Thursday, October 28, 2010

Different Kind of Heroes and Heroines

by Suzanne

I'm a romance novel addict. Everyone knows it. I don't see a need to change or am in any need of an intervention. Nope, like myself just like this. But there is one thing I do get tired of. Perfection. Physical perfection. In either the hero or the heroine.

Hero: Tall, dark, brooding, sexy. Maybe a bad boy with abs to die for. Maybe he has a sculpted face, with a scar down one side.Or maybe a cool, aloof once jilted blond rake, cynicism masks the pride he has in his own beauty, a male beauty that attracts young women and their scheming mamas.

Heroine: Tall, lithe, long flowing blonde locks. Or perhaps she has a black bob and a compact, petite body, seeming in need of protection, but capable of taking out a platoon of bad guys. Or maybe a sassy redhead sculpted to seduce every man who comes near.

Sigh.

Yes, it's fiction. But just like too many packages of Whoppers stolen from the kids' Halloween buckets, (Oh, wait that's me), anyways, too much of a good thing, well, it can either give you a toothache or a bellyache!

Occasionally there's a hero or heroine who is less than physically perfect. A love story that touches your heart. The hero is bald. The heroine a super tall, gangly mess with no social skills and an ability to blend into the woodwork in a room alone. Perhaps the heroine or hero is fat. OMG. Did I just say that about a romance character? Could it be possible? Could one or both be on the large size and still be worthy of love? Really?

Actually, one of my favorite books, WISHES by Jude Devereaux, features just this sort of heroine. Nelly Grayson, a plump, kind and hardworking heroine takes backseat to her thinner, beautiful sister, until a new man comes to town. Jace Montgomery is able to see past Nellie and her sister's outer trappings to the soul inside, and falls in love with Nellie. I LOVED this book, especially when Nellie realizes that even when she starts mysteriously losing weight that Jace loved her just the way she was. Sigh.

So why this wanting the less than perfect hero or heroine? Mike & Molly. Yep, the new CBS comedy. If y'all haven't seen it, I have to tell you, when he kisses her the first time, it makes you go, Yeah!!! with a fist pump.

Uhm, did I tell you how they met?

Over eaters anonymous.

This show is funny and touching by turns. It makes me laugh and gives me the "ahhhh" moments, too!

Recently someone did a blog titled, "fatties get a room". Didn't read it, didn't plan to. Why can't the hero and heroine on TV or in a book, or hell, just walking down the street, hold hands and have a very tender kiss? Yeah....that's what I'd like to see. Some regular peoples finding love!!!

Another actress I love to see doing romantic movies, is Queen Latifah. She's beautiful and not a size 0. She's talented both in singing, (Have you heard her Dana Owens album?) and in acting. I recently watched  Just Wright. She was magnificent in it! I also loved her in Last Holiday. Both movies gave her the hero in the end, but I think mostly she sparkled as the heroine finding herself and discovering she was worth a good man's love, even if he wasn't smart enough to figure it out at first.

So, have you seen Mike & Molly? Have you seen a movie or TV show where the heroine or hero is not body perfect and still gets the guy or girl in the end? How about another great book with a plus size heroine for me to read?

55 comments:

flchen1 said...

An older but good one is Jennifer Crusie's Bet Me :) And I think more of the stories these days feature heroines and heroes who aren't necessarily the pinnacle of physical perfection--that's a relief to those of us who aren't exactly that either ;)

flchen1 said...

Here's a list of some suggestions--I haven't read them all, but quite a few on the Contemporary list I have read and enjoyed!

http://www.likesbooks.com/curvy.html

Someone also suggested The Corset Diaries; Dare to Surrender (Lilli Feisty); Take Me (Bella Andre)...

And not romance, but I also love the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series--the heroine is definitely of generous proportions :)

flchen1 said...

And I love to see the occasional plain-Jane heroine who isn't transformed into a raving beauty. I'd also appreciate some less-than generously endowed heroines and some height-challenged ones :)

Minna said...

