March 8, 2015

Can Successful Romance Novels Have a Strong Female Lead?

March is Women's History Month.  Every March at I'm Lost in Books I spin that into the Women's Lit Event celebrating female authors and their work.  I have some lovely authors and bloggers who will be sharing with us.  Today please welcome book blogger, Tamara, of Shelf Addiction.

Can successful romance novels have a strong female lead?

For Women’s Lit week I wanted to discuss strong women in romance fiction.  Can women be strong in their own right and still snag an alpha male? Of course they can! There seems to be two sides to the romance coin in literature. Either the woman is young, naive, insecure, spoiled, etc. or she’s strong, powerful, smart, witty, and sometimes even considered defiant. I tend to go for the latter.

Speaking of the Alpha male, there seems to be two side of that coin as well. He’s strong, sarcastic, witty, and protective or he’s all of that plus creepy, stalker, possessive, overbearing, most times they have issues controlling anger, etc. Regardless, they always seem to have a killer body and tons of money. In this case, I tend to lean toward the former.

With that said, I love books with a good dose of drama and an alpha male.  I also love a strong woman, it’s almost a requirement in order for me to fully enjoy the book. Nothing makes me cringe more than a weak woman waiting on a man to save her…or teach her…or whatever.  I’ve always had a thing against weak leading ladies. 

For example – with the movie just coming out recently, Fifty Shades of Grey has been on everyone’s minds again. I read it years ago, and in my personal opinion, I pretty much hated it.  Anna’s general lack of common sense and allowing someone to control and manipulate her was just too much for me. I didn’t find it sexy at all.  Nothing about Fifty Shades of Grey was appealing to me.  Not into romance erotica? I have another example for you – Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire. Beautiful Disaster is a new adult romance and it’s another one that really showcases a woman being controlled by her boyfriend.  He’s possessive, overbearing and has a major temper problem.  Not my cup of tea. I would never want my nieces to like this type of book. I don’t want them to think that type of behavior is sexy, on any level.

Instead, I’d rather read The Blackdagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward or The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs, or the Night Huntress series by Jeanine Frost. All of my examples fall in the paranormal romance category, and I absolutely love them.  Guaranteed that these series turn up the heat with really strong and sexy men without degrading women. The women in these books chose to be with their men, they want them- they don’t need them. The women give the men a run for their money in every arena.  The women are strong in their own right, and I can relate to that.  I could go on and on with examples from both sides of the genre. 

There’s something to intense about an alpha woman that is feminine, attractive and still let’s her man be a man.  No weak male character can handle that. Strong female heroines need their equally strong hero. This makes for fun reading because in these cases there’s usually a tug of war with the balance of power in the relationship which leads to tons of fun banter which in turn makes the sexual tension even more believable and kicks it up a notch. 

I said all that to say, yes - successful romance novels do have strong female leads and those are the ones that I gravitate toward most.  There’s something for everyone, but with so many negative and critical messages in the world consistently tearing down women, do we really need more of it in fiction? I think not.

If you’re interested in reading some romance with strong heroines, there are several Goodreads lists available for you to peruse:

Happy Reading,

Where to find Tamara:
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Twitter | @shelfaddiction
Facebook | Shelf Addiction
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