Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Laura Kinsale GuestBlog: Revenge Of The Non-Kick-Ass Heroine

CONTEST TODAY!!! Begin your "Lessons in French" (LIF)with a shot at 17 Extraordinary Prizes from Sourcebooks!: 2 Grands of LIF + Laura's Current Sourcebook Library + ARC of her May re-issue + Godiva chocolates! 5 Nextra prizes: Laura's Sourcebooks 'brary: "Lessons in French," "Seize the Fire," "Midsummer Moon," "Prince of Midnight"; 10 Extra Prizes: Copy of "Lessons in French!" Pls. have your email addy in your comment to enter.

***Please check out Michelle's EXCLUSIVE pre-release feature on "Lessons in French" here! You won't find one anywhere else!***

From Michelle: Out of the many special moments and delightful times we've shared here in the pink, it's one of my greatest honors to join you in offering Laura Kinsale our warmest, most welcoming "What's a nice heroine like you doing in a place like this?" Bella buongiornos...

From Laura:

It was the zombies that alerted me.

Female cops, spies, witches, vampires, werewolves, demons, demi-gods…they’re as common lately as dukes in the Regency. But if we’ve come to Lizzie Bennet hurling nunchucks, which it seems that we have, I’m forced to issue a strong warning regarding my upcoming historical romance, "Lessons in French":

Do Not Open This Book Unprepared.

The heroine is not kick-ass.

You won’t be whirled into a battle for your life in the first three paragraphs. Callie is shy. She’d far prefer to feed a bottle to an orphan calf than make conversation with a gentleman. (Gentlemen and the undead would be pretty much equally menacing in Callie’s view.) She is plain. She has no special hidden powers. She’s been jilted three times, and she took it deeply to heart. What's more, she doesn't open her own business in response, or decide to make herself the most notorious female in London. Her greatest desire is to win the silver cup at the agricultural fair with her prize bull, Hubert. She’s sure of success there, at least—until her cousin gambles away Hubert just before the fair.

All the ass-kicking in "Lessons in French" is provided by the elegant Trevelyan d’Augustin, son of aristocratic but impoverished French émigrés. It only gets him in trouble, but he’s very much in the mood for trouble when he returns from a mysterious nine-year absence to find his beloved mother dying and Callie being courted by a cad. Trev just might be to blame for this situation himself, but that doesn’t stop him from doing everything in his power to protect Callie, even if his methods are as illicit and unconventional as they ever were. When Callie finds the constable pounding on the door and her bull stuck in the kitchen, she can be reasonably sure who’s responsible.

Callie may not be fierce, but she’s reliable. When you can't depend on your ninja skills or your corporate power plays, you have to find another sort of courage, the kind that comes from the heart. Sometimes carrots work when nunchucks and plastic explosives are useless. Callie is kind. She has a sense of humor. She cares for her animals and her village and her sister. Trev not only loves her--he actually likes her.

This sort of heroine seems to be an endangered species lately. Maybe the zombies got them. But there’s one alive and well in "Lessons in French," and she saves the hero’s neck in the end without a sword drawn or a kick boxed.

So what’s the Revenge of the Non-Kick-Ass Heroine? That she’ll make you giggle, and experience that little warm glow, that inner smile when you close a book—you’ll feel a bit better about the world, and the people in it...and maybe even yourself.


PS - I do enjoy a good barbaric heroine myself, mind you. My favorite swordswoman, the first red-haired she-devil in swimsuit armor, mother of all to come, was created in 1934 smack-dab in the male dominion of sword and sorcery by an author with the initials C.L. Moore. If you think she’s Red Sonja, think again!

Non-kick-ass heroine fans: Why do you like them? What are the ways you think heroines can be strong? What kinds of heroines do you prefer to read about -- or would you most like to be like in real life?

"Lessons in French" is available in stores Jan. 26!
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Theresa N. said...

She sounds great and so does the story. I love a good story doesn't really matter to me if it's KA or not, I'm just looking for a good read.
Theresa N

The Reading Frenzy said...

Laura, this book sounds wonderful. Who always needs superhuman strength and stamina, not me. I love a great love story. And this one sounds right up my alley. Thanks for the great article and good luck on the new read. I know I'll be reading it.

Mary (Bookfan) said...

KA doesn't matter to me. What's important for me to enjoy a novel is a good story and good chemistry between the main characters.

meah56 AT gmail DOT com

Kathy said...

I suppose the kick ass heroine is the pendulum swinging away from the doormat heroine, but as usual, the swing is a wee bit TOO wide. I like my Buffy the Vampire Slayer as much as anyone, but this trend has definitely gone too far! I refuse to read about Zombies and necromancers, because fictional dead people aren't that interesting. Shapeshifters and werewolves--just gross. I am amazed that these genre romances sell, at all. I like my heroes and heroines to be human, fallible, funny, searching for something they just can't quite put their finger on, and equals in the eyes of one another. Laura, I can't wait to read your book!

Unknown said...

This story sounds great.

I like any kind of heroin as long as the story is good. Though, I do think the NKA heroin is more true to life.

Heroins can be strong by using their smarts and being true to themselves.

I have no pref. for the heroins I read. I like them all.

Fallon Hadley

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buongiorno, Bellas! And welcome, o, welcome, Laura! We've been looking forward to your visiting with us, and I was so jazzed you were talking about this subject and this heroine, the one you've termed the non-kick-ass chick.

She's just such a wonderful, legitimate and absolutely authentic heroine, especially for the historical. Like real-life women, she figures out how to grab her power w/what's available to her.