It's always nice to know what we'll eventually see in the TV here.
I know I've read at least one Desire book with a plus size heroine, but I can't for the life of me remember the title.

SUSAN BOYLE ☆ I DREAMED A DREAM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PPlkOyaqaQ

Sheree said...

Hey, Precious Ramotswe is "traditionally built". I do love the series though. Isabel Dalhousie in Alexander McCall Smith's other cozy mystery series is over 40 and not that skinny either although not on the level of Mma Ramotswe.

The heroine Chastity O'Neill in Kristan Higgins' "Just One of the Guys" isn't overweight but very tall, 5'11", and not curvy at all.

ironss[at]gmail.com

Helen said...

Well done Fedora he must be liking it at your pace have fun with him

Suz
Great post and I agree I love it when a heroine is a bit bigger than perfect LOL one book that comes to mind is Michelle Anne Young's The Lady Flees her Lord this is about a Lady who is abused by her husband because of her weight I really loved this story.

I can see that the TBR pile is going to grow with the recomendations coming today LOL

Have Fun
Helen

SiNn said...

I LOVEEEE bvooks and movies wherethe hero or heoine arent a perfect size being a lil waist heavey seeing allthese tiny girls get the hotties is like come onnn already not everyone is perfect but then the world today tahts what alot wanna see and i dont have tv or id so be watching that new tv show sounds awesome i love when ordinary people hold hands and kiss

Monique is another good one she got the man in the end too and she deff isnt a size 0 I love Queen Latifa shes beautiful

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

The first book that comes to mind is the Wallflower Series by Lisa Kleypas, none of those heroines are perfect which is why they are wallflowers. The one who gets the ultimate bad boy hero is chubby and she stutters. Devil in Winter seems to be a lot of people's fav.

I am reading an anthology right now, Snowy Night with a Stranger and the heroine in "Sparks Fly", Sabrina Jeffries contribution, is chubby, plain, and wears glasses. oh yeah, I can get into this big time.

I am not much of a tv watcher and what movies I was are along the lines of Star Wars, Harry Potter, and LOTR..LOL

Gannon Carr said...

Suzanne, I LOVE Wishes! It's on my keeper shelf, and I've read it many times. Hmmmm, I may have to do another re-read soon. :-)

Christie Kelley said...

Great post, Suz. Especially if you've heard about that blog a writer posted from Marie Claire. It was titled, "Should Fatties Get a Room." It was awful. She tried to apologize by saying how she's fought anorexia for years. It's no excuse.

I love books with different heroes or heroines. I haven't watched Mike and Molly yet because I couldn't take Two and a half men any more so I started watching The Event.

I'll check out Mike and Molly on the summer reruns.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Fedora! Looks like you have the GR today!

I love it when I find books with the less-than-perfect heroine or hero. But I do think there is still that, "this is fiction, so we can make the characters closer to perfection on the outside and leave the flaws on the inside" mentality. Myself included. Although the heroine in my newest WIP is six feet tall at the request of a co-worker who is that tall.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Ah, I'll have to get BET Me. I've heard lots of good things about that. Lori Wilde mentioned it in her workshop she did for DARA last Saturday.

Thanks for the other recommendations, too!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Fedora: And I love to see the occasional plain-Jane heroine who isn't transformed into a raving beauty. I'd also appreciate some less-than generously endowed heroines and some height-challenged ones :)

Oh me too!! I want to embrace all the characters of differing body types and body image problems.

My point being that they all deserve a romance!

There was a book, and I swear it was a historical western by LaVyrle Spencer in which the heroine had one foot shorter than the other and had to wear a specially made clunky shoe. LOVED that book!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Minna: It's always nice to know what we'll eventually see in the TV here.

I'm not sure I got it across in the blog, but in Mike & Molly, there are some very tender moments when he looks at her and you know...absoloutely KNOW she is beautiful to him and he's in love with her.

