I am mighty tired of the phrase “kick-ass heroine,” but I’ll tolerate it for this post because it exactly describes what we usually get with a book from Patricia Briggs. Her heroines are not TSTL (too stupid to live) types who go hunting monsters in the basement when it’s obvious they should be hiding. When a Briggs heroine gets in trouble it’s usually not her fault.
The basement monsters come looking for them.
Not all of them are as tough as Mercy Thompson, but when backed into a corner, her heroines never just close their eyes and scream. Yes, okay, sure, sometimes they go to the aid of their friends and the people they love without stopping to worry about themselves but, even when they do rush forward, at least they are smart enough to be afraid and careful. Not the same thing as TSTL, really.
So. First and foremost, I read Briggs for the heroines. What else do I like about her books?
—World-building. I don’t just mean she’s good at setting up and sticking to the list of rules for magic. When Briggs describes a desert, I feel hot.
—Steamy heroes who’d lay down their lives for their women.
With those qualities in mind, here are five authors I would** read while I wait for the next Alpha and Omega or Mercy Thompson book:
1. Patricia Briggs. She’s more than those contemporary urban fantasy books. She’s written some excellent straight fantasy too. Check out The Hob’s Bargain. Aren fits the Briggs heroine ticket.
2. Kim Harrison does the urban Fantasy and world building deluxe. At the start of the series, her heroine, Rachel Morgan, occasionally rushed into things without thinking and didn’t fit the mold of “too smart to go to the basement” heroine I look for, but she’s apparently growing up. Even as she gains more power, she seems to be getting smarter and more careful. I appreciate character growth in a series. The books have fun secondary characters, a world of demons running alongside a magical version of Cincinnati which adds up to a rich series. Some of the books are impossible to understand unless you’ve read the others. Some actually do stand-alone. Poor old Rachel had a rocky love life (I’m still not sure if I think she should end up with the guy I’m fairly sure will be her main love interest) but the rest of her life is more than interesting enough.
3. Jeaniene Frost. Her main character, Cat, first struck me as pure TSTL. But oookay, I bought the fact there’s a reason she would go out hunting vampires—she’d been raised to take those chances. I didn’t fall in love with Frost’s books right away, but read them anyway. Now? I love them. I like Cat and I like Bones and want to spend time with them. I’m an addict. I particularly like the books set in Cat’s world that feature other characters.
4. Ilona Andrews. True, the main heroine, Kate Daniels, started out the series looking for trouble, but in this case I forgive her recklessness because she’s good at it and it’s her job as a mercenary. They (Ilona and Andrew, the co-writing wife-and-husband team) portray a really interesting Atlanta that exists after magic flooded the world—a magic that occasionally recedes. The magical creatures and the magical waves are interesting variations on the usual themes. Curran, Kate’s love interest, is majorly kick-ass.
Andrews’s latest book, Gunmetal Magic, is set in the same world with another main character. Andrea seems an awful lot like Kate in that she hates to lose a fight, and also has an intensely competitive, rough relationship with her love interest. A lot of the dialogue and the savage funny way she and her man play tricks on each other echoes Kate and Curran’s. Hey, it works. Must be an alpha shapeshifter thing.
5. Charlaine Harris. Even after eleven books, and occasionally inexplicable behavior, her Sookie Stackhouse is still one of my favorite heroines. She’s sensible and does what has to be done. Sookie might mope or get unreasonably angry, but she’s self-aware and snaps out of it. And by now she feels like a relative who can do almost anything and you forgive her because you have history together.
**I would read books by these authors, except I already have. I’m about to start Trinity Feagan’s Mephisto Covenant because a friend who likes Briggs suggested it. I need more names. For some reason, Rachel Caine and Nalini Singh books haven’t grabbed me. Should I try again? As proved by the Frost example, I can be talked into retrying a book.
Kate Rothwell writes romance using her own name and the pseudonym Summer Devon. She lives in Connecticut with four men (three of whom are her sons). You can out more about her at KateRothwell.com and SummerDevon.com.