Now, that may not be fantasy stuff to a lot of women/readers. Cool. But the non-kick-ass heroine's long been the basis of romance fiction. As Kathy said, she's evolved from what we now see as a "doormat" -- I think we may be comfortable calling her that because we're looking at her as women who have more power and 'voices' than women at the time those old schools were written -- into a woman who's really admirable for being resourceful, yet unabashedly enjoying her soft, squishy side or celebrating and enjoying stuff we sometimes look at as 'girly' or within "gender roles assigned to women."

It's so cool to spend time talking about this kind of heroine. She deserves the notice -- as do the readers who love her! :)

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Welcome, Fallon! you wrote: I like any kind of heroin as long as the story is good. That's the ticket for me, too. Although I had to learn to understand the kick-assingest heroines, and even had some of their creators talk to me about why they appeal, what makes em tick, etc. It was like getting to know a new friend you'd love to have the guts to be like, but couldn't because a) you don't have the guts and b) you'd never fit into the leather and studs skin suit. : )

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Kathy, I'm laughing at this!: I refuse to read about Zombies and necromancers, because fictional dead people aren't that interesting. I keep wondering about zombies in love and decaying body parts, etc. I guess the risen dead need love too, but I'll have to read it to believe it. : ) But as you say, a lot of stuff appeals for reasons we just don't understand...

Scorpio M. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Myrin said...

Welcome, Laura! For some reason, I find your post really heartwarming, you know that? (well, of course you don't, that's why I'm telling you)

I like a good kick-ass heroine when she fits into the story. But sometimes she simply doesn't. And sometimes it's only right and wonderful and cool to have a nice heroine. The only heroine I can't stand is the one who's TSTL, please, really, no! But I so love nice and kindhearted people, so I also love nice and kindhearted heroines. My big favourite is Penelope Featherington in Romancing Mr Bridgerton. Callie reminds me a little of her, actually.

Like Penelope, this kind of heroine can be strong in spirit, mentally, and also strong with words. She can show you what she's up to without first ramming her fist into your stomach. I love that!

And I don't like zombies, btw. Waaaaay too creepy for me. "Rotten flesh", when I first read that in a book I was like, well, ack, bah, how yucky is that? And now I always connect "zombie" and "rotten flesh" and that's so not nice!

Btw, Michelle, I don't know if you read it in my comment yesterday, but did you get my answering email to yours? If not, I can send it again.

amy kennedy said...

Laura, lovely article, and this coming from a huge fan of kick-assingy heroines, but I agree with Kathy -- I just want the story to speak to me, the heroine to speak to a part of me.

Okay, here's what I really want to say: I think you, Laura could make any heroine speak to me -- even a zombie fighting heroine or a Zombie Heroine come to "life" --sorry -- but it's true. One of your gifts is to write characters that make us look at ourselves -- see ourselves, even if it's just a tiny bit.

And please tell me who the 1934 kick-ass heroine was...please.

Scorpio M. said...

I am a big Kinsale fangirl so if I gush don't mind me.

The impact of a heroine, whether KA or NAK, is all in the finesse of the writer. Execution is what makes a character believable to me or not, be she a vamp, nun, lustmeister, etc.

I'm not an extensive paranormal/fantasy reader but I have read a couple just to see what the hubbub was all about and I've found that what makes the successful ones popular is the inherent humanity still within those "weirdo-dead-freaks." See, so nothing's changed. It's still about the feelings, wanting love, feeling's all cool to me. I can forgive most things except bad writing.

Back to Callie, whom I'm liking more & more b/c I'm sorta shy and introverted myself. I've been waiting for this book for years, literally.

*fingers crossed, I never wanted to win a book contest so badly!*

Thanks for the great blog & hosting Ms. Kinsale. (I found your site when I was googling about this book, it's kismet)


amy kennedy said...

Yes, well, Scorpio M and LisaK said it much better than I (maybe even better-er)

How can you NOT love a heroine who just wants to win the silver cup with her prize bull? Whose name is Hubert. You simply have to love that.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Welcome ScorpioM/jemma! Glad to have you here. You wrote: I've found that what makes the[paranormal characters] successful ones popular is the inherent humanity That's exactly what I had to learn when my para-loving friends brought me to/taught me about the stuff. and it also says something similar to the way you talk about liking all kinds of heroines. Totally dig the egalitarian viewpoint about romance characters.

pjpuppymom said...

Hi Laura! First, let me say that you've been one of my favorite writers for years and it's SO DAMN WONDERFUL to have you publishing again! There. Just had to get that out of the way. ;-)

Lessons in French passed through my hands on its way to one of my blog's reviewers and (don't hate me y'all) got delayed for a day while I read it. I couldn't help myself! I really liked Callie a lot and I think you're going to enjoy her story.

LisaK, don't worry about Callie. She doesn't come anywhere near TSTL!

I don't mind a mild Kick-Ass heroine from time to time but I much prefer the ones who gather their strength from their hearts and minds.

Michele Hauf said...

I absolutely cannot wait for this book! Have had it on my wish list at Amazon forever!

I love Kinsale's heroine's. They don't need to be kick ass. Their hearts are strong and that's all that matters when it comes to taming the hero.

Deb said...

LIF sounds just like the kind of story I like to read! Callie is my kind of heroine; sounds like I can relate to her. Being subtle and gentle and nice doesn't always put you in last place. Nice girls can win the hero!
The book sounds great; I'm adding it to my to-be-bought list.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hiya, LisaK! Every time I read your comments it ticks me off that you write English more better than me and it's a second language for you! :) Sorry I haven't gotten back onyour email. Busy week. Will do.

