Those “Strong Heroines”

One quick internet search will turn up a gazillion articles about how people are getting so-called strong heroines wrong, both in books and in Hollywood. About how recently the idea has been that if you stick a gun in the hand of a doormat, then that’s it. Or dress your doormat like a lumberjack, and then she’s obviously not one of those silly girly girls.

I keep trying to read more romantic suspense, but I am having a bit of trouble finding what I want to read. And I’ve recently realised it’s because of this very issue.

Some people criticise romantic suspense for turning women into victims, and I do know that is sometimes – sometimes – the case. I guess as a result of this, recently I’ve been able to find almost exclusively suspense books with gun-toting women who reject makeup and dresses.

Suddenly – apparently – they’re empowered because of their deadly accessories and lack of fashion sense. They’re allegedly better than past women in romantic suspense.

I don’t think so!

There are a lot of books coming out now with heroines who are in the Special Forces – something that isn’t yet (but will soon be) a reality. But… have you SEEN a Special Forces soldier?

US Navy SEAL Training.


How am I supposed to relate to women like that?!

There are always exceptions to the rule. Kaylea Cross writes some of the best suspense out there, and her Bagram Special Ops series is not only brilliant, but features heroines who are in the military. This is a perfect example of how to do it right.

However, for every Kaylea Cross, there’re a million others who are sticking guns in their heroines’ hands and still making them weak. I’m reading about Special Forces heroines who still spend the whole book crying and getting gang raped and being cared for by all the men around them. They’re the characters having breakdowns at unfortunate, dangerous times.

There’s NO difference between these women and any other romance heroine – except they have a gun in their hand and dirt on their face while they’re doing things.

Series that have been running for a while, both in romantic suspense and paranormal romance, have run-of-the-mill heroines in the earlier books, and martial artist, warrior heroines in the later books. Everyone’s jumping on the superhero leading lady bandwagon.

Some people are doing a great job with it.

However, I’m missing heroines I can relate to. Which is why I’m reading less romantic suspense now than I ever have.