Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

In Search of Brenda Leigh Johnson

kyra-sedgwick-1.jpgLast night was the season premiere of my favorite television show, The Closer. For those who haven’t watched the most successful basic cable show in the history of cable, the show revolves around Brenda Leigh Johnson, played by the indomitable and sexy Kyra Sedgwick. Last fall Sedgwick won a Golden Globe for the portrayal of the tough as nails Deputy Chief of LAPD’s Priority Homicide Division.

Currently, there is no other TV show like the Closer; no drama is assembled around a main female character, particularly one in charge. Brenda Johnson is CIA trained interrogator who is brilliant at obtaining confessions. She is capable of gulling out the confession through sugar and pounding it with anger. She’s whipsmart; taking down criminals, meting out her own brand of justice, all the while wearing skirts and heels and a southern drawl. No one would describe her as kick ass and I don’t think she could chase down a criminal if her life depended on it. But everyone around her knows that once the criminal is caught, she owns him. Her strength lies between her ears.

She’s what I hoped to read about in the now defunct Bombshell line and every time I pick up a romantic suspense. Yet Brenda Leigh Johnson is just as elusive in print as she is on the small screen. Authors have a hard time portraying their female characters as competent, yet feminine. This is true within the romance genre and without.

Lord of Scoundrels (Avon Romantic Treasure)The female archetype of silk clad steel always wins me over and it is one reason that I love the oft lauded, Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase. This book, with the clinch cover and the cliched title, remains one of my top romances of all time for the pure and simple reason that up until that point, I had never read a romance heroine like Jessica Trent and have rarely encountered her equal since.

Jessica Trent, like Brenda Leigh Johnson, knew the power of her femininity. She didn’t attempt to masculanize herself in order to appear strong and equal. She knew she could reduce a man to quivers just by a glance, by the twitch of her glove.

“Dain,” she said in a low, hard voice, “if you do not release my hand this instant, I shall kiss you. In front of everybody.”

He had a ghastly suspicion he’d kiss her back—in front of witnesses—Dain, Beelzebub himself, kissing a lady—a virgin. He crushed his panic.

She stood with aplomb under an assault from Dain to humiliate and embarrass her.

“Perhaps I had better demonstrate how the thing operates,” said Dain, yanking her attention back to him.

In his low voice, Jessica recognized the too innocent tones that inevitably preceded a male’s typically idiotic idea of a joke. She could have explained that, not having been born yesterday, she knew very well how the timepiece operated. But the glint in his black eyes told her he was mightily amused, and she didn’t want to spoil his fun. Yet.

“How kind,” she murmured. “When you turn this knob,” he said, demonstrating, “as you see, her skirts divide and there, between her legs, is a—” He pretended to look more closely. “Good heavens, how shocking. I do believe that’s a fellow kneeling there.” He held the watch closer to her face.

“I’m not shortsighted, my lord,” she said, taking the watch from him. “You are quite right. It is a fellow—her lover apparently, for he seems to be performing a lover’s service for her.”

And turned it around in her favor.

All Dain could ascertain was that the female wore a blue overgarment of some sort and one of the hideously overdecorated bonnets currently in fashion.

“I particularly recommend,” he went on, his eyes upon the female, “that you resist the temptation to count if you are contemplating a gift for your chere amie. Women deal in a higher mathematical realm than men, especially when it comes to gifts.”

“That, Bertie, is a consequence of the feminine brain having reached a more advanced state of development,” said the female without looking up. “She recognizes that the selection of a gift requires the balancing of a profoundly complicated moral, psychological, aesthetic, and sentimental equation. I should not recommend that a mere male attempt to involve himself in the delicate process of bal-anting it, especially by the primitive method of counting.”

She was sharp with her tongue and thought more often with her head than her heart. When faced with ruin, she took action and, in one of the most memorable romance book scenes ever, exacted her revenge.

Then Dain saw her.

She wore a dark red gown, buttoned up to the throat, and a black shawl draped like a mantilla over her head and shoulders. Her face was white and hard. She strode toward the large table, chin high, silver eyes flashing, and paused a few feet away.

She flung back the shawl and lifted her right hand. There was a pistol in it, the barrel aimed straight at Dain’s heart.

I can’t tell you how it ends. You’ll have to read the novel yourself.

Too often, the heroine is described as strong when she is physically strong. Perhaps Elena of Kelley Armstrong’s Bitten typifies the strong, kick ass heroine. In TV, it would be Alias. Yet, Brenda Leigh Johnson, in her skirts and heels, is no man’s fool. She’s strong, capable and always, always gets her man, even if she sometimes contorts the rules to do it. She is not afraid of her power, either as a woman or in her job. Sure, Brenda has some personal problems. She is slowly learning to be a better partner to the adorable Fritz, but the characterization of this woman is so transfixing that I cannot help but want to see her between the covers of a book within my favorite genre.

This is not to say that all romances are devoid of women writing strong female characters but in a genre dominated by females, the male character gets the greatest attention, the greatest care, most of the time. In JR Ward’s series, The Black Dagger Brotherhood, each male is a unique character and carefully drawn. He wears a particular type of cologne, a particular brand of pants, drives a particular car. They have specific hobbies, roles, relationships within the Brotherhood. The women are defined by the color of the dress they wear to the commitment ceremonies. They aren’t as lovingly drawn and are forgettable while their male counterparts are not. Then there are the dukes, the earls, the marquis that dominate the historical landscape. And the male cops, the FBI agents, firemen that dominate the contemporary landscape.

There are women writing strong female heroines. Karen Rose pens excellent romantic suspense novels featuring law enforcement officials. Nora Robert’s July release, High Noon, features a competent hostage negotiator. Lilith of Demon Angel by Meljean Brook is no slouch in the saving the world in high heels department. I think women are desperate for good female archetypes and that is why cross overs have such appeal. In urban fantasy that is gaining readership from romance, the trope generally features a first person narrative by a female who is not always physically powerful but is responsible for a successful outcome. Mercy Thompson of Patricia Briggs’ series is an example of a heroine with little power except to resist magic.

