NB: If the list below gives you hives because it has absolutely no organizing principles, I have also posted it by subgenre.
A couple of days ago, I tweeted a thread that began here:
I’ve been thinking for a while about how we punish/judge heroines, especially when they have a negative first impression of heroes.
First of all, let me say I really hate it. Women have bad experiences. Women have bad days. Women just sometimes don’t like someone at first. pic.twitter.com/Qn0uOkuwDm
— Adele Buck 📚🇳🇴 (@_AdeleBuck) February 17, 2018
It led me to further discussions and the reminder that while a lot of readers want their romance heroines to be “nice” all the time, there is a pocket of us (sometimes known among ourselves as “Hag Corner”) who really appreciate a prickly, “difficult,” abrasive heroine. Someone who will stand up for herself, or screw up, or get angry. Or all of the above.
So, because I wanted my mentions to be a complete mess, I asked for romance recommendations where the heroine is this type of woman. And oh, man, did I get them. So with joy and glee I present it to you, complete with buy links in case you too like a woman who doesn’t default to “nice.” Oh, and I’m including recommenders’ twitter links, too, in case you also want to follow some like-minded people.
I started with some of my favorites:
- Victoria Dahl, CLOSE ENOUGH TO TOUCH – meet Grace “rage-nugget” Barrett.
- Sarah Mayberry, THE OTHER SIDE OF US – oh, Mackenzie, you guarded, scarred treasure.
- Courtney Milan, TRADE ME – Tina lets Blake know she’s having none of his shit from the jump.
- Alyssa Cole, AN EXTRAORDINARY UNION – Elle is too busy being a badass Union spy to have time for your nonsense.
And now for…THE REST OF THE LIST:
- Roan Parrish, SMALL CHANGE – She’s absolutely bloody furious throughout. (Per KJ Charles, Zoe Ashwood, and KT Gilbert)
- Jennifer Crusie, AGNES AND THE HITMAN – Agnes keeps hitting people with her cast iron pan (it’s hilarious). (Per Zoe Ashwood)
- Lauren Dane, DRAWN TOGETHER – She is prickly, bitchy and full of sharp edges and the hero loves her just as she is. (Per Ana Coqui)
- Kate Canterbary, THE SPIRE – She’s difficult and so scared and I adored her. (Per Kini, who says the entire Walsh series also qualifies)
- Ruby Lang, PRACTICE PERFECT series
- Laura Florand, CHOCOLATE KISS – she’s really prickly (for good reason, too!) about Phillipe! (Both per Kate Clayborn)
- Alicia Rai, HATE TO WANT YOU
- Eliza Madison, INK OR TREAT (Both per Liz Lincoln)
- Molly Harper, THE ART OF SEDUCING A NAKED WEREWOLF – bites the hero in the ass when she’s a wolf. (Per Zoe Ashwood)
- Ainslie Paton, INSECURE – a big bank CEO candidate heroine (per the author)
- Mina V. Esguerra, LOVE YOUR FRENEMIES – Kimmy was the “evil girl” in My Imaginary Ex but she got her own book in Love Your Frenemies, where she remains her prickly self. (Per Chachic)
- Roni Lauren, BY THE HOUR – Elle’s the HBIC with a boatload of issues and i love her (Per Lisa, seconded by ally)
- Kresley Cole, KISS OF THE DEMON KING – She’s prickly, vain, and a powerful sorceress. Hands down my fav heroine. (Per Ainsley Wynter)
- Alisha Rai, A GENTLEMAN IN THE STREET
- Amy Jo Cousins, GIRL NEXT DOOR (Both per Tamsen Parker)
- Tamsen Parker, PERSONAL GEOGRAPHY and ON THE BRINK OF PASSION (Per the author who also says her entry in the ROGUE DESIRES antho qualifies)
- Sarah MacLean, DAY OF THE DUCHESS (Per Mary Lynne Nielsen)
- Talia Hibbert, THE PRINCESS TRAP – She’s just not here for your BS and I LOVED it. (Per Jen)
- Jenny Frame, COURTING THE COUNTESS
- Cecilia Grant, A GENTLEMAN UNDONE
- Julie James, JUST THE SEXIEST MAN ALIVE (All per Jenny)
- Laura Kinsale, FOR MY LADY’S HEART – prickly, mercurial, and so brave (Per Sarah Howes)
- Elizbeth Kingston, FAIR, BRIGHT AND TERRIBLE
- Layla Rene, TEQUILA SUNRISE (Both per Cat Sebastian)
- L Setterby, BREATHE – a kinky romantic suspense with a sarcastic, prickly heroine. (Per Alexa Rowan)
- Penny Reid, BEARD IN MIND – Some of it is due to her OCD, but I think she’d be prickly and a bit antisocial in any case. (Per Karen Kiely)
- Mina V. Esquerra, BETTER AT WEDDINGS THAN YOU – So scarily competent and DGAF. (Per Geri)
- Joanna Bourne, THE BLACK HAWK
- Loretta Chase, THE LION’S DAUGHTER
- Nita Abrams, THE SPY’S BRIDE – (All per July)
- Mariana Zapata, FROM LUKOV WITH LOVE – It took me a while to get her. But I loved her in the end. Plus it’s about ice skating yey!
