Must I take the High Road? A rant in the making.

By Tori.

I am positive I would not make a good romance heroine. At least, not a nice one. Because one, I’m not very nice. I’m polite and well mannered, but I don’t filter my thoughts and there aren’t many whose opinions mean much to me. I’m loyal, selfish, a tad  insane, perpetually grumpy, and anyone who messes with those I love will see a whole other side of me. The side that gives you until the count of five to straighten up or run. I don’t believe long suffering and virtuous automatically means you’re a good person. I don’t believe being a doormat will reward you in the end. There is always a time and place to behave but when you watch your man playing up a former girlfriend or a potential one…it’s time to break bad.


Recently I read a few books that required the heroine to take the high road and play nice with a woman who showed signs they were after the heroine’s man. The heroines don’t break bad. They don’t toss the skank across the room and let them know in uncertain terms that NOBODY takes their man. Instead they rationalize one hundred reasons why they really shouldn’t stuff them in a Fed Ex box and mail them to, “ I will bust you a new one, USA.”

Why do heroines take the high road?

Usually politics play large part. Especially in the paranormal genre. Or, the hero is caught between a rock and hard place and the heroine doesn’t want to cause him any more problems. What completely makes me stabby is the hero does nothing about the woman. He allows other women to insult and demean the heroine, wanting heroine to handle it herself but also hobbles said heroine by insisting the women doesn’t mean to be a pain. Really? Or that this is just how the woman is and what can you do. There is a lot you can do. *nods head, swings nunchucks*  He merely wanders around always exclaiming that they mean NOTHING to them and then gets pissy when heroine finally does have enough and leaves.


Are you serious?

You’re going to give your woman grief because you can’t handle your business and you won’t let her handle it?

Oh, hell no.

Why does this need to happen? Why do we basically emasculate the heroine? Is it to show adversity? If that’s such a great storyline then why do we rarely if ever see it happening to the hero? Because when we do see the beginning of it, the hero usually refuses to play. He tells the heroine- fix it, let me fix it, or I’m gone. Heroes in general are more verbal in this situation. Heroine’s tend to bury their emotions or make excuses for the hero’s actions. A hero is all balls to the wall. He’s a constant nag in the heroine’s ear. He wants to know who, what, when, where, and how. He wants that man gone and he lets the world know it. The problem I see sometimes is when we do have a heroine that is extra verbal, she inadvertently comes off as bitchy and insecure while the hero is considered alpha and in love.


And another thing. Please, please, please, do not pat the heroine on the head and tell her how proud you are they took the high road. *gag* My whirling ninja arms of fury come out then. I want to wade in the book, grab the heroine, and cut a wide path through the BS. I want to tell the heroine, you do not have to put up with this. Your man should support you and your feelings one hundred percent. Are you or are you not in a supposed committed relationship? Would they want you hanging with another man, inviting them into their house? And that’s my main issue. When you have a person making an obvious play for you and you sit there, doing nothing, thinking if you leave it all alone, they will go away, well…that’s just stupid. Sometimes people need “help” to get the message that you are not interested. Sometimes, you need you other half to step in and clean house.

697011One of the first books I read with this storyline was Catherine Coulter’s The Sherbrooke Bride. Alexandra kind of tricks Douglas into marrying her and that puts their marriage on a rocky path. Douglas’s mother HATES Alex for that and treats her abominably. Alex holds her own the best she can with no support from Douglas. One of the best scenes is when she reminds the Dowager, politely, that she outranks her as an Duke’s daughter and frankly, marrying Douglas, was socially beneath her. Oh Snap! It’s only after numerous books (yes, this goes on throughout the series) that Douglas finally realizes what a biotch his mother is (and what an arse he is) when his son tells the Dowager she will not speak to his wife like that and asks his father, Douglas, why he allows her to speak to Alex like that. Epiphany!! Too late in my eyes because throughout the series, Alex goes to great lengths, almost dying a few times, to protect her man and he never returns the favor.

