Skip to main content

Feisty vs Feminine?

Deb couldn't blog with us today, but I have a re-post of a great blog from 2013. Enjoy!


by Deb Werksman
Editorial Manager
Sourcebooks Casablanca

I've been doing a lot of exploring in my personal life about men and women, masculinity and femininity. A great topic for a romance editor, don't you think? I've been reading books and listening to tapes by Allison Armstrong in addition to applying all the transformation I get from the courses I take at Landmark Education.

As you may already know, one of my editorial criteria for the romances on my list is, "a heroine the reader can relate to." So I got to thinking about the balance between feistiness in a heroine and her femininity and to what degree a heroine needs to be independent in thought and action and to what degree her femininity (what Allison calls "a strong woman voluntarily vulnerable") empowers the hero to be the man he needs to be to fulfill one of my other criteria, which is "a hero the reader can fall in love with."

I think about, for example, M.L.Buchman's kick-ass military heroines and the ultra-alpha heroes who tame them, or the lovely self-possessed Regency heroines of Grace Burrowes and the gentlemen who initiate them into love and pleasure. I just finished editing Shana Galen's newest Regency spy romance, where the heroine breaks out of her traditional role to find a new expression of her own strength and power, and she becomes even stronger and more powerful as a wife and mother as her wayward husband falls even more in love with her. Also a new Rebecca York romantic suspense where the heroine rescuing the hero starts off the action, and in the end they've both rescued each other. I could go on and on because all of my authors are doing such a great job with this balance.

So, tell me, authors and readers, how do you see this?


  1. In my experience, readers want strong heroines who are also vulnerable. I think that's the key--strong yet vulnerable. :-)

  2. What Shana said!
    This is a buffet (not just food) for thought. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  3. I think the balance you mention at the end of the post is a useful lens through which to assess this issue. I enjoy crafting, and reading, heroes and heroines who BOTH exhibit strengths and weaknesses. How do those strengths and weaknesses complement each other? What can they learn from each other to make them both happier, more whole, for loving the other person?

  4. I'm with Tamara on this. The ones I enjoy most, both the reading and the writing, is where they both have strength and weakness. And I'm pulled in when they each bolster and help raise the other to more than they would be otherwise. For me, the most satisfying are where they each change and grow, because of the other and become more of who they truly are. I see strength and vulnerability on both sides, and I think that is the most real. We all are that way, our issues may vary and it is the match or mismatch of those issues that create the tension so fun to play with. But it is also those issues that make us human no matter our gender.


Post a Comment