When you mention biker romance novels, I suspect most people think of men with beards and tattooos dressed in leather and denim straddling Harley Davidsons; tough men. Strong men.
But what about the women in these novels?
For a long time I’ve wanted to delve into the world of MC (motorcycle club) romances to explore that side of things for myself, because I felt it could give me a whole other angle in which to shape a different kind of female character, and, hey, I’m always looking for different. But I’m not going to say my obsession with Sons of Anarchy didn’t have anything to do with this either…
In my Lone Riders series of biker novels, there are two main female characters – Lexi Hart and Mia Rose. Both women were born into “the life” so, to all intents and purposes, they’ve had to grow up strong. Their world is a tough one. But strong doesn’t mean perfect, and despite both of these characters being quite hard-edged, quite tough, they’re both extremely flawed, too. In different ways.
In this sometimes dark world of biker clubs, women can often be seen as nothing but toys for the men to play with; there to run after them, do what they’re told, keep them happy. Both Lexi and Mia grew up around that culture. And both women were determined that wasn’t how they were going to live their lives.
But, like I said before, both these characters may be strong, but they’re also flawed. Both have been damaged – in different ways – by the world they grew up in. The only men these women really know are the kind of men they grew up surrounded by, so it stands to reason they’re the kind of men they gravitate towards. And it’s these men who, ultimately, become their weakness – the men who make the decisions that have the power to shape Lexi and Mia’s lives.
Both women had decisions taken out of their hands by the club. By those men. Because that’s the way their world works, they’re the rules they have to abide by. Because the (fictional) biker world can be one of double standards – one set of rules for the men, and another for the women. So the kind of fighting Lexi and Mia have to do may be different to that of their male counterparts, but it’s just as tough a fight, because the odds of them winning are stacked well against them.
Creating “kick-ass” characters wasn’t easy. It was fun, but it wasn’t easy. There’s always a fear of taking it too far, making these women too tough; not letting them feel anything other than indifference to a life that can sometimes alienate them. I wanted these characters to be strong, yes, but I also wanted their weaknesses to come to the forefront, to let readers see beneath the tattoos and the attitude. Because for these characters to face up to their own personal demons; to deal head-on with everything living “the life” throws at you, as a woman, that was probably the strongest thing both Lexi and Mia had to do.
On an emotional level, it ultimately became the toughest fight of their lives. For them it was all about facing up to and accepting the things they know they can’t ever change, and finding the strength to shape the things they can. In the world of biker romance, strength comes in many forms for the female characters, and that’s what made them so interesting and exciting to write.
Michelle Betham is an ex-media technician turned author of hot, edgy, gritty romance, usually involving rock stars, sports stars, and bikers. But not usually all in the same book… yet. She is both self-published and published through HarperImpulse, a division of HarperCollins Publishers.
Addicted to binge-watching TV dramas she struggles to think of a life before Netflix, loves rock music, tattoos, spicy food, and Keanu Reeves – a crush that’s lasted over twenty years, and one she blames entirely on ‘Point Break’. Her dream is to ride a Harley. And visit Las Vegas. And be able to eat any amount of chocolate without putting on weight…
She lives in County Durham, north-east England, with her husband and West Highland Terrier, where she can be found most days drinking tea and making up stories.