In Defence of the Unlikeable Heroine

I Kissed a Rogue  (Covent Garden Cubs #3) by Shana Galen

No commentary; just an article from a few weeks ago that I thought I’d share. I chose the cover above because Galen’s book features a heroine who fits this theme perfectly.

In Defence of the Unlikeable Heroine

If you meander through the reviews of most romance novels, you’ll find certain terms showing up again and again in relation to the heroine. Unsympathetic. Bitchy. Slutty. Not good enough for the hero. Unlikeable.

The very traits that we so love in heroes—bold, uncompromising, dominant, sexually experienced—are the exact same ones that we pick apart in the heroines we read. We will forgive the hero many sins, but the heroine must stay inside of very specific parameters in order to gain our love. Or at least our tolerance.

(Read on at the link above.)

Excuse me, cover designers…

Is it a ball in 1876 – or a wedding in 2017??

This trend for the enormous prom dress cover was widely mocked when it was all the rage in Young Adult fiction. However, I could (sort of) understand why it was being done for that subgenre.

Now, though, it is plaguing historical romance, and I’m not happy! Considering Regency (nor Georgian, nor Victorian) gowns looked nothing like these, not only is the trend irritating me, but it is presenting the books as another genre.

Writers as good as Lisa Kleypas, Shana Galen, etc. deserve better!

Hopefully it’s a trend that will soon pass, but I doubt it.


 Devil in Spring (2017) (The third book in the Ravenels series) A novel by Lisa Kleypas

The Week

I will be in Sydney when this post goes up, but plan to add to it when I get back!


UPDATE: So, back in Canberra and the heatwave that won’t seem to go away! Weirdest thing that happened in Sydney: I dislocated my right knee for (I think – as far as I can count) the eleventh time. It is a very common ballet injury, where is why it started happening to me. It’s not as bad an injury as it was the first few times, but still annoying and stupid.

The Razzies

Jamie Dornan Dakota Johnson Fifty Shades of Grey Movie

Catholic school tells gay author Will Kostakis his speaking visit no longer ‘appropriate’

Young Adult Author Will Kostakis

10 Romance Covers Reenacted by Real People

gallery_nrm_1416581996-nrm_1416522476-gentle-rogue Johanna Lindsey Funny Romance Cover

My review of Taking Fire (One-Eyed Jacks #4) by Cindy Gerard

Taking Fire (One-Eyed Jacks #4) by Cindy Gerard

My review of I Kissed a Rogue (Covent Garden Cubs #3) by Shana Galen

I Kissed a Rogue  (Covent Garden Cubs #3) by Shana Galen

My review of Wedding Night With the Earl (The Heirs’ Club of Scoundrels Trilogy #3) by Amelia Grey

Wedding Night With the Earl (The Heirs' Club of Scoundrels Trilogy #3) by Amelia Grey

I Kissed a Rogue (Covent Garden Cubs #3) by Shana Galen

I Kissed a Rogue  (Covent Garden Cubs #3) by Shana Galen

Once she spurned the man…
When the Duke of Lennox hires Sir Brook Derring, England’s best investigator, to find his daughter, Brook intends only to rescue the lady and return to his solitary life. He deals with London’s roughest criminals every day of the week; surely he should be able to endure seeing his first love again—the perfect girl who broke his heart…

Now her life depends on him
Lady Lillian-Anne Lennox has always done her best to live up to her father’s standards of perfection—at the cost of following her heart. When she’s kidnapped and her perfect life is shattered, Lila has another chance. Together, Lila and Brook navigate not only the dark and deadly side of London, but the chasm of pride and prejudice that divides them.

I Kissed a Rogue (Covent Garden Cubs #3) by Shana Galen

I like Shana Galen’s writing, and enjoy her more original stories, even when they stretch the boundaries of believability. She has that writing style that means her books are really easy and enjoyable to read. I Kissed a Rogue had its issues, which is why my Goodreads review is only three stars. The language is the one that almost made me see red (more of that at the end of the review), but overall, I’m glad I chose this one.

DESPITE the trashy pop culture titles. It dumbs the genre down when publishers go for silly titles like these.

I don’t know what it is about some authors, how they have a talent for writing highly readable books, while other authors can write virtually the same thing and it’s a chore to get through. Whatever it is, Galen has it.

