Watching the red carpet show before the Oscars and seeing some of the actresses reminded me that we’ve done a lot of discussion on models and inspiration for our heroes, but not much about heroines.

Like many writers, I use pictures of actors, not only to send to the art department in the valiant hope of an accurate cover, but also to help me visualize my characters. I choose people who look right but also–at least in some fleeting cinematic moment I happened to catch despite my chronic tired mommy state–capture some aspect of my characters.

Right now, I’m using a slightly younger version of Laura Linney as inspiration for the heroine of my current mess-in-progress. She has a way of looking stressed out and lovely at the same time which is good for this particular heroine.

Also on the red carpet was Keri Russell, who happened to be the inspiration for my very first heroine: Nell, from LORD LANGDON’S KISS. Keri looked gorgeous on the red carpet and didn’t appear much older than in the photo I sent in eight years ago! I find it amusing that the hairstyles look similar, at least from the front.

This is Liv Tyler, who has the moody sort of beauty I wanted for THE INCORRIGIBLE LADY CATHERINE. They gave her the Obligatory Regency Cover Smile but it was all right for the scene depicted and the artist captured the eyebrows. I was less happy with the hero–in my mind I saw him as looking like a sexy blacksmith (though in gentleman’s clothes). I’ll spare you the result…

I sent in a picture of Gwyneth Paltrow for Juliana in THE REDWYCK CHARM. In the cover, her hair is red because she had dyed it at that point in the story. In any case, it’s not a bad likeness. I think the hero looked pretty handsome though that flip of his hair is a bit odd.

Sorry about the graininess of this picture; I can’t find the original one of Jo Anderson I sent in as a likeness for Penelope in SAVING LORD VERWOOD. It was hard to find a red-haired actress who fit the part. As it turns out, I need not have bothered because they somehow transformed her into a blonde. I’ve heard of authors changing their manuscripts to fit the cover but as Pen had already appeared in the two previous books as a redhead I wasn’t going to do it! Anyway, this cover was actually one of my nicest with a dishy looking hero, so I won’t complain any more.

For LADY DEARING’S MASQUERADE, I chose Michelle Pfeiffer. Like Michelle Pfeiffer’s character in THE AGE OF INNOCENCE, Lady Dearing is the Wrong Woman–or more correctly, thinks she is, because of course she does get her happy ending. The cover image for this book was absolutely tiny but the heroine looks more or less right. The hero is absolutely wrong–not only does he NOT look anything like Colin Firth but he’s also got a pretty awful mullet. I’m glad the image was tiny!

So how well do you think these covers depicted my heroines? Which actresses do you use or would you like to see as inspiration for heroines?