When I read Mary Balogh’s Only Beloved, the seventh and final book in Mary Balogh’s Survivor’s Club series which took as its heroine Dora Debbins, a thirty-nine-year-old spinster, who had “lost all hope of marriage,” I thought good on Balogh, venturing into rather virgin territory where women of a certain age, cherished within their family, unexpectedly find beloved themselves. But it seems Mary Balogh has a few more tricks up her sleeve and now I’m “Anticipating Matilda.” […]
Jenna’s recent Laminate Freebie List post started a fair bit of discussion on the site and behind the scenes at AAR, and we began to discuss the possibility of making some other lists, and talking about what we’d do if we did. In the end, we’ve rolled two of our most popular suggestions into one, and have nominated the female characters we’d either most like to be or most like to be friends with.
Who I’d like to be:
CJ Cregg, The West Wing. When the series started, CJ was the press secretary and was eventually promoted to Chief of Staff. Poised, sarcastic, and powerful, CJ navigates a world designed by men with aplomb. I never fully bought that she was a disaster in her private life the way Sorkin wanted me too, more like she understood there were seasons of life and this season was about public service and that […]
I admit that I love to read romance novels for pretty much one reason – the swoon-worthy heroes. Be they Navy SEALs, roguish pirates, Scottish warriors or powerful tycoons, their confidence and swagger and charm all draw me in and allow me to escape to a fantasy world where the good guy will always save the day.
Given all of the recent turmoil in our world, what with hurricanes and political tempests galore, it’s tempting to escape into those fantasies as much as possible. But every once in a while, I’m reminded that real heroes walk among us. These are the guys and gals who put their lives on the line every day to help a stranger. They go in when others are rushing out. They serve as real-life examples to our sons and daughters of the best that humanity has to offer.
Below are photos of these super folks in action. We tip our hats and thank them profusely for […]
Regency spy novels are chock full of French emigrés fleeing the Revolution, but more recent stories of migration, including refugees, can be a little harder to find. Here are some post-World War II stories of heroes and heroines either living in areas of crisis, fleeing them, or encountering other characters who have done both. We have border patrol agents, war orphans and adoptees, humanitarian workers, and ordinary people trying to survive.
A Daughter’s Journey by Linda Cardillo in the anthology A Mother’s Heart. Journalist Melanie Ames escapes Saigon just before the city is retaken by North Vietnamese forces, cutting short her love affair with a doctor in the city. Decades later, she returns with her adopted Vietnamese daughter Tien, who is seeking to learn more about her roots, and finds her lover still in country, […]
Women have a long history of standing up for their beliefs, and there are great romance novels starring heroines doing just that. American and British suffragettes (or suffragists), Civil Rights activists, lawyers, writers, organizers, and military rebels – you’ll find all of them here, and more. Let these ladies inspire you to fight for your beliefs, whatever they happen to be.
Erica Johnson – Unfinished Business by Karyn Langhorne
Erica, a teacher, is tired of seeing funding diverted away from the neediest and most vulnerable. She protests at the hero’s (a Southern Republican senator’s) press conference and is dragged out by police. This book is set during the W. Bush administration and Erica is a strong reminder that black activists have been working continuously, even when out of the media spotlight. Our review of the book […]
Has anyone here not read the Mary Russell series yet? If so, stop now and go find yourself a copy of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice and meet young Mary Russell, 15 years old and orphaned, and snarking at a much older Sherlock Holmes who has retired to Sussex and beekeeping. Pulling heavily from Doyle’s representation of Sherlock Holmes (and still acknowledging both Doyle and Watson as fiction writers and creators of the world’s view of Sherlock Holmes), Laurie R. King has given us a new character, and a new perspective, in the great wide world of Sherlock fanworks. […]
Welcome back to Winsome or Loathsome, the column in which AAR staffers lobby for and against controversial heroines. Today’s heroine is the leading lady of Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels, Jessica Trent.
Jessica is cool under pressure – her grandmother calls her “magnificently objective” – and does things like calmly looking at a naughty watch and suggesting it as a gift for that same grandmother. She is aloof, unconventional, and nearly impossible to shock or offend. And of course, she both hits Dain and, in the most polarizing scene in the book, shoots him for refusing to offer marriage after compromising her.
AAR reviewers tended to agree that Jessica was over-the-top, or at least, to use the Spinal Tap phrase, turned up to 11. But does that work?
Jean: I’m pretty indifferent to Lord of Scoundrels. I don’t consider it the […]
When Dabney recently asked for ideas for new TV shows to watch, shows with well-developed relationships and strong female characters, I chimed in immediately to suggest she might like to watch the BBC’s new adaptation of Poldark, an eight part costume drama set in late 18th Century Cornwall. It’s due to air in the US in June on PBS, and has just reached the end of its run here in the UK, with the promise of a second series to come next year. […]
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 […]
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 […]