Maybe if we brought a few more Brenda Leigh Johnsons into the romance world, we would gain readers instead of losing them.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Alison Kent
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 06:23:55

    The Closer saves summer TV. Love G.W. Bailey’s character, and LOVE how her team has come to stand behind her. Great stuff.

  2. Devon
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 06:47:33

    Great post, Jane. ITA. I find this phenomenon so fascinating–the lovingly drawn, detailed hero and the cipher heroine. I have seen readers comment that it doesn’t matter to them because they picture themselves in place of the heroine. But it really weakens the fantasy for me. Like, what makes this woman worthy of this guy’s love? If I can’t see it, it’s just…”eh.”

    Perhaps its because I came to romance by way of mystery and fantasy, where strong female characters proliferate, but I just don’t get how women get such short shrift in such a female dominated genre.

    Right now, I’m reading Demon Moon and I love Savi!

    Don’t watch “The Closer” but I’ll be mourning the loss of “Veronica Mars” for a long time. Best teenage female protagonist ever.

  3. Jane
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 06:58:20

    I have some theories about this prompted by a post made by an author a few months back that I am going to explore next week, but it has to do with the idea that a woman is not complete without love. It’s a concept I have yet to see applied to men but one that women seem ready to accept.

  4. Jennifer Estep
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 07:04:29

    I love me some Brenda Leigh. That scene with the plastic cups last night was terrific and totally unexpected (although I thought the mystery/killer was pretty easy to figure out).

    The only thing I don’t particularly care for on the show is her relationship with Fritz. It always feels like an afterthought to me. Plus, he’s always wanting her to change and pushing her to do what he wants (just like Burke and Christina on Grey’s Anatomy). Why should Brenda Leigh have to change? I’m not talking about minor things like trying to give up junk food. If Fritz loves her and wants to be with her, he should accept her the way she is — flaws and all.

    I like strong, female characters too. I have little patience for women who don’t take care of and help themselves.

  5. Rosario
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 07:10:51

    Yes, excellent post, and I have to agree completely. I want strong heroines, but I don’t particularly like action-adventure plots, so where does that leave me?

  6. Edie
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 07:19:02

    I just got cable this year, so I’ve been watching The Closer for the first time. A must watch. But I got more excited reading your comments on Lord of Scoundrels, one of my favorite books. I recently told someone about it. I’ll send her the link to this blog. :)

  7. sherry thomas
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 07:19:44

    You mean “meting” out her own brand of justice, right? My gutter-mind went down some awesomely disgusting paths before I realized what you meant to say.

    Jane, I was thinking I love you, now I know I love you. You said it girl. This is one of my biggest peeves with the romance genre as a whole, the lack of truly remarkable heroines, especially as opposed to the number of well-done heroes.

    What I hate most are the “Gorilla and the Flea” pairings–a term borrowed from figure skating–where the hero is capable of saving the world in his loafers, making a marvelous dinner for the heroine, and then making stupendous love to her as the night was long, and the heroine has nothing going for her except her Bambi eyes, fab tits, and a heart of gold. (Nothing wrong w/ Bambi eyes, fab tits, and a heart of gold, of course, I’ve none of the above and wouldn’t mind any and all, but it does get so boring and repetitive)

    I, for one, cannot, CANNOT read a noticeably unequal pairing (I’ll forgive a hero for being rich and powerful, but I will not forgive a heroine for being incompetent). I’ve read theories that the heroine in a romance is but a placeholder, a conduit of the reader’s own fantasy getting-on with the hero. Maybe. But all I can think, when I read an unequal pairing, is what the hell does he see in her? And my opinion of HIM promptly goes downhill from there. I’m not interested in a guy who has such poor taste in women. No, thanks.

    Sherry, who likes her heroines strong, devious, and powerful, and who loves men secure enough to properly appreciate such a woman

  8. Jane
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 07:44:13

    You say tomato, I say tohmato. Kidding. I see the post was rife with errors. It’s what I get for late night blogging.

    Rosario – LOS is not an action adventure romance and so strong heroines can be found in non action adventure romances. The problem is that they are hard to find. Too often there is the strident heroine (a ball busting bitch) or the physically or magically powerful heroine, but the steady and smart heroine who isn’t afraid of her womanhood? Or who actually knows she has a womanhood? Much more difficult to locate. Is this a reflection of authors or readers? I can’t really tell. Maybe its a sick symbiotic reflection.

  9. Wendy
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 09:22:23

    Amen sister. Every time I see some discussion on whether or not the “Alpha hero” is “dead” I scream some variation of this tune to a brick wall. Alpha heroes have never been a problem. We readers love Alphas. But for the love of all that is holy – pair him up with a heroine we BELIEVE he could fall in love with. So often he’s stuck with the bubblehead who lacks any sort of clue. And unless the guy has some sort of rescue fetish – I just have a hard time believing he’d be attracted to that.

    My main beef with the Bombshell line was that Strong Heroine = Action Adventure. I like action as much as the next girl, but for me a woman doesn’t have to be a weapons expert in order to be strong. There are examples of strong women all around us in the world – women who lead with a quiet strength and conviction that is terribly attractive. Why this isn’t easily translating to fiction is the mystery….

  10. Ellie M.
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 09:52:13

    Re: the placeholder theory.

    If that’s true, if some readers don’t care about the heroine because they put themselves in her place, isn’t it worse that the heroine is a nonentity? If I were to put myself in a book, I’d want to be made of AWESOME, yet interestingly flawed, so nobody would think my code name was Mary Sue.

    But Jane does pinpoint what I’ve always been frustrated by in romance. Sure, the dude is usually richer and physically stronger…but why does he also have to be smarter, more sensible and more competent on just about every level? Say your book has a heroine who’s a scientific genius. Well, to “balance” her, seems like the hero’s got to be a scientist who’s ever so slightly more geniusy. Or her cop protector who’s common sense far outweighs her TSTL “IQ”.

  11. Leslie Kelly
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 10:01:00

    > I am going to explore next week, but it has to do with the idea that a woman is not complete without love

    Jane I’ll be interested in reading that.

    I went to see the new Broadway show The Pirate Queen a few months ago and there is one scene during which Grace O’Malley and Elizabeth I have a sit-down, and the end result is that they both conclude (essentially) that a woman is absolutely nothing without loving a man. Blech. Blech. Blech. It totally ticked me off, coming from one of the greatest single women in history, especially with my teen daughters in the audience.

