I love a heroine who can take care of herself! There I said it. Now, I know that statement seems tantamount to sacrilege from a die-hard romance reader who is all about the Happily Ever After between the hero and the heroine; but I’m finally coming out of the closet and admitting that a heroine who can take care of herself is not only sexy but an imperative. In the PAST it used to be that romantic suspense books, TV shows, and movies were all about the alpha hero. Heroines usually took a back seat to the action, and very rarely saved the day. EVENTUALLY we started getting heroines who could hold their own and help the hero save the day. NOW, we have heroines who don’t necessarily need a hero at all; they can save the day all by themselves with little or no help. And it’s great to see some of the attributes real women have (that would be us, dear reader) reflected back to us in our books, movies, and television shows.
Take Detective Brenda Lee Johnson, a character on one of my favorite TV shows The Closer. Sure she’s a bit quirky, but she’s a heroine I can get behind because despite her ubiquitous southern charm, her one objective is to get the bad guys—even if that means being impolite. Then there’s WitSec Marshall, Mary Shannon from USA Network's In Plain Sight . She’s witty, clever and a whole lot cynical; and it’s her cynicism that always makes her dig just a bit deeper to find the truth. I also admire Grace Hanadarko from TNT’s Saving Grace; a tiny yet feisty Oklahoma police detective, who appears to fly by the seat of her pants but in reality is constantly processing and analyzing any and all clues that will lead her to solve her cases. In the show Burn Notice I’m constantly surprised and delighted by Fiona, the heroine who shoots first and asks questions later. Her ability to take care of herself is never in question and her fierce protective streak of the underdog knows no bounds. All of these fiercely independent heroines have one thing in common: They get the job done!
Independent heroines have also been populating our romance books and there are many to choose from. Some of my absolute favorites are Eve Dallas from J.D. Robb’s In Death series. Her ability to accurately analyze all the seemingly scattered and unrelated pieces of a murder is only equal to her ‘stick-to-itivness’ when it comes to finding justice for the murdered. Alyssa Locke from Suzanne Brockmann’s Hot Pursuit (Troubleshooters Series #15) is a heroine with such intense courage and loyalty that you want to be her. Annique Villiers from Joanna Burke's The Spymaster's Lady, makes sure nothing gets in her way, even her physical disability. And Cat Crawfield in Jeaniene Frost’s Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress Series #1) is a vampire hunter extraordinaire who is a quick learner, has no time for self-pity and can move past the pain to find her targets.
As you can see, I’m all about the heroine who has a takes-no-prisoners attitude and this past weekend I discovered a new heroine to add to my ever growing list, Detective Adeline Cooper. Adeline is the heroine in Debra Webb’s new romantic suspense Anywhere She Runs. It’s no secret that Ms. Webb’s books always engage me and her heroines continually surprise me. They usually have very interesting and unusual back stories and are always strong, independent, and intelligent women. The character of Detective Adeline Cooper is no exception. She is spirited, aggressive, and proactive.
In Anywhere She Runs, Adeline finds herself back in her hometown after nine years away trying to solve a missing person’s case that may very well lead to her own death. Being back home isn’t easy, what with her cousin trying to kill her, two missing women that may be dead, her ex-lover (now the Sherriff) on the case, and the killer targeting her—she has a lot on her plate. Anywhere She Runs is a layered (and I do mean layered) mystery with many surprises. The tension and slow reveal of who is behind the abductions and possible murders is clever and not readily known to the reader. You have to dig, just as Adeline has to dig. She has a lot to prove and a lot at stake; she doesn’t give up and is not easily intimidated. And like Brenda, Mary, Grace, Fiona, Eve, Alyssa, Annique, and Cat, she is a heroine I can get behind. Her brand of self-reliance and determination coupled with her acumen and intellect are a force to be reckoned with.
So dear Reader, if you’re on the hunt for a strong romantic suspense, with a good mystery, some real surprises, a twist at the end (a staple of Ms. Webb’s books), a heroine who can take care of herself, a hero who can hold his own, and an HEA for now, might I suggest Anywhere She Runs.
Until next Monday – remember, there’s always a book waiting to be read.
I’m curious, who are your favorite television, movie, or literary heroines?
Marisa O'Neill is an avid reader and a television producer.
Looking for a book to read? Check out Melanie Murray's "Romantic Reads This Week" every Tuesday here at the Heart to Heart Blog or any of the B&N Book Club Blogs for more suggestions.