Awesomely Strong Heroines

I know I ask for them, but in truth I rarely read reviews. Reviews, at least in my mind, are really meant for readers, to help each other make decisions. I want them because it helps with my Amazon ranking and Goodreads visibility (and because it helps other readers make a decision if they’ve never read me before), but as an author reviews can only give you a swelled head or a broken heart.

However, I do sometimes see, either accidentally or when they’re directed at me personally, comments people make about my stories and one of my favorites to read is that I write strong, unique heroines.

Obviously in romance we are hero-centric. I know you all love to read (at least from me) a dark, sensual, often rather broken dude who is going to get slammed by love and find out that he can be a better man. It’s my jam! I love writing it. But heroines are so equally important. After all, if I write an amazing guy and the heroine is just… meh, there’s no way you’re going to want her to have him! I think a great, strong heroine has to have the following qualities:

1. Intelligence. I haven’t written a straight up “bluestocking” (Annabelle in the upcoming The Scoundrel’s Lover may be the closest one), but I try to write women who are very smart. I want her to challenge and surprise my hero with her knowledge and ability. Respecting her is one of the keys for him eventually loving her.

2. Emotional steel. I have to admit, I have put my ladies through some stuff. Bad marriages, sexual abuse, emotional/physical abuse, loss, abandonment, you name it, they’ve suffered it. But the common thread among them is that they have maintained a core of strength as part of how they deal with it. Serafina in The Other Duke has faced rape and she is afraid of Rafe when she first meets him. But her heart is very tough and she lifts her chin and finds a way to not only handle what is thrown at her, but eventually open her heart to the concept of love.

3. Challenge. If there’s one thing my heroines have all done in any book I’ve ever written under any name, it is challenge their men. They don’t take no for an answer if they feel the correct one is yes and they don’t only say yes when told to do something. They strive to be equal partners with the men in their lives, even if their time or position tells them they can’t be. To me, a good relationship is one with parity of some kind, so I would be hard pressed to write a meek girl and feel like the love she finds is going to last.

Do you like a strong heroine? Who is your favorite?

The Other Duke

For years Serafina McPhee has been engaged to marry the heir to the Duke of Hartholm and for almost as long, she has been struggling to find a way out of that engagement. When he suddenly dies, she does not mourn but thrills at the idea that she will be free. Unfortunately, best laid plans go awry when the next in line for the title, her intended’s cousin, Raphael “Rafe” Flynn is forced to take over the engagement. But Serafina knows Rafe’s reputation as a libertine and wants nothing to do with him, either, even if he is devastatingly handsome.

She proposes an arrangement: she will agree to the marriage and provide Rafe with his heir and spare. Once she has done her duty, he will let her go. Rafe is intrigued both by her beauty and by her utter disgust with the idea of being his bride. Women normally fall at his feet, not cringe away from him. However, since their arranged marriage is not something he can escape, he agrees to her terms.

But when he finds out on their wedding night the truth about her torture at the hands of his predecessor, he finds himself driven not just to fulfill his bargain with his new bride, but to introduce her to desire. While they move closer together, surrendering to wicked pleasures, dangerous emotions may violate every agreement they’ve made.

CW: Rape, Abuse, Violence