Terri Osburn Talks Heroines

My guest today is Terri Osborn, the author of the bestselling Anchor Island Series. Terri writes small town contemporary romance with heart, hope, and lots of humor. Her new Ardent Springs Series launched in April with HIS FIRST AND LAST, and this month she’s celebrating the release of OUR NOW AND FOREVER, the second book in the series. Welcome back, Terri!

Ardent Head ShotHello, my friends in Romance Bandit Land, and thank you to Nancy Northcott for inviting me to hang out today. I celebrated the release of my sixth book a week ago today, which is the second book in my new Ardent Springs Series called OUR NOW AND FOREVER. I’ve been getting some interesting feedback in the reviews for both this book and the one before it, HIS FIRST AND LAST.

Readers do not like my heroines.

I knew this might be the case with the heroine of book one. Lorelei Pratchett is a woman with a chip on her shoulder and a serious attitude problem. But she’s also damaged and hurting and lost. For the most part, readers seemed to come around to her by the end.

Osburn-OurNowandForever-FT-V2The heroine of OUR NOW AND FOREVER is a different story. (Pun intended.) Snow Cameron is sweet and generous and instantly likeable, if a tad mysterious. When the mystery starts to unravel is when readers seem to change their minds about her. And it’s all her hero’s fault, or so I believe.

Caleb McGraw is pretty close to perfect—on the surface. But he comes from money, has faced very little adversity or rejection in his life, and tends to only hear what he wants to hear. Oddly enough, the readers don’t seem to be picking up on his faults, but are more annoyed that Snow would ever leave him. You see, two months after a spontaneous Vegas wedding, Snow panicked and hit the road without so much as a goodbye let alone a note. Yet, Caleb is determined to win her back.

And there starts the debate. I know that the heroes I write tend to lean more toward the perfect end of the spectrum. This is fiction, after all. I have great fun writing stories in which the male love interest says the right thing at the right time. Not always, of course, but my guys are good guys. If I want to spend my time with jerks, I’d start hanging out in bars.

But I’m somewhat worried that the goodness of my heroes is creating animosity for my heroines. How dare she leave him? How dare she get mad and snap at this charming, gorgeous man who wants nothing more than to make her happy?

Or the better question, why do we as romance readers (including myself) tend to judge our heroines more harshly than our heroes? A hero can be a recovering addict with a playboy reputation who makes our heroine long to kick him in the shin, yet we’ll call him a book boyfriend and consider her an idiot for not falling at his feet.

I know this isn’t a new topic, but I’d really like to hear what you all think. Am I off base? Is it just a fact that women judge other women more harshly, whether we realize we’re doing so or not? (I promise this isn’t sour grapes. I’m fortunate that the majority of the reviews on my books are very positive and all reader reactions are fair and valid.)

To learn more about Terri, check out her website at www.terriosburn.com.

Terri’s offering a signed set of Ardent Springs books to one lucky commenter today.  So answer Terri’s question o ask her one.  Inquiring minds want to know what you think!

Comments

33 Comments

  • flchen1 says:

    Ooh, that is an interesting question, Terri! I do think that creating an interesting heroine, but one who isn’t too prickly or harsh so as to be unlikable is quite a task! I think that we tend to judge heroines pretty harshly because often we judge ourselves with similar tough standards. I think we may be more merciful with a friend than with ourselves, and while not all of us readers do this, I do know that some of us do sort of envision ourselves in the heroine’s position, and may also transfer those strict standards as well.

    Do you have a set number of stories in mind for the Ardent Springs series? Or do you have plenty of fodder for many future installments? 🙂

    • Fedora, congrats on snagging the bird! Your comment echoes something Jayne Ann Krentz said in _Dangerous Men, Adventurous Women_, that readers want to fall in love with the hero and identify with the heroine. So if maybe we’re harder on the character we see as our placeholder?

    • Terri Osburn says:

      Hello! I hadn’t thought about readers putting themselves into the heroine role. That creates all sorts of dynamics. Excellent point.

      As of right now, I have at least three more (beyond these first two) in the Ardent Springs series. Though I won’t be surprised if at least one more comes along. 🙂 Thanks for asking.

  • Mary Preston says:

    You have made me think!!!

    I do tend to get annoyed with heroines more than the heroes. Perhaps that is because I want the heroines to aspire to a higher standard.

    Less stupid, and we have all read those at some time, and more careful thought.

    • Mary, I think we tend to give guys more leeway, in both the real and the imaginary worlds. So maybe we do expect women to try harder?

    • Terri Osburn says:

      Hi, Mary. Another good point. But shouldn’t we want our heroes to aspire to be better as well? I think Nancy is right, we give men more leeway in both fiction and reality. I remember asking my mom and aunt once why they coddled their sons while their daughter were all out on their own. Without missing a beat, they both said, “Because they’re boys.” As if this explained everything. Gah!

  • Ninfa says:

    What a dilemma, this is an interesting topic. For me I always side the heroine – sometimes the hero is almost perfect that at first opportunity the heroine go for what her hearts dictates and just like what happened to this story, run when the sensible mind wakes up. There is always something that trigger the doubt in a woman even in real life.

