What I love about Stephanie Doyle's books is that they are risky and push boundaries, and this reflects on her heroines. These women are self-reliant, brave and refuse having their bosses’ secret babies, even when the opportunity presents itself.
The Heroines's Point of View by Stephanie Doyle
When I started thinking about heroines and who my favorites were I started with where it all began. One of the obvious things that stands out with these two books is that the story is told from the point of view (POV) of the heroine.
Now someone more knowledgeable about the history of romance novels than I am probably knows the book or author where this started to change and we were introduced to the hero’s thoughts and feelings. But I’m wondering, as his world began to open up, did we become too enthralled with it?
Did we stop caring about what she thought and felt, because we wanted to get to his feelings and thoughts. Where we learned that even though he was being perfectly awful to the heroine through his actions, it was only because he LOVED her so much. And once the heroine knew what we, the reader did, boy she was going to realize how wrong she was to push him away.
If we read Pride and Prejudice with Darcy’s point of view, would we have found Elizabeth to be a bitch? Here is this poor, shy guy, who is attracted to her against his will. He knows she’s beneath him in status, but he can’t help himself. When he finally professes his love, she dumps all over him. Then the reader gets to learn as Elizabeth does that he’s not really all bad. But if we knew that in advance, would we have turned our back on HER as she cuts him to the floor with her scathing rejection?
Let’s face it, for the most part we are women and we’re writing fantasy based romance stories for other women. So of course when we write the hero, he’s going to be our version of exactly what we want the hero to be. What we want him to think, how much and how deeply we want him to love.
We seem to love to torture him too. And often he will lash out at the heroine because of that tortured past. But because we know what he’s thinking, he can be redeemed. We know that eventually his deep and unwavering love for the heroine is going to save him.
J.R Ward’s Zsadist, my fall back for the most tortured hero of all time, and reading that book and seeing his actions only through Bella’s point of view. I mean WOW, you would have to overcome a lot of seriously bad acts on his part. As a reader would we tolerate those actions without knowing his history?
My point to all of this is that as the hero’s world became bigger he, not surprisingly, started to take charge. We wanted to know what he was thinking during sex, what he was thinking when he was being a jerk to her and why. It is kind of cool. How many men do you know who go around talking about their emotions and their feelings openly? I mean men not on the Bachelorette. Of course we want to play with him when we have the chance. Make him say and do the things we want to read.
Unfortunately, I do think this comes at the expense of the heroine. I don’t think we take the time to really get to know her, to care about her, and to want to root for her on her journey like we did in those books that only showcased her POV. And if she reacts to the hero based on his actions, and not his thoughts (which isn’t possible to do unless you are a mind reader) we start to judge her unfairly because we the reader already know what the hero’s motivation is.
I’m not saying we should go back either. I love writing and reading men. All I’m saying as writers we need to re-fall in love again with the heroine the way we once did and give her equal stage time in the romance.
What do you like as readers? Do you need both POVS in a story or can you live with only one? What about a hero only POV romance?
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