Monday, June 25, 2012


By Caroline Clemmons

How long have you been reading romance novels? If it’s more than ten or fifteen years, you’ve seen heroines change from the damsel who has to be rescued, to the spunky heroine who works with the hero to help save herself, and sometimes to the kick-ass heroine who rescues the hero.

"Hello? Killer
is that you
I heard?"
Romance heroines are evolving. No longer will readers tolerate the TSTL (too stupid to live) heroine who goes out late at night, wearing only her nightgown carrying a candle, to investigate a strange noise when she knows there’s a killer in the area. Nope, if she is in peril, it can’t be due to our modern heroine’s stupidity.

Readers require heroines to be strong and admirable, just as the heroes are. We don’t like whiners, brutality, or stupid characters in either gender. Even if our hero and heroine are a bit over the top, we want to believe they are people we would like to know in person.

I live a few miles from a small Texas town. This is why I write characters who live in or near small Texas towns. Whether historical or contemporary, the characters who reside in my head are people I would enjoy knowing in real life...except the criminals, but I dispose of them one way or another. Even the secondary characters are people I would enjoy finding on the next acreage.

BE MY GUEST has characters that I admire and with whom I enjoy spending time...once again, except the criminals. This was my first published novel and released in 1998. I’ve updated it a bit and added back some cut scenes, but the hero and heroine remain the same. I hope you’ll enjoy spending time with Aurora O’Shaughnessy and Will Harrison and their friends and relatives. I certainly have.

That's model Jimmy Thomas standing in front
of my photo of Texas wildflowers

Here’s a blurb:

Aurora Kathleen O’Shaughnessy comes by her flaming auburn hair naturally, and this independent city woman has an inner fire to match. Nothing stops Aurora--that is, nothing short of a Texas flash flood. This super-organized businesswoman might be running from the past, but she’s using this journey to stop and smell the roses-- or rather the spring flowers in bloom across the Texas prairie. But beautiful Aurora has attracted the attention of two unsavory characters stalking her.

Rancher Will Harrison rescues her from the raging waters and she’s his guest for the next thirty-six hours. That’s long enough for Will to fall head over heels in major attraction, and he has a hunch she might feel the same. He has a plan to keep her around until he convinces her to move out of the fast land and in to his life forever. But two predators have other plans for Aurora. Can Will save her in time? Can Aurora save herself?

And here’s an excerpt after Aurora’s car is washed away by floodwater. When Will rescued her from a cottonwood tree, she was a bit banged up. As the above blurb indicated, the high water has marooned her at Will’s ranch house:

    Will let his eyes memorize every detail of her face before, with resignation, he sat up and picked up the phone again to dial his mother's phone number. Kelly answered the phone and he told her briefly about his houseguest. Once again he laughed and winked at Aurora as he answered Kelly's questions. Finally, he told her they would discuss the situation further when she got home.
    Aurora loved the way his voice changed tones as he talked to his daughter. He’d sounded friendly and polite when talking to her father, and professional while he talked to the deputy at the sheriff's office. His tone with his daughter was entirely different--patient and loving. His pride and love for his little girl showed in every word he said.
    While Will talked on the phone, Aurora absentmindedly organized the medical supplies on the bedside table into a neat little group on one corner of the tabletop. She realized what she’d done and found he watched with an amused expression. She blushed and put her hands in her lap. Why, why did she have to be such an organization nut?
When Will finished his call to Kelly and his mother, Aurora crossed her arms and accused,  "That's the second time you've done that."
    "What?" Will frowned. “What did I do?”
    "You know, laughed while you answered questions over the phone. What did you say about me?"
    "You heard what I said." Will grinned innocently.
  His stone gray eyes came to life when he smiled, and each time it made her even more aware of her attraction to this man.
She tried to fight the spell he cast over her, to concentrate on her goals. "You know very well what I mean. For instance, what did my father ask that you found so amusing, anyway?"
    Will's smile became mysterious. "That's my secret for now. Let's just say we had a meeting of the minds. I'm sure I'm going to like him."
    Aurora scowled at him, but ignored the implication. "What did your daughter ask that was so funny?"
    "She wanted to know if I still wore my wedding ring--that's been such an unbelievably big deal to her lately. Most kids don't want a stepmother, but she's determined to get one. I think it's because the father of her friend Marcie remarried last year, and Marcie has been lording it over her with tales of how great it is to have a stepmother. When I admitted I removed the ring, she wanted to know if it was because of you."
Will Harrison
    Will shrugged. "I never lie to her, so I had to tell her yes. Then, she wanted to know if I plan to keep you here. That's when I said I certainly intend to try."
    Aurora relaxed her arms and folded her hands primly together in her lap. "Oh, you know very well that I'm on my way to Colorado."
    "I know what you told me." Will said as he took her hand. For a moment he sat examining her hand. When he again met her gaze there was a new intensity there. "Yesterday I let you walk out of the restaurant and hated myself for letting you get away without my even knowing how to contact you. It may sound foolish but I determined to find you again if I had to go to Durango to do so." He traced his finger across her palm. "I promise you it won't be so easy to get away from me next time."
    He had revealed far more of himself than he had intended at this point. He determined to find out if his attraction to her was because of his three years of celibacy or because she was as special as he suspected. Careful not to scare her off, he had to know the answer. To accomplish that, he had to keep her nearby.
    He flashed her a wicked grin, "Although I like my pajama top on you, I suppose you'll be more comfortable in your own things--and definitely a lot safer."

BE MY GUEST is available for only 99 cents from these sources:


Thanks for stopping by!


Paty Jager said...

Sounds like a great read, Caroline! And I think small communities make for better stories.Mainly because everyone knows everything about everyone and it makes it easier to reveal so much about characters who have lived in one place a while.

Lyn Horner said...

Love the pics, Caroline, especially the one of Aurora. Of course I also love the ones of Jimmy. I've used him on both of my Texas Druids book covers, with some adaptations.

Your point about how romance heroines have changed is so true. It's a juggling act these days. We want the ladies to be strong yet lovable enough to attract a man like Will Harrison. Not always easy.

Devon Matthews said...

Nice excerpt, Caroline! When I think about tstl heroines, I naturally think about the blood and gore movies. All the heroines in those might as well stretch their necks across the chopping block and say, come and get me, killer. I refuse to watch them.

It is a balancing act these days. We want our heroines strong, but we don't want them too hard-boiled or manly. They still must have vulnerabilities and need the hero.

Best of luck with your reissue! Hope you sell tons! :)

Meg said...

So true about the heroines and heros!! Great post, CC!

Jacquie Rogers said...

I have this book on Kindle but haven't read it yet--I don't think. LOL Might have read it a long time ago because I've been a fangirl for years.

As for heroines, I think that especially in western historical romance, readers have come to expect to read about the strong women who had enough brains and grit to settle not only the country, but the men in it. We grew up equating weakness with being feminine, and you know, that's not even logical. Just lift a cast iron pot and you'll see. :)

Ciara Gold said...

Excellent post. I think publishers were as much at fault as writers in pushing the "whimpy" heroine in the 1980s. Readers just wanted a good romance and of course the publishers gave them what they thought they wanted. I love that this new era of publishing has given the readers so many choices.

Ellen O'Connell said...

I agree that heroines have evolved, but from what I see only so far. Some of those old books had genuinely TSTL heroines, but at least they had the virtue of consistency. What I encounter nowadays are heroines who are all sorts of clever and brave in most situations but then go off the deep end when needed. IMO this happens because it's easier to have someone do something stupid and get in a risky situation than to come up with a believable way to get her there.