I hear you on the zombies, but, you know, I'm really wondering whether someone's not going to come up w/a way to make them appeal. I love waiting around to see what somebody can create that rocks the impossible. This one will be a squishy stretch, though.

And you're right; this post is heartwarming. It's clear that Laura loves Callie, and Callie is really lovable. There's great warmth to this novel, as well as humor and a sense of expectation throughout; the characters are on the verge of change and Laura's very subtle in her revealing it to us.

So while "Lessons in French" is a departure for Laura in its being lighter, it's worthy of a deeper read just for the fun of it.

Deb said...

Oops, forgot email addy.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

When Michele Hauf says a heroine doesn't need to be kick-ass I listen. Cause, um, her heroines kind of intimidate me in their kick-assingosity. :) (It's a word if I say it is!) Michele, the novel's worth the wait. So glad you stopped by!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Amy, click on the C.L. Moore link to find out the name of Laura's favorite red-haired she-devil in swimsuit armor.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Deb you wrote:Callie is my kind of heroine...Being subtle and gentle and nice doesn't always put you in last place. Nice girls can win the hero! Sound like you're my kind of friend!

Unknown said...

I am very much looking forward to reading this book. Callie sounds like a wonderful heroine.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

debbie haupt, hiya! I so know your TBR pile has taken over your home and eveyr place your husband used to be able to sit.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Teresa N, That's the way, just look for a good read! This is definitely a great one. : )

Callie: She definitely is. Really appealing and easy to relate to.

Magdalen said...

Good authors make their heroines interesting, but great authors (like Laura Kinsale) make their heroines smart. "Smart" isn't about IQ, it's about a character's reactions and interactions with the people around her. Kinsale's characters are always thinking; I see that as the ultimate strength, even in a shy person.

Keira Soleore said...

The Laura Kinsale is blogging. I mean, how ABSOLUTELY COOL is that? Squee! A new book from an author whose books I have worshipped for years, is better than any chocolate in the world!

LESSONS IN FRENCH is splenderfully fabulous. Callie strikes just the right note for me, as does Trev. Laura, your ability to invoke eras and cultures is uncanny and seamless; it's like you've always lived there and know it first hand.

I predict LIF will go down in history as another of the Kinsales on all syllabi on popular romance university coursework.

(Please count me out of the contest since I have a copy of LIF already.)

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Magdalene, I wish I'd have written: "Smart" isn't about IQ, it's about a character's reactions and interactions with the people around her. Kinsale's characters are always thinking; I see that as the ultimate strength, even in a shy person. brava.

jcp said...

I like shy characters

Myrin said...

Indeed, Magdalen, that's one clever thing to say about "smart"! I think I might quote you with that one day! :)

Michelle, no need to hurry with your answer. I just wanted to make sure that my email actually arrived because my account isn't working properly at the moment.

Oh, yes, my email-addy:

Sissa said...

Hi Laura,
Your book sounds positively wonderful ^^

I, myself, tend to shy away from the mighty morphan power ranger type of kick ass fans. I was never a fan of Xena, but preferred Gabrielle. I like the kick ass females who are smart, resourceful, and don't need to relay on brunt strength to get the job done. So in a way give me the Hermione's from Harry Potter. Hermione is my type of kick ass female. She knows what to do to get the job done and does it in the lease violent way possible. I'd much rather read about a heroine who uses her brain over her brawns anyday. In real life i'd much prefer to be like her too. I don't like violence and prefer to go about things the most peaceful way possible.

Melissa or

amy kennedy said...

Count me in as another, wish-I-had-said-that, to Magdelena's smart quote.

Heck, I hope that's the way I'm smart.

Deb said...

Magdalena, you've got a fan base going on here! That was an excellent comment!!

Julie said...

I love kick-ass heroines, they're so fun to read! But I also love non-kick-ass heroines, because they tend to make me think and evaluate. Plus, inner strength will get you pretty far in life (kicking down doors might get you tossed out).

julieguan AT gmail DOT com

Spav said...

I like some non-kick-ass heroines because sometimes is easier to relate to them, but mostly I like kick-as heroines, they are too much fun!


pjpuppymom said...

I hear you on the zombies, but, you know, I'm really wondering whether someone's not going to come up w/a way to make them appeal. I love waiting around to see what somebody can create that rocks the impossible. This one will be a squishy stretch, though.

Michelle, I just read a novella with a hero that's "undead." I wouldn't have thought I'd like it but I ended up loving it. (no rotting flesh) The novella is a prequel to a series. Can't wait to see what the author does with a full-length novel of this type.

pjpuppymom said...

Beautifully said, Magdalen!

Kara said...

There are so many kick-ass heroines out there today that it is nice to read about an ordinary one. I think I can relate better with "ordinary" than kick-ass - LOL.

I think inner strength is just as important as body strength. Give me a heroine that can tame the alpha male with her warmth, caring, and strong attitude.

Now, don't get me wrong...kick-ass heroines are fun to read too...but every now and then I like a little "reality" - LOL.

Becke Davis said...

It's the love story that's most important to me. I'm intrigued by kick-ass heroines since I'm not very confrontational myself, but I think there's room in romance for all kinds.

I like Laura's comment about having to find "another sort of courage," because so many women I know have faced all kinds of real-life dramas with quiet courage and indomitable strength.

I look forward to reading this -- I'm intrigued by both Callie and Trevelyan.

Gannon Carr said...

Welcome, Laura! It's such a treat to have you here today and for you to be writing your wonderful books for us to enjoy once more!!

