I hate a weak heroine. Really, the whole “damsel in distress” thing is so irritating. I don’t have a lot of free time on my hands. With three children, a full-time job and aspirations to become a bestselling author, my plate is pretty full. If I’m going to give up a few hours of my action-packed existence to delve into a novel, I have some pretty strict requirements.
I don’t want weak, needy or overbearing characters. My idea heroine is strong, snarky, self-confident, quick-witted and engaging. If she’s bitchy, even better. I need to be able to relate immediately or I’m out. And once that happens, I’m not coming back for seconds.
I want a heroine who is independent, a woman who doesn’t need a hero. She’s just fine on her own, but the hero would enhance her existence. She needs to have a flaw (or several) but they can’t be clichéd.
And then comes the challenge of making her likeable. She can be a complete witch with a venomous tongue but I still need to love her otherwise I’m not going to make it. There should be no buildup to that love either. I have to click with her immediately. A heroine with depth and personality and realistic baggage can evoke feelings and establish an emotional connection with a reader. That’s a goal we should shoot for as romance authors.
As for the hero…
I don’t want him to be over the top. He needs to maintain some control of himself and be able to carry on an entertaining banter with the heroine. I want him to be smart but driven by emotion to some degree. That’s how I connect. I need him to react, to show me that he’s invested. There also has to be a chemistry between him and the heroine that sparks at their very first encounter and carries the reader to their happily ever after.
I don’t want perfection, perfection is BORING!!!!! I need some semblance of reality to keep me hooked, otherwise it is just borderline ridiculous, e.g. my feelings about Christian Grey.
I came across a review on Amazon by for Fifty Shades of Grey that is the exact opposite of what I want in a hero. For the record, I don’t know if I’m allowed to paste this into my post but I am crediting the person (meymoon).
“The main male character is a billionaire (not a millionaire but a billionaire) who speaks fluent French, is basically a concert level pianist, is a fully trained pilot, is athletic, drop dead gorgeous, tall, built perfectly with an enormous penis, and the best lover on the planet. In addition, he’s not only self-made but is using his money to combat world hunger. Oh yeah, and all of this at the ripe old age of 26! And on top of that, he’s never working. Every second is spent having sex or texting and emailing the female character. His billions seem to have just come about by magic.”
I don’t ever want a reviewer to have that assessment of one of my heroes. That is the antithesis of what I want to create. There’s got to be at least a little room for improvement. =)