Growing up Catholic, crushing on the man at the pulpit offered its own heady form of temptation.  Feel free to talk about eroticizing equality all you want, my sisters, but when a priest is good looking - and adolescence has wrapped its silky tendrils around one's good-girl libido - that man's being the ultimate forbidden fruit is hell-in-a-handbasket hot.  

I'm fairly certain there also are grown women who find themselves attracted to dynamic, engaging men who happen to be ministers, rabbis or men of any old cloth, though there are lots of stereotypes those guys face when it comes to their need for intimacy, love and sex.

Robyn Carr explores the fascinating and, for some, titillating, subject of preachers in love in her magnificent upcoming release, "Forbidden Falls  ."  In it, young, widowed pastor Noah Kincaid shows up to renovate a church he bought on eBay, then minister to its congregation in bucolic Virgin River , CA.  To help with the administrative work and back-breaking set-up chores, Noah reluctantly hires sexy Alicia Baldwin, a poor, street-wise, disconcertingly intuitive mother of two young kids who happens to be a former stripper.  Alicia needs the new job to help get overturned a court order that gave her ex-husband custody of her children; he is not their legal father, but convinced the judge Alicia is unfit to parent.

Noah realizes pretty quickly that Alicia's unafraid of hard work.  She's also got an innate sense of morality and a homespun sense of wisdom he's drawn to, one he quickly learns also can help folks in Virgin River.  As he sees how selflessly she gives of herself, he realizes it's remarkable she remains positive in light of having her children torn from her by an ex who seems possibly dangerous.  So Noah begins wearing down her resistance to his helping her regain custody, and gathers others to aid her.

Noah also stops denying his attraction to everything good - and sensual - about Alicia, and decides it's time he became a little less spiritual, nurturing facilitator, and a whole lot more man who's going to show the woman he cares for that he can help turn her unflagging hope to actual happiness.  And Alicia wants Noah, too, but sees her escalating problems with her ex as an embarrassment to Noah, as well as pushing her to the worst point she can imagine: the one in which she might admit she can't solve all her problems on her own and needs him to help save the day.

Rather than being weak and not feminist, it's inspiring, heartening and romantic when a heroine's come to trust a stand-up sort of guy enough to relinquish pride - but not dignity -- and allow him to "rescue" her.  Simply put, it's romance depicting what happens all the time in real life, especially in respectful, long-term relationships between partners who've come to understand strength within equality means knowing when to say "I need your help," and then allowing one's partner to be savior in that instance.  Allie Baldwin is plenty competent, but she needs Noah's help and he's good at giving it.  Stating the obvious, he's a man and guys like to help; just like in real life, letting them shine while they do it is nothing to be ashamed of.

Neither should one feel embarrassed by enjoying the same scenario in romance, and, since I'm gently reminding you that heroes saving the day has long been important fantasy for many readers, I suggest you head to Eloisa James' BN Review column to check out her take on what she calls the "Help, Help, Save Me!" paradigm.

In what situations do you feel it's OK for the hero to save the heroine?  What types of romances make it "more OK" than others?  

by Moderator becke_davis on ‎10-06-2009 09:52 PM

That's a tough one. I like to know the heroine can save herself, but sometimes the heroines I read about get into situations where they need someone's help. Usually the hardest person for her to accept it from is the hero, because it feels like submission. And the smart hero knows this, and finds a way to help her save herself. Or to save her in one sense, while she does the rest.

by PrincessBumblebee on ‎10-07-2009 10:12 AM

Wow, Bellas! It's actually letting me post a comment! Yay!

I love it when the man rescues the woman, but only if she's exhausted every avenue of escape herself. I just read a good example of that last night when I finished up Tara Janzen's "Breaking Loose". She had been kidnapped and was trying very hard to escape, but still needed outside help. It just happened to be the hero that cam along and saved her. In that situation, I think it's ok, as long as she's trying her hardest to get out of her jam but has no choice but to accept outside help. It could have been Creed or any of the Steel Street boys who helped her, but it was our intrepid hero that came to her rescue. Though I have nothing against a heroine rescuing the hero, either, hehe.

by Author MonicaBurns on ‎10-07-2009 10:30 AM

I don't mind when the hero rescues the damsel in distress. There's something "shining" about it. I just don't want the heroine to always be unwilling to accept help. I want her at the end to give way a little. I want them BOTH to give way, because that's what relationships are about. They're give and take.

by PrincessBumblebee on ‎10-07-2009 10:59 AM

Monica, I have to agree in a way. I just love it, that the hero is so desperate to get to her cause he loves her and can't stand for anything to happen to her. Gets me every time.

