Regency,  Risky Book Talk

risky heroines

I’ll start the discussion by sharing what I think is risky in my Regency — my heroine.

I have always adored Georgette Heyer’s
FARO’S DAUGHTER, but every time I read it, a little part of me is disappointed that, of course, the hero is much better at cards than the heroine. She runs a gaming house, but he still knows more than she does. When they play piquet, he tells her she’s weak in her discards — and then he piques, repiques, and capots her. Argh! I love the hero, but sometimes I wanted to smack him across his self-satisfied face. Or have the heroine capot HIM for a change!

So when I wrote MY gambling Regency, I made my heroine, Atalanta, brilliant at cards. My hero, Stoke, is strong, smart, and stubborn as can be, but he’s not better at piquet than she. Oh, he THINKS he is–he assumes he is–and she helps along that assumption because, well, she’s a card-sharp. 🙂

I was hoping all along that I would not be forced to tone down Atalanta, to make her weaker so that Stoke seems stronger — and I am delighted to report that my wonderful editor never hinted that my heroine should be turned into a kinder, gentler version of herself. No, when MY LADY GAMESTER appears in November, Atalanta will be as fierce, as uncompromising, and as ambitious as she was when I first wrote her.

Will the readers like her? I guess I’ll find out in November! 🙂


Cara King —
MY LADY GAMESTER — Signet Regency, 11/05

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17 years ago

You go, girl! 🙂

I often think, in reading books or watching movies, that authors are afraid of letting the heroine be better than the hero at anything. I suppose in romance novels there is often the fantasy aspect of an ordinary woman catching a prince; but I think if it’s done right, the prince should feel darned lucky to be caught.

In more adventurous stories, it sometimes seems that the only function the heroine serves is to be rescued from increasingly dangerous situations. It would be nice if a little more often the heroine got to do the rescuing.

Risky Regencies
17 years ago

Thanks for your comments, Todd!

As for heroines never being better than the hero — that reminds me
of Heyer again! I believe she always made her heroes stronger — so
presumably she thought the romance wouldn’t work without it. In my opinion,
this led to occasional awkwardnesses — such as her super-weak heroine in “The Foundling”
(who had to be weak to allow her mild hero to look tough), and her super-harsh hero
in “Bath Tangle” (who had to be even more aggressive than her combative heroine.)

Not that I don’t love Heyer! 🙂


Risky Regencies
17 years ago

and then he piques, repiques, and capots her.
Looking forward to your book, Cara.

Pam Rosenthal
17 years ago

Your book sounds great, Cara. Brava to your editor, and brava to you for knowing all those sexy-sounding card plays (when I wrote a gambler-heroine in Almost a Gentleman I could hardly keep score. We had the neighbors in for whist so I could learn how to play and rewrite the scene so it made sense).

Now that I’m writing my second regency erotic novel, I’m learning that the biggest risk for me is figuring out how to create a heroine who maintains her own sexual and intellectual life (she’s separated from her husband) but keeps it discreet, and making her neither flashy nor a wimp. Writing a glamorous regency gal in male masquerade was a whole lot easier. Who knew?

Risky Regencies
17 years ago

Thanks for your post, Pam! I admit, the whist scenes in my book are not as detailed as the piquet scenes — I play piquet a lot, but I’m no bridge (or whist) player! But of course, there are *tons* of good plot reasons why my piquet scenes needed to have more detail than the whist scenes… 🙂

So — keeping your heroine from being either flashy or a wimp — I can sympathize! My current heroine was fairly easy to write, but I’ve had ones who are more difficult to balance. Especially the ones with a real arc — perhaps going from insecure and mousey to more confident, or going from a bit too self-centered to more considerate — you need to have some problems in the beginning (or why should the reader read?) but you can also get in trouble by having the heroine too weak (or mean or whatever) in the beginning to get the reader’s sympathy!

Of course, in your case, it sounds like not so much an arc issue, as a finding-just-the-right-balance issue. Which I’m sure you’ll do (or have done already), though not without work, I expect! This whole thinking thing takes so much more effort than non-writers tend to assume! 🙂 It’s honestly a physical effort sometimes — working out thorny questions can make one physically tired! (Though of course I don’t mean that only writers do it!) 🙂


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