I hope you enjoy it. I've found it very funny and very romantic.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Sheree:Hey, Precious Ramotswe is "traditionally built". OMG, I love that term!

I'll have to check out Kristen Higgins "Just One Of The Guys". Thanks for the suggestion!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Helen!
Great post and I agree I love it when a heroine is a bit bigger than perfect LOL one book that comes to mind is Michelle Anne Young's The Lady Flees her Lord this is about a Lady who is abused by her husband because of her weight I really loved this story.

Okay, will add this to my list. I hope the husband gets what's coming to him in the end!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Sinn!

Queen Latifah stole my heart when she played the jailer in CHICAGO, I mean what a voice! Then I got the Dana Owens album, her non-rap jazz CD. And then I saw her with Steve Martin in Bringin Down The House. TOO funny!!

Haven't missed a movie with her in it yet.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Diana!

YES! Devil In Winter is definitely a great book and the chubby, stuttering heroine sooooooooo gets the hero in the end! LOVED it!!

I'll have to get Snowy Night With A Stranger on my next trip to the bookstore. Oh wait, that's tomorrow!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Gannon! Wishes is on my keeper shelf too!

I loved it at the end when Nellie meets Jace's mom and she is an opera singer...of the classic opera singer body type! That explains how he sees her as normal and loveable! Too cool!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Christie!

I think Mike & Molly is a great show. There really is a spark of romance and desire between the characters, and their self images do play a part in their relationship...and the angst they both feel. The humor they find in their situations is great, too!

MsHellion said...

Pleasure for Pleasure features a "plump" heroine. My favorite book ever. :)

I also love some of the books listed below: Bet Me, The Corset Diaries, etc.

I think Katie McAllister also wrote one where the hero and heroine were both kinda plump. They were part of a video game--so their avatars were sexy--but in real life, they were a little more ordinary, and she loved him more when she realized he wasn't physically perfect. It was called Blow Me Down.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Suz, I haven't seen Mike and Molly yet, though I love Melissa McCarthy from her days on Gilmore Girls.

I also am a big fan of Queen Latifah. Just Wright is very close to the top of my Netflix queue, right after I finish watching Rome.

Someone whose books come to mind are Pamela Morsi's historicals, in particular Courting Miss Hattie (heroine is spinster sometimes called "horseface Hattie") and Simple Jess (hero is "slow" due to his oxygen being cut off by the umbilical cord during birth). Both wonderful stories. All of her historicals are on my keeper shelf.

TerriOsburn said...

I love Mike & Molly! And I'm with you wanting less than perfect characters. Though I'll admit that my characters are usually exactly what I'm complaining about. Need to work on that.

Though I think if we're describing the herione through the hero's eyes, then she's going to be gorgeous, no matter what others might think of her.

Haven't read all the comments so I may be repeating but definitely read BET ME by Crusie. Weight is a real issue for the heroine in that one. And there's an older book by Lyndsey Sands called THE PERFECT WIFE with a heavier heroine. It's sweet and funny and that poor girl puts the hero through a lot.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Ms. Hellion!

I think Katie McAllister also wrote one where the hero and heroine were both kinda plump. They were part of a video game--so their avatars were sexy--but in real life, they were a little more ordinary, and she loved him more when she realized he wasn't physically perfect. It was called Blow Me Down.

Cool! I'll add this to my list. Do you know who the author for Pleasure For Pleasure was? I'd like to get it too.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Trish!
I didn't know Melissa McCarthy was on The Gilmore girls. I have GOT to watch that on hulu!

Pamela Morsi's historicals, in particular Courting Miss Hattie (heroine is spinster sometimes called "horseface Hattie") and Simple Jess (hero is "slow" due to his oxygen being cut off by the umbilical cord during birth)

Okay, I definitely need to read this one, too!

Y'all, my TBR is growing by leaps and bounds. Isn't it amazing how many books there are, and how many of us enjoy them?

