Tuesday, January 24

Bad boys, Antiheros and Good Girls

While book shopping over the last few weeks I discovered there are a heck of a lot of Bad Boy and Good Girl books out there. And while I spent some time thinking about writing a blog about this, Sybil beat me to it. At least the Bad Boy part of it. And before I had time to join the conversation, she's moved on to other things. So I'm blogging about it too.

It seems to me, when it comes to romance novels hero has a few different meanings. Here is Encarta's definition that fit within romance:

1. somebody who commits an act of remarkable bravery or who has shown an admirable quality such as great courage or strength of character
2. somebody admired: somebody who is admired for outstanding qualities or achievements...
3. arts main character in fictional plot: the principal male character in a movie, novel, or play, especially one who plays a vital role in plot development or around whom the plot is structured.


So, for the most part romance novels probably fall into two categories, real hero's that fit the first 2 definitions and Bad Boys who aren't necessarily antiheros, unheroic central character: the central character in a story who is not a traditionally brave or good hero, but may have had less than sterling backgrounds and walk, run, ride, drive to a different drummer.

The funny thing is I love Bad Boy stories and yet I hate to see Bad Boy in the title. Do we really need to be told the hero is bad? I think most of us can figure it out from the blurb. I realized this morning why it bugs me. I'm not a fan of Lori Foster and I have a tendency to equate Bad Boy with her books--ack, how unfair is that to other writers? I think I need to work on that.

Antiheros are different from bad boys. There is nothing sterotypical about antiheros. Bad boys and heros are a dime a dozen in romance novels, but a good antihero is hard to find. Sometimes they find redemption with the love of a good woman, and sometimes it's left rather vague--nobody does this better than Anne Stuart.

So, now I have a confession, I've never read a Good Girl book. That's not to say I haven't read a book with a Good Girl heroine, but I've never actually read a book with Good Girl in the title. Are they good in the biblical sense or have good moral fiber? Are they good friends, good daughters, good looking or good in bed? Aren't all heroines Good to some degree**?

My deep thoughts for today--LOL.

Have a good one, and happy reading.

Tara

**Edited, apparently not, check out Kristie's rant about "It's all about me" Mia.

8 comments:

sybil said...

hheeeeeeee

very cool! I have another blog I am posting in a bit talking a lil bit more about the bad boy books and you saved me some work ;). I have a link to you without looking.

wwwwwwhhheeeeeeeeee

I looked and looked but there really doesn't seem to be guidelines out there for 'Bad Boy' books. It seems to be more of a brand. And I can't find any coming out titles past Aug but it looks like there is one almost every month from jan to aug.

I would love to get my hands on sales figures. It is sad, I don't write. I don't want to be a writer. But I love the marketing piece of it and what does sell or help sell vs what doesn't. yes I am weird.

CindyS said...

Are they good in the biblical sense or have good moral fiber? Are they good friends, good daughters, good looking or good in bed? Aren't all heroines Good to some degree?

Hmm, now use the same for the bad boy question and you get some funny stuff. Bad friends, bad sons, bad looking, bad in bed ;)

Funny how we are readers know what we mean by the 'bad boy' but then again I guess I would say that society see 'good girls' as quiet, shy, virginal.

Oh, are we safe to invoke LF's name without fangirls attacking? Good to know. I liked one of her books but she leans so heavily on stereotypes that my head starts to hurt.

I mentioned at Sybil's that I don't find the heroes in these books to be bad boys. Also, the stories are so short it's hard to see how they get from meeting each other to planning a wedding and kids. Ugh.

Did I stay on topic this time? Ohhh, and I'll take an anti-hero everytime as long as he has emotions.

CindyS

Jay said...

2 things:

I'm not a fan of Lori Foster and I have a tendency to equate Bad Boy with her books--ack, how unfair is that to other writers?

I do this too, but I think it's because she headlines every third Bad Boy book. I'd have to do some research but I honestly think she has a novella in a good 90% of the bad boy books out there. I can only think of a handful that she's not in and those are mainly the ones that are 3 stories by 1 author.

So, now I have a confession, I've never read a Good Girl book. That's not to say I haven't read a book with a Good Girl heroine, but I've never actually read a book with Good Girl in the title.

I can think of two off the top of my head, Good Girls Gone Bad (by Karin Tabke, releases 9/06) and Good Girls Don't (by Kelly St. John, out now).

But it seems to me these are stories that try to scream "I'm not the normal simpering heroine. I'm BAD! Sometimes I go to bed without brushing my teeth first." Mind you, I haven't read either, so maybe I'm projecting my own genre bias on the books based on my interpretaion of the title, but I have to say, I don't expect these books to anymore true to the good girl/bad girl dichotomy than the Bad Boy books are.

Tara Marie said...

Sybil, see great minds think a like.

Cindy, ...bad in bed that was funny. I guess I would say that society see 'good girls' as quiet, shy, virginal. isn't Good Girl such a stereotype? I don't have problem with good girl stories and actually enjoy them, but why do we need to know up front she's a "good girl" in the title... Maybe Sybil's right, we need to study the marketing of these books.

I'm not too worried about Lori Foster fangirls, I doubt they consider me interesting enough to bother with.

Jay, ...I'm projecting my own genre bias on the books based on my interpretation of the title... I'm doing the same thing and just like Bad Boy books, it's probably not fair to the writers.

Bookwormom said...

Tara, I'm glad to hear your mom & your hubby are well. Medical ailments are going around this week it seems.

As to antiheroes, I agree Anne Stuart does them the best. I don't read LF, but I've heard her fangirls are, um, rabid.

As to 'good girls', as far as I'm concerned, the vast majority of Romancelandia women fit the stereotype no matter what time period featured.

The few women who aren't 'good girls' are often saddled with other, very negative traits or problems that make her unpalatable to readers. Itseems to me many of the heroines are written either 'good girly' or as shrill & overly edgy. Few in betweens.

Anne E. said...

I tend to be an anti-hero fan and am tired of the emphasis on the bad boys who dominate romance fiction. Perhaps that is because in real life I learned from experience that the bad boys are generally bad news...I am sure that more women have come to grief persuing a bad boy than you could probably count in a year! For some women it is a badge of honor to snag a bad boy...similiar to the high school boy who must have a cheer leader, or the aging CEO or actor with the arm candy trophy wife.

I realize that romances are basically fantasies, but sometimes the genre conventions just get to me....especially when I've read several of the same type of boolk back-to-back.

I think good girl books are probably more contemporary than historical, so that is probably why I haven't encountered them.

Annette

Kristie (J) said...

Oh, I'm exactly the same way with titles. I hate that so many of them have "bad boy" in them. Books I might otherwise buy with no qualms - I have second thoughts when I see the title. 'Cause really how bad are they if we are told they are bad. And like you, I love bad boys and anti heroes - thus explaining my crush on Sawyer -oops - James Ford. And what would you consider him? Bad boy or anit hero? I'm not quite sure myself

Sam said...

I have that song running through my head now - bad, bad, bad, bad boys...they make me feel so good..
LOL
IS that it? Bad boys are exciting and girls are supposed to be good and redeem them?
I never read a single bad boy book, so I don't know if the heroes are really Bad, but I love the 'bad boy' in LOST - he's so "not at all bad" underneath it all. Maybe that's the secret to a really interesting hero.