There’s been a lot in the media lately about women and desire and what it is, exactly, that flips the female switch from watching “The Bachelor” to wanting to do the bachelor (or the husband or the friend with benefits). Recently, in the New York Times, Sheryl Sandburg (the CEO of Facebook) and co-writer Adam Grant posited that men who do their share of household chores have more sex. They coined the term choreplay which does have a nice ring to it. It’s a myth, though, says a well-known and respected study published in the American Sociological Review. That study showed that “husbands and wives in couples with more traditional housework arrangements report higher sexual frequency” which, in layman’s terms means men who vacuum get laid less. Other sexual scientists believe that many women have responsive sexual desire–what turns them on is to be desired. One thing almost everyone agrees on […]
Welcome to our new column, Winsome or Loathsome. (I was rooting for Dreamgirl or Disaster but was outvoted.) Like its counterpart, Dreamboat or Douchebag, this column will look at well-known heroines and ask the pointed question: Winsome or Loathsome? We will reserve our critique for heroines who are not universally loved or who are known for behaving badly at some point in their stories.
We at AAR have defined elsewhere what each thinks are the characteristics of a good heroine. For me, a good heroine is one who deserves the Happily Ever After she gets.
Does Daphne Bridgerton?
Daphne is the oldest girl and third child of Violet and (the deceased) Edmund Bridgerton. Daphne’s story, The Duke and I, is the first in Julia Quinn’s wildly popular Bridgerton series. Daphne certainly ends up […]
I read my first Harlequin Presents when I was in sixth grade. It was Lord of La Pampa by Kay Thorpe and for the decades since I have remembered the line “With a woman like you there can be no other way.” This was said by the hero moments before he forced himself on the heroine. Because he was an Argentinian cattle baron, in my head the line was delivered in a sexy, sensual Spanish accent.
I mention that experience because when I picked up Fifty Shades of Grey a few months ago I felt very much like I was reliving that first encounter with Harlequin. It seemed very Old Skool 1980’s bodice ripper. Christian Grey had all the core characteristics of the alpha hero of the time which is described in Beyond Heaving Bosoms as:
These heroes aren’t just determined, assertive, and confident—they’re hard, arrogant, and harsh and the heroine is often afraid of him. He’s a punisher as […]
Every once in a while I will fall in love with a hero. Kit from Mary Balogh’s A Summer to Remember comes to mind. I loved his laughing eyes. I loved his sunny nature. As I typed this half a dozen scenes from the book came to my mind and I found myself with a smile on my face. I love Kit, it’s that simple. I also love Francis from Balogh’s The Famous Heroine. It’s his sense of humor which drew me, his sense of chivalry, his amazingly cheerful personality. Francis is a happy person and I just can’t imagine anyone being miserable around him.
Those are romance heroes. Sometimes I will also fall in love with a hero in a book that is most definitely not a romance. Will Laurence from Naomi Novik’s His Majesty’s Dragon springs to mind. There is no romance in this […]
Keeper or Kick-Her-to-the-Curb?
In July, AAR introduced the new series “Dreamboat or Douchebag” in which our staffers weigh in on the merits and demerits of famous literary heroes. These pieces have been some of our most popular and have generated a set of robust comment streams. They’ve also been a hell of a lot of fun to write.
Thus, we’ve decided to begin a similar series about heroines. Over the next year, we will set our critical sights on some of literature’s most contested heroines and pass judgement upon them. (We may even add in a movie heroine or two–wouldn’t it be fun to assess Vivian from Pretty Woman or evaluate Princess Leia?)
There are two things we are considering as we begin. The first is what makes a good heroine? There is, unsurprisingly, no consensus on that. Maggie likes a heroine who’s “well written […]
If I have any type beyond the physical, it is that the guy be smart. As in smarter than me, smarter than everyone in the room, but not a jerk about it. I want someone who knows things, who craves knowledge, who is delighted to share his arcane bits of ephemera floating around in his brain with me.
Of course, since many of us are working out our issues through our writing, and I am no exception, I will say that my dad was one of those guys. But he needed to know, and have everyone else know, that he was the smartest guy in the room (he usually was, too, but he could also be the jerkiest about proving it). In my fictional scenario, the smart guy in question is so confident in his smarts that he just needs to show he’s worthy of me.
And that, in its essence, is […]
It’s no mystery that the Alpha-Male character type has dominated romantic fiction. Nearly any romance you pick up will feature one of these tough, rugged, manly men out to woo their lady of choice with their muscular body and chiseled looks. I don’t mind indulging in this type of fantasy at all when reading romance, although I do enjoy the sweet, Beta-Male as well. However, lately, I’ve noticed that the trend has shifted away from the standard Alpha, which is normally a beefcake with a heart of gold, to what I like to call the Alpha-Douche. This guy is possessive, volatile, jealous, and borders on stalking the lead female. I have to wonder, why is it that this type of man has gotten so popular recently?
Obsessive, Borderline Stalker – He will almost obsessively pursue her. She typically tells him no several times while he insists that she be around him. This situation was just brought to my attention […]
I’ve spent the past few weeks watching the TV show Veronica Mars (I so love Amazon Prime.) I’d seen it when it first came out but my husband hadn’t. When the movie came out this year, I thought it would be fun to check out Veronica and her pals in Neptune again.
There are many things to love about Veronica Mars–Kristen Bell’s adorable snark, the stinging accuracy of its portrayal of class, the haunting and hip soundtrack, just to name a few. But the thing that strikes me the second time around is how unusual a hero Logan Echols (played brilliantly by Jason Dohring) is.
Logan is the son of two spectacularly screwed-up movie stars played by real life spouses Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna. Logan’s grown up with money, fame, and access. In the first half of the first season he is an unmitigated ass. And yet…
By the end of the first season, he’s […]
Last week I was walking past a used bookstore that had a number of books displayed on a shelf outside the store. One of the books – The Library by Sarah Stewart – caught my eye. I spent over 10 minutes thumbing through this children’s book (illustrated by David Small) and ultimately bought it. It’s now sitting on my coffee table where I can look at – and smile at – the cover featuring a young girl with her nose in a book dragging a wagon filled with books behind her. […]