    Just one of the many reasons I hated that show…

    PS: Never watched The Closer. But I do like Cold Case, which had a strong, intelligent, competent female protagonist.

  12. Laura Vivanco
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 10:08:28

    She's whipsmart; taking down criminals, meting out her own brand of justice, all the while wearing skirts and heels and a southern drawl […] everyone around her knows that once the criminal is caught, she owns him. Her strength lies between her ears.

    She's what I hoped to read about in the now defunct Bombshell line and every time I pick up a romantic suspense. Yet Brenda Leigh Johnson is just as elusive in print as she is on the small screen. Authors have a hard time portraying their female characters as competent, yet feminine.
    Too often there is the strident heroine (a ball busting bitch) or the physically or magically powerful heroine, but the steady and smart heroine who isn't afraid of her womanhood? Or who actually knows she has a womanhood?

    I’m sort of unsure what you mean by ‘her womanhood’ or being ‘feminine’. Are you implying that a woman who doesn’t wear makeup, skirts and high heels is somehow ‘afraid of her womanhood’? It’s not as though women need these things to be sexy, or have children.

    You seem to be suggesting that intelligent heroines who don’t wear make-up, high heels etc are either ‘ball-busting’ or ‘afraid of their womanhood’ and I’m not really sure why this is the case. Can’t a heroine like that just be an intelligent woman who can’t be bothered with putting on make-up, high heels etc.?

  13. Jane
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 10:15:41

    Can't a woman like that just be an intelligent woman who can't be bothered with putting on make-up, high heels etc.?

    Of course she can, but we have plenty of heroines in romances who aren’t using their femininity. It’s like being feminine is a curse or something to apologize for. It’s an either/or proposition. Either a woman is flirty and friendly (which usually equals slut or best friend); or she’s smart and unattractive (made miraculously attractive by the love of a good man). These are stereotypes of heroines within the romance genre, of course, but you see either a masculanization (i.e., the heroine who was trained to be the son the father never had so she can shoot, ride horse and curse with the best of them) or the braniac but she’s usually very dowdy and doesn’t know the lipstick end of the tube.

    I think that there should just be a wholesale MORE of intelligent women regardless of their outward appearance, but my point is that you don’t see enough heroines portrayed using their femininity as a sword rather than a shield.

  14. DS
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 10:21:28

    I do not get The Closer on television, but I bought the first season on DVD after reading about it and I knew at once that Brenda Leigh was someone I would like to know. I’ve been watching the second season on DVD and bugging all of my friends to watch it also.

    I don’t think I have imagined myself in a heroine’s place since I was a teenager, and then it was the smart, savvy Georgette Heyer heroines, NOT the Barbara Cartland dishrags, who inspired my fantasies. Well, ok, I also wanted to be Jirel of Joiry and C. J. Cherryh’s Morgraine.

    Good post.

    Fritz didn’t particularly impress me in the first season but he started to come off a lot smarter in the second. And I loved the shows when BL’s mother was visiting her.

  15. DebR
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 10:21:31

    You get a big “amen” from this corner! Love this post and kept nodding my head all the way through it.

    However I’m bummed that I forgot last night was the premier of “The Closer” and didn’t watch or record it. I’ll have to search the listings to see if they’re repeating it.

  16. Angela
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 10:25:43

    The heroine as a placeholder is a valid fantasy–you can see it blatantly and between-the-line spoken of all up and down AAR and Avon message boards when it comes to discussion of books. Not only are there more threads devoted to heroes of romance novels, if you ask “Who is your favorite hero/heroine?” it’s guaranteed that the ratio of heroines named to heroes will be 1:5. I read romance novels for equal partnership–if one or the other is not as compellingly drawn as the other(most likely the hero), the book is a wall-banger. I too was drawn to the Bombshell line in search of the elusive heroine who doesn’t take on “masculine” traits in order to be strong, yet doesn’t fall apart in the face of danger nor need the love interest to “complete” her–and she does not have these romanceland sexual hangups that irritate the hell out of me. The only Bombshell that blew me away was Michele Hauf’s Flawless.

    This genre intrigues me. It is advertised as “for women by women”, but it can border on “cult of the hero”. Granted, women have the right to fantasize about gorgeous, sensitive heroes the way men have the right to fantasize about gorgeous women neither would have a chance with(due to a variety of circumstances), but the genre lacks balance between the fantasy and reality. Even when the heroines are drawn deftly and as layered–or even more so–as the heroes, readers tend to find the heroine distasteful (a lot of Laura Kinsale’s heroines). An even further bewilderment I experience is the flawlessness of the heroine, even when she’s supposed to be “curvy”, and the obsession with youthfulness. From what I’ve seen, the genre has made strides and can mirror American culture, but to an extent–heroines of the 70s and 80s were both submissive secretaries and ball-busting hoydens who were raped and cowed by the larger-than-life heroes, the 90s tempered those extremes, but paved the way for the genre to focus overwhelmingly on the hero. Has anyone ever studied the Harlequin/Silhouette lines? I really think those books, for all our groaning of their “cookie-cutter”-ness mimic what the general American romance reader desires in a romance novel.

  17. Laura Vivanco
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 10:30:28

    you see either a masculanization (i.e., the heroine who was trained to be the son the father never had so she can shoot, ride horse and curse with the best of them) or the braniac but she's usually very dowdy and doesn't know the lipstick end of the tube.

    But why does the braniac get labelled ‘dowdy’ if she ‘doesn’t know the lipstick end of the tube’? I just feel that if the terms ‘feminine’/’womanly’/’using her femininity’ is only applied to a woman who knows how to put on makeup and heels then that’s very limiting too.

  18. Jane
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 10:32:52

    I’m referring to the portrayal of women in romance books, not women overall. I.e., in romance books, the heroine who is smart is often dowdy, not knowing how to dress, how to wear makeup. She is often an outcast in society. She is the wall flower (the bluestocking who can’t fit in).

    I’m not making generalizations about women in the real world but rather focusing on how the romance genre portrays certain types of women in books. I.e., you are either sexy and thus a slut or intelligent and virginal but dowdy. It’s a common romance book archetype for heroines.

