GS vs STA: She’s Hit Over the Head with the Anvil of Love

Good Shit vs. Shit to Avoid time! I had an interesting email (many of them are, thank you, thank you) about books featuring the heroine who is surprised by a relationship – and by someone’s interest in her:

I’m looking for a book where the heroine is genuinely not interested
(romantically) in the hero. I know, I know, it’s supposed to be a romance
novel, but lately I’ve lately been reading books and watching dramas
(asian tv) where the heroine with zero pride will throw herself at the guy.
She usually goes through great humbling lengths and all of her friends,
family, the hero, and sometimes the whole town watch her “antics” to get
her man. I just think it’s sad that the heroine:

1. Has nothing else going on for herself like family, friends, hobbies or
work (if contemporary)

2. Dismisses other guys around her who might like her and may be worthy of
her because everyone else not HIM. Not even kisses or dates!

3. Usually watches her hero date or pursue other girls while she is eaten up
with jealousy.

4. She doesn’t get her man until the END of the story and I just have to
be with her through all her suffering and IMHO wasting a healthy libido!

I want to see a hero who knows early on that he lurves her and does
everything in his power to make her love him back. My favorite books with
this type of H/H is Uncommon Vows, Midsummer Moon, Lucy Sullivan is Getting
Married,
and Ravished. I love that Merlin is too preoccupied with her
experiments to fuss with a man.

One that comes to my mind is The Kiss Test by
Shannon McKelden. The heroine in that book is trying to get over a breakup, and takes a road trip with her best friend, Chris, who has a lot of *ahem* experience in the hookup department, and not phone hookups, either. 

So what books do you know that feature a determined hero, and a heroine who is oblivious, confused, utterly clueless or unexpectedly hit over the head with the anvil of love? If the pining is on the heroic end, do you enjoy the story?

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    JessicaL says:

    I think I just watched that drama the emailer is talking about. It’s Korean and called “Playful Kiss” and so painful to watch, so much so, that the heroine just comes across as completely pathetic and leaves the audience wondering why the hero would ever want to date her, unless he’s an egomaniac and just wants to be worshiped.

    On topic, one book that comes to mind is Lisa Kleypas’, “Suddenly You.”  The heroine is smart, mature, and incredibly likable, and the hero likes her for all those reasons.  There is no libido wasting in this book!

    Note to emailer: You should watch the Korean drama “Dr. Champ.” I haven’t seen the last two episodes, but so far the hero is doing all the pursuing, and he spends most of the show naked from the waist up, and WOW!!  Holy Hot Judo Athlete!  He might be my new TV boyfriend!

    Also a request:  Does anyone know of any books that have an Asian hero?

  2. 2

    My own Cerridwen book ALL THE WAY HOME. Heroine is not oblivious but she’s definitely resistant to relationships and the hero is very determined, in a beta-hero kind of way.

    Seems to me many of Jennifer Crusie’s books fit this bill as well – the main couple has reasons not to be together but do it anyway (har – do it)

  3. 3
    Megs says:

    Ooh, this is my favorite type of romance, so I’ll be watching the comments closely. The first one that comes to mind is Scandal by Carolyn Jewel—the heroine is attracted to the hero, but she firmly resolves not to get involved with someone like him again, so he has to spend the entire book winning her over. It’s very satisfying.

    And if you don’t mind mystery novels with a strong romantic plotline that takes several books to pay off, the romance in Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey novels fits perfectly. The romance between Lord Peter and Harriet Vane is my all-time favorite fictional romance. He decides he wants to marry her right away, and she puts him through hell for three books before finally saying yes. The books featuring Harriet are Strong Poison, Have His Carcase, Gaudy Night, and Busman’s Honeymoon.

  4. 4
    Sycorax says:

    Most of the Nora Roberts books I’ve read have been structured that way. A NR heroine may be attracted to the hero, but for one reason or another is against doing anything about it and needs a lot of wooing and persuasion. It’s why I got bored after a while. I’m afraid I can’t remember names very well, though, so that’s a bit useless.

    I enjoyed Julia Quinn’s When he was Wicked, though I’m not usually a fan of heroes (or heroines, for that matter) falling in love at first sight.

    Blue Eyed Devil and Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas fit this pattern too and are pretty good.

  5. 5
    ninjapenguin says:

    Georgette Heyer’s Frederica.  She’s not planning to get married at all, and thinks the hero is only helping her out because he’s bored.  Meanwhile, he keeps trying to find the right moment to blurt out that he loves her.

  6. 6
    TheKitten says:

    Going with what Sycorax said, “Vision in White” by Nora Roberts is the one that comes to mind.. Also one of the Cynsters Saga by Stepnahie laurens “Where the heart leads”, I found very good. Hmm.. Also “Say NO to Joe” and some others by Lori Foster have this kind of story too..
    Hope it helps :)

  7. 7
    Mireya says:

    “A Little Bit Wild” by Victoria Dahl.  The heroine in this book may be found reprehensible by many romance fans, but I found it an incredibly refreshing and fun read.  Additionally, the hero is not even depicted as “handsome”. 