I'm all for a kick-ass heroine if it fits the story, but Callie sounds like someone most of us could relate to. A heroine with a soft--but big--heart who is able to win the hero over with her love and inner strength....what's not to love. Those are the stories that leave me sighing, closing the book with a smile of contentment on my face.

rayvyn2k said...

I am really looking forward to this book! I just "discovered" LK and am delightedly working my way through her list. rayvyn2kATyahooDOTcom

Amber said...

The thing about kick ass heroines is that they are often our fantasy personas. The people we (sometimes) wish we could be. The part of our personality that we usually bury by necessity.

Callie sounds like who we often are. Not all of us are social butterflies. Or assertive in any situation. Or sublimely self confident. So while we might want to be Buffy sometimes, many of us can relate to Callie better.

There's a big difference between a doormat and someone who's just real. Sounds like you struck the right balance with Callie.

buriedbybooks at sbcglobal dot net

Unknown said...

I really like that this heroine isnt so kick ass. Its nice to see one that isn't always considered the "assertive" one. Yet this heroine seems to have a good balence of characteristics.

amandasaucy at gmail dot com

Laura Kinsale said...

Good morning! You are all way ahead of me! I'm glad everyone understands I enjoy kick-ass heroines too, and there is always room for any engaging and convincing type of heroine--I just wanted to warn everyone that Callie doesn't happen to be one. (Though she would probably kick pretty hard if someone was abusing an animal.)

Becke, that Just-Do-It strength of women is something I admire so much. In fiction it's fun to read about victory by nunchuck, and yet in RL most of us have witnessed the courage of kindness, friendship, humor and endurance in the face of far worse than zombies. I do like to celebrate that aspect of humanity too. I've done it with both heroes and heroines because it is not confined to either sex.

I'll join everyone in heartily agreeing with Magdalen's observation--in fact there's a whole book about that very thing, called *Emotional Intelligence* by Daniel ('ll have to google it!)

Back to fiction, I may have to write a totally kick-ass heroine now just to keep things interesting, but she won't be a zombie, lol. (Though I agree that I probably COULD do a zombie--lots of angst potential there. ;))

Laura Kinsale said...

By the way, I love the KA and NKA acronyms.

amy kennedy said...

PJ -- I think I'm reading the same novella! And he seems pretty dreamy to me too.

Mostly the zombies are the scary guys, 'cuz we,ve romanticized the Vampire so.

I was thinking about Elizabeth (Pride and Prejudice) and thought she actually is kind of a kick ass heroine, she uses her words instead of her fists -- or feet, as the case may be.

Melanie Murray said...

Laura,what a lovely column and a great reminder of the power of your writing. I am so looking forward to reading this book, I can barely stand it. And I'm of the same mind as a previous poster; even if I weren't breathlessly awaiting LIF, I'd pick it up on the strength of the name Hubert.

Great conversation about the power of the NKA heroine. I always find myself entertained by the "Lizzy Bennett throwing nunchucks" but not necessarily emotionally invested in that type of character. But take a lady like Win from Lisa Kleypas's Hathaway books or Beatrice from Elizabeth Hoyt's To Desire a Devil, two characters who live their lives according to their own quiet desires, and I find that I can't stop thinking about them. So I'm all for the emotional, self-contained heroine. They seem much more true-to-life to me; how many women do we know whose dragons and demons are their own feelings? I understand that the KA heroine is kicking the ass of metaphor most of the time, but I still enjoy the emotional journey of a NKA any day of the week.

amy kennedy said...

Oh, Kara -- I had skipped down to reply to PJ. We sort of said the same thing about KA heroines.

Laura -- you kind of like to shake things up, don't you?

PG said...

I have been re-reading Laura Kinsale's "FLowers from the Storm" lately, and I think it's a great example of a completely NKA heroine who nonetheless makes so many changes happen because of her own brand of courage and strength. I come back to this book every few years because I am so fascinated by Maddie's strength through faith and love.

Given how seldom I need to be a KA type in real life (serious lack of zombies in my 'hood), I'd prefer to be NKA woman like Maddie: exercising mercy, charity and good judgment rather than my quads in a roundhouse kick.

pgofhsm (at] h o t m a i l

Man Candy Fans said...

I can't wait to read Laura Kinsale's new book, Lessons in French. She's a fantastic writer.

maered said...

Hi Laura!

I love the kick-ass heroines. I really appreciate a heroine who can hold her own with her hero and is an equal.

But I also love the non kick-ass heroines. The one's who fight against the odds with their brains. All I ask is that the heroine is an engaging character and not TSTL. (Kick-ass heroines can fall victim to this, too)

Congrats on your release! And I'm sure your non kick-ass heroine will find plenty of love from the readers!


Becke Davis said...

When I was converted to historicals about a year and a half ago, my friends were all giving me lists of "must read" books and authors. Laura Kinsale was on every list.

Scorpio M. said...

Ironically, my favorite Kinsale book, THE DREAM HUNTER, features a heroine who is both KA & NAK.

Zenia was a character study that exemplified that duality. She knew how to travail the desert harshness, load a Colt and saved her man's hide several times - she was very brave when she needed to be, yet at the same time she was haunted by a djinni, vulnerable and longed for the greens & lightness of a simple life elsewhere.

Really facinatingly honest and that's why I still remember her.

robynl said...

I love the sound of your heroine; nothing wrong with being kind, having a sense of humor and caring for animals and in the end she saves the hero. Wow for her!!! You've created a great heroine as far as I'm concerned and would love to get to know her.


Laura Kinsale said...

@scorpio that's interesting, I never thought of Zenia in quite that way, as both KA and NKA. She thought the KA hero was nuts, but she was as good or better in the desert than he was. But she fully comprehended how dangerous it was and she hated it.

