Thank you Melissa for having me here today to discuss my kind of heroine.
I love to write strong women, but I also like to make them suffer through a few tragedies before they reach their happily ever after. Think of Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind and how much she had to struggle through during the ten long years of her story. However, unlike Scarlett O’Hara, my heroines overcome their challenges with their hearts still intact and become the kind of women Rhett Butler wouldn’t walk out on.
I have lots of ways to torture my heroines. Some of my favorite methods are poverty, dead parents, neglectful parents, dead husbands etc. You get the idea. Usually, it’s not just one tragedy they must deal with, but many spread out over their lifetime so that by the time they walk on stage in chapter one, they’re carrying a load a luggage, I’m talking Louis Vuitton steamer trunks.
No matter how I decide to torture my heroines, I always give them two things to help them deal with and overcome their troubles; heart and grit. For each leading lady, grit can be something different, from the courage to carry on after a nasty shock, to the sheer determination to succeed no matter what. My heroines aren’t the kind of women who sit down and give up when faced with disaster or setbacks. Instead, they figure out how to overcome them, and in the process, become stronger women.
Cornelia, Comtesse de Vane, the heroine of my latest release, The Courtesan’s Book of Secrets has suffered her share of tragedy by the time her story begins. Her father neglected her as a child then tried to gamble away her virtue when she was a teenager. Her mother died when she was young and she had to deal with a nasty stepmother. As an adult, she married a man she thought was rich, and when he died, she discovered he was poor. Yet through each difficulty, she has retained her ability to love, as seen in her regard for her young step brother, and her desire to acquire enough money to make sure he is secure and safe. It is her ability to love, despite the cruel hits she suffers from life, which help her capture the heart of the hero and get her happily ever after.
Sometimes it doesn’t seem right to torture my heroines so much, but in the end it’s for their own good. Without suffering, they can’t discover their inner strength, or become the kind of woman the hero needs to help him deal with his troubles (don’t get me started on the ways in which I torture my poor heroes). Through their trials, they learn about themselves and what is most important to them and their lives. All Scarlett O’Hara got at the end for her suffering was Tara and a possible divorce because she lost her ability to love (did she ever really possess it in the first place?). My heroines achieve their Tara and their Rhett after a lot of suffering because heart and grit are the dominant characteristic of my kind of heroine.
Thanks everyone for taking time to stop by and learn a little something about the strong women I like to create. Before you go, leave a comment below telling me who some of your favorite tortured heroines are, from either books or movies. As you might have guessed, Scarlett O’Hara is one of mine, even if her story doesn’t exactly have a happy ending. I can’t wait to read what you post and maybe discover a new favorite tortured heroine.
The Courtesan’s Book of Secrets by Georgie Lee
from Harlequin Historical
Uncovered: a list of noblemen's names—each one guilty of treason.
To save his family legacy, Rafe Densmore must seize a courtesan's infamous register. No one can ever know how his father betrayed his country! One person stands in Rafe's way—the beautiful Cornelia, Comtesse de Vane.
In the card rooms of Paris, Rafe and Cornelia made an unbeatable…intimate team. Until, convinced of Rafe's desertion, desperate Cornelia married an elderly comte. Now, returning to London an impoverished widow, she'll do anything to possess the register.
Even if that means becoming Rafe's partner once again….
The Courtesan’s Book of Secrets by Georgie Lee
London, July 1803
Rafe Densmore, Fifth Baron of Densmore, marched up the stone staircase of Mrs Ross’s unimposing town house off Gracechurch Street. He rapped his knuckles against the door and the black ribbon hanging from the brass knocker fluttered in the breeze. He eyed it with a frown, wondering if the ancient courtesan’s sudden demise would be to his benefit or his detriment. She’d been perfectly alive and well when she’d penned the letter in his pocket, summoning him to her sad doorstep.
He shifted back and forth on his feet. Deep in his boot, his toe caught the beginning of a hole in one stocking.
If he employed a valet, the man would do something about it. Perhaps he might charm Mrs Linton, his landlady, into mending it for him. Though if her needlework proved anything like what she did to the meagre meals she deigned to deliver to his room, he might as well mend it himself. He wondered if her meals were the true extent of her culinary skills or revenge for his grossly outstanding rent.
The hackney horse waiting at the kerb whinnied, failing to disturb the thin driver leaning against the vehicle, smoking a long pipe. The smoke swirled around his head before the wind carried it over the back of his stocky grey animal.
Rafe eyed them both. Whoever had hired the poor beast and his horse must still be inside and it was time for them to draw their business to a close. He hadn’t fought so hard to reach Mrs Ross, or to raise the blunt needed to meet her demands, only to be stalled on the doorstep by a dawdling caller.
He raised his fist to knock again when the bolt scraped and the door creaked open to reveal the drooping eyes of a withered old butler. Rafe brushed past him and into the small entrance hall, his throat tightening from the thick dust covering every surface. A spider scurried behind a dark painting. Compared to this house, his current lodgings seemed breathtakingly opulent.
‘Lord Densmore to see Mr Nettles,’ Rafe announced. ‘He’s expecting me.’
‘Yes, of course. This way, my lord.’ The butler shuffled across the hall.
Rafe followed before something along the edge of his vision brought him to a halt at the morning-room door.
A tall, voluptuous woman draped in gauzy black silk stood by the cold fireplace. She didn’t move or greet him, but remained silent beneath the dark veil covering her face. A slow smile spread across Rafe’s lips, his fever in obtaining the register momentarily dampened. Despite her silence, something about her called to him and he moved closer to the doorway. The slight tensing of her shoulders made him stop, but not turn away. Her dress, dark and wispy like smoke, swirled around her curves. She clutched a book to her chest. The leather tome obscured the full roundness of her breasts, except for the creamy tops which were just visible beneath her black-net chemisette.
‘Good morning.’ He swept off his hat and dropped into a low bow, noting the few white petals scattered on the faded carpet at her feet, probably the remains of Mrs Ross’s funeral. By her own account, Mrs Ross was a recluse, but apparently she wasn’t completely devoid of friends to mourn her.
Rafe straightened, admiring the woman’s generous measure of height. Heat flooded through him as he imagined tucking the statuesque creature into the curve of his body and brushing his lips along the bit of exposed neck caressed by her short veil. He tapped his fingers against his thigh, sensing her height would match his perfectly, the way Cornelia’s once did.
His hand tightened into a fist, the sharp edge of betrayal cooling his ardour. He relaxed his fingers and struggled to keep smiling. Why the deuce was he thinking of Cornelia? He’d left that business in France where, with any luck, it would stay.
A lifelong history buff, Georgie Lee hasn’t given up hope that she will one day inherit a title and a manor house. Until then, she fulfills her dreams of lords, ladies and a season in London through her stories. The Courtesan’s Book of Secrets is her third Harlequin Historical. When not writing, she can be found reading non-fiction history or watching any movie with a costume and an accent. Please visit www.georgie-lee.com to learn more about Georgie and her books.
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