Dec 18 2012 1:00pm

Author Gina Robinson on Femme Fatales—Misunderstood Heroine or Seductive Villain?

Today we're pleased—dangerously so!—to welcome author Gina Robinson to Heroes and Heartbreakers. Gina's next release, Live and Let Love, will be released December 24. Today Gina talks about some very dangerous women. Thanks, Gina!

(For an exclusive sneak peek at Live and Let Love, read an excerpt of Chapters 1-2!)

femme fa·tale 
n. pl. femmes fa·tales—a woman who is sexually attractive but cruel and dangerous to men who have a relationship with her
Macmillan Dictionary online
French: femme, woman + fatale, deadly

Ah, the femme fatale. The name says it all—a deadly woman. One who seduces men to their dooms, transfixes them, bewitches them. Kills them. There's something absolutely mesmerizing and fascinating about femme fatales. The embodiment of female power, they seem to have it all—charm, beauty, sensuality. And yet, somehow they're not satisfied until they've crossed the line into the dark side. Deep down, we'd all like to have a bit, just the good bits like seductive charm, of the femme fatale in us.

The femme fatale is a classic archetype dating back to Biblical times. Think Samson and Delilah. Or Cleopatra. The femme fatale emerged in film noir in the 1930s and 40s in characters like Jane Palmer played by Lisbesth Scott in Too Late for Tears, 1949. Or perhaps the most famous femme fatale of all Kitty Collins in The Killers, 1946, played by Ava Gardner opposite Burt Lancaster.

Yeah, keep those legs crossed over there, Sharon.For obvious reasons, the femme fatale is often used in espionage, thriller, and suspense stories. Think Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct. She got Michael Douglas's character to hop into bed with her, even though she was suspected of being a murderer who liked to kill after sex. Oh, that bad, bad, crime novelist. She knew how to cover her tracks as well as how to use her beauty to seduce.

Poor James Bond runs into femme fatales as a matter of daily business. In fact, they seem to be as numerous as out-and-out villains. Some, like Octopussy, begin as alluring opponents and end up as allies and lovers. Others, like assassin Xenia Onatopp, Goldeneye, 1995, tops the list of the bad femme fatales Bond encounters. According to The Secret World of 007, “Bond and Xenia shared a love of fast cars and double entendres, but her lovemaking style was just too energetic, even for Bond.” Her favorite method of assassination—strangling her victim/lover with her thighs. Fortunately, Bond knows a thing or two about escaping from a woman's clutches.

We're romance lovers here so let's talk about the femme fatale in romance. From the previous examples, we've seen that the femme fatale can be used quite effectively as an adversary or villain in romantic suspense. She's a deadly heartbreaker, perfect for such a story task. But can the femme fatale ever be the true heroine of a romance? Will she ever get her happily-ever-after?

He missed on purpose, Angie. He LOVES you!After all, the femme fatale is characteristically a great lover. She has charm. She knows how to seduce. She's definitely sexy. Just what we need. If she could only resist her fatal urges. Because generally speaking, murdering the hero doesn't result in the desired happy ending. Generally.

But think again. What about Jane Smith in the popular and iconic 2005 romantic comedy Mr. and Mrs. Smith? The Smiths' sex life is nonexistent. Their marriage is faltering and dull. Until Jane Smith, played by Angelina Jolie, tries to kill her husband John, played by Brad Pitt. And in return, he tries to kill her. Then things really getting smoking. By the end of the movie, the Smiths are in marriage counseling saying their marriage and sex life have never been better.

So maybe, deftly handled, with the right plot, and the absolute perfect match of a hero, the femme fatale can live happily ever after. What do you think—can a femme fatale be a true romance heroine? Would you like to see more femme fatale heroines? Who's your favorite femme fatale of all times?

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Gina Robinson has always been a storyteller—just ask her parents. An avid book lover, she grew up reading romance, mysteries, and suspense novels but, somehow, ended up majoring in Electrical Engineering. After marrying her college sweetheart, she began to write—software—for several large defense contractors. Eventually Gina gave up the glamorous engineering life for the equally glamorous life of a stay-at-home mom, somehow finding time to write manuscripts about villains with guns, handsome strangers, and mail-order brides. Her published novels, Diamonds Are Truly Forever, Spy Candy, Spy Games, and The Spy Who Left Me, received rave reviews, establishing Gina Robinson as one of today’s most exciting new authors of romantic suspense.

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Heather Waters
1. HeatherWaters
Great post!

You know, I would like to see more femme fatale romance heroines, if just because they ARE generally seen as adversaries/villains and I'd enjoy seeing more writers turn that idea on its head.

My current femme fatale would have to be Avengers's Natasha Romanoff. I love that she has a dark past, referred to a few times in Joss Whedon's movie, but that she no longer lets it define her. She's totally romance heroine material at this point in her story.
Megan Frampton
2. MFrampton
One of my favorite movie genres is noir, where the femme fatale is all over it--Barbara Stanwyck, your lady Ava Gardner, and Rita Hayworth, among countless others. I love that double edge of loving them and fearing them. Thanks for the post.
Amber Belldene
3. Amber Belldene
Great post. I love a noir or action femme fatale, too, and that moment when all her toughness crumbles and we see her vulnerability!
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