I do recommend, particularly for paranormal fans, to check out the link to C.L. Moore at the end of my post. The C stands for Catherine, and she was the first female author of sword and sorcery. Grandmother you might say to the current generation of paranormal authors!

SonomaLass said...

I don't necessarily need "kick-ass" heroines, but I can't handle wimpy ones very often. If a heroine doesn't have a backbone, or grow one in the course of the book, I get very frustrated. I read romance for the way that it empowers female characters and readers, and if I find myself wanting to buy the heroine a brown fuzzy shirt that says "WELCOME" on the back, that's a sign that I'm not enjoying the book.

Of course I prefer flawed characters to perfect ones, so the super-competent heroine (or hero!) with nothing to learn/nowhere to grow leaves me cold, too. Fortunately for my TBR pile, there are many heroines occupying the territory between "helpless princess" and "amazing Mary Sue"!

Unknown said...

I'm not a fan of zombies, period, so reading about a heroine who exists in her time period with grace and elegance will be a treat-especially since you wrote it!

Ann_a_reader said...

I'm so looking forward to reading this book. I've stayed away from a synopsis because the wait would be harder, but had to read this blog. Oh, I want to read more about Callie NOW.

Myrin said...

Aaaah, now would you stop with the "I'm reading the same book"-stuff and simply tell us which novella it is that features an undead hero? Want. To. Know.

(That's not kick-ass, just impertinant and impatien, LOL!)

Scorpio M. said...

@Laura Kinsale
"She thought the KA hero was nuts, but she was as good or better in the desert than he was."

Zenia was better and Lord Winter knew it, that's why he loved "his wolf cub." :)

Thanks for blogging, this is so much fun.

pjpuppymom said...

LOL @ LisaK! I'm reading "The Undying Heart" by Zoe Archer, in the Brava anthology, "Half Past Dead." Not sure if that's the same one Amy's reading. Email me offline if you'd like more info about it.

pjpuppymom (at) yahoo (dot) com

The Book Girl said...

I love both the KA and NKA heroine. I agree with the previous comments that it really matters how the character is written.

Myrin said...

Thanks PJ! I think I've seen this one yesterday somewhere - it has a yellow/greenish cover, doesn't it (you see, I'm all about colour, not content)? I'll go check it out on Amazon.

Maureen said...

Although kick-ass heroines can be great my favorite heroines have a strong inner strength that they usually have because of hardships they've dealt with in their life.
mce1011 AT aol DOT com

Rebekah E. said...

I like heroines that have a bit of both srength and vulnerability. They don't have to be kick-ass to be a strong individual, just know what they want.

Pat L. said...

I like kick ass heroines - more exciting and funny to read.

Unknown said...

Hi Laura, nice interview!! You are a new author for me. I like the sound of this book and I plan to read it. Wow, lot of posts to get through today!! I like both kinds of heroines, but they need to fit the story of course. No zombies for me either!! Another GREAT contest here!! Thanks, Sue

suehussein AT Aol Dot com

Becke Davis said...

Laura - Did you consciously choose to go against the kick-ass trend with this heroine, or did it just work out that way?

Jane said...

I like kick-ass heroines as well as non-kick-ass heroines. Non-kiss-ass heroine can use their intelligence and wit to fight back.

squiresj said...

Count me in as this sounds interesting and I'd love to read the book.

Kate Douglas said...

Personally, I think the book sounds wonderful. I don't think my heroines necessarily have to be the "kick ass" type, but they do have to have a strong character and be true to themselves. I want an honorable heroine, and Callie sounds perfectly wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Sounds awesome!

Unknown said...

Hi Laura! Loved the book. To me, loving a heroine is about the character build up, not so much to KA or not to KA. I just love to be connected to the characters. Personally, at this point in my life, I want to be a strong willed, kind hearted heroine who will K your A in a heartbeat if you piss her off. I'm just at that stage right now. Next week might be different, but for now, that's what I would love to be.

Val Pearson

Jessa Slade said...

Oh boy oh boy oh boy! Laura Kinsale is one of the reasons I started writing historical romances. And I totally sucked at writing historical romances! But I LOVE LOVE LOVE (sorry I'm gushing; I can't stop myself) her stories.

FLOWERS FROM THE STORM was spectacular, SHADOWHEART was so affecting, and MY SWEET FOLLY has -- hands down -- the single best falling in love scene in the opening set of letters exchanged between hero & heroine. If you love love -- writing it or reading it -- go now and read that book.

I can't wait for LESSONS IN FRENCH! Even if there aren't zombies :)

Kit Donner said...

Hi Laura,
Like, gulp, wow, that story description was all I needed to want to read "Lessons in French." Count me in. I must prefer the quieter heroines who have more brains than punch. Can't wait to read it! Best, Kit

traveler said...

What a wonderful heroines you have created. An inner strength, grit, determination and compassion. Love it.

cheryl c said...

Laura, this story sounds absolutely delightful! Personally, I can relate better to a quiet and caring heroine. I sometimes love to live vicariously through a kick-ass heroine, but my favorite heroines are kind, witty, and smart.

castings at mindspring dot com

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buona sera ,Bellas and Laura! phew, I just got done with (most of my work). Can't wait to read all your comments, which look pretty awesome.

Jessa? Reading the epistolary in the beginning of "My Sweet Folly" is one of the most memorable experiences I've had since starting on this romance "thing." It's remarkably effective no matter how you look at it, as you say. Sometimes it just pops up in my mind and kind of sideswipes me.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Oh, everybody, I'd love for you to read my pre-release feature on "Lessons in French!" You won't find one anywhere else until after Jan 26. :)

You can find it here and is called "He's Just That Hot Into You!":

Cris Anson said...