    I don’t like “desperate” anywhere in my romance reads, be it the heroine or the hero, though.

  8. 8

    If I may ring my own chimes here, I’d recommend Captain Sinister’s Lady.  It’s about a pirate who wants to get married.  When a lush widow is practically tossed into his lap, he sets out to get her using wooing methods that are distinctly piratical.

    It’s in ebook (incl. Kindle) and print and won the Eppie for Best Historical Romance.

  9. 9
    Faellie says:

    as ninjapenguin points out, Georgette Heyer does this trope excellently well.  Frederica is a fine example, and others include Black Sheep, The Corinthian, Faro’s Daughter and April Lady (in which the hero and heroine are already married).

    And in line with a previous request, many Heyer heroes and heroines have not the least interest in marriage for the purposes of reproduction

  10. 10
    Karin says:

    This is my favorite plotline. I was going to mention Dorothy Sayer’s Lord Peter, but someone beat me to it. How about “Never Less Than A Lady” by Putney, The Perfect Rake and His Captive Lady by Anne Gracie, Blue-Eyed Devil and Mine Till Midnight by Kleypas, Silver Linings by Jayne Ann Krentz-if I didn’t have to head off to work I could think of a lot more.

  11. 11
    Carin says:

    “A Little Bit Wild” by Victoria Dahl is the one that came to mind for me.  I loved that book!

  12. 12
    Karin says:

    Oh, and The Notorious Rake by Mary Balogh, The Forbidden Rose by Joanna Bourne, Virgin River by Robyn Carr.

  13. 13
    Karin says:

    I can’ stop. Reforming a Rake by Suzanne Enoch.

  14. 14
    liz talley says:

    LOL, Karin.

    If a romance is well-written and a heroine not too pathetic, I don’t mind reading one where the heroine gives chase. But as a writer, I find that in most all my books, the heroine is resistent and the hero has his crap together and knows what he wants. I’ve often wondered why I write them that way…what does that say about me? I guess I like guys who know what they want and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty getting it. And really it’s better if neither of them is looking for love and the whole relationship is a bad idea….but they can’t resist.

    A lot of the SEPs are that way which is one reason I love her. And I think Julia Quinn does a good job of this, especially the Anthony and Kate book….I forget the title. The one were they have to get married because he tries to suck the bee poison out of her “bubbies”

  15. 15
    Koko Brown says:

    I would suggest Kresley Cole’s Immortal After Dark Series. The genre is paranormal and there are currently ten books in the series.  And many of the elements you’re looking for are in each of them. So much so you want to just strangle the heroine for making the hero squirm so much.  But the series is great and you should check it out.

  16. 16

    I’d like to give a shout out to GAMES OF COMMAND by the fabulous Linnea Sinclair. Kel-Paten is in love with Sass from the get-go (la dozen or so years before the get-go, actually), and she’s all like “hup, being transferred to my sort-of nemesis’s ship, delicate intergalactic treaty at stake, gotta behave. Sort of. Oh, crap, conspiracy.”

    One of the many things I love about the book is that Kel-Paten pines very quietly and very deeply inside, while the outside is all about Let’s Get Shit Done.

    think65. Yep, I could easily think of 65 reasons why I love this book.

  17. 17
    Amy P says:

    I just finished Jennifer Crusie’s Trust Me on This.  The heroine is funny, kooky and determined to NOT fall for a man – especially the handsome, funny, sexy guy she runs into at the conference.

    The both try to resist each other with hilarious dialogue and wacky adventure ensues.  And guess what, he finally gets the girl (it wouldn’t be romance if he didn’t – but he had to work it)!

  18. 18
    J says:

    In a lot of Shelly Laurenston/G.A. Aiken PNR books, the very strong, snarky, sassy heroine has no interest in being in a relationship – so it is up to the very sexy/slightly goofy/really fun hero to make her want him!!

  19. 19
    Jessica says:

    A new one I read on Netgalley is Rakes and Radishes – he’s been wanting her for years, but she’s all obsessed with her poet cousin and wants to hook him up with someone else.

  20. 20
    Megan B says:

    Dear Author reminded me about BODY CHECK by Deirdre Martin yesterday…great book where hero is pursuing reluctant heroine the whole time. So endearing.

    Also try the Lori Foster novella “The Christmas Present.” Heroine sleeps with best guy friend, he knows they’re meant to be, spends entire time trying to convince her…in front of her family.  Yummy.

  21. 21

    I’d like to second @Jessica Andersen’s shout out to Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair.  Wonderful hero, great interaction between the H&H.

  22. 22
    Rose Fox says:

    Courtney Milan’s forthcoming Unveiled is a magnificent example of this storyline. Grace Burrowes’s The Heir has something of it as well.