  19. DS
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 10:33:10

    but you see either a masculanization (i.e., the heroine who was trained to be the son the father never had so she can shoot, ride horse and curse with the best of them) or the braniac but she's usually very dowdy and doesn't know the lipstick end of the tube.

    Good point.

    And all too often the sophisticated feminine character is going to be the villain in a genre romance. It is as if using those particular strengths is somehow “unfair”.

  20. Julie Leto
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 10:35:29

    It’s nice to hear all these Amen, Sisters here on this blog, but honestly, I don’t think the general romance readership is ready for truly strong heroines and those who know me know why I think this!

    Honestly, when you look at the books that are popular right now, few are standouts for the strength of the female character. Eve Dallas seems to be the only one that readers accept with open arms–myself included. But when readers talk, they talk about Rourke. I love me some Rourke…dont’ get me wrong…but Eve is the driving force of the series and yet, she’s not the focus of most reader’s attention.

    The rest of the books with great popularity … it’s the men who drive the stories and most readers, IMO, rarely even notice the women, even when they are marvelously written, strong, intelligent, flawed, etc. It’s only when they’re not that they complain…and yet, the series or books are still popular.

    Another author whose written some wonderful heroines is Elizabeth Thornton. I believe it was her historical, PERFECT PRINCESS, that featured a heroine who totally embraced her place in society, but still managed to come across as strong and witty and smart. Loved her.

    Elizabeth Thornton is one of those authors I can’t figure out why she’s not a huge name. Her books are fabulous. Her characters amazing. Anyway, I’m a big fan.

    My point is…I don’t think romance readers, as a whole, are truly looking for strong women. They want the men to rescue them. I’ve heard it over and over from readers…though not much on the Internet. I wonder if its just a different crowd.

  21. Jane
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 10:45:06

    But perhaps romance is not appealing to younger people or losing readership to other genres because there isn’t enough of the strong female presence in romance books. I loved Thornton’s Perfect Princess as well, but I don’t necessarily think its her protrayal of strong women that has failed to gain readership.

    There is an appetite for strong women – urban fantasy is peopled with them. Kate Daniels, Mercy Thompson (heaven forfend, Anita Blake), Richelle Mead’s Georgina Kinkaid, Jackie Kessler’s Jezebel, and so forth. Unfortunately, these are all action adventure books.

    And while women sigh over Roarke, would the series be as successful without the driving force of Eve? If you had a patsy who constantly needed rescuing? I would have dropped that series after the second book.

    I never felt that Jessica Trent was less in any way to Dain. In fact, that book is all about Jessica Trent to me. She was the larger than life figure. It’s a book that is still reprinted 20 years later. Does that say nothing about the readership’s capacity to handle a “strong” woman?

  22. Jane
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 10:47:04

    Let me put it another way – what does an author have to lose by making her female protagonist just as clever, just as mentally and emotionally strong, just as aware of her impact on the other sex, as the hero? If you make the strong hero for those who need the alpha male trope because the heroine simply serves as a placeholder and doesn’t really care about the heroine, why not match an equal for the readers who want the stronger female character?

  23. Laura Vivanco
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 10:52:02

    I'm not making generalizations about women in the real world but rather focusing on how the romance genre portrays certain types of women in books. I.e., you are either sexy and thus a slut or intelligent and virginal but dowdy. It's a common romance book archetype for heroines.

    Right. So what we need are both more heroines who are intelligent and not portrayed as dowdy/virginal just because they don’t wear lipstick or wear fashionable clothes and we need more heroines who are intelligent are into fashion, makeup etc and are not portayed as sluts. That way the heroine’s intelligence, sexiness and goodness would be completely detached from the question of whether or not she has an interest in fashion/wearing make-up.

    Edited to add: I don’t read for the hero or for the heroine. I read to see how two people come together and how their relationship develops and as Sherry says ‘all I can think, when I read an unequal pairing, is what the hell does he see in her?’ I want the author to convince me that these two really are suited to each other, and that can’t happen if the heroine’s only a placeholder.

  24. Holly
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 10:58:56

    There’s nothing I love better than a truly well-balanced romance novel, i.e., the heroine is just as much the focus as the hero. I won’t lie and say I don’t read them for the men, but a truly stand out novel for me is one where the heroine is just as well written and capable as the hero.

    Too often I think authors confuse what a truly “strong” heroine is. A “strong” heroine is not one who acts like a bitch and has such a strong case of penis envy that she has to constantly compete with her man.

    I have to agree with the rest and say AMEN JANE! I’m so tired of reading about TSTL romance heroines. I just finished a short story – a Blaze, I think – where the heroine broke up with her hero because they worked in the same industry but he was more prominent than she was. She felt she couldn’t be with a man who constantly overshadowed her in the business world. That, my friends, does not a true woman make.

    I loved Jessica in LOS. I thought she embodied “woman” in every sense of the word. And contrary to what many of the posters here are saying, wearing makeup and high heels has nothing to do with femininity. It comes from a sense of self and knowing your strengths and weaknesses. I realize my fiance is stronger physically than I am, so it’s only natural I’d ask him to lift something heavy for me. Just as I realize he’s more skilled with a firearm than I am, since he’s a cop and a former Marine. So again, it’s only natural that if there were an intruder in our house, he’d be the wiser choice in investigating. Does that make me less of a woman? No, IMO, that makes me smart.

  25. Jane
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 10:59:36

    Yes, but the point of this article is that I would like to see more heroines who are both feminine and intelligent because that is what I love about Brenda Leigh Johnson. I am sure others would like to see other heroine archetypes.

  26. Phyl
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 11:02:58

    but my point is that you don't see enough heroines portrayed using their femininity as a sword rather than a shield.

    Maybe this is why Blair in Linda Howard’s To Die For is either loved or hated so strongly. For me, she was a refreshing, different type of heroine. Others hate her for the very qualities that make her appealing to me.

  27. Laura Vivanco
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 11:13:54

    Yes, but the point of this article is that I would like to see more heroines who are both feminine and intelligent because that is what I love about Brenda Leigh Johnson.