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Terri!

I love Mike & Molly! And I'm with you wanting less than perfect characters. Though I'll admit that my characters are usually exactly what I'm complaining about. Need to work on that. YES! another Mike & Molly fan!!

Like I said, my newest heroine is six feet tall. A challenge for me to write @ 5'4". I stood on a chair to get some perspective. Hubby was clueless, but son and his buddy knew immediately what I was doing! :)

In my first book, REFUGE, you know, the one I posted on line @ www.rockymountainromance.com, my heroine was plump, something my hero learned to love!

TerriOsburn said...

Pleasure For Pleasure was the last book in Eloisa James Essex Sisters series. Mayne is the hero. Best. Hero. Ever. :) Though you'd kind of have to read the three books before in the series, and maybe the last one or two of the previous series to meet him from the beginning.

TerriOsburn said...

I just read your prologue and now I want to read the rest. Too bad I can't get that on my eReader. I'll definitely be back to catch up and read the rest. We definitely need to bring the historical westerns back. I grew up on those.

Janga said...

In addition to Pleasure for Pleasure, which is in my top 10all-time best list, Eloisa James wrote Enchanting Pleasures with a heroine seen by her then-fiancee as "gawky and over-fleshy." One of my favorite funnies, Mary Balogh's The Famous Heroine, has a curvy heroine. And although it's not romance, Jennifer Weiner's Good in Bed is marvelous.


To Trish's recommendation of Pam Morsi's older American historicals, I'll add Morsi's 2009 Red's Hot Honky-Tonk Bar, which features an older heroine, a sexy grandmother, and a younger hero. Wonderful book!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Terri:Pleasure For Pleasure was the last book in Eloisa James Essex Sisters series. Mayne is the hero. Best. Hero. Ever. :) Though you'd kind of have to read the three books before in the series, and maybe the last one or two of the previous series to meet him from the beginning.

Ooo. Now I'll have to order back list,too! Thank goodness I've worked overtime lately!!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Terri,

Glad you liked the Prologue. REFUGE is a story near and dear to my heart, and Laura is a reubenesque heroine, while her friend Claudia, the heroine in the second book, RESCUE is more the too-thin, plain spinster type. Who both become lovelier with the men they love and who love them!

And I wish you could get them on your e-reader, too!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Janga!

Adding Enchanting Pleasures, The Famous Heroine and Good in Bed to my now over-budgeted too-buy list tomorrow!

Anna Sugden said...

Yes, Suz - big fan on the non-gorgeous, non-stick insect heroine!

Most of my faves have already been mentioned. I'm another big fan of Pleasure for Pleasure - indeed that whole series. Mayne is up there with Villiers for awesome hero.

I also love Kristan Higgins books. And Jess Andersen's heroines are often not perfect body specimens either.

There's an old Temptation about a heroine trying to lose weight which I love - Together Again by Ruth Jean Dale.

And let's not forget Bridget Jones *g*.

Susan Sey said...

I'm going to chime in with the Jenny Crusie chorus. She not only writes overweight heroines, she writes older woman/younger man scenarios, which I love.

I love Mary Balogh for writing quiet love stories where both the hero & heroine come to a concrete, stark understanding of the fact that love takes sacrifice, & while it means living with the one you love, it also means giving up some stuff, most notably independence, selfishness, and self-indulgence.

It's no bed of roses, being married. Or being in love. Or choosing to live with somebody else. But that's love for you. Anything worth having is worth sacrificing for. That whole "love should be free" nonsense gets nothing from me but an eye roll.

Okay, I think I veered off topic. But long story not-so-short, I love love stories that call it like it is. Fat people, short people, annoying people, wounded people, we all deserve love & our stories are worthy.

I haven't seen Mike & Molly yet, but I'm totally checking it out.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

GREAT post, Suz!

Haven't watched Mike&Molly but the adverts look very cute. I LOVED "Last Holiday" with Queen Latifah, but then I love just about everything she's in.

