Friday, January 24, 2014


January, 25th, 2014

TOPIC:  What type heroine(s), traits, personality, in particular always draw you into the story?
Has it changed with time?
And do you write this type of heroine?

Heroines who draw me into a story are ones who:

1. Stand up for themselves.
2. Do not choose love for the sake of security but demand to be loved back 100% before they will commit to a relationship.
3. Face a compelling challenge other than the romance, from the word go.
4. Have a fault that makes them vulnerable and human.
5. Someone who at least once in the story 'rescues' the hero from a predicament.
6. Insist on equality at every level.

This type of heroine draws me into a book and makes me want to share her journey of external problem solving and self discovery on the path of love.

In Faith, Hope and Love, my first traditional romance and again in Daddy's Little Girl, my sixth, the heroines Rachel and Sara don't have two nickels to rub together but they still stand up for the things they believe in each in their own way.

Remember Anne of Green Gables, Jo of Little Women and Portia in The Merchant of Venice?  These were a few of my favorite 'early' heroines.

The changes time has brought about:

When I was first published in 1990, the traditional romance category was for young women.  Heroines in this category fell in love, worked through challenges with the hero and then got married before they consummated their relationship.  When I had one couple in bed before they were married in one of my books, I remember an editor telling me,  “Your heroine's not been married before so we can't have that scene in here.”  She went on to say, "If she's a widow or divorced that’s okay but explicit love scenes belong in another romance category, not yours."

Things have definitely changed since then with 90% of heroines now jumping into bed first and then working out their relationship with the hero for the rest of the book.
When I tell people I write 'traditional romance' they ask what's that and I explain.  Then they look at me like 'She must be the sister of the Dodo bird to be still writing those books!'

So, in today's world I'm a young adult writer and that's a label that’s right for my books.  I continue to use the traditional romance label as well for those 'golden oldies' readers, like me, who still recognize their favorite category by it.

Do I write about this type of heroine?

I do.
I have to sidetrack a bit and explain why this type of woman is so important to me...
I read romances in India as a young girl (Essie Summers, Anne Weale, Lucy name a few).  Hemmed in by traditions that gave no leeway to women where marriage was concerned, I felt trapped.  The books I read reached into the head and heart of a ten year old and gave me the idea it was all right to be independent and to want to love someone and marry them because they loved you... not because your horoscopes matched, or you were good looking and healthy and would have many sons to carry on the family name, or well trained and would never give your husband a moment's worry no matter what he chose to do, or that there was a large dowry offered to diminish your faults and make you acceptable.

Back to the present:

I like to think that young girls all over the world, not just in the USA, might read my books and get ideas from them of self sufficiency, self worth and their rights in the decision making process about one of the most important areas of life...their choice of a partner…just like I did.

The women I write about now are not 'mooning' about love; they are realists...they meet someone who makes them realize that life has much more to offer with that special someone in it, but also that instead of a guaranteed 'happily ever after' they are going to work every day at building and maintaining a successful relationship.
They have to fall ‘in like’ with the hero first, find common ground to sustain their initial interest for a relationship to develop to the point where they cannot live without each other.

As for personality traits....

I like my heroines to be intelligent, have a sense of humor and be absolutely determined to support themselves so they are not leaning vines who need to be propped up by a hero.

Christy, Bridget and Laurel, the three heroines in my Cupid holiday trilogy, are all like this though they come from very different walks of life.

When I’m writing a romance, I think of my heroine as 'sleeping beauty being brought to life by the kiss of reality and determining to have it all:  a great personal life and success in work that is vital to her...whether it is running a home, raising a family, having a great career or running a country.'

I hope that strong heroines will continue to inspire women all over the world to insist on their right to freely choose whom to love and marry…just as they inspired me.

Thank you for your comments.  The replies to your comments are in the next blog...


Robin, thanks so much for letting me sound off on a topic very dear to my heart.


  1. Interesting reinterpretation of Sleeping Beauty! I like it. It's sad that the situation for women you describe in India continues there today and in many other parts of the world.

  2. The more women who get educated and become financially independent the more choices they make...things are changing rapidly everywhere in India. Women have to realize the changes come from within.

  3. Interesting take on heroines. Women are awesome and far stronger than they often think they are. Education is key.

  4. Unfortunately it seems that the more women all over the world make strides in independence, the more male backlash they face. In our romance novels strong women are admired, and the males who ignore or denigrate them do so at their own peril. Oh, if only it could be that way in reality. The key is that strong men raised by strong mothers much insist on equality, seeing that it benefits them as much as females, because a level playing field gives everyone a fair chance to succeed.

  5. Jo in Little Women was an inspiration to me too! :)

  6. I agree. Stories, as well as strongly written heroines, can inspire everyone. Your YA novels are written to bring enjoyment, as well as a path of guidance to young girls. Bravo!

  7. Love your take on sleeping beauty. And your blog points out so many good ideas, especially around education.

  8. When I was in grad school, I knew a number of young American born Hmong women who were struggling to break the cycle of arranged marriages yet still remain a part of their family. They were raised in two cultures: American and traditional Hmong. Many of these young women were devastated to be disowned but couldn't bring themselves to marry as their family dictated.

    We still have families who will disown their children for marrying outside of their culture and/or race in the States. It's sad.

    Great post, Geeta. Very thought provoking. Like you, I prefer strong, self-sufficient heroines who choose a man because they want someone in their life who brings something different, not because they need to be taken care of.


  9. I love your take on heroines, Geeta! While one of my characters starts off as a June Cleaver type mom, she certainly doesn't end up that way. Women should be able to stand up for themselves and their beliefs (although I understand that's not always acceptable to the culture) and our characters should not be wimpy and whiney.
    So glad to hear your take on things! Keep writing!

  10. Great Post, and good advice to young girls. Not all my heroines may start as self-sufficient, but I hope they grow as the book progresses. Most of mine are based on personal experience and reality, but even Scarlet O'Hara, the most notorious of 'kick-ass" heroines, needed Rhett Butler. :)