As romance readers, we often joke about book boyfriends—the heroes we get all weak in the knees over. But what about the women? We invest so much time with the heroines in our favorite series, it’s like we know them well enough to raid their closet before heading out for the night.
Each book release is a reunion with your college best friend. But each time you get together, she tells you this story that leaves you crushed. She dated this awful guy, but don’t worry it’s over. Wait, he’s not as awful. She had to get involved in the supernatural drama again, because so-and-so really needed her. She just leaves you wishing you could help and fighting to not storm out because she won’t listen to your sound advice. Ever.
Well, we want to talk about those book friends this time. The bad friend heroines. They’re selfish and they make horrible choices and don’t learn from them, but we just can’t put the brakes on our friendships, because, well, we love them.
Eugenie Markham (Richelle Mead’s Dark Swan series)
Oh, Eugenie, you are my most frustrating friend. Though Eugenie grows throughout the four novels in Richelle Mead’s Dark Swan series, every time I find myself shaking my head and telling her “that’s not a good idea” or “he’s not good enough for you.” I won’t mention anything from the just-released Shadow Heir (I’ll let Eugenie’s WTFery be a surprise!), but I will say time after time Eugenie has picked the wrong guy or trusted the wrong person only to regret it. I console her, as friends often do, and avoid saying “I told you so” when things go haywire.
She’s smart, she’s funny, and she can be tough-as-nails. (In those ways she’s a lot like my real-life best friend.) I love her and spending each novel with her, but she makes awful choices and watching her burn herself emotionally over and over kills me. She’s an emotionally toxic friend that I just can’t say no to.
Naomi West (Karina Cooper’s Dark Mission series)
Really, Naomi? You can’t see the dude is falling over himself to be with you? We all have a friend who doesn’t realize how pretty she is or just how much of a catch she is or, hell, doesn’t realize that it’s OK to put work aside for a weekend and enjoy a date. That is Naomi from Karina Cooper’s second Dark Mission novel Lure of the Wicked.
She’s at a spa pretending to be an heiress while actually doing the spy thing and flaunting assassin skills and romantic sparks ignite between her and the owner. She continually dismisses it as “he does that with all the girls,” but he doesn’t. And his actions speak very loudly: I want you.
Naomi, honey, you’re a strong, independent, powerful woman. Enjoy it when the gorgeous man wants to love you. (There is an HEA, but I swear, we have to hit the lady over the head with “It’s OK to love” before we get there.)
Sookie Stackhouse (Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Mysteries)
Sometimes friends grow apart, and if I lived in Bon Temps, I think I’d never see Sookie anymore. Sure, she lives in town and still works at Merlotte’s, but the truth is Sook is now fully entrenched in the supernatural world. And when she is around, well, she’s lamenting how she isn’t really sure that the guy who totally loves her really loves her. She means he doesn’t love her the way she wants him to, in her terminology. I just want her to quit asking me for advice if she isn’t going to take it.
Sookie, if you do not make things right with Eric in Deadlocked, not only will I take him off your hands, but I don’t want to hear any bitching about lack of love in your life.
Kaylee Cavanaugh (Rachel Vincent’s Soul Screamers series)
I’m meant to be good friends with Kaylee. (Or my teenage self was meant to be BFFs with her, whatever.) The problem is she keeps things boxed inside. The girl works herself up over problems and wants to solve them herself. Promising she’s OK when inside a volcano is erupting.
And I get it. I’m often the same way, but it’s hard to be your friend if you won’t let anyone help. Kaylee doesn’t accept advice on emotional stuff, so we have to watch her implode. In fairness, she knows her decisions are her own. Still, being Kaylee’s friend can be a bit one-sided. Here’s hoping the changes at the end of If I Die will have her opening up emotionally to at least one other person.
Darian (Amanda Bonilla’s Shaede Assassin series)
Some people are loners. Darian, the heroine of Amanda Bonilla’s debut Shaedes of Gray, would like you to think that’s what she is. She has forced herself into being autonomous. She’s a loner by condition. She’s not a bad friend; she’s a future friend who’s unwilling to admit she just needs people in her life. I have hopes for her, though. If she can accept the other supernatural types in her life now, book two may have Darian quickly off my fictional-friends-who-frustrate-me list.
Riley Poe (Elle Jasper’s Dark Ink Chronicles)
Riley jerks us around, particularly in Elle Jasper’s second Dark Ink book Everdark. We know she’s all swoony over Eli (as many of us would be), and she’s making progress between the two of them. She’s making the right decisions to keep her brother and surrogate family safe. Smart, caring. Yay!
Oh, wait, let’s just jump in a car with the guy who wants to kill us. She does these things without considering how it’ll rip up all the emotional groundwork and the journey her book-reading friends have dug into. It also makes me want to throttle her.
Who would you add to our list? Which protagonist is the friend who infuriates you by making choices that continually cause pain?
(Honorable frustrating fiction friend mentions go to Rhiannon from J.A. Saare’s Rhiannon’s Law series, Yasmeen from Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas series and Joe from David Bridger’s Quarter Square series.)
While Chelsea Mueller runs Vampire Book Club, she won’t turn down a sexy werewolf, demon or faerie. (Her husband often reminds her that she’s taken.)