Emily Snow’s Devoured series has a heroine who practically bends over backwards for the hero AND his long line of psycho’s. We are told she is a “submissive” but I think she is just passive and doesn’t like conflict. To show how clueless the hero is, he invites her to tour with his band, putting her in the line of fire. Hellooooo? It was like placing a girl scout in a WWF ring with the two heavy weight champs. She gets threatened by one ex and harassed by the other. What’s he doing during all of this? Reassuring her it’s only her he loves and attempting to screw her to submission. She finally issues an ultimatum (with her eyes-while my eyes rolled). Everything wraps up conveniently and I was so disgusted by the end of the story, I couldn’t find it in me to be even angry.

The Avoiding series by K.A Linde shows you in black and white the consequences of what happens when the TRUE hero takes the high road. He gets screwed. Hard. Four books tell us of a toxic relationship between two serial cheaters. When the heroine is finally over it, she finds herself a good man who truly loves her. Of course, she can’t scrape off the loser ex who “loves” her but his fear of commitment causes him to fall into every available vagina he stumbles across. They break up, he marries someone else, but they remain friends. *eyebrows raised*  The hero is not happy about it but he trusts his girlfriend and knows she won’t go back to her loser ex so he keeps quiet and takes the high road. I don’t want to spoil but the fourth and final book literally left me feeling like I wasted a few years of my life and solidified that taking the high road is for punks.

beyondpain1One series that I adore with some bad arse heroines both professionally and personally is Kit Rocha’s O’Kane series. I could be an O’Kane, according to one of the authors, and I consider that a compliment. These women are bad to the bone and don’t take anyone’s crap. Not from the men and certainly not from another woman coming on to their man. You want protection? You want help? You want a new life? Then you have to earn it. And not by making a play for their man or playing the poor misunderstood victim. Because these woman will hurt you.

Darynda Jones Charley Davidson series has a badarse heroine whose antics will make you howl with laughter. Not one to get physical over her man, she’s more the “stalking and get all up in your business” type. Her man is acting funny or hanging with another woman? Within 24 hours she will know everything that is going on and possibly what will happen. The woman in question is more likely to find her credit score demolished or her car towed then her arse beat but hey, at least Charley does something.



What do you think? Is the high road the road to take? Or are you like me and think if Cinderella had just busted a few heads, she may have been happier in the long run?


Edited for misspelled word. :P


  1. says

    Great post Tori!
    I agree 100%, don’t be hanging on another woman’s man if you don’t want to get cut! It drives me insane when the heroine gets insecure and feels like she’s losing her man and then does NOTHING to stop it. Woman up chick and either leave or kick some arse :)


  2. says

    I’d like to think that the heroine would behave in a realistic manner. That is, a realism that I subscribe to.

    If she found a beyotch in heat sniffing around her man, firstly she should scathe her with her laser-beam eyes. If said sniffer was too thick headed or hormone-wracked to get the message, then verbal instruction should be undertaken. If this also fails, the heroine should then give the ho a solid smack.

    But secondly, and possibly more importantly,she should grab her man by the sac, give a good twist, and explain in no uncertain terms that if he didn’t clean house of any whiff of those shenanigans, he could fucking well ship out. Pronto. I don’t care how much she loves her man, if he doesn’t love her enough to twist that pair out of her grip, man up and scrape that ho-sniffing shit off, he doesn’t love her enough.

    Good rant, Tori. Cathartic.

    • Tori says

      LOL YES. Not only get all up in the woman’s face but give her man a much need come to Jesus talk.

      After reading a few books that made me stabby, I really had to vent.

  3. says

    I’m of the Reagan persuasion on this. Trust but verify.

    Once the guy is aware (and yes, we do often need a flashing neon sign) there’s an issue on his side, it should be up to him to handle it or GTFO. I mean, come on, if she can’t trust a guy to handle someone else coming on to him, she’s just flat with the wrong guy. Period.

    Trust doesn’t just get miracled up though, it comes from seeing a pattern of proper behavior. Until she has that trust, she needs evidence.

    So, yeah I guess I don’t want to see the heroine going all shank-a-bitch. It shows the guy is too weak to handle his shat and she’s not secure enough to give him the well deserved boot over it.

    • Tori says

      I see your points and agree to a certain point. Evidence is needed-is this a one time thing or is it on going? If on going, oh yeah, heroine needs to get out now. But, it’s also a matter of respect. If the hero can’t or won’t handle the problem, that’s a separate issue the heroine needs to address in private. But, a heroine sometimes needs to clean house just a matter of respect to herself. If only just to get the point across that no one can come into her territory and take what they want.