    Yes, and I understood your point and could sympathise with your wish for a different kind of heroine from the ones you’ve found in many romances. What I didn’t understand was why you were using words such as ‘feminine’ and ‘womanly’ as a short-hand to describe heroines who look like Brenda Leigh Johnson, because that kind of implies that heroines who don’t look like her must be unfeminine and, as you put it, ‘afraid of their womanhood’.

  28. Alison Kent
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 11:21:42

    There’s another part of Brenda Leigh, too. Spoilers to follow …

    She can be a ditz. She can’t drive, can’t park, can’t find her way around L.A. – though she’s gotten better at all of those things as the series has progressed. She hides junk food and sneaks it when stressed. She fusses with her hair, make-up, clothes. She panicked during one episode thinking she’d lost her cat, and hiding Fritz from her very savvy mother? Having him park his U-Haul outside her house and pretend he didn’t live with her? Her intelligence does not mean she can’t be clueless at times. There’s also her previous and rather scandalous affair with Chief Pope. For me, all these quirks are what make her so human and identifiable. She’s far from perfect, yet when it comes to doing her job, she’s brilliant.

  29. Teddypig
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 11:26:18

    focusing on how the romance genre portrays certain types of women in books. I.e., you are either sexy and thus a slut or intelligent and virginal but dowdy. It's a common romance book archetype for heroines.

    Could it be if she is represented as a complete person then there is nothing the hero could provide her? The danger of Mary Sue?

    It might also go back to the female archtypes…

    The Virgin (Daughter), The Mother (or Wife), The Hag (Grandmother).

  30. Angela
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 11:45:25

    But the Mary Sue isn’t a woman who is as “real” and “flawed” as a real woman–she is also a placeholder for the reader.

    What really interests me is the disconnect between what people are willing to see on TV and in Movies, with what they are willing to read. A lot of romance readers watch shows with flawed heroines(Meredith on Grey’s Anatomy) and dislike the “perfect” female character (Izzie on GA), but the opposite rings true in a romance (Meredith would be the skanky other woman and Izzie would be the heroine).

    But I must disagree with the urban fantasy example: when I enter into discussions about Sookie Stackhouse, a lot more readers are interested in dissecting Sookie’s love life than discussing the themes and layers Harris is drawing upon in the series or the growing tension between the supes and the humans, or Sookie’s growth as a character–same as with many other UF series. Buffy Summers may be the jump-off for the popularity of UF, but even then, more romance readers tend to obsess over her love life than the mythology of the show or Buffy’s character arc.

  31. Devon
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 11:59:55

    Re: the placeholder theory.

    If that's true, if some readers don't care about the heroine because they put themselves in her place, isn't it worse that the heroine is a nonentity? If I were to put myself in a book, I'd want to be made of AWESOME, yet interestingly flawed, so nobody would think my code name was Mary Sue.

    So true, Ellie M. I just don’t get it. People have brought up a lot of good points. I don’t necessarily think that being “feminine” and wearing make-up/heels are synonymous. What we’re thinking of here is a heroine who has a sense of herself, as a woman, and a person. Internal strength. I’m so sick of heroines who are supposed to be rocket scientists, but their defining characteristic is awkwardness because their ex told them that they sucked in bed, or insecurity about their “curves”. They don’t have to be as defined as the hero, but give us something. A personality of some kind.

    I definitely think the placeholder theory is at work here, and the fact (massive generalization ahead) that women tend to be very hard on other women. I’ve seen harsh criticism of some strong heroines, and I’ve engaged in it myself. I think there’s kind of a shorthand at work sometimes in romance sometimes: strong=shrill/bitchy, artistic/individual=self-centered/bratty. It’s so 2D. Better to have a unmemorable heroine, who, while bland, won’t distract from the splendor of the hero.

    Question: Do y’all think that romance readers in general would dislike heroines written with a little more strength or personality? More layered, a bit flawed?

  32. CJ Lyons
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 12:25:01

    I think there are readers out there who like their heroines to be a match for their heroes, so as the relationship evolves, they develop a true working and loving partnership.

    To me, that’s the draw of the JD Robb books.

    But since the Closer isn’t romance, maybe the target audience for books with strong women isn’t romance at all, but rather mystery/suspense and S/F/F? Even though they may have all the elements of a romance otherwise?

    Great topic and conversation!

  33. Ann Bruce
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 12:34:11

    Speaking of strong heroines and urban fantasy, has anyone read any of the Signs of the Zodiac books by Vicki Pettersson? I saw them in the bookstore because the covers caught my eye but am a little wary of trying new authors without a recommendation.

  34. Laura Florand
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 12:40:21

    Hear, hear!

  35. Wendy
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 13:01:48

    My point is…I don't think romance readers, as a whole, are truly looking for strong women. They want the men to rescue them. I've heard it over and over from readers…though not much on the Internet. I wonder if its just a different crowd.

    First off, I hate rescue fantasies – but have long suspected I’m in the freakish minority on that one. But on to the latter sentence:

    I suspect (how I would kill to have some real numbers here) that the percentage of romance readers who actively participate in the “online community” is very small. Let’s look at a good example:

    I have yet to “meet” a reader online who will openly admit to liking Secret Baby books. Now, they might be lying – but some of them are pretty vehement. Yet Harlequin keeps buying and churning out the Secret Babies. Why? To torture those readers? No, because they must be selling. Harlequin is a business. They don’t publish something out of the goodness of their heart – they publish it thinking it’s going to sell – and secret babies (for good or ill) are obviously still selling. So it’s either lying online readers buying them ;) or readers who aren’t online voicing their love for the plot device.

    So yeah, I really think it’s a small and different crowd.

  36. Julie Leto
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 13:10:58

    I agree, Wendy. Trust me, I buy up strong heroine books even when I know I might not get to read them because I want to support the character-type! I do think we’re in a minority. Honest to Pete, I think that the vast majority of romance readers give lip service to wanting the strong, self-reliant heroine, but don’t actually buy those books in great numbers. Why not? I have no clue. I’m not a psychiatrist. But when you compare what is selling to what is not, that is the message I get.

