Sandy’s post yesterday on Romancing the Blog about The Alpha Male’s Heroine really got my brain to working overtime, not so much with new thoughts but more searching my memory for old romance favorites with ‘alpha heroines’ or at the very least well-matched heroes & heroines. And it was really annoying because I was currently right in the middle of reading Good Girls Do by Cathie Linz and didn’t want to be distracted. Actually, that’s not entirely true because I’d already gotten distracted on it the night before when I fell prey to a bad habit of mine – mentally editing a book down to a “manageable” size when I’m tired and wanting to finish it in one setting, which is not a reflection on the book because I’ve noticed that it only happens when I’m enjoying the books more, rather than the reverse. It’s a habit, I believe, that goes back to starting out reading shorter romances then progressing to the longer ones later in light. Seems I’ve never quite accepted that I can’t finish all romances in one night when I’m truly enjoying them.
Anyway, back to those alpha heroines. In thinking about it, I seem to be coming up more with authors that tend to do them than specific books. The most notable to me is Stephanie Laurens. Her heroines may be a lot of things but, by and large, they’re very well-matched with their heroes in terms of strength and determination. Not physical strength, mind you, but rather pure will power and mental quick-wittedness. Okay, sure they get “seduced” by the heroes on a regular basis but the books wouldn’t be filled with Cynster heroes if they didn’t. (I think I made the point there I was trying to but hopefully you’ll get it anyway)
In my response to the post on RtB, I also mentioned Amanda Quick (AKA Jayne Ann Krentz & Jayne Castle) who is notorious for her almost single-minded heroines matched with decidedly alpha heroes in historicals, futuristics as well as contemporaries. In fact, I’d theorize that if anyone “wrote the book” on balancing strong heroes with equally strong heroines in romances, it is Krentz. It’s not simply that she loves to make them true “opposites attract” stories most of the time but that she employs all the mythic symbolism that goes with this. Too much for some but that’s all relative.
Another is Julie Garwood, at least in her earlier books. Here’s where a lot of people might not agree with me, but I’ve always seen her heroines as exceptionally strong. Were many of them small and delicate and give the “appearance” of being weak physically and maybe even flighty airheads? Yeah, but compared to her heroes, I’m relatively sure most heroines would be. In terms of determination and the ability to go toe-to-toe with her heroes when push comes to shove, however, I’m not sure there are many in romances who are their equals. I haven’t read enough of the newer ones to actually say whether this is still true but that’s how I’ve felt about most of her earlier heroines.
Then there’s Christina Dodd, who is in a class of her own regarding strong heroines. If fact, one of the commonly recurring complaints one hears about her books is that the heroines are, wait for it, too hard and unyielding. Emotionally, that is. Sure emotional hardness doesn’t necessarily automatically equal strength of will, but in Dodd’s books and heroines it sure does. And if anyone writes scenes where the two really do go toe-to-toe, it’s her, which has led to quite a few protracted fights, er, arguments, um, discussions on quite a few romance venues regarding her love scenes at the very least. Dodd’s heroines definitely suffer from the “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” problem because realistically if they weren’t as strong and alpha as she makes them they really would be trampled right under the hero’s feet as he stomps his way through the story. Of course, that’s always dependent on whether he’d notice her at all if she wasn’t as strong-minded as Dodd usually makes her heroines because the simple truth of the matter is that in order to balance things out, her heroes simply don’t like wimpy, weak-willed heroines any more than she does.
Two other authors that come to mind that I’ve only discovered in recent years are Donna Fletcher and Josie Litton. Interestingly, both create heroes and heroines that immediately reminded me of a mixture of Krentz’s and Garwood’s, with something uniquely their own tossed in. But strong alpha heroines? Oh, yeah, and in truth in one of Fletcher’s witch books, the author leaves no doubt that the heroine is in fact much, much stronger than the hero, both in power, wisdom & simple common sense. Litton, on the other hand, tends to balance things out not by necessarily making the heroines noticeably stronger-willed but by making her truly alpha heroes more, dare I say it, sensitive. Which sounds really bad when I read that over but I’m not sure how else to put it.
I’m sure there are others that will come to mind but what authors, and books, do you think of when you think “alpha” heroines?