While the redheaded male is a rare creature in romance (even in Scottish romance), the redheaded female is a favorite in the genre. What’s so great is she encapsulates two extremes of the genre. She’s either sassy from the very beginning—‘cause come on, redheads aren’t known as fiery for nothing—or is usually accompanied with another trope. You know the ones I’m talking about—she’s overweight and redheaded, a ginger wallflower, or some combination of the two. I like to think all redheads are sassy, they just haven’t found it yet.
Statistically speaking, there shouldn’t be as many redheads in romance as there are. Granted, romance tends to disregard statistical improbability (case in point, how many dukes could there have possibly been in Regency and Victorian England that are young, hung, and looking for love—here’s a hint: not that many).
What makes a redhead so special is that she is a rare jewel. You always notice her in a crowd, whether she comes in shades of deep auburn, burning orange, fire engine, or sweet strawberry blonde. It only seems fair that our hero should recognize this rare jewel as well. But despite the rarity in real life of redheads, we find them generously flung across the genre. As a fellow redhead, I’ve always been drawn to redheaded heroines, whether they fall in the sassy or wallflower categories. I tend to lean towards the wallflower variety myself, maybe because I kind of am a wallflower, and partially because I feel they have more opportunity to grow as a character. With that in mind, here are a few of my favorites.
The Unidentified Redhead by Alice Clayton has a sassy redhead rocking out with a May-December relationship (although the age difference isn’t that big, just 33 to 24; let’s face it, we’ve seen much bigger age differences in romance than this). At 33, Grace Sheridan is an aspiring actress, trying to make it big in a town where aging equals career suicide. The story is thoughtful, funny, and sexy. It’s like reading the best rom-com you’ve ever watched, but without those “fading away moments.” This was Alice Clayton’s debut novel, and having just finished Wallbanger, her latest book, I can safely say she gets even better with age (as does Grace!). There is a sequel called The Redhead Revealed, which still features Grace and her younger heartthrob, Jack, as they try and navigate a relationship that has them on separate coasts. Both are great reads, and proves you can never go wrong with a redhead.
In Tracy Anne Warren’s Seduced By His Touch, another Grace catches the hero’s attention. Grace is a young woman who is firmly on the shelf and happy to spend her life among her books, but her father has a different idea in mind. Jack Byron (no relation to the famous poet) lost a bet and is forced into wedded bliss with Grace by her father; the one catch is she must never know that their union is anything less than a love match. Luckily for both Grace and Jack, this soon becomes a reality…kind of.
…The play wasn’t what held his interest—that belonged to the woman at his side.
Entrancing in a gown of vibrant green silk, Grace radiated femininity, but not the frail, tepid sort borne by so many of her sex. She was bold and colorful—her lush red hair providing a perfect foil for the crisp apple green of her dress. Looking at her, his mouth watered at the thought of taking a big juicy bite.
But sadly, even he knew a crowded theater was no place for the kind of things running through his mind.
Moving away from redheaded Graces, one of my favorite redheads is Evangeline from Lisa Kleypas’s Devil in Winter. Evangeline is the shyest of the wallflowers featured in Kleypas’s series of the same name, and a personal favorite. Evangeline takes one of the biggest risks of her life when she offers Sebastian, Viscount St. Vincent, a proposal—of marriage. She has one condition, no sex after the wedding night. We all know that any good rake is going to ignore this rule.
He remained relaxed in his chair, though the tips of his fingers made slight depressions in the soft-napped velvet upholstery. He found it odd that he had never noticed her, when there was a great deal worth noticing. Her hair, the brightest shade of red he had ever seen, seemed to feed on the firelight, glowing with incandescent heat. The slender wings of her brows and the heavy fringe of her lashes were a darker shade of auburn, while her skin was that of a true redhead, fair and a bit freckled on the nose and cheeks.
This book was heartbreaking and wonderful and has been on my keeper shelf since I read it.
Finally, I can’t talk about redheads without mentioning one of my favorite series. Ever since I read Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series, one of my favorite books was Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night. Bowen MacReive lost his mate almost 200 years ago and entered the Talisman’s Hie in order to win a prize that may succeed in going back in time to save his mate. Unfortunately, he loses and he blames the witch who cursed him—with both mortality and to believe she is his mate. Things get worse when it turns out she’s still mortal and he trapped her in a cave for the last three weeks. Somehow, the couple manage to overcome this rocky beginning.
Inside, the fire crackled, burnishing her long red hair with gold as he sifted it through his fingers, drying it into big curls. Now that he’d bathed her, the scent of her hair and skin was sublime, filling his senses.
Yes, she could have done this herself, but he didn’t want to give up tasks like these. They pleased him in new ways, soothing the constant yearning he’d battled for years.
Some honorable mentions include:
Drop Dead Gorgeous by Jennifer Skully
Playing Dirty by Susan Anderson
Brighter than the Sun by Julia Quin
By no means have I read all the redheaded romance out there, so what are a few of your favorites?
Jennifer Proffitt is a Midwest transplant to New York City. She spends most of her time reading and writing about romance, but you can follow her other adventures on Twitter @JennProffitt. She works for Heroes and Heartbreakers and Criminal Element.