*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews and posts that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.
Holly: I can’t even remember what book I was talking about in this post, but the sentiment remains. I hate the selfishness of historical heroines who refuse to consider the consequences of their actions.
This post was originally posted on April 16, 2010.
Here’s a little known secret about yours truly: When it comes to historical romance novels, I’m a complete prude. I can read the dirtiest of the dirty erotica, in public, and be fine. The sexual escapades and antics of modern-day heroines from contemporary romances don’t phase me a bit. But I have a higher standard for historical heroines.
I’m all about a woman acting outside of propriety, but not at the risk of complete ruin for either herself or the other characters involved. For example:
I’m current reading a historical romance novel set during the regency period. The heroine is in love with her brother’s best friend, and has been for years. She’s been out in society for 3 seasons now, but has refused all offers because she’s holding out for her one true love. The hero is resistant to marriage in general and marriage to the heroine in particular. Plus, her older brother, the hero’s best friend, has warned him off her. Which is all perfectly fine and well, but she’s decided this season that she needs to up the stakes and make him realize he really wants to be married. To her.
So she starts touching him at inappropriate times, cornering him as often as possible for kisses and even showing up in his bedchamber in the middle of the night wearing nothing but her night rail, then trying to seduce him.
I have several issues with this.
1) The heroine thinks to herself, many times, that she’s hurting her younger sisters by not accepting a marriage proposal from someone else. Neither of them are allowed to come out until she’s wed, so as not to take attention away from her. There is even an example given of a younger sister garnering more attention than the older one, so we as the reader can understand what a travesty this would be.
(As an aside, I found this fascinating. Generally in regency set historicals more than one sister is out at a time. I love that this author has taken a different approach here.)
Now, I understand the heroine wants to marry for love. I truly do. And I want her to. But her next youngest sister’s debut has already been delayed one season because of her actions. Since the hero has heretofore shown zero interest in her, I wonder at what point will she have to give it up and move on? Or will she continue to pine for him indefinitely, leaving her younger sisters to wither away as well?
2) If the heroine is compromised, she’ll be ruining her sisters’ chances as well. Any scandal that touches her touches her family, so there’s a double whammy where her sisters are concerned.
3) If there heroine is caught in a compromising position with the hero, he’ll be forced to marry her. Although it’s early in the book yet for me, I’m going to assume she doesn’t want to force him – she wants him to realize he loves her, too, and propose on his own.
Yet she doesn’t consider the consequences of her being in his bedchamber – in her house, by the way – in the middle of the night. She doesn’t think about her reputation or what the hero’s feelings will be if he’s forced into marrying her. Wouldn’t it upset all her plans to make him fall in love with her if he’s forced against his will?
Although I’m talking about a particular book above, this is something that bothers me 99% of the time in historical romances. Heroines who seduce – or are seduced by – the hero because they “love him” make me want to bash my head against the wall. I realize these novels are fiction, but what would happen to a young woman during the regency era if she were compromised? The total ruin of her reputation wouldn’t only reflect badly on her, but on her family as well. Younger siblings wouldn’t have a chance of gaining a decent marriage and the scandal could follow them for the rest of their lives. While it may sound romantic to be willing to risk all for love, the practicalities of the scenario make me want to scream.
Am I alone here?