I like that this book attempts to redeem a woman who would have been a villainess in any other situation. Too many Regency(ish) era books paint female characters as either saints or monsters, and here we have the princess of the ballroom, the nineteenth century popular girl who was selfish and unkind in the past (however, there is still one supremely evil female character).

Lila has grown up and changed, and while she is still imperfect (and historically accurately incapable of functioning without servants) she is trying, and trying.

It’s so nice to see an author recognise women can change in the years from their teens to their twenties. And bonus points for writing a heroine who truly enjoys embroidery. I’m sick of those faux historical romance heroines who hate anything traditionally feminine!

And yay for a fairer-haired hero!

The story does get a little stuck towards the end. There’s a great deal of sex for a great number of pages, all of it very much focused on the heroine’s pleasure, which was difficult for me to believe, especially considering that our hero doesn’t like her all that much at that point. I guess I prefer a fantasy that hovers around believability, not all-out fantasy! I skimmed those pages after a bit.

While I applaud the author for using arse, and for now using garbage where she used to use the Americanism trash, the language and editing in this one are often atrocious. Where an author errs, I’d expect an editor to fix. Some of the language used in the book is not just incorrect for England (though there are Americanisms aplenty); it’s incorrect in every country.

Multiple times throughout the book characters use variations of the incorrect expression ‘could care less’.  I know in some places this mistake is commonly used, but it is as wrong in the author’s 21st century Texas as it is in 19th century England. The correct expression is COULDN’T care less.

Other expressions were so modern-day Texas I was pulled out of the story. Do it, already, for example. And story of my life.

And then we have the common crime of changing the spelling of place names. Covent Garden Theatre and the King’s Theatre are real places, and no author or editor can turn a Theatre into a Theater just because the spelling is more familiar to them! It’s a name!

There were lots of other mix-ups, such as the inability to distinguish between everyday and every day.

Shana Galen needs a better editor!

It’s a pity this aspect was so irritating, because it pulled me out of what was otherwise a really entertaining and engaging book.

On an unimportant note, ginger cats are rarely female (due to genetic things that are too boring to explain), so I was quite surprised when the one in this book produced a litter of kittens!

What I have read in this series, I have enjoyed. I like that the author takes us beyond ballrooms and into the “real” world of the era. If there was more care with the language, I’d say I love these books.


Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 31st August – 6th Sepetmber

Sunset Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Spring 3rd September 2015 Clouds Sky Nature

You know it’s spring in Canberra when the sky does this every evening…

The first sunset of spring. Mostly spring, and not much sunset! #Canberra #Australia #flowers #blossoms #garden #nature Sonya Heaney 1st September 2015

First day of spring!

Happy Father’s Day (to people who celebrate it today)!


Tuesday – the first day of spring – was the second anniversary of my father’s mother’s death.

Wool world record 40kg fleece shorn off overgrown sheep in Canberra6743386-3x2-700x467 Wool world record 40kg fleece shorn off overgrown sheep in CanberraGiant-woolly-Sheep-AFP-2

This week, here in Canberra, a stray sheep was found. Its wool broke the world record. Also, notice the paddock full of kangaroos. We have a plague of them here. Every time you get in the car and drive somewhere you’ll see a gazillion dead kangaroos on the side of the road, and more preparing to jump. Our last car was destroyed by one!

Canberra gymnastics coach Zou Li Min killed in fishing accident

A former champion gymnast from China, who was a coach here in Canberra in recent years, has died. My family was heavily involved in gymnastics (I competed in state championships and later worked as a coach, but my brother was actually training for the Olympics here at the Australian Institute of Sport), so this is yet another loss that hits close to home for me this year… Nowhere near as close as the other deaths, but still enough for me to wonder what is going on at the moment! If people could stop dying for a few months…

New Police Kharkiv 4th September 2015 with US ambassador322

Ukraine launched yet another Western-style police force in yet another city. The US flag is there because the fantastic, amazing, intelligent, great (I am seriously a fangirl over him!) US ambassador was there.


Crimean Tatars keep getting grabbed off the street by the Russian authorities, tortured, and murdered. Ethnic cleansing was a hobby of Stalin’s in Crimea during Soviet times, and now it’s happening all over again.