When the Feb. issue of RT came in the mail, I rejoiced to see the headline "Laura Kinsale Returns." After reading the article and adding Lessons in French to my TBB pile, I went to my small stash of "Perfect 10" books (that I don't lend out, ever) and reread Flowers from the Storm. Cry?! Oh my, was it emotional. Maddie kicked everyone's butt just by being her strong, quiet, Quaker self. I loved loved loved that book.

Ninja-style kick-ass heroines are good, but there has to be mega-emotion to satisfy me. And you do, Laura. You do. Thanks for blogging with Michelle.

Cris Anson

Nunahboop said...

As a reader I will not find Callie lacking, introverted heroines are often more believable and therefore easier to root for. I can't wait to release day!


Erica G said...

I like to read about all kinds of heroines. I like the intellectual ones because they seem to add more depth to the story.

egreca at hotmail dot com

Lynn Reynolds said...

Hi Laura - I love Flowers From the Storm and Midsummer Moon. I am so thrilled to see a new book from you! And also very thrilled that it contains absolutely no vampires or zombies. I love good fantasy, SF and paranormal, but I'm pretty tired of vampire this and zombie that and - yes, I'm also tired of the whole kick-ass heroine trend. I prefer the Elizabeth Bennett whose main weapon is her wit, not her knowledge of martial arts. I look forward to reading Lessons in French!

ann herendeen said...

Amy Kennedy said: I was thinking about Elizabeth (Pride and Prejudice) and thought she actually is kind of a kick ass heroine, she uses her words instead of her fists -- or feet, as the case may be.

Exactly! That's on a par with the the first great comment of the day, about the other kind of smart.

What I like about these NKA heroines (or verbal KA ones, like EB) is they're someone more of us women can identify with. Yes, it's good to be reminded that women can be physically tough (I mean, how many men would endure childbirth...) but ultimately I don't want to live in a world where the person who wins has to be six feet tall and able to bench-press x number of pounds.

So it's always a pleasure to see a traditionally "female" (shy, not physical) character win by virtue of traits like honesty, integrity, intelligence (and verbal KA) that anyone, man or woman, of any size or physical ability, can possess.

Great discussion.

Donna MacMeans said...

Laura, I've loved your books for - forever. I can't tell you how pleased I am that you have a new release. Can't wait to read it. (and thank you for omitting the zombies (grin).

throuthehaze said...

Lessons in French sounds like a great book! I can't wait to read it

throuthehaze at gmail dot com

Unknown said...

This sounds like a kick-ass contest! This book sound fabulous and I can't wait to read it! I kind of like my books to be like real life to a certain degree but not to the point where they are boring like real life. Thanks for sharing your books with us it sounds awesome.


LuAnn said...

I suppose there's something to be said for "kill 'em with kindness." Maybe kick-ass isn't what everyone needs to be!

reading_frenzy at yahoo dot com

chey said...

A non KA heroine just seems more real.

chey127 at hotmail dot com

Gail said...

Hi Laura,
Hi Michelle,
Just wanted to add my 2 cents:) I think a KA heroine doesn't have to weld a gun, knife, baseball bat or fight off any number of demons. A KA heroine is any female that fights for what she loves and wants. So my heroines don’t have to do the heavy lifting, so to speak. That of course doesn't mean I don't enjoy a rollicking good adventure, but it not what makes me pick up a book. Lessons in French sounds like a delightful read and I can't wait to add it to by TBR pile.
Happy New Year!

Eva Gale said...

"The heroine is not kick-ass."

Well hallelujah and A-freaking-men. I've got a crick in my back, arthritis in my wrist and TJM. Kick ass heroine's are like air brushed cover models. I just want to see some cellulite now and again.

Pat Cochran said...

Feisty, strong, self-reliant, able
to face-off with the alpha male hero!
That's my favorite heroine!

Pat Cochran

Laura Kinsale said...

Becke asked if I wrote Callie to go against a trend. No, because I finished this book several years ago, long before zombies attacked the Bennet family! I did want to write about a shy wallflower who gets a hot guy, so that was my main goal. I just realized as the release date was coming up that Callie is rather different from many of the current heroines and wanted readers to know that beforehand.

I'm informed by my expert on all forms of violence, the inimitable Chas at Singular Points, that one does not "hurl" nunchaka, but instead whirl them around like a flail, or something on that order. I had confused your nunchucks with your shurkien, it would appear, thus demonstrating what an non kick-ass sort of person I am. ;)

Leaving with an image of whirling woodchucks about my head on a chain...

amy kennedy said...

Thanks Ann Herendeen -- and coming from you, I take that as a huge compliment.

I've loved this discussion, it has me thinking just a little more about my fave heroines -- an myself.

Fedora said...

Hi, Laura! While I do enjoy a good strong heroine, I don't always need to be kicking anyone's rear ;) In real life, heroines are strong in many other ways, and it's really lovely to see ones that are emotionally strong and wise in true-to-life ways. And LOL on Eva's desire to see some cellulite ;) It's nice to see some heroines with some real flaws, too.

f dot chen at comcast dot net

Pamela Keener said...

Wow I love the blog and the story sounds tres interesting. I love kick ass heroines but I also love to mix it up a bit. I want her to be compassionate, strong and resourceful. As an animal lover and one who is owned by 2 dogs and a crazy cat I love that Callie is also a lover of animals.
I will certainly be giving this book a second look. Thanks for sharing.
Love, Hugs & Happy New Year,

Tiona said...