- Nalini Singh, BRANDED BY FIRE -Mercy has to fight for Riley and others to see her as an equal. She can get pretty ‘prickly’.
- Jewel E Ann, JACK & JILL series, (all per KT Gilbert)
- Cecilia Grant, A LADY AWAKENED – Martha “just nut and get it over with” Russel (per Kimberly Bell)
- Kimberly Bell, A DANGEROUS DAMSEL – Dierdre…the smack-talking, man-robbing heroine. Difficult for sure, though Hannah, the heroine of the preceding book, isn’t exactly a shrinking violet either. (Per CL Polk)
- Kit Rocha, BEYOND PAIN
- Kate Pearce, SOUL SUCKER
- Tamara Morgan, CONFIDENCE TRICKS and THE REBOUND GIRL
- Kristen Callihan, WINTERBLAZE
- Lauren Dane, GODDESS WITH A BLADE (All per Lillie)
- Laura Kaye, HARD TO LET GO (Per Alexis Daria)
- Dorothy F. Shaw, DEFENSIVE HEART – Review quote: “Sonja is uptight, a work-a-haulic [sic], a single mother, and quite a few years older than James. She tends to shut down people and be very standoffish.” (Per the author)
- Julianna Keyes, IN HER DEFENSE (Per the author)
- Courtney Milan, THE COUNTESS CONSPIRACY (Per Katie M)
- Lexxie Callahan, THE FALL OF THE RED QUEEN – She is the villainess in books 1 and 2 of the series and gets redeemed here ( with a hero who is willing to look below the surface)
- Juliana Keyes, TIME SERVED – She’s an accomplished surgeon who comes across as cold and unemotional (to protect herself from getting attached to patients and due to a bad marriage) and meets a man who is the opposite (Both per Christine Maria Rose)
- Jennifer Hallock, UNDER THE SUGAR SUN – People hated my heroine of Under the Sugar Sun, Georgina Potter, when she got single-minded and driven (aka stubborn). (Per the author)
- Sandra Antonelli, DRIVING IN NEUTRAL – I wrote a heroine who did a not very nice thing when she was angry. She regretted doing it: made apology, but I still got flack for writing her that way–even though her rection was utterly human. I like unlikable, imperfectly mannered heroines. (Per the author)
- Katherine McIntyre, FORGED ALLIANCES – Sierra, the wolf alpha in my shifter series. Relentlessly dominant. (Per the author)
- Molly O’Keefe, BURN DOWN THE NIGHT – one angry, prickly lady that needs to be your list.
