Wednesday, December 1, 2010

True Romance: Who Rescues Whom?

The results for the draw for Charlaine Harris's "Dead in the Family" and Kirsten Cashore's "Fire" have just come in and the winners are:

Lynn Rush wins "Dead in the Family"
Anne wins "Fire"

Congratulations to both of you—
if you could email me via contact[at] with a postal address, I will get the books away to you asap.

And thanks again to everyone for joining in the conversation—it's been great. I'll see you again next year—on New Year's Day in fact: in between times, I'm going to think about how we can have some fun with that!


Last month we talked about what makes a story truly romantic and you told me that for you, the X factor can include to honor and defend; a look, a touch, and the sense that two people are meant to be together; having plenty of chemistry but also leaving something to the imagination; self-sacrifice and the willingness of star-crossed lovers to fight for each other—and definitely that element of forbidden love.

All so true—and just as much for film as for print, as Pamela honed in on a little later in the month.

Shortly after that I was watching Pretty Woman—an oldie but a goodie for me in the romantic stakes. (Of course, one of my friends maintains that the most romantic scene in the story has to be where the Richard Gere character gives Julia Roberts his credit card—but getting back on topic … )

Right at the end of the film there’s the scene where our hero overcomes his fear of heights to “rescue” the Julia Roberts character—and then asks (something like): “what happens next?” And of course she says: “She rescues him right back!”

This is the bit that got me thinking, because one of the trends of contemporary fantasy is the kickass chick—whether it’s Buffy, who always manages to rescue herself in the end as well as dusting the vamps or slaying the demons; or Sookie Stackhouse in Charlaine Harris’s True Blood novels (ok, I think they’re the Sookie Stackhouse series, but you know what I mean) who as often-as-not rescues the paras; or Katsa in Kirsten Cashore’s Graceling who is an archetypal alpha heroine.

All great stories and heroines that we love—but 'tell me true', is there any secret yearning (as last month’s comments suggest there might be) for the alpha hero who sweeps all before him to rescue our heroine from dastardly villains and “love only her” for ever after (keeping her in the style to which she would entirely wish to become accustomed, of course!)

Or do we like to mix it up a bit more, Pretty Woman and Ever After style, and have our heroine rescuing her man “right back?” Or is it just nice to have the choice, depending on time, place and mood?

I’d love to hear what you all think!


Giveaway Time!

To help the discussion along, I’ve got two books from the writers mentioned above as giveaways for a couple of lucky posters: a copy of the latest Sookie Stackhouse novel, Dead in the Family (to be drawn first), and Kirsten Cashore’s Fire (to be drawn second). This giveaway is open to all Supernatural Underground followers, US or international.

Just add a comment on your preference for “Who Rescues Whom” before the next Supernatural Underground author posts to go in the draw (which will be via Random Number selection.) As always, you can earn points (i.e. the number of times your name goes into the draw) by:

+1 Posting in the comments section
+1 Linking to this post on Twitter
+1 Linking to this post on Facebook
+1 Linking to the Supernatural Underground or my Helen Lowe on Anything Really blog on your own blog/website.

Just post the total number of points that you’ve earned in your comment. And don’t forget to check back to see if you’ve won!


Linda Poitevin said...

As long as the heroine is strong and capable, and the circumstances make sense, I have no problem with the hero doing the rescuing. Besides, it seems to me that "rescuing" can take many forms. While a hero might physically rescue the heroine, she's usually already saved him from himself. :)

Good question, btw!

JenM said...

I used to like the whole "swept off her feet by the alpha hero" thing, but I guess my tastes have changed, and now I find most of those heroines TSTL. The heroine has to be strong herself (mentally, not necessarily physically), otherwise, I just don't buy the romance.

Robyn said...

first, i LOVE that you mention Kristin Cashore's work. I thinkg Graceling and Fire are two of the most underrated works out there - and they are BRILLIANT. they deserve more "buzz."

okay, as for the romance - hero vs. heroine... there are times, as a self-proclaimed ass kicking girl, that i really just wish someone WOULD swoop in and take care of me. BUT. I take care of me just fine, and (with my authority issues/temper/attitude) i would be highly insulted at ANYONE's suggesstion that i couldn't. now, does this all stem from my own personal neurosis? probably. but i think it's also just a fact about today's women.

I need a strong (and ultimately sexy) hero for my heroine. but i need a heroine who could do it herself if she needed to. a good give-and-take is, IMHO, the key to a good story and any good relationship - real of fictional. One of my favorite series, Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress, is the ultimate example of this kind of love. Cat and Bones are stronger together, but each is completely capable to take care of themselves. perfect.

Sharon S. said...

tough one. I love that alpha male, but I like a kick-ass female. If I had to chose it would be for both to make the sacrifice. Kind of "The Gift of the Magi" way. I have a copy of the Sookie book, and would love to win Fire.

Cath's Chatter said...

I have to agree...its always nice to have an alpha male but if the heroine is a hopeless, whiny type, you lost me.
I like my heroine's with a little spunk, even if its just a wise cracking attitude!!!Butt kicking ability is just a bonus :)

Buffy said...