Hey, Bellas! Welcome, Laura! Congrats on the release!
Me I love the kick-a$$ heroine. Especially Kresley Cole's Valkyries. Man does she know how to make a heroine. Not to mention her absolutely delish heros!
I do, however, love the heroine that is strong in other ways. That isn't afraid to go against tradition or maybe is quietly helping others and never expects anything in return. Yes, indeed, those heroines, rare as they are these days, are great, to me. Koodos. We need to see more of them, I think.

Barbara E. said...

I love any heroine that is strong and sticks up for herself. She doesn't have to be kick-ass, just strong enough to hold her own against all comers, if not in the beginning, then at least at some point during the book.
I think Lessons in French sounds like a wonderful book, and I'm looking forward to reading it.

katsrus said...

It doesn't matter to me either as long as the story is good. Your books sound like a great story. Got it in my to read list.
Sue B

Pamela Keener said...

What does TSTL stand for? Inquiring minds & all that.
Love & Hugs,

Becke Davis said...

100 comments! Boy, this place is rockin'!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hi, Pamela! TSTL = Too Stupid To Live and generally means a heroine who keeps stepping into dangerous situations despite all the warning signs. I think some people use it for heroines who hook up with heroes the readers feel are emotionally goofy. But mostly it's the former. It always makes me think of the cheesy gothic movies, or the Halloween and teen camp movies where people in the audience ar thinking, "Don't open the door, Don't open the door...ohhhh. I told you not to open the door."

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

ann_a_reader ,may I be so bold as to suggest you might want to read a little more about Lessons in French -- w/out any spoilers, of course, -- by hitting the link at the top of Laura's post? : )

Lynz Pickles said...

I'm a fan of both KA and NKA heroines, I have to admit. I like a woman who can hold her both--in both physical and verbal battles--but there seem to be a lot of them out there these days. The NKA heroine, however, is becoming a rarer and rarer breed, imo.

So I'm really looking forward to Lessons in French.

I like NKA heroines because they're real. Sure, I know a lot of women who I'd never want to argue with, but I know just as many, if not more, who hate confrontations of any kind. I wish I saw more like them in books.

Strength of character, to me, is one of the most attractive things anyone can have. Someone who's kind in harsh circumstances, someone who doesn't let life get them down, even if they don't attack it head on, is someone I want to befriend. And while I'd love to have super-cool karate skills--or something like that, I don't know enough about fighting to say anything more specific--I'd prefer to be known as a reliable, geniunely nice person.

The other reason I like NKA heroines? I generally find them more likeable. Any character who has a veeeeeeeery strong personality, as all the KA's I've seen, both male and female, do, runs the risk of alienating readers. Or at least this reader. Whereas even if a NKA heroine has some traits I don't like, I've found that I can still like her.


Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Eva Gale, you've made me laugh. But I do think a lot of fans of the NKA heroine have heard lots of noise online about how outdated, wishy/washy, non-feminist, etc., the NKA heroine is. And so, some fans felt embarrassed or that the NKA heroine was unpopular.

But she's never gone away, just been misunderstood, sometimes willfully so to grind axes or just be grumpy. The NKA's continued to be written and enjoyed by many.

For instance, I hear lots of readers talk about how much they like the NKA virgin heroine and fall solidly in that category. Yet I've seen tons of talk -- some of it trash -- about how unrealistic and negative both those attributes are in romance heroines. (um, but beta, virgin heroes are popular; go figure): )

Am I putting too fine a point on things? Well, Laura Kinsale wrote a post today that champions the NKA heroine and explains what the NKA fan has known all along.

So it would seem that making a public statement that says: Brace yourself for my NKA -- albeit in a classy, cheeky and totally entertaining way -- says maybe some folks don't yet understand this heroine's not who you think she is.

Louisa Cornell said...

First of all, HUGE SQUEEEEEEEE! I am a BIG fan of your novels, Laura!

Second, I cannot WAIT to read this book. A girl who raises a prize bull is just a karmic delight for me! When I first married my late DH we lived in a trailer in the middle of his father's cow pasture. Late one night we heard a cow in distress. It was pouring down rain and she had fallen and would not get up. (Cows are sweet, but not the most ambitious or brightest of creatures.)I will spare you the awful details, but she had to be put down to alleviate her suffering. She left behind a wobbly young bull calf. My FIL, a man of singular hard heart, wanted to take the calf to the butcher the next day. I called the local vet, mixed up a formula and began to bottle feed the calf. My dear DH stood up to his Dad and told him we were keeping the calf. Imagine a calf bawling at your back door at 2 AM, then 4 AM. You get the picture. My DH named the calf Hemorroid, never thinking I could raise it to adulthood. Hemmie grew to be one of the largest Santa Gertetrudes bulls anyone had ever seen. He was leash trained! When we went off to grad school I found Hemmie a home with a local farmer, but it was his wife who swore to me Hemmie would never go to slaughter. And he didn't. He died peacefully in his pasture at the ripe old age of 23.

So, I guess you could say I like heroines who know what is important in life and without much fuss sets out to do it with resolve and a steely evil eye for anyone who gets in her way!

Ameliad said...

It's great to see another Laura Kinsale book. I've missed her books!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

The humanity and empathy you and your husband and the farmer's wife showed are not usual in every person, but beautiful when they exist . Thank you for sharing your story. Hemmie sounds every bit as dashing as Hubert, and I believe -- although Laura would be the go-to on this -- that Callie would find your story engaging and heartwarming, too.

kaisquared said...

This book went on the autobuy as soon as I saw the author was Laura! And the presence of Hubert made this 4 H mom cheer!