1st September 20152

And, a bit more Putin propaganda going up in Crimea at the moment…

That whole misogyny thing…

Hell or High Water (Deep Six #1) by Julie Ann Walker

This Cover…

Bewitching Hour by Anne Stuart

My review of The Rogue You Know (Covent Garden Cubs #2) by Shana Galen

The Rogue You Know (Covent Garden Cubs #2) by Shana Galen

My review of Wolf Creek Widow by Penny Richards

Wolf Creek Widow by Penny Richards

My review of Wagon Train Proposal (Journey West #3) by Renee Ryan

Wagon Train Proposal (Journey West #3) by Renee Ryan

What IS this?

Sea Treasure by Johanna Hailey

The Rogue You Know (Covent Garden Cubs #2) by Shana Galen

The Rogue You Know (Covent Garden Cubs #2) by Shana Galen

She’s beyond his reach…
Gideon Harrow has spent his life in London’s dark underworld-and he wants out. A thief and a con, he plans one last heist to finally win his freedom. But when everything goes wrong, he finds himself at the tender mercies of one of Society’s most untouchable women-Lady Susanna Derring.

…and out of her depth.
Susanna has spent her life in London’s glittering ton, under the thumb of a domineering mother-and she wants out. When a wickedly charming rogue lands at her feet, she jumps at the chance to experience life before it’s too late. But as she descends into London’s underworld, she finds that nothing- not even Gideon-is as it seems. As excitement turns to danger, Susanna must decide what price she’s willing to pay…for the love of a reformed thief.

The Rogue You Know (Covent Garden Cubs #2) by Shana Galen

There’s something really easy about Shana Galen’s writing, which makes her books fast-paced and entertaining reads. I haven’t read that much from her, but what I’ve read I’ve enjoyed.

Covering a VERY short timeframe, this historical romance (I assume it’s supposed to be a Regency romance, but we’re given no dates) requires a massive suspension of disbelief, but the originality is what kept me turning the pages. We get to see London’s darker and poorer side, and it makes for a more interesting read than many a glittering ballroom book.

The action never really stops in The Rogue You Know. However, that also means the storyline takes place in a very condensed timeframe; the first three-quarters of the book happens over only twenty-four hours. In that time people fall in love, lives are changed massively, all sorts of things happen. After sleeping with the hero more than once hours after meeting him, I seriously doubt our heroine hadn’t thought about pregnancy, no matter what she said!

Well-researched – very well-researched, actually – this is an adventure book. It’s not one you should take too seriously, but unlike a lot of lighter-hearted historical romances, it never becomes silly. It’s a great balance of dark and light.

As ever, this is a book that could have done with a British or Antipodean editor, though I’m so glad this is one US author who uses the word arse! However, for example, as most of the book is set in London’s less pleasant places, the word trash popped up so many times it was a huge distraction.

I like Shana Galen’s writing. I like that she’s not afraid to write action and adventure into her historical romances, and I love that she writes about more than one social class. The Rogue You Know could be picked to pieces and have its improbabilities exposed, but it’s not that sort of book. This is a story you read for fun.

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 26th January – 1st February

Canberra Sunset Tuggeranong Australia 30th January 2015 Sonya Heaney 1

Canberra’s incredible sunset on Friday night.

A whole month gone! Definitely should have achieved more.

Our week started with Australia Day on the 26th of January. It’s my father’s birthday the day before, so we have stuff then and don’t really bother with Australia Day celebrations. Plus, I was sick, so I did nothing much!

Dorky Ernie Ragdoll Cat 3rd January 2015

Someone stole our poor Ernie the cat (he’s not actually our cat, but he spends a lot of time here!). He turned up on Saturday night, very distressed, after not making an appearance for three days. He was starving and his fur was all standing on end. Two of our other neighbours have had expensive cats stolen in the past couple of years (and he’s a ragdoll, so worth quite a bit)…

Ukraine Ethno Bangle,Ukrainian ethnic style bracelets set , wooden Jewellery Bracelets,Natural tones,tribal,red, white, black.

On Wednesday I received an order of traditional Ukrainian bangles from Mariupol in Ukraine. I’d only ordered them very recently, and considering that is the city the Russians are shelling and killing people by the dozens in, I can’t believe how fast they got here. (They’re selling Ukrainian things because it’s Ukraine, not Russia you stupid terrorists!)

I’m still waiting for nine postcards sent from Spain in September to arrive. There’s no war in Spain…

I had a whole cart full of things to buy from CafePress a week and a half ago, but I will never shop there again. They have no problems selling merchandise supporting terrorist organisations, and no matter how many complaints they receive, they still keep on selling it.

