Feb 12 2013 4:30pm

The Heroines in “Damaged Heroes” Romance Novels

Bared to You by Sylvia DayIt seems readers (including me) have gone head over heels for the rich, sexy, sex-gods with tormented souls. Heroes such as Gideon Cross, Christian Grey, Ethan Blackstone and Gabriel Emerson want to change, to become better men, all because of the women who steal their hearts from the moment they meet. Who are these lucky ladies? Can they handle our intensely passionate heroes?

In Sylvia Day’s Crossfire Trilogy, the heroine is a spitfire. Eva Tramell is in a whirlwind of drama due to her tormented past and difficult relationships with family and friends. Her family is very overprotective and constantly worried about her safety. She moves to the Big City in search of her independence, but finds herself addicted to Gideon Cross. Both seem to find the other irresistible and their passion is quite explosive in a co-dependent kind of way.  Both of them harbor issues of abusive pasts, and even though Eva strives for control of her life and from the dependency that consumes her with Gideon, she repeatedly reverts to her destructive ways. She is too impulsive for her own good and her first instinct is to run whenever she feels insecure. All in all, Eva is a fighter, and definitely keeps Gideon wanting more.

In E.L. James's Fifty Shades of Grey, literature student Anastasia (Ana) Steele has little experience with men, so after she interviews Christian Grey, she certainly doesn't expect to fall (literally) into his arms. Ana is witty, charming yet overly trusting. Her attraction to Christian, along with her low self-esteem and submissive personality, leads her into a sexual agreement with him. At first, Ana was swept away in the excitement of Christian, but she ends up not backing down when faced with his dominating personality.

Gabriel's Inferno by Sylvian ReynardIn Sylvian Reynard's Gabriel’s Inferno, Julia Mitchell is emotionally beaten and has low self-esteem. She is shy and intimidated easily. Her insecurities and submissive demeanor are a result of an alcoholic mother, a neglectful father and an abusive boyfriend. A romantic encounter with Gabriel Emerson gives her hope, but she feels abandoned when she awakes alone. Her infatuation for Gabriel dictates her career and they are reunited as professor and student. He doesn’t remember her, treats her horribly and breaks her spirit many times over. When she’s at her wit's end he finally remembers her, but it’s nearly too late. Julia’s heartache changes her, and she evolves into a stronger character.

In The Blackstone Affair series by Raine Miller, nude model/art student, Brynne Bennett was a party girl in high school and a disappointment to her mother. After a near death experience, she moves to England in an attempt to leave her problems behind. Her modeling career, along with her education, seems to be going in the right direction, but when Ethan Blackstone storms into her life, she must learn how to trust again. She is insecure about her past and feels undeserving of love. She requires complete honesty in her relationships because of her trust issues and refuses to settle for less. Once she lets her guard down, she hears of a betrayal from the two men she loves most.

All these heroines have much in common. Most have unresolved issues with their parents; they are either abused, neglected, or both and as a result are either submissive and/or have low self-esteem. Yet the passion they feel towards the hero is all-consuming. Their deep-seated issues are what draw the heroes to them in addition to the strong addictive sexual attraction. These heart thieves are absolutely just as challenging as the heroes, but without a doubt their perfect match. 

Which is your favorite heart-stealing heroine and is she worthy?


Sage Spelling writes book reviews for her blog http://sagespellingsbookshelf.blogspot.com/ She is a compulsive reader, writer and a happily ever after kind of girl. Follow her on Facebook: Sage Spelling and Twitter: @SSpellingAuthor

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Elizabeth Halliday
1. Ibbitts
My favorites seem to be the heroes that have very little realization that they are in some way damaged until they meet the very woman everyone would have thought was an 'unlikely' pairing. Case in point: Roarke & Eve in J. D. Robb's In Death series. I usually refer to it as the Edward Lewis/Vivian Ward syndrome (Pretty Woman). Edward saves Vivian and Vivian saves him right back...
Jena Briars
2. CutMyTeethOnKleypas
I keep thinking about the hero from When She Said I Do by Celeste Bradley - Ren Porter. He's definitely damaged (trust issues, physical scars/pain, and a bit controlling with their intimacy games) but I think the heroine is my favorite heart-stealer because she is also really impulsive and does whatever she pleases (and she enjoys pleasing him) but she doesn't excuse him being bitter.
Yvonne De La Cruz
3. ymdlc1
Oops...Ibbitts....you meant J.D. Robb from the In Death series...I agree with your opinion.
I tend to appreciate strong women characters. i.e. I love Eva vs. Ana because she has a spine. Ana gave in too much to Christian's demands... don't get me started on when Ana gave into Christian's demands to change her last name...my blood pressure went through the roof! Heroines need to be strong and sensitive in order to help these strong, domineering men because deep down inside men don't want a wusp...they want a CHALLENGE!!!
Sage Spelling
4. SageSpelling
Ibbitts, I haven’t read In Death, but I love Pretty Woman, and that is my favorite line in the movie.
CutMyTeethOnKleypas,I agree, I think that the heroine and hero should both have the same level of inner demons and how they coup with them. It makes for a more readable story. And like Ibbitts
quote from pretty woman, it makes the best ending when in the end they save each other.
ymdlc1, totally agree. I think Eva is a challenge, and a woman like her is the only kind that can hold a man like Gideon’s attention.
Nicole Leapheart
5. BoxyFrown
Out of this bunch, Eva is my fave, and probably Brynne after her. I get bored reading contemporary novels about the virgin who gets the tortured rake in knots. I love a woman who has had life experience and brings that to the table. Bad ass, self assured, on your own terms type of women!
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