Depends on my mood honestly, sometimes I just want a romance book where the man swoops in and catches the maiden. But the other 90% of the time, I love when my heroine saves the day by her wit and strength. It gives the romance a spice afterward as well, which is always fun.

I also have the Charlaine Harris book and would love to win Kirsten Cashore's Fire.

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Mindolla said...

I now have this churning in my head. I would have immediately answered that I like a hero to rescue me. However when I really think about it, I LOVE the tragically flawed hero character who is changed by the love of the heroine so I guess that would actually make HER the rescuer.. she doesnt have to be kick butt... maybe he rescued her in the situation of the story but on the grande scheme, she rescues him from life.... Yes Yes.... She rescues him right back....

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Lea U. said...

My intuition says that the hero is supposed to save the heroine. But you know what? In my opinion a strong hero just needs a strong women, who can take care of herself in certain situations. He needs a women, who can be strong for both of them. Because even a strong hero has week moments. The hero needs a partner that just fits. In the end it doesn´t matter who rescues whom, because they kind of save each other every day.

+1 Posting in the comments section
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3 points total

Sullivan McPig said...

I love it when it's mutual. I mean: Alpha Males are cool to read about, but the heroine must be someone who can balance him (and vice versa) and do a bit of rescuing as well to make it truely interesting.

SandyG265 said...

I tend to like the Pretty Woman type of romance where both people help each other. It's more realistic than the helpless female who has to be rescued by the man.

Helen Lowe said...

Thank you for all the great comments --and I am definitely seeing a "trend" as well, ie that it is more all a matter of give and take, which I think some of the best romantic stories pick up on, even going to the 'originators' like Pride & Prejudice, or much further back, 'Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady.'

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

She rescues herself but has the backing of a sweet and loyal guy (or significant other). :)

Have a ink on my blog too for the SNU

Nicole Murphy said...

I love this - yes, I want to see a strong man and I love a moment of him sweeping in to rescue her, but at the end of the book I like the sense that they've saved each other.

Anna E. said...

I have to agree with the Trend here and say that, While a Strong Alpha Male type is great, He needs ( and I enjoy) an equally Strong Heroine.
I love, love, love Victoria in the Gardella series! Although I also like a female who has a vulnerable side, like Olivia in the Darkest Passion. She shows the Alpha Male (Aeron) the meaning of love. So I guess in the end she rescues him too!

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Barbara E. said...

I'm all for a nice Alpha hero to save the day, but I really enjoy when the heroine rescues her man “right back.” There's always something so satisfying when a woman can get herself out of a jam, or rescue the hero and not be the helpless victim.


Helen Lowe said...

I'm all for gals not being helpless victims--although it's always nice to have a shoulder to lean on from time to time. And then again, to offer that shoulder, too ...

I'm enjoying all your comments--keep 'em coming! :-)

Jessica said...

I personally don't mind which way it happens. Sometimes it's fun to see the girl save the guy. But then again I like traditional too! It's like with Disney movies, the prince always rescues the princess and they live HEA. But in Enchanted the princess rescued the guy and they live HEA but they don't get married. I love my Disney movies and their typical storyline and I like how Enchanted kind of pokes fun at it, by saying that's not the way things really go.

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Anonymous said...

I love it when the woman "saves him right back." That's freaking awesome as far as I'm concerned. Don't get me wrong, I love a man swooping in to save the girl...but it's fun to have the chick save the day, too, sometimes. :)

Great post.
Oh--I posted on twitter and commented that's 2 entries, I guess. :)

mariska said...

When it's in right time and in the right place, i don't mind if the heroine saves the hero. but still i more into hero saves the heroine though :)

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Helen Lowe said...

Reading all your comments and "thinking about it some more" it occurs to me that what it really comes down to is the story driving the action: depending on how the plot evolves, the guy will save the gal or vice versa--but as readers we pick up whether the action is "true" to the story ... and realise very quickly when something "rings false."

Claire Dawn said...

A little bit of both for me. The alpha male, and then the heroine rescues him right back :)

Anne said...

I actully prefer it when the guy rescues the girl, not that I want a real wimpy heroine. It's all aboput escapism for me. Yet, I do read a lot of Urban Fantasy where the heroines are as strong if not stronger than the men and really like those too.

Kimberly B. said...

I like the taking turns approach. I think the last book I read that really did this well was Eve Kenin's Driven, where the hero and heroine were both strong but not obnoxiously so. And I don't mind if the hero is physically stronger but the heroine's expertise, supernatural skill, or intelligence and knowledge lead him to depend on her just as much (P.S. It can be fun when expectations are overturned and it works out the other way). I just don't like a heroine who's a perpetual victim; I'd rather read about a heroine I can either relate to, or aspire to.
Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

Llehn said...

In this day and age I don't think gender factors into the situation so it doesn't really matter who rescues whom.


Helen Lowe said...

Thank you all for your fantastic comments. I've really enjoyed reading them and getting your perspectives. And, of course, now that Jeaniene's post is up I can do the giveaway draw for "Dead in the Family" and "Fire." :-) I'll post the result very soon.