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Several weeks ago I finished reading a historical romance that didn't sit well with me. It wasn't the plot. That was ok. It was the behavior of the heroine that got on my nerves.
The first couple of times that she met the hero, his scowling face made her cry.
Why, you ask. Did the hero hurt her in some way? No.
Did he remind her of someone or something else? No.
Did his presence signal the end to what the heroine held dear? Again, no.
Then what was the problem? Apparently, the heroine simply couldn't handle a scowling man. Which leads me to question why this kind of character is the female lead in the first place.
A heroine is supposed to display qualities that are, well, heroic. Even if she has a bit of growing to do, we should see glimpses of those qualities at the start of a romance novel. If she's always crying or her knees are frequently trembling for reasons other than the hero being a gorgeous looker, then it hinders the reader from seeing how strong she can truly be.
I'm not a postmodern feminist, but I do love to see a woman who can hold her own against a strong man. She doesn't have to win a wrestling match with him in the novel. Just use the intelligence and fortitude that God gave to both sexes equally.
Some authors believe that because they're writing historicals, they need to create a more subdued heroine to fit the confines of the time. However, we have examples of women who ruled kingdoms and made tremendous contributions to the arts and sciences. In the United States alone, women were among the first to own property and attend universities. Don't forget those who disguised themselves to fight alongside men in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.
We can argue that the average woman wasn't doing those things. Perhaps not, but we're not writing about average people, are we? We're creating stories about people with strong qualities who defy the odds for the sake of love. Even so, consider what some average women in history were doing. They worked the fields of their homesteads with their husbands or managed his affairs while he was away.
And pioneer women! I dare someone to give the weaker sex label to a lady that can survive hundreds of miles out in the middle of nowhere and protect her family from wild animals and natural disasters.
It's because of this that I want to take a few romance heroines by the shoulder, give them a tissue, and gently say, "Compose yourself. There are worse things in this era for your to weep over besides an unfriendly glance from your man. Take childbirth, for example. There are many years between you and the invention of the epidural. Then there's the ague. What exactly is the ague, anyway? Why can't they just call it a fever? Anywho, the point is not to cry over every little thing. Okay?"
Naturally, the heroine would run away screaming for me to be locked in an asylum, but hopefully she'll have the gist of what I said.
Next week, I'll be talking about alpha heroes in Christian romance. Hope you'll stop by.
I'm on the road today, but I'd still love to hear your thoughts. Do you think women in Christian romances are stronger than those in secular novels? Have fun this weekend!