Archive for April, 2011

The Intellligent and Indecent Heroine

Well, okay, not indecent necessarily.

Years ago I was helping a friend of mine with a paper for a class in grad school. The paper happened to be on romance novels, and the elements they needed to be successful. My friend wrote that they needed an “intelligent and indecent heroine.”

My friend is dyslexic. After we got over laughing, she told me she’d meant independent. And that made sense. (And indecent can certainly help in romantic and/or erotic literature.)

This has become one of my gospel rules. I do not enjoy stories where the heroine (or hero, for that matter) is a wuss. She does not have to be a brassy ball-buster. I’ve noted in a few forums that a strong woman can be fun and pleasant, and a quiet one can have surprising strength. Nor does she have to always be right.

In a story I wrote long ago — even before I knew my friend — Cost of Loyalty, I tried that. The heroine, Selina, stands up for a man she doesn’t even know.

Damian has died and found himself at the crossroads of the afterlife. After he finds out his best friend has been destined for Hell, he demands to go with him, but is met with resistance by the “good guys.” Selina is appalled.

To Selina, this was the ultimate horror. To find out that there was a time when the sacrifices didn’t matter anymore, after those that she had seen people make, nearly made her ill. Suppose it stopped before Transition? How long had people been leading good lives after it no longer made a difference?

“How can you?” Her voice was choked with fury as she directed the accusation toward the Angel. She stalked from the door to Purgatory and stood facing him. “How can you?”

“I do not understand,” said the Angel.

“This man,” she pointed to Damian, “has offered to sacrifice his chance of Heaven to stay with his friend. He has put his friend’s happiness before his own salvation. For this, you offer him suffering and damnation? You punish his effort instead of rewarding it? Is it true that no good deed goes unpunished?” Her green eyes sparkled in the otherworldly illumination of Transition.

She then opts to go with him, into the unknown of purgatory.
In Light and the Darkness, Erica Wellstone is a witch with little power who faces down a vampire.

Erica sat, tense and stiff in a small chair, and was irritated because she knew this was the effect he intended. Knowing it didn’t help her relax, though. She knew she was never safe; Jordan Castle was a vampire and she was a witch with little useful power. Certainly nothing she could use to attack, or even defend herself. So, she thought, she would have to talk to him, make the painting, and then leave. It was the only way.

I think it’s far more satisfying to write a character like this. To write a woman who’s constantly in peril, crying for rescue, or just crying, would annoy both the writer and the reader.

So I will continue to write my intelligent and indecent independent heroines.



Hi, and welcome to my blog.  Please read and comment — I enjoy the give and take with readers and other authors.

I write romantic fiction with some erotic elements — call it romantica (wish I could take credit for that description). You can find my stories at,, and under the username PennLady. I also have e-books available at,,,, and Please read, enjoy and let me know what you think!

Enough of love at first sight

One weakness I’ve noted in paranormal romances is that authors rely on some version of love at first sight (LAFS from now on) to bring their protagonists together. It’s often an instinctive identification of a mate, and let’s face it, it cuts out the middleman of how to get the guy and woman together.

I’m not immune; in my weretiger series (Exiled, Young Blood and All Too Human) I gave this instinct a name, the Pull. However, I tried to make it more than just hey, hi, wow, we’re in love.

In Exiled, there were two pairs who felt the Pull. The first couple were both weretigers who had known each other before. The second was a witch and a werepanther, who were strangers and neither expected it. In the first instance, the woman had been exiled from her were pack, and feared the man would suffer a similar fate, and attempted to “outrun” the Pull.

In Young Blood, Jura Griet, a weretiger, is Pulled to a vampire, who doesn’t have the same instinct. So, what do you do when you love someone you aren’t sure could love you?
Finally, in All Too Human, a weretiger woman is attracted to a human man, and neither feels a Pull. Not to mention, said human had kidnapped her; not the most auspicious start to a relationship.
These may not be the most original situations, but I did attempt to stay away from the instant love.

The problem with LAFS in any genre is that it often deprives us of seeing the couple work it out and get together. Paranormal LAFS is helpful in that it gets your peeps together quickly as they band together to face a common threat. Once LAFS has been established, the conflict, almost inevitably, involves one mate being kidnapped and the other going after them (and that is usually the female taken, and the male pursuing). Not everyone does this, of course, and it’s refreshing to see things like this story, by DoctorWolf.

On the other hand, part of what people like — and want — about romance is the conflict. Sure, we like the hugs and kisses and all of that (come on, you know you do) but it’s more fun and more rewarding when they get those after they solve their problems.

The thrill of the chase is fun, but sometimes the chase needs to run a little longer.

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