Discussing Sabine from Kiss of a Demon King made me think of other questionable-ethics heroines.
The one that most immediately comes to mind? Hitwoman Nadia Stafford from Kelley Armstrong’s wonderful Exit Strategy. Book two, Made to be Broken, came out this month (discussed by Renee here). I'm so there: this is a series I am definitely into.
Exit Strategy: overlooked?
Kelley Armstrong wrote one of my all-time three favorite books, Bitten. She’s fantastic writer. While Exit Strategy was a definite deviation for her, had all the Armstrong hallmarks--tight plotting, great details and well-drawn characters, right down to their speech patterns.
I really loved Exit Strategy, but I know some people didn't, and the reasons for this vary. First, it’s slightly psychological (which I actually really love in a book) but because of this it could feel slow to some. Second, it doesn’t have a romance at its core (though there is the potential for one). And third, the heroine kills for money.
I was totally fine with this, in fact, I loved this heroine – Nadia has a code of honor about the (very few) jobs she takes, and here, she's trying to find a killer. I thought this hitwoman bit made Nadia really interesting--and the world was hugely interesting, full of all kinds of cool hitwoman details, but I know her profession bugged potential readers, and I think about that a lot.
It didn’t bug me in the very same way Dexter being a killer doesn’t bug me in the show Dexter. I think Dexter would be a scary person in real life, but I’m sure interested in stories about him. I'm interested in Nadia, too!
Do heroines have to meet a higher standard of morality?
I think a lot of readers of romance and related genres, (including me) often forgive things that would be awful in real life, from questionable varieties of seduction to vigilante justice.
Do heroines in romance and its subgenres have to be more moral than the heroes?
Is this a human thing? If the heroine is paranormal, can she get away with more?
Is it possible that this is a romance genre thing, and people who came to romance (like me) via urban fantasy, thrillers or literary fiction have a higher tolerance for amorality in a heroine?
Remember how LKH made Anita Blake go to church all the time and have all these moral qualms about things (at first). Not that I have a problem with characters going to church, but I remember feeling it was out of character for Anita Blake, like an overlay to make her behavior more palatable.
Do you ever feel like that with heroines, where they seem like they’re made to be more upstanding or feel more qualms about their badass ways than a hero might?
Do you think authors ever push up the moral goodness of heroines to conform to an unwritten genre rule?
If you’re an author, do you feel like you have to do that?
What, in your mind, is the genre rule?
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