Monday, March 28, 2005

It's all about growth

Not too long ago there was an interesting entry on Romancing the Blog about the draw of romance being hero centric. Most of the replies agreed that the hero is the draw. I and a very few others disagreed. For me it’s the heroine that can make or break a book. If I don’t like the heroine chances are I either won’t even finish the book or if I manage to finish I’ll quickly trade it in. I’ve been thinking about what it takes for me to like or dislike a heroine and what it comes down to is growth in character. I can readily forgive a heroine that starts out TSTL but if she remains that way or I don’t see any growth in her character, that’s it, the book is toast.
One of my favourite books of 2003 was Lorraine Heath’s contemporary Hard Lovin’ Man. The heroine Kelley Spencer in a series of flashbacks is shown making some very serious mistakes and errors in judgment. Some readers didn’t like her for this reason but I thought they were being rather harsh. She was young and alone in a strange city and because many years ago I was young and living in a strange city, I could forgive her mistakes. By the time the story was taking place, I really thought she had grown as a person and because of this I loved this book.
In a similar vein, another book from the same year is Lady of Desire. I think the heroine Jacinda got a bit of a bad wrap for being foolish and selfish. I won’t argue, she was at the beginning of the book but she had been overprotected by her band of older brothers so I was willing to give her some leeway. By the end of the book, I felt she had really grown as a person and this made the book one of my favourites.
As I look over my all time favourites in case after case it is the heroine who “makes” the book for me. While I love Roarke in the In Death series, it is Eve who I find the most fascinating. It’s Faith Devlin and not Grey in After the Night and Janie Bright in Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard that makes these books so outstanding.
I look at the books that didn’t make the grade for me and in just about every case it was the heroine’s lack of growth or ongoing stupidity that annoyed me to no end. I loved Ride the Fire and almost as much, Sweet Release, but I couldn’t finish Carnal Gift due (what I felt) to monumental and ongoing stupidity of the heroine of that book. Meg Moore of Suzanne Brockman’s The Defiant Hero remains the heroine I LOATHE ABOVE ALL OTHERS. I simply cannot get over her incredibly stupid things she does. Sophia in Lady Sophia's Lover by Lisa Kleypas made this the only Kleypas book I truly didn’t like. In the cases above, I had no problem with the heroes of the books. It was lack of growth that did them in.

7 comments:

McVane said...

Ooh, I agree with you there. Heroines are the make and break thing for me, too. I agree that Faith makes AFTER THE NIGHT [a re-read has however got me disliking her because she was judgemental towrads her mother but not Gray's father who does the same thing; double standards and all that] and Meg of THE DEFIANT HERO drives me 100% nuts.
There are some that have heroes so outstanding that they tend to be exceptions to the rules in my book, but overall, it's heroines for me, all the way. So I agree. :)

Kristie (J) said...

Maili:
Have you ever read Whispers of Heaven by Candice Proctor? That is "THE" book for me in character development. The only reason I didn't mention it is I already have a few times And I don't want to overdo it, but she really stands out as a heroine who displays amazing growth of character over the couse of the book.

And I'm still trying to figure out how to add links to the side. I had some 'interesting' results, but not what I wanted.

Giselle said...

While I'm firmly on the hero side of the equation most of the time there are books where the heroine is just so teeth grindingly annoying that it doesn't matter how wonderful the hero is. That was totally the case with Clare's Carnal Gift. I loathed that book and because of it I'm debating getting Ride the Fire even though it's gotten such good buzz.

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