    • Ninfa, interesting perspective! I like that moment of doubt and double-checking.

    • Terri Osburn says:

      Ninfa, you are so right. We women have lots of triggers. Several readers don’t like that Snow left without a word, even though she had good reasons. But maybe not good enough in their minds. Which is totally fair.

      • Ninfa says:

        I haven’t read any of your books yet, I just recently discovered all this in Facebook. I love to read and always looking forward to meet new authors. I’m happy to be able to learn new things. Congratulations on your book release Ms Teri.

  • Cassondra says:

    Hi Terri!
    Congratulations on your latest release! I loved your Anchor Island series as you know, and have been waiting for a few free reading moments to dig into Ardent Springs. Can’t wait!

    Anyway heroines–I think I’m the opposite. I’m pretty hard on the men in books. I have no interest in spending time with jerks. I sometimes want to smack heroines because they put up with it, frankly.

    I have one pet peeve in particular…when a guy makes decisions for the woman or tells her, “we’re doing this.” I’m like, “uh….that woman is an adult person and the fact that you have a penis –or even a piece of paper that contractually makes you a connected couple — does not make you her parent. If you ain’t her daddy, you ain’t in charge of her. And she should not have to manipulate you to get what she wants.”
    Those dynamics are ugly in the real world and I hate seeing them reflected–and ACCEPTED AS OKAY–in romance novels.

    He can make a mistake of course, but he can’t constantly cling to that behavior or I start to hate him pretty quickly.

    I think, though, that a lot of women believe that the “protect her, be strong, be present and consistent” necessarily comes with a degree of jerk factor. They think they have to take the jerk to get the manly man.

    I don’t buy that. Especially since, as you said, this is fiction.

    I have wondered if the trend in books lately for a lot of contemporary heroes to be jerks, and for readers to accept those jerks, is actually a reflection of what goes on in the world. Don’t get me wrong. There are some real bitches out there too, but women, for some reason, think guys aren’t capable of more and so don’t expect more.

    Pretty good setup on the guys’ part, eh?

    Anyway I see a lot of women putting up with jerks in real life because they think that’s all there is. And I’m truly not saying the guy has to be perfect.
    But there’s a lot of gray between perfect and jerk.

    Ohhh..you pushed one of my hot buttons, didn’t you? *grin* Okay. Rant off. *grin*

    • Terri Osburn says:

      Rant away! I love it. I have the same pet peeve. I’m fiercely independent and even my father doesn’t tell me what to do. And hasn’t for a very long time.

      I’ve read a couple books this year that made me see the attraction of a wounded or damaged hero who is also alpha. But just as I write predominantly Beta heroes who have alpha moments, I believe alpha heroes should have beta moments.

      Or maybe that’s a different blog. 🙂

      The next book in this series is actually about a hero who is the quintessential Good Guy and it was a fine line not to make him appear week or as a doormat on the page. In many ways, we have high standards for heroes, but I think weakness is the ultimate no-no, and maybe it’s easier to make jerk traits seem stronger than good guy traits.

      • Terri, I look forward to that book. I think it’s hard to do a non-alpha hero and avoid moments that appear weak, whether or not they actually are. I like beta heroes who can step up to alpha at need.

    • Cassondra, it really is frustrating when women tolerate–or, maybe, settle for–jerkiness. A wounded hero, even an angry one, can still have a kind core. I’ll cut a guy a fair bit of slack if I see that core in there.

  • Pearl says:

    Heroines who face up to circumstances, are able to withstand pressure and can bear with the difficulties are rare. It is how they were raised and behave which shapes them.

    • Terri Osburn says:

      Exactly, Pearl. Which is why making sure the readers know WHY the heroine does what she does is so important. Snow had her reasons, but it takes a little longer to learn what they were. I’m glad that readers are sticking with the book long enough to at least find out her motivations.

    • Pearl, I also like heroines who have some inner grit.

  • Colleen C. says:

    Interesting… when I read, I look forward to seeing the characters’ personalities shine and their lives unfold for me to go along their journey… have things bugged me, sometimes, but I want a book that touches my emotions… it means that the book and its characters have a hold on me.

  • I can’t stand anyone–real or fictional, male or female, with an attitude. Who needs that when you’re reading for pleasure to block out a real world filled with mean, argumentative nasty people.
    Heroines can be strong, but I like them to be compassionate and able to put themselves in another’s place. Heroes likewise. Give me a man who is kind to animals, children and old people.

  • Helen says:

    Hi Terri

    That is an interesting question and I have to agree that woman are very hard on the heroines in stories I really don’t know why maybe it is just a female trait 🙂

    Congrats on the release

    Have Fun
    Helen

  • Oops. My reply ended up in the box above. Sorry!

  • Thanks to Terri for being my guest and to everyone who stopped by today.

  • Kate Sparks says:

    Panic and 2nd guessing decisions is always a factor in my life!!!

  • Terri Osburn says:

    Thank you for having me, Nancy! And to all who commented. I appreciate the opportunity to hang out with the Bandits.

  • catslady says:

    I think we do because we understand other women. I can pick up on whether a woman is being catty or manipulative or snarky, etc. and I swear men are just clueless.