Team Smexy Books doesn’t need an introduction. After all, they make the community sofa king happenis! Tori, May and Mandi are clever, funny and don’t take themselves too seriously, so if they were to become Romance heroines, their book would be something like Welcome to Temptation (you know, the one about porn).
*****Tori: As a reader, I encountered hundreds of heroines over the years. Good heroines...bad heroines...and heroines who fully embrace the ugly and leave me with a permanent WTF? look on my face. Heroines appeal to me on many different levels. I enjoy heroines who are humorous. Heroines who are strong and can think for themselves. Heroines who can make horrific mistakes and not only own them but learn from them. Heroines who aren't afraid to take chances; be it in love or battle. I need a heroine who can COMMUNICATE. One who can stand tall and let her needs be known even if it isn't the popular decision. Lord save me from a whiny heroine. One who allows the crush of emotion to completely incapacitate them. She is allowed her emotional OMG moments, but I don't want an entire book about it. Get your freak out and move on. Make the best of a bad situation. Fight, scheme, lie, steal...do what needs to be done to survive. Also not a fan of revenge sex heroines. You know what I mean. Those who have sex with an enemy or a low level love interest in order to "get over" her main love interest. It never works and always makes the heroine look like a jerk. The "it's not fair" heroine will also get a permanent place on the PITA list. Life isn't fair...deal with it.
Kresley Cole's Lothaire. You can't help but admire this mortal woman who finds herself stalked, tortured, driven mad, and marked for death by one of the most ruthless vampires of Lore, Lothaire. Convinced his mate was killed, he made a pact to bring her back to life through the death of Ellie Peirce. The things this man does to Ellie would make a lesser woman take her own life. He humiliates her, manipulates her, scares her, tortures her, and bullies mer. He takes her life from her and holds her death over her head like a ticking time bomb. Yet Ellie preserves. She gives as good as she gets. She attempts to bind him to her; making herself so indispensable that he will think twice before taking her life. She is so funny, honest, and strong-she never allows herself to wallow in self pity for long. The fact that she is mortal makes it so much more gratifying. She has no special powers. She is the prey yet uses every God given skill to try and beat Lothaire at his own game.
When Lothaire finally realizes that he may have screwed up, she still gives him no quarter. She demands his loyalty and her equality. When Lothaire changes her over to vampire without so much as a by your leave, she strikes out in anger and fear. Anger that he didn't ask. Anger that he has never apologized for the pain and suffering he put her through. Fear of the unknown. So she leaves. She strikes out on her own, under a death edict due to all of Lothaire's enemies. She hooks up with Nix and the Valkyries, whom all HATE Lothaire, so THAT'S more fun times for Ellie. Not. Yet she handles them like a pro. Nobody can best her because she is unable to accept defeat. The best scene in the book that sealed my love for Ellie is when Lothaire is throwing a temper tantrum because she hasn't come crawling back and rips his heart out. He sends it to her with a note saying she will never get her claws back into him again. Her response? She chops off her middle finger and mails it to him. He sends her his heart and she sends him the bird.
Now that's a heroine, people.
May: “Cranky” Agnes Crandall has problems. She’s realized that her fiancé is a loser, she’s got people pointing guns at her, and she has a mortgage to pay somehow while catering and hosting the wedding of her best friend’s daughter. She could have done a lot of hand wringing, she could have run away screaming or let the big strong men take over, but instead she cooks like a champion. Oh, and if anyone messes with her or those she loves she’s going to smash them on the head with a cast iron pan or if pushed, stab them with whatever knife she’s working with at the moment.
What I love about Agnes is how well she stands on her own. She isn’t concerned about being fat (she is a size 12 and totally comfortable with that), she has confidence in her career, and she knows what she wants from life. She’s also not uncomfortable initiating some hot angry sex with the (hit)man of her dreams.
“My court-appointed psychiatrist says I should vent my anger in nonviolent physical exercise.” She smacked him in the chest again, and he winced and caught her wrists. “You know Agnes, that’s not the hottest thing any woman has ever said to me.” She yanked her wrists free and pounded her fists into his chest again, then let go of his shirt to strip off her dress and throw it on the floor. He stopped frowning. “Course, it’s not the worst thing any woman has ever said to me, either.” He ran his hands up her sides to cup her breasts. “Don’t take this personally,” she spat. “This is rage, not lust.”I love that she is strong, capable, and has such a temper and yet she doesn’t go into fits of hysterics or act like an idiot. I also really appreciate that she has a very strong feminine side, but she also has a cast iron spine and can hold her own with anyone. She is exactly the kind of woman I wish I could be friends with in real life, and she is inspiring in how fully she embraces who she is and doesn’t apologize for her strength. Not only is she written wonderfully on the page, but you can just tell that Agnes is going to have a long and exciting life.
Mandi: Normally when I’m asked to talk about favorite heroines, I always pick from urban fantasy. They are kick ass, tough and usually a bit sarcastic. A winning combination for me. But this time as I was scrolling through my favorite books on Goodreads, I realized there is a heroine in a non-uf book that had such an impact on me recently I must pick her.
The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. Set in World War II Russia, this is not only an epic love story but an epic journey for Tatiana. She goes from a very innocent, naïve girl to a young woman who sees far too much death and devastation in her young years. But she is a survivor. She never gives up through the slow and painful death of her entire family, to searching for her lost brother, and for falling in love with Alexander, an officer in the Red Army. In the beginning, Tatiana can’t comprehend what the war will bring. No matter how many people tell her to buy as much food as possible, and leave the city she is too young and sheltered to truly understand what horrors the city of Leningrad will face. Over time, these horrors start to seep in. Alexander has to leave to fight and can’t be there all the time to help her. Her family falls to pieces leaving Tatiana to help them all. She grows up overnight, and becomes one of the most selfless heroines I have ever read. Selfless in her devotion to her family and then selfless to the man she loves so dearly. Her strength comes from deep within and once she makes herself face the hard new reality of her life, she perseveres and lives for herself and for Alexander. It’s not only a beautiful love story (and completely heart wrenching!) but a beautiful transformation of one of the toughest, most selfless heroines I’ve read.