- Molly O’Keefe, BETWEEN THE SHEETS
- Molly O’Keefe, INDECENT PROPOSAL (All per Ellie Reads)
- Karen Ranney, THE LASS WORE BLACK (Per Elle Keck)
- Kristin Cashore, GRACELING (Per Suzanne Krohn)
- Sandhya Menon, WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI (Per me and Suzanne Krohn)
- Nicola Yoon, THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR – The heroine doesn’t believe in love (she prefers science) and is so great. I cheered for her so hard. (Per Suzanne Krohn)
- Miranda Kenneally, THINGS I CAN’T FORGET and STEALING PARKER, Both heroines get slammed for very different reasons (one is too preachy, one too slutty). (Per Elizabeth Bright)
- Elizabeth Scott, HEARTBEAT and BLOOM (Per Elizabeth Bright)
- E. Lockhart, THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE LANDAU-BANKS (Per Jen)
- Maggie Wells, PLAY DATES – the heroine chooses a “non-traditional route” (Per the author)
- Laura Lee Guhrke, SCANDAL OF THE YEAR – Julia is difficult prickly and I loved her so much (Per Lisa Lin)
- Heather Rose Jones, THE MYSTIC MARRIAGE – Histrom with alchemy, f/f, and you get two incredibly difficult heroines for the price of one! Antuniet is cold and obsessive, Jeanne is manipulative and shallow, and it’s *perfect*. 🙂 (Per KJ Charles)
- Ilona Andrews, BURN FOR ME – 1st in the Hidden Legacy series. So determined to make her own way, she only accepts help from the hero when she absolutely needs to. (Per Chachic)
- Ilona Andrews, CLEAN SWEEP, ON THE EDGE, BAYOU MOON, and FATE’S EDGE – I tend to consider their kind of interaction a different trope, anti-damsels. Hero wants to rescue and they aren’t here for that. (Per Ana Coqui)
- Carolyn Crane, BEHIND THE MASK – She is tough and determined, taking not sh*t from anyone. Not sure difficult is the right word for her though. (Per Ellie Reads)
- J.D. Robb, NAKED IN DEATH – Eve Dallas is like the patron saint of difficult heroines. 40+ books and she’s still her glorious cranky self. (Per Tabs)
- Jessica Clare, THE TAMING OF THE BILLIONAIRE – In which a disabled sarcastic cat lady heroine is EVERYTHING. There’s some great stuff about her personality having nothing to do with her disability. (Per Tabs)
- Shelly Laurenston, BITE ME – Vicious. Mean. Loves honey. Is sort of apologetic for hiding naked in your cupboards and falling asleep but not really. It’s comfy in there. (Per Tabs)
- Olivia Dade, DRIVEN TO DISTRACTION – She’s prickly and determined and sure of herself, and she’s not willing to compromise her most crucial values. (Per the author)
- Deborah Wilde, THE UNLIKEABLE DEMON HUNTER – Its right in the title! (Per Jocelyn Adler)
- Andie J. Christopher, DUSK UNTIL DAWN and BEFORE DAYLIGHT – Maya from Dusk Until Dawn threatens to light the hero on fire in scene one. And Laura in Before Daylight is super mean. It’s not a coincidence that they’re my favorites. (Per the author)
- Mary Balogh, SLIGHTLY SCANDALOUS (Per Maida Maltby)
- Sherry Thomas, PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS (Per Maida Maltby)
- Lisa Kleypas, IT HAPPENED ONE AUTUMN (Per Maida Maltby)
- Stephenie Meyer, THE CHEMIST (Per Jezz de Silva)
- Nora Roberts, CHASING FIRE (Per Jezz de Silva)
- ML Buchman, TARGET ENGAGED (Per Jezz de Silva)
- JR Ward LOVER MINE & LOVER UNLEASHED (Per Jezz de Silva)
- Susan Elizabeth Phillips, AIN’T SHE SWEET (Per Jezz de Silva)
- Thea Harrison, SERPENT’S KISS & KINKED (Per Jezz de Silva)
- Suzanne Brockmann, BORN TO DARKNESS (Per Jezz de Silva)
- Sharon McKenna, ULTIMATE WEAPON – Tamara is a former femme fatale assassin who makes jewelry as weapons. She’s prickly af. Love her. (Per Ainsley Wynter)
- Lois McMaster Bujold, PALADIN OF SOULS – Ista is cranky and acerbic. Also smart and a great leader. (Per me)
- Maisey Yates, SMOOTH-TALKING COWBOY – I knew…I had to do some work to make her likeable because she just appeared so PRICKLY. So I had to figure out why. (Per the author)
- Nicole Helm, NEED YOU NOW
- Megan Crane, EDGE OF CONTROL (Both per Maisey Yates)
- Six de los Reyes, FEELS LIKE SUMMER – Jett is sarcastic and commitment-phobic and can’t do relationships because she’s outwardly ~emotionally closed~ but she falls in love and she’s my favorite (Per Amanda)
- Talia Hibbert, A GIRL LIKE HER – Prickly autistic webcomic artist heroine, hot cinnamon roll hero (Per Alexa Rowan)
- Alyssa Cole, A PRINCESS IN THEORY – Ledi is both guarded and vulnerable in the best possible ways, and completely consistent with her history. (Per me)
- Lisa Berne, THE BRIDE TAKES A GROOM – She’s prickly, he’s a cinnamon roll (Per Suzanne)
- Ada Harper, A CONSPIRACY OF WHISPERS – “Olivia is like a feral cat who suddenly catches feelings” (Per Ellie)
And as a bonus recommendation, I’ve read an ARC and can highly recommend Lucy Parker’s MAKING UP – Trix is guarded and prickly and all kinds of wonderful. Go forth and pre-order!
If you want to recommend more, please do so either in the comments or on Twitter!
ETA: Also, lordy. This is getting long. A more organized list coming later today (2/20/2018)!