Harder on Heroines

Be warned…today’s post might irritate some people.  Sorry, not my intention-just need to get this off my chest.

Something that has always amused me in Romanceland about reviews, discussions on heroines & heroes, etc…some people are always harder on the heroine. Please note… I said some.  And this isn’t about getting negative reviews.  It happens even in good reviews.  And it’s not always in reviews, sometimes it’s just discussions.

FYI…  I’m going to do very MINOR spoilers-although probably not really, since it’s all mentioned in the blurb.

A case in point… some people have mentioned Sarel from my Hunters books…and this is to me, so I feel it’s fair to use this as an example.  She’s the heroine in book 2, HUNTERS ELI & SAREL.  They loved Eli.  He was awesome.  He was wonderful.  His heroine?  They hated her.  She’s a bitch.  She’s spoiled.  She didn’t deserve him.  Why do they feel this way?  Well… the blurb reads:

After three long centuries of aching loneliness, Elijah Crawford, Hunter of the Council, has finally found a woman. Maybe she can replace the obsession he has for Torrance Reilly, the wife and lover of his best friend.

Sarel is a lean, red-haired, wild-eyed witch with a soul to match his. She has a thirst for justice, and a yearning for a love to fill the void inside her. Sarel has been searching for Elijah. She is here now, prowling his grounds, waiting to get into his house.

Sarel has come to kill him.

She’s there to kill him.  Why does she want to kill him?  When she was just out of her teens, I think 19 or 20, she returns home after being gone quite a while and finds her sister just gone.  The house is a bloody-and I mean literally-wreck.  She thinks her sister is dead.  And she’s a witch, self-trained.  She doesn’t know entirely about vamps,weres, etc.  But she knows Eli had been there, she knows her sister is gone-assumes she’s dead.  In her mind, she sees Eli as her sister’s killer and she wants vengeance. Now once she realizes how wrong she’d been? She’s willing to make amends, even willing to die for it, even though she’s not happy over it.

Had this been a guy?  Sorry, I can’t help but think everybody would have been just peachy keen with the scenario, because some people are just harder on the heroines. Now…that heroine could go through hell and back and try to be strong as Job, overcome more hell than I’d ever want to consider…but if that heroine does anything so human as make a mistake? She gets slaughtered.

The hero? Oh, he’s fine. There are definitely some who will flay a book over a hero being an ass, and that’s perfectly understandable. And don’t get me wrong-if a person doesn’t like the heroine, that’s fine.

It just always amuses me that the hero can screw up, make mistakes and still come out smelling like roses. But the heroines? If they don’t do everything perfect? They judged so much harsher. They are bitches, they are petty, they are shallow, they are immature…ironically, that’s kind of the way some women are about other women. Some judge so much more harshly. We can’t screw up, we can’t make mistakes–we aren’t allowed to be human.

That’s kind of sad, when you think about it. Not sure why it amuses me so much in romanceland, but it does.  Maybe it’s because I still so often see the arguments where we get pissed off when we don’t get treated equal, or when we get pissed that people mock or deride the genre or give it a fair chance.   I just see some serious irony going on, I think.  And irony very often amuses me.

5 Replies to “Harder on Heroines”

  1. I’ve noticed many of the same things, both subtle and obvious, when reading reviews and I really envy your ability to laugh at it. Instead it just annoys the hell out of me :p Here’s one of the obvious examples- I recently read a reviewer, who in one review wrote that the hero’s quiet tendencies made him “brooding” and “mysterious”. Two reviews later she wrote that a heroine’s “stubborn refusal to talk” was frustrating and that she didn’t enjoy reading characters who “illogically insisted on keeping everything” to themselves.
    In retrospect I do see the humor, but at the time my stress ball got quite a workout, lol.

  2. This kind of thing is the main reason I don’t bother reading reviews, unless I know the reviewer personally. And even then, I more likely than not going to ignore what the person said.

    A friend of mine is on a mystery book list, and she reads the reviews religiously, and if people on her list pan a book, she won’t read it. I can read that same book and find it fantastic, then I have to almost twist her arm to read it even though her book group doesn’t like it, and she usually changes her mind. And this woman is a LIBRARIAN!!! Crazy, no?

    Oh, and she also does the same thing for movie reviews, too! It gets annoying sometimes, let me tell you!!



  3. I’m harder on heroines. But I can explain! 🙂

    I have a hard time reading objectively and tend to identify to some extent with the heroine of a story. I tend to beat myself up over flaws and imperfections and that carries over into my reading. Since I read as the heroine, I don’t like heroines doing something I wouldn’t approve of in myself.

    I’m learning to take a more tolerant view of myself and probably that will carry over into my reading as well, but I’ll probably always expect heroines to be superior.

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