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Heroines

I read a lot of books. I review books on a couple of different sites and so I get sent a lot of review copies. I love reviewing books. I’ve found some amazing independent authors through my work as a book reviewer. But the book I just finished the other day has left me angry. In fact, the more I think about this book, the angrier I get.

Let me back up a moment and make one thing perfectly clear. I DO NOT bash other independent authors. I understand what it takes to write a book. I know what it’s like to pour your heart and soul into a book, to know your characters intimately, to live with them in your head for months, to understand every single action they take and know in your heart that those actions are correct. I know what it’s like to write a scene that you absolutely hate to write because you need the story to go a certain direction and there’s no other way. I will not be naming the story or the author that has me so upset. Don’t ask. It’s not going to happen. I won’t do this because even though I hated what happened and the story left me angry and needing to read something happy and light to make myself feel better, I recognize that just because a story or a character trait doesn’t appeal to me, doesn’t mean it doesn’t appeal to everyone. Also, this particular book (in case you happen to follow me on Goodreads and have managed to figure it out) is a good book. It’s well written with a great storyline other than this one trait that got me so upset.

Now that my disclaimers are out of the way, let’s talk heroines and insipidness. I sent out the following series of tweets the other day.

 

 

 

 

I’ll speak in generalities here so as to not give too much indication what book series this is. Despite my anger and frustration, I do think that this series is a good series. The central mystery is excellent. The writing is top notch. I just really disliked how things shook out.

In Book 1, the heroine kicked serious ass. She didn’t know who she was when the book started, but once her fate was revealed, she just grabbed the bull by the horns and took every single challenge that came her way in stride. She fought, she killed, she saved the man she loves. She was amazing. Book 1 was from her POV. Book 2 was from her husband’s POV. He’s a fantastically interesting character. But as the plot progressed, we saw less and less of the heroine. She spent long days and nights either injured or wandering around the place where they were enjoying the scenery (yes, really, actually enjoying the scenery when the world was falling down outside of the walls). We spent days not knowing where she was or really what she was doing. It was as if they suddenly got to where they were going and she decided “Okay, I got halfway through saving the world and now I’ve earned myself a vacation. See ‘ya later. Call me when something interesting happens.”

She was merely a vessel to be nearly killed without fighting back. She furthered the plot by existing, but besides being a body to be nearly killed and allowing her husband to vent his frustrations with his cock, she was largely absent. And then…THEN…she does something so colossally stupid and ends up getting herself captured by the bad guy. ARGH!

There is this other series I”m reading for me and not for reviews: The Red Stone Security series. They are little candy novellas. By that I mean, they are quick, easy, delicious reads. Not high literature, but the perfect thing for when I need a little pick-me-up. In every book, there’s a strong, male protector figure. He’s always ex-military or ex-cop or ex-espionage agency. He’s always a little controlling, a little dominant, but utterly and completely respectful and caring for the woman he’s with. They are perfect alpha-male books. But it’s not the males that make these books perfect. It’s the females. Every single one of them is smart, intelligent, and can take care of themselves in a wide variety of situations. The books wouldn’t be alpha-male-protector books without the women needing protecting, but none of the women need the men because they’ve done something stupid to land them in hot water. One witnessed a murder (in broad daylight). One became a target because of something stupid her brother had done. One was ex-espionage herself and her cover was blown by someone else in her agency. One was targeted because the protector she was dating was targeted. In no instance was the woman ever stupid or insipid. This is how I want my heroines. I want them to kick a little ass. They can need a man. They can want a man. Men are awesome (well, most of them anyway). But nothing frustrates me more than a female heroine existing for no other reason than to further the man’s actions. Not now. Not in 2014.

I had to go re-read one of those Red Stone novellas last night after I finished the book-that-shall-not-be-named. I just needed to see a woman who could take care of herself without her man doing everything for her. I have at least six different sets of characters in my works-in-progress right now. My women are always strong. Take Ealasaid. She survived horrible abuse in By the Fates, Freed. She has had moments of weakness in Freed and she will have more moments of weakness in the two sequels. But overall, she is a strong character. She fights along side her mate. She can be strong when Raven cannot be. She can stand alone if she must. She doesn’t want to, but she can. A strong female heroine doesn’t have to be strong on every page. She CAN display weakness. She can cry. She can hurt. She can need help. But she must have a purpose. She must have a brain and be able to think for herself. And above all, she cannot defer every decision to the male lead.

Please, romance authors. Please. For the love of all that is holy, don’t turn your female characters into doormats. Give them a purpose outside of their men. Don’t forget that they’re there. Give them a brain in their heads that they actually use. And when everything’s all said and done, make sure they’re on equal footing with their men. 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go kick some ass.

 

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