    Jane, trust me, I’m on your side. I watched CLOSER for the first time yesterday as TNT ran that marathon. Loved her character and the series. I will definitely keep watching. But I don’t think she’d cut it as a romance heroine…however, she’d be great in mystery. I do think other genres are much more open to capable women as lead characters. Sci-Fi has been doing it for years.

  37. Stephanie Doyle
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 13:20:58

    Very interesting coversation. I love strong heriones. I write them. But I think there are two key issues:

    1. The balance within the character. I agree with what Julie L said. I think readers would shy away from a super strong, super smart, super put together character (something that they will put up with in heroes). So the naturual inclincation is to take someone really smart/strong and make her dowdy or bad in bed or whatever. She needs to be relatable. It’s up to authors to find new ways to do this.

    2. I think there must also be balance in the pairing. I love the CLOSER – no shock. My only complaint is that I just don’t know if Fitz is enough of a match. Granted I’m probably looking for a little more romance. We don’t really get enough of Fitz to tell. But I think Eve works because Rourke is so HUGE. (talk about a hero with few flaws). If you’re going to go strong with her then the guy better be able to hang. And I think that creates the opportunity for a lot of fun. Scarlett and Rhett type sparks.

  38. Stephanie Feagan
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 13:21:45

    There were a number of Bombshells that didn’t have a physically kick-ass heroine. It’s still sad to me that the line folded before it ever found its place in the market. The books were evolving, getting better all the time. I think they started off with goofy marketing and never found their audience, which is a shame because I’m convinced the audience is there. The books ran the gamut of premises, heroines and heroes – very diverse – but they all had one thing in common: a smart, confident heroine. Some were more ‘girlie’, some were not.

  39. Jane
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 13:22:03

    I feel like we aren’t giving the romance readers enough credit. Yes, the participatory online community is small. I read somewhere that less than 10% of members of a community comment on a regular basis and that is certainly true for DearAuthor.

    A few years ago, paranormals wouldn’t sell and now there is a sea of paranormals as far as the eye can see.

    I just don’t know of a lot of really great heroines that are in books these days to even overlook them.

    As for Harlequin, I’ve been reading more categories of late and these authors are actually rendering better heroines than I see in a lot of mass markets. Kathleen O’Reilly does really smart, smart heroines. I just finished a 2002 book whose heroine is a genius (She cocks her arms to make an isosceles triangle. LOL!). Barbara Dunlop’s Billionaire’s Bidding features a smart heroine (not as smart as the hero but still not bad).

  40. Julie Leto
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 13:30:16

    Jane, I’ve been writing strong, smart heroines for Harlequin for going on ten years now, so any comments about the publisher not doing this usually just go over my head. :-)

    IMO, the Temptation line was infamous for strong heroines. And yet, the line tanked. Hmmmm…. And while Blaze has had a few questionable premises in the early days that rendered the heroines less than smart, IMO, the majority of the books feature strong women who know what they want and will do whatever they need to in order to get it. My heroines for my Blazes have always been unapologetically women, if you get my drift. I remember reading some fabulous heroines in Superromance…anyone ever read Jan Freed’s books? God, I miss her. The American I read a few months ago had a fabulous heroine. They’re out there…but are they popular? Is that what readers look for when they buy a book? That’s what I’m wondering mostly about.

  41. Stephanie Feagan
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 13:30:43

    Forgot to say, Jane, I’m with you 100% on LOS. I came late to Loretta Chase and only read it about 6 months ago. I was blown away, and the book went up to my top five all-time favorite romances. Oddly, I never considered I may have enjoyed it so much because of the strength of the heroine. The scene with the gun was, simply, perfect.

    Great post.

  42. Holly
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 13:35:29

    I have yet to “meet� a reader online who will openly admit to liking Secret Baby books.

    Hey, I like Secret Baby books. Well, sometimes. Naturally it depends on how it’s written, and I don’t go out of my way to purchase very single one that comes on the market, but I don’t avoid them, either.

  43. Angela
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 13:50:58

    Re: Blaze and its ilk–but why are women, when they’re strong in romances, only sexually “strong”? On one hand, I can see that female sexuality has been battered and bruised since the dawn of time, so women have taken control of it through books, but when will the time come when female characters in romances care allowed to take care of “business” in all aspects of their life? I agree with Laura V and think that tossing around words like “masculine” and “feminine” don’t get to the nitty gritty of what writing a realistic female character is about.

    Monica Jackson posted about this new trend of the “jump-off” on her blog–a woman wanting a man for sex and that’s it(no hoping for a HEA there), but like the furor caused by SATC, women involved in jump-offs are accused of behaving like “men” and tried and true-blue “women want emotional connection with sex” was used. But who determined that was 100% true for women? Or girls playing with trucks getting a pat on the head but a boy wanting to play with dolls is looked upon with horror. This discussion, IMO, goes beyond the boundaries proper gender traits.

  44. Wendy
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 13:58:46

    I feel like we aren't giving the romance readers enough credit.

    Sometimes, yes – sometimes, no. I’m certainly not picking on romance readers as a whole here – but there are more than a few “sticks in the mud.” I’m sure there are much more recent examples, but the one that always comes up for me is the hue and cry several years ago when Katherine Sutcliffe had a former prostitute as the heroine in a romantic suspense novel (Bad Moon Rising – great book in case anyone cares). You’d think the author was slaughtering puppies and selling babies on the black market for all the uproar that caused.

    Or Laura Leone making a male prostitute the hero in Fallen From Grace? Heck, that was a “small press book” and there were more than a few readers who freaked out over that idea.

    How often have you seen a letter in RT, a comment on a message board or blog about how paranormal romance is “ruining the genre.” Or erotic romance for that matter.

    These examples are a couple of years old, and I do think it’s gotten better – but still….

    Genre fiction as a whole is “comfort food” for a lot of readers. They want to sit down, read a book, like the book. They don’t necessarily want to learn something or be challenged. I don’t think strong heroines are particularly challenging – but for those readers looking for rescue fantasies? Maybe they are.

    And now I should shut up before I get myself in trouble.

