Nothing frustrates me more than the pigeonholing of romance novels:
“They’re all the same.”
“They’re badly written.”
“The female characters are weak.”
It drives me more than a little mad and so I’m starting a new weekly column: #StrongRomanceHeroines
This is where, week after week, I’ll pick a strong romance heroine to talk about. As a genre, romance is delightfully diverse with all ethnicities, sexualities and outlooks falling within its scope. And I want to celebrate this.
“Sally Kennedy needed more tequila. And an orgasm. Not necessarily in that order, of course.”
Firstly, Sal is sassy. She was the catalyst for her best friend writing a “to-do” sex list in No More Mr Nice Guy and at the opening of this book, she’s frustrated by her lack of orgasms in recent months and so sets out to get drunk and “find a solution” to the problem.
So far, so entertaining.
But here’s the thing. Sal is tough. She’s had to be since the accident that ruined her life and took away what she most prized. And she’s hard, or at least she seems that way. She’s had a stream of one night stands because – rightly or wrongly – that’s how she’s coping with her grief, and I love the fact that the novel doesn’t shy away from this.
In fact, in some ways the novel can be seen as a lesson in how grief can manifest itself; it’s dark and gritty and heartbreaking.
And there’s the fact that Sal’s an alpha woman. We talk so much in the romance community about alpha heroes v beta heroes, but there’s been limited discussion on that distinction in female characters. Andrews herself has discussed it, arguing that:
I’m nervous because Sal’s an alpha woman.
She’s hard. She’s unapologetic. She wears the pants.
And I’m not sure how that’s going to go over with readers.
She’s ruthless in her private life, and damn good at her job (she’s runs a veterinary practice) and she deserves the happy ever after that she everntually gets.
Is she always likeable? Well, she certainly frustrates us and our expectations, and that can only be a good thing.