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎10-07-2009 10:59 AM

Becke, I like the way you put this: And the smart hero knows this, and finds a way to help her save herself. Or to save her in one sense, while she does the rest. That's like in business: Get what you want by making the other guy think it was his idea.  Or is that, how to get what you want from your boss? something like that. 


Princess Bumblebee, first, congrats for tech success!  Huzzah for the valiant team.  And, wow, Tara Janzen has some really strong heroines, so she must have worked hard to balance her heroine's need for rescue with not letting the chick seem weak.  Another kind of cool scenario is when the hero's trying desparately to save the heroine who doesn't need saving, and the author manages to make it kind of funny w/out making him look silly.  Instead, he looks like a guy trying to 'get it right,' and do what he thinks is the right thing.  That sometimes works well in contemporaries w/strong heroines. 

Hey, Monica!  I'm with you. It drives me a little crazy when a heroine won't accept help.  Carr does a marvelous job here of helping us understand Allie's reluctance and, in most cases, lack of need for help. Can't go into too much detail w/out spoiling the story. 


But learning relationships are about give/take, as you say, is tough in real life, and I love when authors can show us that transition in love stories.  It's definitely one we need to see in romances w/strong heroines, and one I find missing in some romances in which the heroine never needs saving, and saves everyone in sight, including the hero.  To me, that's as unrealistic as if the hero were doing the same.  However, I'm sure some readers find it very satisfying.

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎10-07-2009 11:04 AM

Princess, that's a fabulous point, too, which gets lost when discussing 'patriarchal influence' in romance.  The hero wants to save the heroine from harm, not prove his superiority.  And heroines who want to help 'broody' or overbearing heroes become more even tempered are labeled 'codependent enable-ers.'  It's too easy not to see that in both cases the protags are reaching out in emphathy and with protective, nurturing impulses. 

by PrincessBumblebee on ‎10-07-2009 12:00 PM

Michelle, I am as thrilled as you that I finally get to comment again, hehe!

LOL, all the psychological descriptions  are hilarious!. Love it! Yes, and a heroine who runs around saving everyone is about as beleivable as the hero who does the same. But, hey, whatever works for you.

Just read Eloisa James' take on things and loved it. Had to write down the books for, hehe

by Keoweegirl on ‎10-07-2009 12:08 PM

In my marriage there were times when the dh "saved" me and times when I "saved" him.  I'm good with that IRL and in the books I read as well.  We all need help from time to time and I don't believe that it's a sign of weakness for an intelligent, capable woman to allow herself to accept help from the man in her life.  Ditto for the man! 


Michelle said, the protags are reaching out in emphathy and with protective, nurturing impulses.   Exactly! 


I adore Robyn's books and the Virgin River series in particular.  Can't wait for Forbidden Falls!



by sunnydaze on ‎10-07-2009 03:23 PM

Oh you like it!  I'm so glad -- I loved writing that book.  Most of the way through I wasn't sure who had the strongest faith, Alicia or Noah.  Likewise, I wasn't sure who rescued who.  To steal a couple of great lines from Pretty Woman:  "And what happened when the prince rescued the damsel in distress?  She rescued him right back!" 


I think that's what happens in all durable and healthy relationships -- we all have our moments of strength, our times of need -- just as PJ said. 


Love the discussion!


Robyn Carr

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎10-07-2009 05:14 PM

Hi, Robyn!  Welcome to UB, and thanks for this terrific addtion to your Virgin River series. I think a lot of women of all backgrounds are going to identify with Alicia and how she and Noah learn to maneuver in their friendship and relationship.  So many women I know, too, are going to be wild for Noah, because he's so down to earth in his life as well as his occupation.  You've written Noah/Alicia w/ so much respect for one another, and the idea of dignity in asking for help as a theme on different levels in this book is heartwarming and even humorous at some points. Course, I don't want to spoil anything, so I won't say which is where!

