We’ve all found them. The heroines who don’t deserve the wonderful heroes of their stories. The girls who stubbornly refuse to fall in love by the end of chapter one (or twenty!) and who keep manufacturing reasons why they can’t love the guy most of us would give our eye-teeth to be with.
I’ve been fortunate in that I really only have two heroines I wanted to just shake until their teeth rattled some sense into them. The first is Claire in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series (though to me she’s at her worst in book 1) and surprisingly Portia from Jo Beverley’s Tempting Fortune. Both are wonderful books, with heroes to die for (in the case of Jamie Fraser, that’s a literal statement), but these women tried my patience with their hero abuse until I wanted to scream at them.
Claire, as you know if you’ve read Outlander, time travels into 1743 Scotland where she meets the uber-heroic Jamie Fraser. The choices Claire makes during much of the book puts Jamie in jeopardy and forces him to have to make major sacrifices for her. Some of her choices convince me that she in no way deserves Jamie’s love and devotion. I’m sure there are those who disagree with me, but I’m going to take some convincing to become a Claire fan.
The heroine of Tempting Fortune, Portia St. Claire, is a shrew, plain and simple. Throughout the book she constantly upbraids the hero, declares she wants nothing to do with him because he gambles (even though he repeatedly saves her and her idiot brother) and generally makes life for everyone (readers included) quite miserable. No chance in hell she deserves to marry tall, dark and gorgeous Bryght Malloren.
Now I’ve been on the receiving side of this type of criticism for the heroine of my Georgian romance, Only Scandal Will Do. I’ve had several reviews that said basically the same thing–she’s mean to the hero through about 80% of the book. And on the surface that is true, but Katarina does have excellent reasons for disliking the Marquess who ruins her. She also has an attraction to the man throughout most of the book, which she fights with good reason as well. I think her motives and reasoning for her actions are more prominent than the heroines in my examples, but this is a subjective area. Reviews and reviewers vary.
And I may actually have created yet another heroine who might be considered “mean.” Lady Samantha Easterling in my forthcoming Victorian romance, As Long As You’re Mine, might be considered a meanie by some. She’s forced to marry a stranger who she fears may potentially break her heart. So she tries to keep him at arm’s length while scheming to get out of her marriage. During the course of her scheming, she does treat her husband, Rafael Beauregard, rather badly although it is always out of self-defense. I see the book as a Victorian version of Taming of the Shrew, so you can expect Rafe to give Samantha as good as he gets. And I do hope readers will understand Samantha’s motivations and not lump her in with the other heroines they love to hate.
Do you have particular heroines with whom you cherish a love-hate relationship?