  45. Keishon
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 14:19:59

    Nothing to add to this discussion only an opinion on several things, in that I prefer strong characters be it woman or man, child, whatever. My opinion is that you can’t change human behavior and we have all kinds of different personalities to choose from, take your pick. As a reader, I get sick and tired of being presented with characters who are dumber than a box of rocks and use logic that makes no sense to me. Also, I despise secret baby plots unless there is more to the plot besides the secret baby issue (What the Heart Knows by Kathleen Eagle).

    No surprise, that as a reader, I identify more with the hero. Just my reading quirk, mind you and my preference. I simply can’t stand Anne Stuart’s heroines because they are dumber than a box of rocks and narrate the story to boot.

    Don’t get Lorretta Chase and I don’t feel bad about it either. Thought I’d mention it just for fun.

    Alas, I’ve never watched The Closer. I’ll have to check it out from Netflix one day. Great topic and carry on….

  46. Christine Rimmer
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 15:38:13

    Great topic. Love Brenda. Love her personal power in her chosen arena and her fun feminity. It’s one of my favorite shows and one of the few I won’t give up to read a book. DH and I like to hang together in the evenings, so he watches it with me. We both figure out the mysteries right away and that makes him ask why we’re watching it. “For Brenda,” I say. “For the brilliant, quirky totally individual way she runs the show.” He scratches his head and constantly points out how this or that element of the plot would never fly in real life.

    Oh, well. At least we both loved The Sopranos. Too bad that one’s over.

  47. Robin
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 15:38:36

    re. Eve and Roarke: I have seen plenty of criticisms of Eve for being selfish and inattentive to Roarke’s needs, as well as comments suggesting that she is too slow in getting over her abusive past. So I think there are plenty of people who read that series primarily for Roarke, although I find Roarke FAR less interesting than Eve. What I like about Roarke is the way he is so often the “wife,” which makes the books fun to read, IMO. And until Vengeance, for me Roarke was a bad combination of boring and domineering, while I thought Eve was a winner right off the bat. Although I think even with her, we need to look at the fact that she can’t simply be a kick ass woman with a happy childhood; instead she’s a strong woman who has been made utterly vulnerable in her past, which might engender more understanding from readers who don’t routinely like strong heroines. And Roarke has clearly feminized her, which is also an interesting thing to take a look at. OTOH I like that her increased happiness means that she doesn’t have to hide her femaleness, but I also struggle in that series with the whole emotional rescue thing. Fortunately, Roarke has a boatload of psychological issues, as well, which makes the rescue mutual.

    re. the placeholder heroine: I think I understand this theory differently, because I thought it was when the reader simply pairs up with the heroine and experiences things through her eyes, NOT when she replaces the heroine. In other words, I understood it as a theory not so much of identification but as that of creating a place in the text for the reader via the heroine such that the heroine still clearly exists as a separate entity but also provides an entry into the world of the text for the reader. However, I agree with whoever said that we see a whole lot of cypher heroines in the genre, so maybe I’m the one who is misunderstanding the theory.

    re. the strong heroine, as someone who is more interested in the heroine than the hero, I see the genre as really struggling with this one. I am as uncomfortable with female characters who use their femininity as a weapon as much as am with female characters who have been harshly masculinized, and I find it fascinating that these women often appear as villainnesses (both types). As for heroines, I find more often than not the heroine is just. plain. boring, not extreme enough in any way to push any boundaries, and I dislike that most of all.

    One problem that I think the genre struggles with is the way that the sexual characteristics of women, and the idea of femininity, have both been connected very strongly to the process by which a woman is deemed worthy, and that sense of worth in turn is connected to how successful she is at getting a man. So how then does the genre take these characteristics and make them powerful outside of that paradigm? I think we’re seeing the answers in the genre: focus on the woman as kick ass, deny her the feminine whiles, downplay her looks, etc. So I guess I see this as a problem in the genre because it’s a problem in society more generally. If a man is handsome, we don’t see those looks as primarily tied to his ability to get women, because men aren’t generally viewed through that same lens. For women it’s been different, and let’s face it, we’re guilty as women of perpetuating the pattern, in the genre and in society. I wonder, too, now that women are achieving more parity in terms of economic power, and that they are are more often CHOOSING not to marry, if the genre is backlashing with all this “a man is the answer” stuff. Like are we going to see the genre go all hyper-domestic in the face of more women in RL less inclined to see marriage as their primary goal in life. I’d love to see women more able to have their femaleness be fully integrated as part of their personal strength, but only if we can divest the feminine of the “primarily for attracting men and nurturing children” connotations. The In Death books have done some of this work, and so IMO did Meljean Brook’s Demon Angel, as did Laura Kinsale’s Midsummer Moon. I think Susan Elizabeth Phillips was working toward that in Ain’t She Sweet, too, especially with the way Sugar Beth and Colin spar over appropriate gender stereotypes.

  48. Zoe Archer
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 16:11:40

    Just to throw my bonnet into the ring–

    In the reviews for my book Love In a Bottle, two readers suggested that the heroine was “too smart” or “too clever,” which is an allegation I don’t believe has ever been leveled at a hero.

  49. bettie
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 16:28:44

    Zoe, No way! On the plus side, that’s the sort of criticism that makes me want to read your book.

    I keep wishing someone would write more novels like Lord of Scoundrels but Loretta Chase doesn’t even write novels like Lord of Scandals anymore. That book is a keeper for me because of the way it turns genre tropes completely around. Usually in historicals, the hero is wise to the ways of the world, confident in his powers of seduction, and knows the heroine better than she knows herself. In Lord of Scoundrels Dane thinks he occupies that role, but really it belongs to Jessica.

    It seems like many authors or publishers believe that if a heroine is stronger, smarter or more talented than the hero in any way, the hero is a wuss and the romance won’t work.

    Personally, I’m getting mighty tired of seeing dimwit virgins paired with worldly wise alpha males who are taller, richer, stronger, smarter and better looking than them. Maybe it’s because I’m not one of those readers who puts myself in the heroine’s place – I read for a good yarn.

    I’m far more likely to root for a well-written antihero than I am for a bland TSTL heroine. (Disclaimer: my favorite character in almost every Disney animated movie is the Villain.) I like characters with flaws, and in far too many romance novels, the only flawed characters (other than the tortured hero who was betrayed by some woman once a long time ago) are the villains.

