So Silhouette/HQ has cut its Bombshell line.
There’s been some very interesting discussion about this over at Smart Bitches, basically relating to whether the demise of Bombshell—a line devoted to that favourite character archetype of mine, the kick ass heroine—means the readers are not interested in those heroines.
My answer? A resounding YES!
Who wants to read books with heroines who can solve every problem, defeat the bad guys one-handed, end world hunger and throw her Hero down on the bed for some female-superior lovin’ all without breaking a nail? Fie!
I know what you’re saying. Oh come on, December. Kick ass heroines aren’t like that! They’re just tough and capable and strong.
No…they’re not. Or, I should say, sure if done well, they are, but they’re rarely done well. Look at Anita Blake. The first couple of books were good. Anita was tough but with vulnerabilities. Now…Anita’s TEH MOST POWERFUL and runs around breaking balls for fun. She’s the alphiest Alpha who ever lived. Think maybe that’s why fan reaction has gone from hot to warm to lukewarm to outraged?
I admit it. In my (pretty rich) fantasy life, I’m Buffy. Aren’t we all? But Buffy, for all her kick-assiness, wasn’t so tough. She got all weepy over Angel. She let that Parker character use her at college, then got involved with poor Riley and was afraid to admit her feelings (although, she was more like the “kick-ass” heroine in that relationship than in any other, with the result that we all thought she was being a big old bitch.) She lost her Mommy. She alienated some friends. She got involved in a dangerous relationship with Spike (who could blame her for that one, though. C’mon, who wouldn’t have given Spike a tumble? Or two, or fifty?) In other words, Buffy had some major vulnerabilities. She needed the Scoobies to help her and support her.
Notice those vulnerabilities were introduced right away in the show. They needed to be. We wouldn’t have watched otherwise. And let’s be honest, didn’t most of us have a favourite Buffy character who wasn’t Buffy? Buffy was the show, but Buffy wasn’t half as interesting without the others.
The problem is, most of us don’t relate to the “kick-ass” heroine. Sure, we like strong heroines. We don’t want them TSTL or wimpy or whatever. But there’s a difference between being strong and smart and running around beating people up, or commanding empires. As we learned in my earlier post on this topic, that’s SFF territory. Not romance.
We romance readers want our heroes to be kick ass. We want our heroines to be a match for them mentally and emotionally.
Beth had an excellent post on this topic. I can only echo her point. With some of these heroines, we wonder why the hero is even there. She doesn’t need him. He doesn’t do anything. And I’m sorry, but a man whose woman is so much tougher and stronger than he is…just doesn’t interest me. I don’t fall in love with him, I don’t even really care about him at all. Do you guys care about any of those long-haired sycophants who follow Anita Blake around, or do you wish (as I do) that they would all fall into the chasm that used to be Sunnydale so we can get some interesting characters into those books? Even Jean-Claude, once the only reason to keep reading the books despite his terrible dress sense, is slowly turning into an idiot whose only purpose is to prove how great Anita is.
Who wants to read that? Do you identify with that? Do you read those books and think, “Wow, if I met (JulianTempleGreysonDaemonwhomever), he’d fall in love with me, too, because I have all the qualities Heroine X has”? No, of course you don’t, because obviously JulianTempleGreysonDaemon is only interested in women who can beat up bad guys and save the universe. So what’s the point?
We should be able to see ourselves in our heroines. Sure, she should be her own person, but she should also be Everywoman.
Everywoman is not generally capable of taking out a room full of bad guys in one go.
I don’t mean that every tough heroine in books is bad, or even in romance. But the Hero has to be stronger, which means we need to reign it in. Or women won’t read it. Why read a book that makes you feel inferior?
Next time, I’ll talk about the subspecies of annoying Kick-Ass heroines—the Horrible Historical KAH.