New York Times bestselling author and good friend Cathy Maxwell joins us today with the first of two thought provoking blogs. The author of more than thirty published novels, Cathy is one of my auto-buy authors with many titles on my keeper shelves. Cathy is a woman of many talents. As stated in her website bio, in addition to writing, she also spent six years in the U.S. Navy - where she worked at the Pentagon and did a tour with Naval intelligence - managed a watch factory, was a news broadcaster and was in charge of costumes for a local theater. She's also smart, savvy and is one of the kindest and funniest people I've had the pleasure of meeting. Please give her a warm Romance Dish welcome!
Scarlett and Superwoman
by Cathy Maxwell
For some mysterious reason, the subject of Scarlett O’Hara has come up on the romance panels I’ve sat on over the past year. The question? Is Scarlett a good romance heroine?
And the question annoys me in the same way I grow testy when people act as if Romance readers don’t read anything other than this one genre. (Excuse me while I climb onto my soapbox. No, don’t excuse me. I’m glad to do it.) The truth, Romance readers are avid readers in general. They eventually gravitate to Romance because 1) they need more books to read. They want great stories and lots of them and I’m proud to say my genre delivers. 2) Stories about relationships intrigue them (even murderous ones). Romance readers are discerning readers, but voracious ones.
So where does Scarlett come in to all of this? Well, first, some people don’t get the Romance genre. They think any female character who can attract males and knows what to do with them once she has them is a “Romance” heroine. Not true. The “happy ending” is a strong expectation but so is the honorable heroine. However, honorable does not mean uncomplicated. GONE WITH THE WIND is not a romance but I could see Scarlett as a heroine of a romance novel, with tweaking, of course. GWTW is a story of survival; the Romance novel is a tale of commitment. These are not mutually exclusive concepts.
A heroine is true to her own code of conduct—and this is very true of Scarlett. I don’t mind a heroine who is feisty or who makes mistakes out of immaturity or who needs to grow into the woman she must become. My most memorable characters in literature, and also the people I most admire in life, are those who are willing to make mistakes. It is one thing to save the world but it is even more important to learn how to save yourself. And when do people truly become interesting—when they are doing what is expected? Or when they risk being themselves flaws and all?
Or have we at some point homogenized our heroines? Is there a one size fits all “fantasy” of what readers expect out of characters. I believe it is important to honor the happy ending, but I’m not convinced readers have a carbon copy idea of the sort of heroine they want, especially in this genre. Look at the Romance section. This genre takes in vamps and vampires, shape-shifters and missionaries, nurses, teachers, PHDs, administrative assistants, Regency virgins, and nuclear physicists and these books are all bestsellers.
In the meantime, let’s talk heroines. I’m interested in your thoughts. Feel free to disagree with me on Miss Scarlett or any of my ramblings. When you think of the word “heroine,” what comes to mind? Is she perfect? Or is she perfect in her imperfections? Does a reader have time to watch a character grow? Even a character involved in a series of books? What makes a character fresh and vibrant to you? Who are the heroines that still resonate strongly with you?
Cathy Maxwell believes each and every one of us is the heroine of her own life. She is the bestselling author of over thirty historical romances in which she celebrates men and women with a passion for life. www.cathymaxwell.com
What happens when a bride says maybe?
She’d once been the toast of London, but now scandal has brought her down. Still, pretty, petted Lady Tara Davidson can’t believe her new fate. She had wanted to marry for love . . . but her profligate father has promised her hand to none other than Breccan Campbell, the “Beast of Aberfeldy” and laird of the valley’s most despised clan! Well, Tara may have to marry him, but Breccan can’t make her love him—can he?
What happens when the groom insists?
Breccan Campbell is nobody's fool. He knows that Tara is trouble. Yet he's determined to reform the Campbell name even if it means forging an alliance with the arrogant beauty. There's no doubt that Tara is a challenge, and Breccan loves nothing more. For he's vowed to thoroughly seduce Tara--and make her his in more than name alone.