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎10-07-2009 05:25 PM

Hiya, PJ!  I know you're going to enjoy this novel!  Sometimes, what you're describing from your marriage takes years to figure out.  I know I didn't get it at first, and there were lots of times I could have used help from my husband and didn't ask for it, or simply wouldn't allow it. 


I think it's particularly difficult for women today who can "do it all," or at least feel they should be able to.  It's one of the fallacies of the 70s "Bring home bacon/Fry it in a pan Woman" which we're still trying to overcome.  In writing about a subject like this, I just want readers who like a heroine to have the option of being saved, to give themselves a break.  If they like a novel in which the hero saves the heroine a lot more than she does him, I'd like to see readers cut themselves slack on that, too.  The end's always gonna be a wash if the author does it right, because the emotional payoff for both h/hn will be the committed romantic partnership.

by Keoweegirl on ‎10-07-2009 05:35 PM

Sometimes, what you're describing from your marriage takes years to figure out.


So true, Michelle.  I was married for 25 years and, believe me, this was not something I understood on day one nor was it an easy lesson to learn but I'm very glad that we both eventually figured it out.



by Author EloisaJames on ‎10-08-2009 03:30 AM

What a fabulous sounding book!  (And B&N let me log-in---hurrah!).


I was laughingOL, Michelle, about your opening line.  I grew up Episcopal, with a young handsome minster.  Wow!  Never to be forgotten holy hotness.


You all are so right about marriage...


by Moderator dhaupt on ‎10-08-2009 11:07 AM

Michelle, how very Thornbirds of you my dear, you lustful creature you!! Docha love it!!

Hmm we were just discussing this on the romance thread with the good professor and this was my response that I copied from there:


Great article as always professor ;-).

I'm totally with you Becke, I can fry up the bacon and all that jazz too and my husband is of the knuckle dragging variety of caveman and he does tend to grunt a lot if I seem to need protection/help/carried into the cave etc. Now in my romances I like the strong woman heroine, but I don't mind that she's not stupid enough not to ask for help if she needs it. Prime example is the mystery book for Oct. Chosen to Die, here we have very strong women heroines but in this situation they need the guys to step in and step up. So I see nothing wrong with it. Now if the heroine happens to be wimpy, well I wouldn't like her. But look even at Eloisa's heroines, all her desperate duchesses they are all strong women, but very in touch with their femininity. And it never hurt the male ego to let them think we need looking after now did it.


I also have great respect for authors who take on topics that seem taboo, like love and being a man/woman of the cloth. What I celebrate about these authors is that they're not afraid to tell a story about the human side of the minister/pastor etc. and also the romance side as long as the novel isn't meant to missionary itself. As for the above mentioned book I can't wait to read it.



by 1lovealways on ‎10-09-2009 09:15 PM

Hi All!  Well ... I like the hero rescuing the heroine.  You know that old damsel in distress sort of thing is ok sometimes, but only if it's really needed.  Hey, if  I was the heroine, I'd want to do everything to help myself out of a situation and that's the kind of heroine I like to read about in romances. 


I'd only want the hero to help as a last resort.  Let him know he has a strong woman that can depend on herself.  Also if he knows the woman he loves, he'll know she'd give her all to help herself before he even came on the scene.  But, if she really needed his help, I'd hope she let him help her or if it was something she couldn't deal with he'd take the initiative and go with it.   I'd say always to err on the side of good sense. The same analogy I'd hope would work for the hero, although I know with Alphas that's a hard pill to swallow. 


Situations that I'd say require the hero's help are being trapped or being kidnapped with all avenues exhausted.  I don't like whinny heroines or braggart heroes, but I do love Alphas.   Sometimes, even Alphas need a little help to melt those icy exteriors they perfect so well or they think they perfect them that way.  That's when it takes a savvy heroine to know what's good for him  :smileyhappy:

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