The romance hero is a very big part of what appeals to readers of romance and I think a lot of us have very specific qualities in mind by which we judge all heroes. An author really has to get that right, IMHO, if she (or he) wants readers to keep coming back for more.
But ultimately, it's the heroine that readers (female readers anyway) identify with and I find most critical reviews I read - of anyones books - tend to be so because the reader didn't like the heroine or couldn't relate to her. Victoria Dahl gave a great speech at ARRC this year about how she writes flawed often "unlikeable" heroines and isn't going to apologise for it. Given I've written some unlikeable heroines, I loved the hell out of that speech!
But today I want to talk about unlikely (as opposed to unlikeable!) heroines because two out of my last four releases have had unlikely heroines.
Billie in It Happened One Night Shift is an emergency doctor who can't stand the sight of blood.
I did that deliberately because I read (and write) so many capable heroines kicking butt in what is often still a very patriarchial world that I wanted to write a heroine who was a bit of a mess, who was doing something she didn't really want to do out of misplaced loyatly and obligation. I also liked the dichotomy of a squeamish doctor. It made her very unlikely as a heroine granted but it gave her such room to grow and arc and become fierce and mighty and take charge over the course of the book.
I freaking loved Billie :-)
My second unlikely heroine is Joy from Limbo.
Joy is an ex hillbilly punk rocker turned cadaver make-up artist. She's short and petite with a pixie cut, a pink fringe and black fingernails. She eats like a horse and prefers comfortable boots to kitten heels. She grew up in a funeral home and might just possibly be psychic but doesn't think that seeing the odd ghost from time to time warrants such a label. Joy is not your typical heroine....In fact, she's probably the character least likely to be a heroine. Sure, she's more proactive in her life than Billie but she still prefers to live her day-to-day life completely unnoticed and, well, she packs putty into holes in dead people's heads...not very glamorous, right?
But Joy was a joy to write :-)
Have you read any good books or seen TV/movies with unlikely heroines? Do you prefer heroines who you an identify with as opposed to those who dont fit any pre-conceived mould?