Tag Archives: kresley cole

Alpha hero

the Black Dagger Brotherhood books have gotten me thinking a lot about alpha heroes – and what kinds of heroines they need to keep them readable.

Just to get this out of the way first: Alphas feel a little bit illicit…but we all love them, right?

I read Kresley Cole and J R Ward close together, and they both write men who are compelled by their animal nature to be possessive and protective to an astounding degree. The different heroines they give these heroes makes for some interesting comparison.

For almost all the Brotherhood books to date, Ward’s heroines wait bravely at home while their men go and fight. They worry. To the point where they annoy. But it also worries me that they don’t seem to have power over their own lives.

I don’t mean that they aren’t “strong women” in their characterisation. But when they act against what their men want, they tend to get into trouble. As Ward has written them, they aren’t in a position to make the right choices for themselves.

The one standout divergence is the heroine of the latest Brotherhood novel, Xhex. She not only frees herself and fights alongside the men, she also forces her lover to stay home and wait for her while she’s fighting. He is now the one at home, eaten away by worry.

In Ward’s novels it is the heroes who stick in your mind. They are the main characters, their relationships to each other are of the most interest in the books, and their women are given meaning by being important to them. It’s not that I don’t like the heroines (ok, sometimes I don’t), but I don’t think Ward gives them parity with their alpha males.

That contrasts heavily with Cole’s heroines, who stand beside the heroes as memorable – and very often steal the show. They are strong and they make decisions for themselves. Though they have alphas going after them in a single-minded way, they have the power in their own lives.

There’s a scene that shows this to perfection:

Two valkyrie heroines from previous novels have turned outside their brother-in-law Conrad’s house to find out why their husbands have gone missing. He and his woman are watching them out the window. One of them wants to kill Conrad for information, but the other punches her to stop her from making that mistake.

“Wait a second.” Myst narrowed her gaze. “What in the hell are we doing? We’re Valkyrie – we take what we want.”

“What do you mean?” Kaderin asked.

“Kristoff won’t let our men go? Then Kristoff needs to be taught a lesson. I say we capture the whole bloody castle.”

There was a dangerous light to Kaderin’s eyes. “Fucking A.”

“Go get them girls,” Conrad muttered.

“Those small women couldn’t really start a war?”

“They might be small, but either one of them could lift a train.” His tone absent, he said, “Kristoff’s sitting across the world – with no idea that hell has just been unleashed against him.”

The difference here is that Ward has said her heroines are strong, but she hasn’t given their choices any power. Cole gives her heroines real, operational intelligence, so that their decisions weigh in equally to their males’.

i like you, i like you not

The most frequent comment I get from my writing teacher is, “Aren’t romance heroines supposed to be sympathetic?”

It’s a hard thing to nut out, because, on the one hand, yes. But I do so love a bitchy/cold/unpleasant heroine who gets her just deserts (oh poor her, she has to be undone by love). So how to write this, without losing reader sympathies altogether?

For me as a reader, I prefer her to be all the way bad, because I know, because of the genre, that she is going to change. This creates enough tension for me to want to read on and see how exactly that happens.

Two heroine’s I’ve read recently who’ve inspired this post:

Sabine from Kiss of a Demon King. She’s an evil sorceress and she follows through. So how does Kresley Cole keep the reader on her side and reading? Firstly, she’s entertaining. Because she’s not trying to come across as good, she cracks open the boring “good” hero, and we get some sparks. Secondly, we’re made aware that she’s an unreliable narrator, i.e. she thinks she’s heartless, but we know why, and we are given the tiniest glimpses that she doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. Thirdly, there is one person on earth she loves before herself.

Rachel from Dream a Little Dream. She’s broke and has nothing in the world but her tiny 5-year-old son who keeps asking “Are we going to die now?” Things get really bad, and then they get a whole lot worse, and she somehow keeps going. All she is is her need to survive. Again here, there is one person on earth she loves more than her own life, that we see her do anything for. There’s also admiration for how she continues in the face of absolute desperation.

I can’t stand wussy writers who write a bad character, but you never really see them do anything heinous. These heroine’s are so brilliant because they are absolute in what they need to do to survive.

vampire, vampire…demon?

I got a bit excessive yesterday, even for me, and read 1.5 books…

Which brings me to the end of book 6 of Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark – the series that has, as you know, swallowed me whole.

I think one of the reasons those last two books caught me in such a non-stop way was that the heroes were demons. For people who read paranormals regularly, demons are probably a bit old hat. For me they were a revelation, and a real head-scratcher.

Vampires, even for someone who doesn’t read much paranormal, are very familiar. (According to special k, the first vampire was Cain.) They drink blood, an act which normally brings a kind of pleasure to the biteee (when it doesn’t kill them) etc.

I just had no idea how she was going to fetishise demons.

It turns out that they have horns which are incredibly sensitive (i.e. you wouldn’t touch a demon’s horns in public unless you wanted to be particularly crude) and lengthen with rage/passion. When they claim their mate they go “fully demonic”, which includes their skin going red (which acts as a kind of stimulant) and their eyes going fully black. They grow top and bottom fangs which they use to, uh, bite their female in a particular muscle that stuns her. In other words, she goes completely still while they have their way with her.

Oh, don’t worry though, she can’t help her pleasure while it’s happening, either.

Can you see why it made me scratch my head? Not because of how bestial and random it is, but because it does actually work as a fetish – it comes off as erotic.

Will maybe think a bit more about why when it disturbs me less to do so.

more Kresley Cole

still reading Ms Cole (my prediction was correct – I had to go out and start buying the series. I recently said to special k “Then I bought some books,” and he said “Of course you did, that’s what you do.”).

The Immortals After Dark series is over the top, extreme and the most fun ever. (See? It’s turned me into a superlativator!) This is what I love about romance. All the good bits, none of the boring bits. And to distinguish the good bits from the really really good bits, the really really good bits have to be amazing.

That’s all. Hopefully once I re-emerge into real life I’ll have something else to talk about.

Over and out.

this is paranormal

I haven’t read much paranormal romance really at all, despite it being possibly the largest sub-genre at the mo. But have just started in on Kresley Cole‘s Immortals After Dark series and am well past impressed.

Loving it!

This is what first gave me the hint that I might feel this way: The heroine is called “Mariketa the Awaited” – a nice, fantasy heroine name and epithet. It sort of made me sigh a bit, with suspended judgement, and expect a mysterious, conflicted woman, possibly wearing a hood.

(Ok, so she wears a hood, but more in the style of a cheeky Little Red Riding Hood than anything else. She has a werewolf chasing her, after all.)

So I open the book and the first line is a quote from Mariketa the Awaited: Love spells are a lot like platform diving. Once you start the process, there’s no going back, and the end will be fugly if you don’t know what the hell you’re doing.

There goes the old-school fantasy heroine, replaced by a girl I love. It’s only made better when she tells the hero off, saying: “I need a male who’ll be able to get me through the ice world in Zelda.”

I’m reading the third book in the series, because it’s the only one the library had on hand, but the seventh has just come out, and I’m starting to suspect it’ll be one of those series that empties my wallet because I have to have them all.