  4. Amanda says

    I think you have highlighted one of my biggest beefs that seem to constantly occur (or at least they use to) in Harlequin Present books. The heroine would be upset that a woman(secretary/personal assistant/old family friend) in her man’s life was clearly after her man. If she even brought the subject up the man would basically belittle her opinion. Anytime she tries to stand up for herself she is made to look a fool. And then when it finally came out that she was right the evil one might get told off but heroine doesn’t get a “sorry, you were right” or even a “my bad” from her man.

  5. says

    I had to go read the reviews on that KA Linde series. Thank God I didn’t ever pick up those books. I might have stabbed someone in book 3.

    Does this rant have anything to do with that other book we were talking about (NB)? Cause I am going to be so disappointed if that is how it plays out too.

    • Tori says

      Linde left me screaming in frustration. I was like you &^*^%$%$#. DIE!!!

      Just read it then we’ll talk. As I said, Im re reading to make sure it wasn’t my mood and I didn’t miss anything. Because, you know how my moods are. lol

  6. Liz says

    Excellent rant, Ms. Tori! All the things I think and would never put quite so eloquently. I was reminded of two books with memorable scenes:
    Cherrie Lynn’s LEAVE ME BREATHLESS when Macy opens a can of whoop-ass on Ghost’s ex and Kristen Ashley’s ROCK CHICK REVOLUTION when Ren goes ape-shit on his family for disrespecting Ally. Good books to remember and now I’m in need of re-reads. Wheeee!

    Much love ;)

  7. Amy says

    I get the *warm fuzzies* when Tori takes a hero to task! Those “come to Jesus” talks need to happen more from the heroine in the romance genre for sure. Great post!

  8. says

    As I mentioned on Twitter, what gets me about this trope is the man’s behavior. If he does nothing and lets something go into uncomfortable territory, he’s WEAK.

    I don’t respect him as a hero anymore. Basically, he just let the other woman walk all over the mutual respect that *should* exist between the couple.

    Yeah, I could rant all day with this. :) I hate this trope. HATE. And this is a big reason why jealousy stories trigger my hatred. I avoid those stories at all costs for my sanity.

    So, no, I don’t think the heroine should have to take the high road, but I’d think more that she should take the road out of town and away from that weakling of a hero. ;)

    • Tori says

      LOL Very true. My point I was trying to make and may have failed at it that the heroine shouldn’t be altered personality wise for the sake of the storyline. Even if there are undeniable reasons for what’s happening in this particular plot line, why would we make a normally strong, independent, heroine suddenly mute? A heroine can be proactive and voice her displeasure at both hero and other woman, to their faces, with out being thought of as bitchy, jealous, insecure, and needy.

      • says

        Absolutely! And if, perchance, the hero is oblivious to the uncomfortable situation, the heroine should feel safe, respected, and enabled in pointing out the concern.

        If the hero didn’t notice because he’s oblivious (which I can forgive) and the heroine doesn’t speak up and just kind of takes it, then yeah, I blame the heroine in that case. :)

        As you said, if the heroine doesn’t speak up, that doesn’t tell me that the heroine is noble. That tells me that either she’s a) weak, b) not comfortable enough in the relationship to speak up (not a good sign), or that the author doesn’t know how to make a strong, non-bitchy character.

        But I’ll admit that this is near the top of my least favorite plot tropes, so I may be ranty myself. LOL!

      • says

        Hmm, after reading other tweets about this issue and some coming to the defense of the other woman…I don’t buy that perspective.

        As a reader, if we get the impression that this other woman is bad news (i.e., your use of the words ho, skank, etc.), that’s because the *author* created that impression. There’s no innocent until proven guilty in fiction. LOL!

        • Tori says

          Yes. I was led that route so why blame me if I get angry for the heroine’s sake.

          Either way, I feel heroines and women in general should be able to get angry, indignant, loud, obnoxious, demanding, insane, and irrational if something or someone is hurting them. And not be made to feel bad over it.

  9. says

    Great rant Tori, and I do agree with you. I hate it when the hero doesn’t stand behind his woman and supports her. If she tells him something is happening and he just doesn’t believe her, or wants to act on it, he is not worthy of her at al.