Add another vote for Michele Ann Young's "The Lady Flees Her Lord" and her first Regency, "No Regrets."

Congrats on the GR, Fedora! Hope you can keep him out of trouble today. With Halloween rapidly approaching, I'm afraid he's more frisky than usual. :-P

AC

Pat Cochran said...

Heard a bit of discussion about
Mike & Molly and one blogger's comments this AM on the Today
Show. Shame on that person for
those hurtful words! This comes from the mouth of a now less
overweight person. (50 lbs less
than 5 years ago.)

As to the heroines I've read, I
guess the thing I can't believe
is the 17/18 y/o who can run a household, save a village, and
dance all night within the first
half of the book. LOL. Am I the
only one who wonders if this is
realistic? At 17 I was a senior
in high school who could help w/
housework but not manage the
household!

Pat Cochran

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Fedora, he's back with his old squeeze, I see!

Suz, really enjoyed the post. I must say part of me loves to fantasize about the gorgeous guy and the gorgeous girl. But then another part loves the more realistic ones. I think, like you, I'm an addict - if the story is good and the characters compelling, I don't really care that much either way! I ADORE Queen Latifah. I think she's so beautiful and as you say, she's definitely not in the Barbie doll mode! I loved the Last Holiday! What a lovely film! Got Just Wright booked at my DVD hire place - it's not out here yet. Can't wait!

Donna MacMeans said...

Hey Suz!

I like a heroine the hero isn't afraid to squeeze. I remember reading a historical where the heroine's full curves caused her self-esteem issues. The cover, however, showed the heroine as one of those size 0 models. Talk about not fitting the book! While I realize the author has no control over the cover, it made me wonder if the publishers EVER put a less than perfect model on the cover. Anyone ever seen one?

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Anna S!

I love the "non-stick insect" description!

There's an old Temptation about a heroine trying to lose weight which I love - Together Again by Ruth Jean Dale.

Another one to add to my list! Thanks!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Susan!

Okay, I think I veered off topic. But long story not-so-short, I love love stories that call it like it is. Fat people, short people, annoying people, wounded people, we all deserve love & our stories are worthy.

THIS is what I was saying in a very long, and space-eating blog!

And I hope you enjoy Mike & Molly. It really is funny, but it's also romantic, especially when you see how he looks at her!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey AC!


Add another vote for Michele Ann Young's "The Lady Flees Her Lord" and her first Regency, "No Regrets."


Okay, I guess this one will go to the top of my list and I'll add No Regrets there, too!

Thanks!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Pat!

As to the heroines I've read, I
guess the thing I can't believe
is the 17/18 y/o who can run a household, save a village, and
dance all night within the first
half of the book. LOL. Am I the
only one who wonders if this is
realistic? At 17 I was a senior
in high school who could help w/
housework but not manage the
household!


If it were a medieval book, they probably could manage the household because they were trained to do so and they lived their lives earlier than us. Me, however? I would've been a mess at it! LOL

And I agree with you, shame on that person on the TODAY show.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Anna C!

I think, like you, I'm an addict - if the story is good and the characters compelling, I don't really care that much either way!

You have a great point. It is all about the compelling characters. Make me care about your heroine; admire and desire your hero and you've got me for the entire book!!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Donna!

I like a heroine the hero isn't afraid to squeeze. I remember reading a historical where the heroine's full curves caused her self-esteem issues. The cover, however, showed the heroine as one of those size 0 models. Talk about not fitting the book! While I realize the author has no control over the cover, it made me wonder if the publishers EVER put a less than perfect model on the cover. Anyone ever seen one?

You have a point and can't remember any book with a plus sized heroine on it. And I doubt we'd ever see a bigger than normal hero, or even a short hero for that matter!

jo robertson said...

What a unique post, Suz! Sorry I'm late commenting. Whoa, Fedora, congrats on capturing the rooster!

