GI Jane – not my favourite sort of romance heroine!
RT Magazine had an article recently, about US military romance. It featured interviews with some authors whose books I’ve enjoyed.
However, the tone of the article really annoyed me.
I said for a long time that romantic suspense was my favourite subgenre, but I probably have more fingers than I need to count the suspense books I’ve read in the past few years. The main reason for that is because I can’t identify with the gun-toting, smart-talking, superhero women in recent books.
I read a lot of blurbs – even of books I get for free – before deciding against reading them.
This article was all about how bad romantic suspense books are when the heroine isn’t at least as big and tough and rough as the hero.
And I’m sorry, but I disagree.
Once again, we’ve gone down the route of mistaking gun skills and punching people with gender equality. A woman doesn’t have to BECOME a man in order to be strong. And too many authors in this genre seem to think that is the case.
I don’t want my heroines to spend the whole book flopping around uselessly and waiting to be rescued, but I would like a little bit more balance. There are too many romantic suspense heroines today who terrify me!
The reason I loved this genre so much was for the Suzanne Brockmanns of a decade or more ago. Sure, the men might have had the physical advantage, but that didn’t make the heroines weak, and it didn’t mean they weren’t stronger in other ways. In fact, one of the best things about those books was that even though the heroine often lacked the training the men had, she rose to the occasion.
Her appeal to the hero was that she was stronger than he could have believed she was.
Military heroines can be done brilliantly. Case in point: Kaylea Cross. But they can also be so “cool” that I start to dislike them. You don’t need to be good with guns to be a strong person.
I might be alone in feeling this way, but everything I’ve read has said romantic suspense has gone out of fashion in the past few years, so surely I’m not. Even some of my old favourites are now writing exclusively GI Jane heroines, and I no longer read what they write.
Does every heroine really have to be in the Special Forces? Because a lot of those heroines might have the credentials, but I often discover they’re the weakest and wimpiest characters in the end. In fact, one of the books in the article is one I gave a scathing review to because of the superficially “tough” but actually wimpy, weak and useless heroine. She was allegedly a military superhero, and it didn’t make her strong!
Is it really such a crime if just occasionally it’s the hero, rather than the heroine, who does something heroic? Just once every so often?
The only place you can still find the romantic suspense of a decade ago is in Harlequin/Mills and Boon, it seems. I’ve actually seen authors there who comment that their editors told them they’d made the hero too weak and let the heroine save the day on her own, and please don’t do that!
I don’t always agree with how conservative category romance is. However, surely there’s a balance between the two extremes. That’s what I want to read.