  10. erinf1 says

    *this*points excitedly* *THIS*!!!!! Preach it sista! This is exactly how I feel! So glad that you put in words! I’m glad to find out that I’m not the only one spazing out and scaring my dog when I read :)

  11. Janet W says

    A heroine with nothing in particular to recommend her physically or financially is Beth Armitage in Jo Beverley’s An Unwilling Bride–but does she let her husband-to-be’s almost fiancee put her in her place? Is she silent and suffering? Not at all–she’s witty, caustic and clear in her disdain for the mean-girl-antics of Phoebe of the carefully coiffed blonde curls. Why should women suck it up? Because they’ll get a reputation as uppity or sarcastic or god forbid, smarter than the average bear? Particularly in historicals, this could be the kiss of death so thanks be to authors who find ways to give us heroines with some spine.

    • Tori says

      I liked that one but had some issues-the fight scene left a bad taste in my mouth. I do love Jo Bev. She does have strong heroines who never stand by and silently seethe. And they are so classy in their set downs.

  12. says

    Ugh, this is happening in a book I’m reading now. With the ridiculous double-standard that the woman has to eradicate from her life all men who are the least bit threatening. Of course!

    Thanks for pointing this out – it’s disturbing that it’s so easy to find. I don’t think you have to be a fierce mama lion to not put up with this shit in real life, you just have to have, say, a wee bit of self-esteem, so I don’t find it terribly realistic. At least for a heroine I’d want to read about.

  13. Helyce says

    Though I have not read the books you mention above, I can with all honestly say that I agree with what you’re saying. I lean much more toward the heroine who stands up for herself and knows who she is and that she is worth it! Having said that, I’m okay with a woman having to “fight for her man” but not at the expense of her having to change herself or be something she is not.

    T–remind me cause this made me think of Gwen in Mystery Man…when she finds out about Hawk’s Monday girl, Tuesday girl, etc…does she still “see” him? Or did she kick him to the curb?

    • Tori says

      :) I bet your feisty when your riled. lol

      I think she kicks him to the curb but hooks back with him when she is in danger. I think. Its been a while and that’s the one book I don’t re read.

  14. says

    My favorite heroine who doesn’t take the high road is Eve from the In Death series. In one of the books, an ex-lover of Roarke’s enters the picture and tries to rock the boat between Eve and Roarke. Eve catches that skank kissing Roarke and not only does she clock the skank out she punches Roarke for being stupid, and the have hot monkey make up sex.

    Eve for the win!

    • Tori says

      OMG I totally forgot about her. Yes, she does take matters into her own hands doesn’t she? Pops Roarke to for being an idjit. That book made me weepy.

      *fist pump* EVE!

      • says

        That book is one of my favorites in the entire series. That scene had me cheering.

        Also Cat from Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series doesn’t take any crap either.

  15. JL says

    Great article. I especially hate when a heroine has to deal with a rude, disrespectful mother-in-law and no one bats an eyelash. Basically, all of Shelly Laurenston’s characters are my favourite because they are angry, insane, and always demand respect. And they are batshit crazy.

  16. says

    Tori, love your cranky witty self. Keep it coming.

    This post and the comments are making me think that this “high road” BS heroine as “good girl” sh*t is the very reason I walked away from romance reading for a long time. And, when I came back to it I dove into paranormals and fantasies. Not that you can’t find this trope in those genres, but I just loved it when *shock* the hero and heroine COMMUNICATED their feelings, listened to each other and cleared the air (either verbally and/or with butt-kicking).

    I sometimes wonder how different my teenage and early twenties dating experiences would’ve been if I’d run into more strong female characters in the books I was devouring at the time (not that they weren’t any…just they seemed the exception is all.)

  17. JenM says

    What drives me crazy is that every time an author writes a strong heroine who stands up for herself, lots of readers complain that the heroine is not “likable” or isn’t nice enough. Just gag me. I love strong heroines and absolutely hate the doormat types.

  18. sheena says

    Oddball out…I don’t like a door mat, but some strong heroines annoy me to no end, the hero spends half the damn book trying to win her love. I like a more balanced heroine. Not tough as nails and rinning from the hero the whole book, and not a doormat. Lol

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