the story. Of course we’re not all going to like each character in a book. That would be crazy to think it’s possible. I don’t think most authors even want you to. Our goal is to make you feel. To make you think, and question what you would do.
Would I do half the things my characters do … NOT A DAMN CHANCE. I’m usually far less rational.
In closing I go back the original point … why are the heroes more forgivable than the heroines? I’d like to know your thoughts.
I personally tend to side or sympathize with the heroines. They don’t really to get on my nerves like I hear about from other readers. Maybe I’m a more sympathetic person? I’m emotional and can be whiny. But my goodness if I had to go through half of what some of these heroines go through I don’t think I would survive. Some things just don’t bother me. Pining over a man – yeah I can see that happening. Being emotional or wanting to run away when things become too much can to handle. Yep I get that! So I’m in the minority regrading most heroines that people have dispised or hated. I just see their side or can relate more.
I think women are so ultra competitive and catty that it bleeds through to our opinions of heroines as well. Go into any all female workplace and you’ll see the talons come out. We’re more emotional and tend to get out feelings hurt much to easily. We constantly compare ourselves to other women instead of building each other up. We compare the heroines to ourselves and then rationalize how we could do it so much better. And of course, we just want to climb the heroes like trees. 😉
Actually, heroines are very important to me. In all tge books I read, I need to find the connection, the click to them in order to enjoy the plot. The hero can be sexy or broken or alpha but the heroines need a special treat on them to consider them my friends while reading, even if at the end I need to discard them. I personally like Catherine, I admire Charlie; they both have a special place in my life.
Emily Simmons Wilson says
I never really thought about this before, but now that you brought it up…. I kinda feel like it’s because, for me, I identify with the heroines so much. I place myself in their shoes and I guess it’s super easy to be overly critical of myself. I mean, when my husband comes home and is short with our girls I always think, man he needs a break or he must have had a crap day. I don’t dwell on it or let it get me all bent out of shape but when I find myself being short with them I feel like total crud and I rarely think, well no wonder, I’ve had two hours sleep, we’re out of coffee and this morning I woke up covered in someone else’s urine. It’s a horrible double standard really. I critically scrutinize every line on my forehead hating them while telling my husband how the few grey hairs in his beard make him look distinguished. Most of my girlfriends, like me, love our bad boys and they can seem to do no wrong while, and we are quick to judge ourselves and the women around us (in our fantasy book world and in real life) far more harshly…and quickly.
Personally I love all your heroines just the way they were written. But I love them for personal reasons. I have daddy issues (Catherine), I’ve had some really emotionally trying years (Natalie), and thanks to my job I’m a bad ass (Charlie). But situationally each woman ends up stronger than when they started. So the girl they described as weak became a strong woman who proved to herself that she could stand on her own. The girl who they said was too sad became a woman who overcame the loss of her husband twice over and was still able to love. And the girl who was described as a bitch became a woman who was strong physically and eventually emotionally strong as well.
Here’s what I say about those who love to criticize….write a book. Write a book with a woman who never cries, who never whines and who washes dishes all day and can’t protect herself. We’ll see who buys that shit. I’m pretty sure your men will be equally charming. Men who cheat, treat their women like crap and don’t see them as their equals. I personally don’t want to be that woman and I sure as hell don’t want or need that man.
So I say to you Ms. Michaels keep writing about real women like me and about men that we want to share our lives with. Just please don’t write a book with a man that cheats because for me that is unforgivable. ????
Gosh. I really don’t feel like I’m forgiving when it comes to heroes. I have expectations and I always feel like cheating and verbal abuse and being an ass all the time is not forgivable. I read to satisfy unrealistic expectations and a man who cheats can be found anywhere, I don’t need it in my romance novels. I think we don’t forgive heroines is because we don’t forgive ourselves for the qualaties we criticize. If a man were to insult us, we like to believe we wouldn’t allow ourselves to walked all over, so when we see heroines allowing it we get upset. Plus, we want heroines to be happy. When they let their baggag/weaknesses/strengths get in the way, we get frustrated with her. Just be happy already, girl, this guy is great. We know, we’ve read his POV. But that’s not realistic. It takes time to change for true love after life
has has solidified who you are as an invididual. I like a little resistance from my heroine for whatever her reasons, she’s not instantly ready for a man to alter her life and who she is because he’s hot and nice or whatever he has going for him. It takes time to fall in love like that and it’s not always easy but they end up together and that’s what makes your stories so great.