Ah, plus size heroines and bald heroes. I have to admit that I'm more inclined to like a physically flawed hero than heroine. After all, I married Dr. Big! Large men don't often have perfect facial features -- all that spread over a large face, you know.

But I do like those Hanes (I think) adverts which show plus-size women in underwear. I'm a plus size now and would LOVE to look like that in my undies!

PJ said...

Great post, Suz!

I love Wishes! It's one of my keepers, along with Jace's mother's story, Mountain Laurel.

Have you tried Cathie Linz's Big Girls Don't Cry? It has a plus size heroine and a sexy hero who loves her exactly as she is.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Evening, Jo!


Ah, plus size heroines and bald heroes. I have to admit that I'm more inclined to like a physically flawed hero than heroine. After all, I married Dr. Big!


I personally adore big men, the taller and the stronger, the better! And I agree, they aren't always model handsome, but something about their size really makes up for it in my opinion!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey PJ!

Yep, something about Wishew and Mountain Laurel just touched my heart. They're both on my keeper shelves, too!

Have you tried Cathie Linz's Big Girls Don't Cry? It has a plus size heroine and a sexy hero who loves her exactly as she is.

Got it added to my list!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

You know when I was writing the blog late last night, I forgot one of my all time favorites...

Bridie and Vane in Night Play by Sherrilyn Kenyon! I so adored that hero!! Yummo!! And how he loved his curvy Bridie!!

Louisa Cornell said...

AGAIN, Fedora?? You definitely go for the short, plump feathered heroes!


Great post Suzanne!

I agree that Evie in The Devil in Winter is NOT your normal perfect heroine, but she SO gets one of the handsomest, sexiest baddest bad boy of the bunch!

Mary Balogh's Simply Love came to mind at once. The hero is veteran of the Napoleonic Wars. His face is horribly scarred on one side, his has lost and arm and he has a terrible limp. She is an older governess who has born a child out of wedlock as the result of a rape by a former employer.

And theirs is one of the most romantic, passionate and sweet love stories I have ever read. It is one of my comfort reads.

Another of Mary Balogh's is A Perfect Jewel. The hero is not gorgeous or overly rich. He is considered a bit slow and dull, just one of those good guys that all of the handsome lords have as their best friend because he IS such a good guy. They meet at a brothel where he is our heroine's customer. Their love story is another sweet, simply love story of two ordinary people. Great book!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Louisa!
Another of Mary Balogh's is A Perfect Jewel. The hero is not gorgeous or overly rich. He is considered a bit slow and dull, just one of those good guys that all of the handsome lords have as their best friend because he IS such a good guy. They meet at a brothel where he is our heroine's customer. Their love story is another sweet, simply love story of two ordinary people. Great book!

I'll have to add one more book to the list! Thanks!!

flchen1 said...

Oh, one of my favorite plain-heroine stories is still Debbie Macomber's Morning Comes Softly--the heroine starts out described as plain, and she remains that way; I love that the hero comes to see her as beautiful because of how he feels about her and how he appreciates the person she is. She doesn't change, but his perception of her does. I like to believe that love does this for us, no matter what we look like on the outside :)

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Oh, Fedora...

I love that idea. Love should make our perceptions of those we love change. Love shouldn't make us change to fit the other person's perception.

It's been a while since I read Morning Comes Softly. I'll have to pull it out again! Thanks.

Ashley said...

Hi -

I would suggest searching Tagged books on Amazon. Search tags like "Curvy Heroine" "Plus Size Romance" "Full Figure Heroine"

Hope that helps!

Angela Verdenius said...

Lori Foster's Too Much Tempatation and Sherrilyn Kenyon's Night Play are both good reads with plus-sized heroines.

I've just released Doctor's Delight, bk 1 in the Big Girls Lovin' trilogy, each book featuring a plus-sized heroine. It's great to know that there are readers and writers out there not afraid of the plus-sized heroine!