Bad Girls

Who doesn’t love a bad girl, or in romance-speak, a flawed heroine?

There was quite a lively discussion yesterday at Smart Bitches on favorite flawed heroines, following an article in The Guardian where Toni Jordan listed her top ten–a very odd list including Miss Haversham from Great Expectations. Not that many from romance, though, and I’m wondering if it’s because one of the conventions of romance is that we want our heroes and heroines to change, transformed by love and self-knowledge.

Trouble is that quite often it’s the badness of the heroine that keeps us reading, the My God what will she say or do next syndrome.

So how does your character undergo the necessary transformation without losing the vitality?

And here’s my very own bad girl, Caroline Elmhurst, from the book I’m struggling to finish, A Most Lamentable Comedy (Little Black Dress, 2009), leaving London (having just escaped her creditors). She’s promised her maid Mary an inside seat on the coach, but unfortunately only one is available…

“We’ll cut for the inside seat.” I pull my pack of cards from the capacious reticule with which I travel. “High I go inside, low you go outside.”

She cuts a king, and cackles with glee as I pull a four. “High I go inside, low you go outside,” I repeat, and push her toward the coach as she opens her mouth to howl protest. “And if you don’t keep quiet, I’ll tell everyone you stole my petticoats–why else would you wear four?”

I help her onto the roof of the coach with a vigorous shove to the arse, hand her the umbrella (I am not totally without feelings), and settle myself inside, opening the book of sermons I carry to repel male attention.

What bad girls in romance do you love, and do you love them more at the beginning or the end? How do their wild, wicked, impulsive etc. ways transform them or become transformed into something else?

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