  23. 23
    Las says:

    I have to look through my books, because I know I’ve read several books like that this year and I can’t remember most of the titles.

    One I recommend is Julie Anne Long’s Like No Other Lover. It’s love at first sight for the hero, and then he overhears her describing him as a dour second son. The rest of the book doesn’t really match up with what you want…he actually doesn’t want to pursue her but he just can’t help himself.

    Madeline Hunter’s Ravishing in Red would work, I think. IIRC, it’s a marriage of convenience plot and the hero falls for the heroine much sooner than she falls for him. One scene that stood out to me was when she spontaneously kisses him in thanks for something. He comments that he’d do whatever she wanted if she would kiss him again. She laughs and says that she’s his wife, he can kiss her whenever he wants. What she doesn’t realize and what’s so incredible to him as that that was the first time she initiated any affection between them, and he wants more of that.

    Victoria Dahl’s A Little Bit Wild needs another mention. The book is fantastic. There’s a scene where the heroine’s family is totally shocked when the hero, in response to their question about why he wants to marry her, says simply, “I like her.” It’s wonderful, because throughout the book it so obvious that he really does LIKE her, warts and all, and he wants her to like him, too, without changing who he is.

  24. 24
    Ashley says:

    Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling books are heavy on guy doing the chasing, esp. Branded By Fire and the first, Slave to Sensation.  Also, for the person asking for an Asian hero, Max in Bonds of Justice is haut hot (though I think it’s not the best of the series).

  25. 25
    Karen H says:

    I just finished “Hot Finish” by Erin McCarthy (the entire series is great) and he’s chasing and she’s resisting.  Oh, and “Flat-out Sexy” that started the series, too, in which case you might as well read “Hard and Fast” just because they’re good.  I think a good Jennifer Crusie book in that regard is “Anyone But You” (though I hope I got the title right as I really think of it as Fred’s book—he’s the dog).

    Word is voice55 and I’m sure I could come up with 55 books if I had the time as I also love that sort of plot.  For one thing, it gives hope to those of us who are smart and wear glasses (like the heroine in “Hard and Fast”).  Have fun!

  26. 26
    Amelia says:

    Mistress of the Art of Death, by Ariana Franklin.  Mostly a mystery, but with huge elements of this hit-by-the-anvil trope.  It’s easily one of my favorite novels of the past 10 years.

    I’m also a big fan of Heyer’s Frederica & Faro’s Daughter (hilarious!) and most-if-not-all of the Crusie ouvre for their heroines who have other shit going on, and their whole world does not revolve around the man.

  27. 27

    Kinsale’s latest, Lessons in French, was adorable, and Trev seemed more moony while Callie just wanted her pet bull back.

    I know I always fall back on Bet Me, but…despite her low self-esteem, Min has it pretty together: she’s smart and capable, and has a great support system in her friends and sister.  It’s a good back-and-forth between her and Cal in terms of pursuer/pursued.

    Agreed re: the Erin McCarthy race car books—am waiting for Hot Finish at the library.  The guys are definitely the pursuers and the heroines are far from pathetic.  I never thought I’d find NASCAR boys so sexy.

    find53: Find me 53 more books with smart H/H’s and good sex scenes, please!

  28. 28
    Kristina says:

    Almost anything Jennifer Crusie comes to mind.  I also like Lynsay Sands either her vampires or historicals.  Good luck.  I’m gonna read all the comments later after work so I can grow my TBR list by horrible lengths.  :0)

  29. 29
    Brandi D. says:

    I’m in agreement with those who mentioned the Lord Peter series (Gaudy Night has a permanent place on my bookshelf, sigh….) and Mistress of the Art of Death.  Both feature very capable heroines who are Busy Getting Stuff Done, thankyouverymuch. 

    I’ve been reading Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters Series (Navy SEALS, etc), and some of the books fit this profile—Hot Target, which also has a gay romance subplot, and Breaking Point and Into the Storm.  In each case, the women recognize an attraction to the hero but spend a lot of time ignoring it because hello crisis, people to save, bad guys to chase!  Some of the subplots are delightful as well—Breaking Point has a really satisfying side romance with an over-40 heroine.

  30. 30
    orangehands says:

    Mmm, I know Lani Diane Rich has done this…the one that’s coming to mind is Maybe Baby, but I think there’s been others. 

    I was going to say you should also avoid anime as they seem to delight in making the heroines (though they’re usually sidekicks more than main characters) humiliate themselves while chasing the heroes, but then I thought about Naruto. That kid is painful to watch as he goes after Sakura. (Mind, I just watch the show, not read the manga, but I’m assuming it’s a similar level.) 

    Also a request:  Does anyone know of any books that have an Asian hero?

    I would also love to have this as a separate request, but the books that come to mind: Marjorie M. Liu has had several, I believe. No Souvenirs by K. A. Mitchell (m/m). Into the Storm by Suzanne Brockmann (the heroine, in this case). And this link has a number of recs.

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