Sunday, September 18, 2011

Are Our Heroines Women of Achievement By Jannine Gallant

We’ve featured some amazing women this month, truly strong women who’ve changed the world we live in. So, are our modern heroines modeled after these women? For the most part, I believe they are.

I grew up reading Nancy Drew. Now there was a teen with direction and determination. Did Nancy sit around waiting for Ned to solve her problems? Not a chance. She was a girl who got the job done. I bet every ten year old who read those books wanted to be just like Nancy. I know I did.

In my own teen years, back in the Dark Ages, I discovered romance. (The kind in books people! LOL) Historicals were my favorites and all the rage in the late 70’s. Admittedly, it can be hard to write about strong heroines in an era when women were supposed to be meek shadows following their men. Let’s face it; Barbara Cartland had some pretty wimpy heroines! But Kathleen Woodiwiss gave us strong women we could admire. She threw down the gauntlet, and LaVyrle Spencer picked it up. There is an author who never should have retired!

I believe the huge surge in popularity of romantic suspense novels in the 90’s, with authors like Nora Roberts leading the way, was because of the complex heroines they created. We'd had enough of the typical virginal Harlequin heroine of the 80’s and wanted women we could relate to. Women who had careers and interests beyond the men with whom they fell in love. Today, creating heroines with jobs, kids, and problems to solve while they fall for a man as imperfect as they are, is what we do best. Our modern heroine isn’t a girl wringing her hands and moaning over her hard luck. She’s a woman taking control of the situation and finding solutions.

The heroine of my first published novel, Victim of Desire, is Rachel Carpenter. Ex-soap star, bookstore owner, divorced mother of three with a psychotic stalker on her trail. Maybe most of us don’t have an unbalanced fan following us around (at least not yet LOL,) but I bet you can relate to the frustrations of a mom whose fourteen-year-old daughter dyes her hair pink and gets a tattoo, a woman so busy prioritizing her children and her business she doesn’t have time to date. The mark of a true Woman of Achievement is in how she handles herself and her problems. I think Rachel qualifies!

Are your heroines Women of Achievement? Let’s hear about them.

To purchase Victim of Desire and my other books, find buy links on my website at


Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Jannine,
Great blog. I do think that the women of my generation have a lot to overcome, and they do it brilliantly. Being an historical writer though, I doubt that they (I include myself here, of course), would be able to survive and overcome the tragedies and traumas that our mothers and grandmothers did - World Wars, The great depression of the 1930's just to name a few disasters and don't get me started on lack of reliable contraception, medical care etc.


Jerri Hines/Carrie James-Haynes said...

Love your blog. I did grow up on Nancy Drew and read my fair share of Barbara Cartland. Writing, though, should reflect the times. Victim of Desire looks great. And yes I can relate to teenage daughters who want to dye their hair...

Sharon Buchbinder said...

Hi Jannine--

Great post. I loved Nancy Drew and investigated our neighborhood goings-on with her "procedures"
in mind. In my books, I have women who are accomplished in their careers, but have "issues" to resolve surrounding their personal lives. And it's more often the personal life that can send you over the edge. LOL! So, yeah, the rebellious teen with pink hair (mine chose purple) is one I can very much relate to. Many happy sales to you!

Brenda Whiteside said...

Great post Janine. Rachel does qualify!

P.L. Parker said...

Wolf and the Dove is one of my all time favorite books! I read Nancy Drew but at about 12, I discovered my sister's Angelique seres. In secret of course, I read every one. My heroines are usually forced to be heroines, not Wonder Women from the outset!

Jannine Gallant said...

Thanks for stopping by, everyone.

Margaret, the women of the past had a lot of adversity to overcome. I think the way historicals are approached today really shows what strong women they were.

Isn't it great how as girls we're inspired by characters like Nancy Drew? Harriet the Spy was another one that made me stalk the neighborhood! LOL

Margo Hoornstra said...


Excellent post. Every word is very true. We as authors can only hope to continue to provide strong role models for our daughters and granddaughters.

And, yeah, having read Rachel's story, she qualifies.

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Janinne,
My heroines are all women who accomplish their goals, but that's easy to do in a work or fiction.
Real life offers more challenges. And some of us work our entire lives to find that peak.

Alyson Reuben said...

Great post, Jannine! I totally agree with you about how heroines have changed through the years. And your character Rachel certainly sounds strong and determined, a woman who is living in the real world. I love reading about women who fight their own battles and rise above them triumphantly.

Alison H. said...

I read every Nancy Drew I could get my hands on in the 4th and 5th grades, but some of those books were decades old. It took me quite a while to figure out what tearooms and roadsters were! I also cut my romance teeth on Kathleen Woodiwiss and LaVyrle Spencer. I think we've modernized our heroines over the years so they reflect how much women really can achieve these days.

Anonymous said...

I love the strong women heroines in today's romance. That's what won me over. I quit listening to people who don't even read romance and just started reading. Wow! There are some amazing heroines in romance, and I realized these were women to emulate!

Great blog!


Jannine Gallant said...

I'm finally back. Appreciate the kind comments about Rachel, Margo and Alyson. When we can really relate to our characters, I think they pop! At least that's my hope. Thanks to everyone who stopped by.

Laura Breck said...

Jannine, you named two of my favorite authors - Kathleen Woodiwess and LaVyrle Spencer, both Minnesotans, and both women I've had the privilege of meeting. Yes, definitely Rachel is more of a Woodiwiss or Spencer heroine, rather than a Cartland ;-)

Susan Macatee said...

I grew up reading Nancy Drew too and as I result, always want to read about a strong heroine who doesn't need a man to come to her aid.

I don't believe we'll ever go back to those 'damsel in distress' stories, and if you read historical non-fiction, a lot of the women who lived back then were truly the type of heroines we want to read about in our romance fiction.