Exploring Romantic Suspense: The Heroine

Is there a certain personality, or set of personalities, that you would expect more than others in a romantic suspense novel? I was thinking about this the other day, and I really don’t think a heroine who didn’t have at least some independent and stubborn traits would make it in a suspenseful situation. Charlie, my heroine in Tempest has to deal with a *lot*, and I’m inclined to think that if she wasn’t already so strong & independent, there’s no way she could have possibly survived what I threw at her. So too with Marie, my Desert Heat heroine, who is a fascinating mixture of a strong leader and crippling self-confidence issues when it comes to men. Readers seem to react very strongly to Marie – they either identify with her, or they hate her. Either way, her underlying core strength is what gets her through the story to her “happily ever after”.

I’m currently reading Imposter by Karen Fenech , where the heroine is strong, but quietly so. Someone has tried to kill her twice now, and she reacts as anyone would, with shock, anger and a mini-nervous breakdown, but she’s still strong enough to pull herself together after all that and get on with trying to figure out how to survive.

For me, that’s part of the draw of a romantic suspense as a genre. Heroines who, despite their shortcomings and confidence issues are forced to tap into that inner strength that they may or may not have known they had. That’s not to say other sub-genres don’t have strong leading ladies, but it’s very evident in rom. suspense due to the often drastic nature of the plot.

What are your favorite/least favorite things about heroines in romantic suspense?

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6 comments on “Exploring Romantic Suspense: The Heroine

  1. Amy Rose Davis

    Good post. Interesting how heroines can have different types of strength, I think–the quiet strength, the stubborn strength, the kick-a** strength, etc. I’ve been thinking about heroines for a long time, and I have a theory that we as readers look for different things in a heroine than we do in a hero. I haven’t really clearly worked my theory through, though… 🙂 But I’m tucking this post away in my scattered thoughts for later… 🙂


  2. Brooklyn Ann

    Not having read much Rom. Suspense, I can’t make a case study, but I did like Marie. I still get insecure and babble like an idiot when my man takes his shirt off, LOL.

  3. India Drummond

    Great post. I do like kick-ass heroines, but I don’t mind some flaws too, because a barbie-perfect heroine isn’t going to get my sympathy either.

    I guess I like my fictional heroines to be just a little braver, just a little smarter, but have enough flaws so I don’t get a complex. =)

  4. Jamie D.

    I agree, Amy – heroes are a whole ‘nuther ball of wax, and I’ll be discussing them next week. I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts on that…

  5. Jamie D.

    LOL Brooklyn – I’m the same way, though it’s better now. In college, I have a whole slew of insanely embarrassing stories from when I was face to face with good-looking, shirtless men and completely lost the ability to think or speak intelligently.

  6. Jamie D.

    That’s as good a description of why heroines should have flaws as I’ve ever heard. Interesting that you like them a little braver & smarter…perhaps so we can envision ourselves in that role, to some extent?