Please consider shopping elsewhere when you need to.

RIP Colleen McCullough

Colleen McCullough, author of The Thorn Birds, dies.

The “Mean Girls” Thing…

That Rogue Jack by Maya Rodale

My review of Oddfellows by Nicholas Shakespeare

Oddfellows by Nicholas Shakespeare

My review of Private Affair by Rebecca York

Private Affair (Rockfort Security #3) by Rebecca York

My review of The Rules According to Gracie by Stefanie London

The Rules According to Gracie by Stefanie London

My review of Temptation Has Green Eyes by Lynne Connolly

Temptation Has Green Eyes by Lynne Connolly

My review of Viscount of Vice by Shana Galen

Viscount of Vice (Covent Garden Cubs #0.5) by Shana Galen

Viscount of Vice by Shana Galen

Viscount of Vice (Covent Garden Cubs #0.5) by Shana Galen

Whispers and secrets are no match for love…

Henry Flynn, the new Lord Chesham, still blames himself for the disappearance of his younger brother when they were children. That incident destroyed his family, and now he’s on a path of self-destruction that no one can interrupt…

Lady Emma Talbot can’t stand watching the man she secretly loves destroy himself little by little. She’s determined to show him that no one holds him culpable, before it’s too late. But Emma doesn’t know what really happened to Flynn on that fateful day long ago, so what chance does she have of saving him from himself?

Viscount of Vice (Covent Garden Cubs #0.5) by Shana Galen

Shana Galen is one of those authors I see around everywhere, but whose books I have never tried. Viscount of Vice might have a pretty embarrassing title and cover, but I think it was a good introduction to Galen’s writing. It’s a novella, yes, but there was a pretty solid story here, and I always enjoy suspense and a look at the lives of the lower classes.

It wasn’t perfect. I couldn’t believe it when both hero and heroine are trapped, thinking they’re going to be killed soon, and they stop for a sex scene. And this only after having their first kiss hours earlier, and neither of them before having acknowledged their attraction until then!

Part of this is probably the fault of editors and publishers. Maybe it’s true for some readers that they’ll die unless there’s a sex scene every second chapter, but I wish they would stop pushing for them when they make no sense.

From blog posts and things, I’d been given the impression Galen wrote very flimsy, wallpapery romances, so I was pleased that there was much more depth to the story than I expected.  As with almost every novella I’ve ever read, I think this could have been an even better book if it had been full length.

Viscount of Vice is the introduction to a new series, and I think it did a good job getting people interested in future books.


Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Currently Free: A Grosvenor Square Christmas

A Grosvenor Square Christmas is free at the moment. It has contributions by Anna Campbell, Shana Galen, Vanessa Kelly and Kate Noble. Now that Australians are being forced to shop on Amazon Australia, I’m going to have to link to that one, but it’s also free in other countries!

A Grosvenor Square Christmas

Four breathtakingly romantic tales of a Regency Christmas from four bestselling romance authors.

Down through the years, enchantment touches a tall grey house in Grosvenor Square. The legend of Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball promises true love and happiness to one lucky couple. Who will feel the magic this winter?

1803 – The Seduction of a Duchess by Shana Galen

Rowena Harcourt, the Duchess of Valère, never forgot the handsome footman who helped her escape the French Revolution. For fourteen years, Gabriel Lamarque has loved Rowena—now at Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball, has fate finally delivered a chance to win her hand?

1818 – One Kiss for Christmas by Vanessa Kelly

Nigel Dash is London’s most reliable gentleman, a reputation he never minded until he fell in love with beautiful Amelia Easton. Unfortunately, Amelia sees Nigel as a dependable friend, not a dashing suitor. At Lady Winterson’s famous Christmas ball, Nigel vows to change Amelia’s mind—by sweeping her off her feet.

1825 – His Christmas Cinderella by Anna Campbell

At the season’s most glittering ball, a girl who has never dared to dream of forever after discovers a Christmas miracle.

1830 – The Last First Kiss by Kate Noble

Susannah Westforth has always loved Sebastian Beckett – but he’s only ever seen her as a friend. When Sebastian takes his Grand Tour, Susannah transforms herself into a woman he’ll notice. Now Sebastian is back, just in time for Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball – but the last thing he expects to see is his little Susie, all grown up…

You’re invited to join the whirling dance at Lady Winterson’s sparkling Christmas ball, where miracles happen and true love shines forever. How can you resist?