Feb 3 2013 10:00am

All Fired Up: Redheaded Heroines from Clayton, Kleypas, Cole and More!

The Unidentified Redhead by Alice ClaytonWhile 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.

Seduced by His Touch by Tracy Anne WarrenIn 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.

Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night by Kresley ColeFinally, 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.

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Grace S
1. Grace S
My favorite redhead of either sex in romance is Jamie Fraser from Diana Gabaldon's Outlander saga. He is perfection.
Sarah Stultz
2. RVASarah
My all-time favorite is Cat aka The Red Reaper from Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series. And more recently, I like Kristen Callihan's Miranda from Firelight (Darkest London series). I've always had a thing for redheaded heroines, I think, because I'm part-redhead myself. I can indentify with the bits of "firey personality" they seem to possess.
Lege Artis
3. LegeArtis
Case in point, how many dukes could there have possibly been in Regency and Victorian England that are young, hung, and looking for love?
Hey, modern UK has one hot Ginger Prince who we all love and adore...;)
Hmmm, favorite:
Beside Evie, I also love Emma from And Then He Kissed Her by L.L. Guhrke, Edwina from The Proposition by J. Ivory, Roxy from Nora Roberts's Honest Illusions, Tyra from Motorcycle Man by Kristen Ashley and if I include m/m that has to be Peter from Dani Alexander's Shattered Glass.
Great post, Jennifer. Many of my favorites have readheads heroine. You know what's also strange? How many of readheads in fiction have beautiful white skin without freckles...
4. carmenlire
Evie and Sebastian's book, Devil in Winter, is one of my absolute favorite books of all time, and is always competing for favorite LK book, with 5 of her others:) I love thier relationship, and how much Evie grows during the book.
Grace S
5. Hassna
i know you're talking about books but i can't help being mesmrised by Damian Lewis' hair . its an amazing red and in a man it is't strange or ugly.they should adapt red-headed men also in books this being the case.
Jennifer Proffitt
6. JenniferProffitt
@RVASarah: Redheads unite! There are so few of us left, we have to band together, even if you are only partial ;)

@LegeArtis Thanks, I'm glad you liked it! Young, hung (we know this better than this time last year...), royal AND Ginger! Ha! Very True! You really can't go wrong with him. Those are some great recommendations, I loved The Proposition and And Then He Kissed Me, both are firmly on my keeper-shelf. Although to be honest, I forgot they were redheads (gasp! I know, face-palm), otherwise one or both likely would have ended up on this list!

@Carmenlire, I loved how Evie grew in Devil in Winter, too, and their relationship just in general was fabulous! Le sigh...

@Grace and @Hassna: Never fear, we talked about redheaded males in romance (here's the link: I'm also partial to Kevin McKidd as a redhead. He and Damien are one of my few exceptions to my "No Ginger Guys" rule.
Lege Artis
7. LegeArtis
@Jennifer- Well, I remembered Emma from And Then He Kissed Her first, 'cause one of my favorite scene is when she's yelling at Harry, and he, such a typical guy, suddenly realises she has red hair. You know, he didn't pay attention at her at all, so he tought she is mousy and has brown hair, but then he really saw her for the first time and there was nothing ordinary about her. Beautiful novel....
Jennifer Proffitt
9. JenniferProffitt
@LegeArtis, I remember LOVING And Then He Kissed Me, and now that you've reminded me I totally remember that scene. It was so great :) Must go home and read their story again...
Grace S
10. KHobbs
Also a major fan of Evie, it is definitely in my top 3 of Kleypas' books. I also liked Annabelle Granger from Susan Elizabeth's Phillips "Match Me If You Can"
leslee kahler
11. fishbourne
Being a red head my self Ilove reading about other red heads. In real life I've had people tell me red heads arn't as pretty as blondes or as smart as girls with brown hair. I've been told that I'm not sexy, only girls with black hair are sexy. My husband disagrees of course, so please keep writting about red heads, one day we might even become as popular as blondes.
Flavia Rizental
12. milliebear24
I was totally certain that my favourite redhead was going to be in the list, so imagine my surprise when the little witch that could made no appearance? Pshaaw, but we can correct that! I nominate Rachel Morgan (from Kim Harrison's delightful The Hollows series, witches, demons, vamps and a loud-mouthed pixie, oh my!), detective, earth-witch and the all around great heroine of a series that keeps me happy, keeps me guessing and keeps me coming back for more! Love the Hollows!
Grace S
13. adoore
My favorite was Wellsie until she was killed from the Black dagger brotherhood. I loved her as a female character but unfortunately she was the only female character to lose everything and remain dead even though she did nothing wrong. Yet she will always hold a place in my heart. My other favorite red heads are Artie (Dark-hunters) I know she will be redeemed but I am sorry she is not that bad I love her. And my next favorite would be Cat from the Night Huntess series I just love her and Bones.
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