I love a heroine who can be practical and down to earth, a combination of Kick ass and common sense, and always with a sense of humor and her own style.

Thanks for the terrific contest!


emmasmom AT wi DOT rr DOT com

Jennifer M. (NYC) said...

Honestly, I prefer NKA heroines just because it's closer to home but any type of heroine can be successful so long as she is honest in her motives and actions.

Welcome back Laura!

Jane said...

Hi Laura,
I must admit that I haven't had a chance to read your books yet, but I was told that I should start with "The Shadow and the Star."

Mitzi H. said...

I prefer my heroines on the softer side and my warriors to be men.

That said, I recently read an older novel The Iron Rose where the heroine, Juliet Dante is the captain of her own ship and the dauther of The Pirate Wolf. She can clash swords with the best of men. Great story by the way.

Looking forward to reading Lessons in French. It is definitely my type of book.

mitzihinkey at sbcglobal dot net

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

That wouldn't happen to be by Marsha Canham, would it, Mitzi? I may have mentioned, ohhhhh, a time or twooo, that I'm sort of a fan or hers. She writes fabulous battle scenes, and terrific KA heroines. Yet she's aces when she gets the heroes to help em find their soft/squishy sides. She also has wonderful gentle-soul secondary heroines tossed in, too, who work it w/what they got. i'm reminded of Marion in Canham's riff on Robin Hood.

I love that Laura's post has made us muse on other heroines that have touched us,including hers, and also to think about the NKA heroine.

I also dig how even those who fall soundly into one camp or the other, KA or NKA, are respectful of other readers' preferences. A very cool thing to see and be part of.

Santa said...

Hey everyone! Late to the convo as always but I just wanted to add that I am sooo happy to see another Laura Kinsdale book out there. You are one of the best authors I've had the pleasure of reading.

I have been looking forward to this book ever since you gave out the coverflats at RWA conference.

Pam P said...

Great to see a new release from you, Laura. I like both types of heroines, KA and not. My favorite type is usually one who's smart and battles with her wits. email)

Eva S said...

Looking forward to this new release!

I like both kind of heroines, it depends on the genre. For my historicals she has to be a sweet, non-kicking-ass heroine, but in paranormals and in UF I love her to be very strong and independent!

eva.silkka at

Beth W said...

Can't wait to read this book! As far as kickass vs. non-kickass, it depends on my mood. I'm a very non-kickass myself, so I definitely identify with the NKA heroines. But there's a little part of me that really, really wishes I was more kickass, so I do enjoy reading about a kickass heroine now and then. But all I really need is a great story, and the characters fall into place. Laura Kinsale has never failed to give me that great story!

Beth W

Anonymous said...

The book sounds interesting.

Anonymous said...


I love your work. Your heroines and heros are admirable. Callie sounds refreshingly human and normal- a breath of fresh air in all the angry, undead arena of women heroes these days. By the time I finsh reading many of today's heroine's stories I feel totally inadequte and ready to call in my marker.

Chris R

Anonymous said...

I'm really looking forward to reading this book one day.

tradingaddress at gmail dot com

Rebekah E. said...

I forgot to leave my email for the contest.


Louisa Cornell said...

I think I forgot to leave mine too. I have Walzheimer's disease. I work at Wal-Mart and it is killing my brain cells!

Sue A. said...

Congrats on the upcoming release of Lessons in French! I'm more a traditionalist so while I enjoy a kick ass heroine once in a while, I prefer the more subtle approach of a non-kick ass heroine. They can be more devious about getting their way and it's enjoyable seeing how much the hero will tolerate. I prefer the heroine to use her brain rather than her brawn.

alternate email
magenta 2 red [at] gmail [dot] com
remove all spaces

Anonymous said...

Book sounds good and yes I like kiss ass heroines as well as non k.a.

Helen L.

Unknown said...

i like reading alltypes of romances

Anonymous said...

I like all types of heroines, but I will have to say that my favorite type is a strong, beautiful type that doesn't need a man in her life to function.

Lynn R.

Anonymous said...

It's not important what the heroine is like...just that's it a good storyline!

Anonymous said...

I like a strong heroine who is confident with herself. Not Wishy Washy.

Karen T.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Karen, dont like a wishy washy character - hero or heroine. Love characters with a great sense of humor, makes for good reading.

Rose G.

Peaceable said...

I think that those readers who praise or insist upon a KA heroine are unintentionally endorsing or vindicating the much maligned "macho" male who is constantly displaying his strength and beating up or physically dominating other persons, and never admitting weakness. It seems they were doing the right thing all along, given that women have adopted the same attitudes.

Hopefully none of you have children who are/will be bullied by some older/bigger schoolmate who has the idea that Kicking Ass is a really cool thing to do and decide that your son or daughter has the Ass they want to kick. Do you think that children get the idea of KA from constantly hearing about how much we enjoy KA heroines and how unappealing NKA females are?

I wonder how much you will enjoy KA when a family member or yourself happens to be on the receiving end? If we oppose KA behavior in real life, why are we advocating it in fiction?

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Jai Joshi said...

I'm a massive Laura Kinsale fan and this newest book from her was a lovely lighthearted romp in the English countryside. Trev is a "contemptible French scoundrel" - how could I not love him! And Callie is a "gifted wallflower", so it's impossible not to love her!

What I like about this type of heroine is that she's REAL. Real women don't always get what they want. They certainly don't kick-ass their way across the world, hacking and slashing along the way. Callie is shy and sensitive and goofy and totally believable because there's an inner strength inside her that makes her shine. It makes so much sense that Trev loves her because she's lovable.