“Oh, I’m real. Real enough to defeat you! And I did it without your precious gifts, your oh-so-special powers. I’ll give them heroics. I’ll give them the most spectacular heroics the world has ever seen! And when I’m old and I’ve had my fun, I’ll sell my inventions so that *everyone* can have powers. *Everyone* can be super! And when everyone’s super–[chuckles evilly]—no one will be.” Syndrome, from The Incredibles
First off, I gotta thank Diane for posting that I had gone MIA last week. Life got a bit busy last week, and I wasn’t able to think of anything to post but sobbing, and lord knows you didn’t want to read that. So anyway. Things have settled down, and so here we go.
This week, I finished reading a really lovely book, Sarah MacLean‘s Nine Rules To Break When Romancing A Rake. I’ve also been working on my latest WIP, a paranormal that would seem to have nothing in common with a historical romance. But wait! I can find parallels in anything!
And since I was thinking about Sarah’s book after finishing it (always a good sign) and thinking about my own writing (always a solipsistic sign), I realized why I like some heroines more than others: They’re not special.
Let me explain. Unlike the books many of us cut our romance teeth on, the heroines in many of today’s romances are not immediately memorable; they’re not impossibly beautiful, or dramatically above the crowd in some aspect. Instead, they’re likely to have brown hair, be considered plain or plump (as in MacLean’s heroine) and yet, by the end of the book, the hero thinks the heroine is the most gorgeous, sexy thing ever.
And isn’t that what we all want in our real lives? Honestly, if we were all stunning, wouldn’t it be hard to walk around in the streets with people falling all over themselves to look at us? I feel bad for Angelina Jolie sometimes because of that–it must be hard to be THAT remarkable looking when all you want is a little time to think. But if there is a special someone who thinks WE’RE a special someone, that’s what true love is, right?
In my paranormal romance, for example, my heroine has absolutely no skills, beyond being smart and a relatively fast runner. That’s why she’s chosen to do what she does in the book, because she doesn’t pose a threat. And when she first meets the hero, he is intrigued by her, but can’t figure out why. By the end of the book, he still won’t have figured out why, but he’ll have fallen in love with her by that point, so it won’t matter.
I don’t want to read about people who are remarkable, who are supers, in my romance. I want to read about people like me–people who are normal, but perhaps there are a few special things about them that only the hero can recognize (the impossibly gorgeous, sexy hero. It’s not like we’re even-handed here. It IS a fantasy, after all). And by the end of the book, the reader thinks the heroine is special, too. And is pleased knowing that Specialness is within HER grasp, as well.
Which ‘plain Jane’ heroines are your favorites? Do you like reading about regular women and the stunning men who love them?