Maybe like me, you’ve noticed a trend in romance toward, if not exactly the proliferation of, imperfect, real life-sized heroines, enough of them that we take note. Many a romance fan has remarked online she’s amazed and extraordinarily pleased when she finds a heroine whose body “looks real,” like hers.
These readers seem to appreciate a heroine who is perhaps very curvy, is described as weighing more than is “fashionable,” and who either finds no reason to think there’s anything wrong with herself for not meeting a one-size-fits-the-ones-who-count standard of beauty, or is proving to herself—and sometimes others—her value is not related to her appearance.
That she proves this while falling in love with a hot guy is beside the point; this is romance, where we inspire each other through acceptance of our imperfections, and allow heroes enormous character flaws to make up for the fact that we want them gorgeous and ripped.
Like many, it took me no time at all to realize how positively romance reading can affect—and in many cases, effect—self esteem. And I adore seeing the inspirational role the genre plays daily and long-term among the lives of readers and writers I meet, and, of course, in my own.
Yet as interesting and refreshing as readers today find an “imperfect” heroine, we still like slipping into the more-common placeholder role of an exquisitely beautiful or pretty or outstandingly accomplished heroine, even when her beauty is her curse. For while we might dream of whether it’d be fun to look like her or live her life—and, you know, it’s really OK if you do—we enjoy her because good authors give her the personal, emotional, and relational imperfections and strengths that keep us reading her story, and rooting for her HEA.
Capri Timmons of AlTonya Washington’s sweet, sexy, and funny The Doctor's Private Visit is one of that kind of “perfect” heroine. Petite, pretty, curvy and, yeah, nice. Capri’s a photog with a fabulous career in a top Miami agency, has great friends, and sports the fresh-faced looks that keep guys offering her the same tired lines, all of which would tug her just one direction: to their beds.
Ready for a change, Capri takes up her good friend and boss’s offer to hook her up with a close friend who’s got a cottage to rent on the suburban estate he inherited from his beloved, late grandmother.
Tiberius Evans, MD, is beside himself when sweetly sexy Capri moves into the place next to his. Tibe is all work when he’s on the job as an intensely caring and talented obstetrics doc, but all play when it comes to beautiful women.
Yet the good Dr. doesn’t seem to be “in” with Capri, and can’t figure out how she’s turning him into her best friend without benefits. Poor Tibe; Capri’s got a secret she’s not sharing. And despite the fever that rises between them when she gives him a little taste of it, what ails Capri might be something that even Tibe’s not sure he can cure, even after Capri decides a house call from him would be the very best medicine.
Kimani novels are cool in that they tend to represent women in many shapes and sizes without drawing judgment regarding those bodies through storyline; the women simply “are.” And just like any romance, it’s lovely to see women appreciating—or learning to appreciate—themselves at the same time they’re letting love into their hearts and lives.
How do you feel when you read about heroines who seem to represent physically the way you see yourself? What sort of influence do you think the physical appearance of a heroine has on the reader in general—or you specifically? Is it unfair that we admire physical imperfection in heroines, yet generally require a level of physical attractiveness in heroes?