    Shout out to whoever mentioned “Veronica Mars”. Oh, I miss that show. Maybe “The Closer” will fill the the bleeding hole the CW network carved into my heart when they canceled VM. Damn you, CW!

  50. Jane
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 16:31:44

    I love the Closer as well and was thrilled with last night’s opener. What I notice, and something no one has said here directly, is that Eve Dallas is the book version of Brenda Leigh – or perhaps I mean vice versa since Eve came first.

    Brenda is an extremely competent, intelligent woman who is in charge of murder investigations. So is Eve. Both women fear emotional commitment. Both are acerbic enough to put people off, at least initially. When they do form relationships they’re extremely loyal. Both are supported by strong, competent men who will do anything for them, but who retain their masculinity (I like that Fritz supports Brenda but isn’t afraid to go toe-to-toe with her as in the house hunting battle last night).

    Sure these are individual characters, but these are women who come from the same mold. And they’re ones that we don’t see often enough in romances – to get back to your point. I do see their counterpart in other genres – love David Weber’s Honor Harrington SF series – but find a genuine dearth of these women in romance.

    Oh and they both inherited a cat from one of their cases.

  51. Charlene Teglia
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 20:59:13

    Lord of Scoundrels is one of my favorites; that scene with the gun! Perfect! I love the scene with her glove, too.

    I love strong heroines. All kinds of strength, not just physical.

  52. Tracy Grant
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 21:19:49

    Fascinating post and discussion! I totally agree that if I’m going to put myself in the heroine’s place (which I suppose to some extent I do–it goes hand in hand for me with failling a bit in love with the hero) I want a strong, interesitng, capable heroine to identify with. Growing up, some of my favorite characters were villainesses such as Milady diWinter in “Three Musketeers’ because they often seemed so much more interesting as complex than the heroines (such as Constance). And just as there’s an emotional power if seeing a hardened, cynical hero let down his barriers and fall in love, I think the same holds true for a hardened, cynical heroine.

  53. Emma Wayne Porter
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 23:48:01

    I’m probably going to get caught in the spam filter, here, but there are a couple things I wanted to say.

    First, there’s a conundrum inherent in strong heroines. If the heroine’s strong, competent, and properly self-aware, 99 times out of a hundred, she’d be wise enough to keep herself out of trouble in the first place. Try to force her into a conflict and you’ve just completely cut yourself off at the knees. Readers will roll their eyes at the “strong heroine” who’d be so stupid.

    Second is the risk of emasculating the hero by allowing him to be saved–physically or emotionally–by the heroine. Correcting this creates some pretty serious imbalance in stories, I find.

    I’m not defending or arguing either position. Just saying there’s a few problems involved.

  54. Laura Vivanco
    Jun 20, 2007 @ 02:36:35

    If the heroine's strong, competent, and properly self-aware, 99 times out of a hundred, she'd be wise enough to keep herself out of trouble in the first place.

    Which is why the authors then have to write about that 100th time when the conflict/threat is such that the heroine can’t avoid the trouble and the trouble isn’t caused by her having a TSTL moment. It would also end the use of cardboard cutout evil villains who are so unconvincing they could only stand a chance of winning over an extremely TSTL heroine.

    Second is the risk of emasculating the hero by allowing him to be saved-physically or emotionally-by the heroine.

    Heroes are constantly being saved emotionally by heroines – her love often redeems him, restores his belief in women and transforms the rake into a monogamous husband and doting father.

    As with my concern about the use of the word ‘feminine’ in this context, I think whether a hero is ‘masculine’ if ‘saved physically’ by the heroine really depends on how one defines masculinity. If anything, I’d say it was a sign of maturity and confidence if a man can cope with working for a woman, or being saved physically by one. I’m possibly somewhat influenced by the fact that I was brought up in the UK and the Elizabethan and Victorian eras were ones we read about frequently, and in which men such as Sir Walter Raleigh were dependent on the favour of a powerful woman.

  55. DS
    Jun 20, 2007 @ 09:30:24

    Something I like about Brenda Leigh is that she is not always well put together when it comes to clothes. Her outfits sometimes do not work as fashion although she is disarming in them, which is probably the point. I think her character knows what she is doing when it comes to the proper outfit for the proper occasion.

    Another thing that I find interesting is her lips. It looks like a pretty good collagen job, but when she is wearing very red lipstick her lips dominate her other features. Everything is not perfectly in proportion or perfectly lit all the time.

    Last season was not bad for women characters. I enjoyed watching all three of the main female characters in Bones. Vickie Nelson in Blood Ties was also interesting, if not the same as I remembered from the books.

  56. Gwen
    Jun 21, 2007 @ 13:58:07

    Golly, Jane! Think you touched a nerve here? :)

    I just finished a book that has a very strong female character that uses her femininity to her advantage. Maria, Lady Winter, is smart, in charge, and sexy. Read “Passion For the Game” by Sylvia Day. I think you’ll love it.

  57. Julie Leto
    Jun 21, 2007 @ 14:21:20

    Gwen! That one is arriving at my home on Monday, if all goes as planned. Glad to hear you loved it.

  58. Gwen
    Jun 21, 2007 @ 16:07:09

    Julie – it’s a wonderful book, IMO. My review is going up on The Good, The Bad, & The Unread ( late tonight. I want to read it again right now, it was that good and I’m just not normally that kind of reader. It’s normally years between re-reads for me.

    I hope you like it as much as I did.

  59. Gwen
    Jun 21, 2007 @ 16:10:50

    And by the way – Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson is MY HERO! I LOVE her and identify with her in the most painful ways. My mom is just like her mom. I love the “thank you – thank you very much” – it is such a “thing” down her in the South to do that. Kill them with kindness. It’s a nice girl’s way of saying, in Southern Subtext, “Screw you and the horse you rode in on – just do what I told you.”

    My relationships have never gone as well as hers and Fritz’s, though.

  60. REVIEW: All the Pretty Girls by J.T. Ellison | Dear Author: Romance Book Reviews, Author Interviews, and Commentary
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 15:00:46

    […] be interesting and provide a layer upon which this series could mine for future conflict. Being a big fan of The Closer’s Brenda Johnson, I can say that I didn’t see much similarities between […]

%d bloggers like this: