Beauty and the beholder

1valchloesmall Anne here, dipping into the question box again. RevMelinda asked about the concept of beauty:  how important is it that a hero/heroine be physically attractive?  What other character traits/meanings does beauty (or lack thereof) communicate to the reader?  What were historical standards of beauty and how do they differ from our own time? And how do you mediate this for the reader?

An interesting set of questions, RevMelinda. (And for this you've won a book from me.)

A glance at various portraits through the ages of the beauties of their times will show how perceptions of beauty have changed dramatically over time. I might refer that part of the question to Wench Susan, who's rather better read in art history than I am.

For me, in my books, there's an important difference between beauty and attractiveness. I do try to make my hero and heroine very attractive — to the reader and also to each other. As a writer of romances, I'm aware that part of the appeal for readers of that they witness and to a degree participate in the progress of the central romance. So it's very important to me that readers get that sense of "coup de foudre" — that initial attraction that strikes like a thunderbolt— if there is one, that is.  It might not  be love at first sight, but it is noticing at first sight.

That said, it's an attraction as much of personality as looks. My heroes aren't always handsome, and not always physically perfect — I've had a fair share of wounded or damaged heroes. But they're always attractive, especially to the heroine, and I hope to the reader. As for heroines, my preference is for them not to be beautiful. 

Usually the first meeting of hero and heroine shows something significant about them, and is not so much about looks as attitude and maybe also situation.
I introduced one hero entering a ballroom thus: He stood out like a battle-scarred tomcat in a sea of well-fed tabbies. Separateness was a key to his personality, and a kind of theme in the book.

With my first book for Berkley, The Perfect Rake, beauty, or the lack of it, was a kind of theme. The heroine was the plain oldest daughter in a family of beauties, and her lack of beauty and her sisters' abundance of it fueled the plot.  The hero was charming more than handsome, and the heroine was beautiful only to him. In fact it was one of his most endearing characteristics that he never saw the plain girl that everyone else did.AG-PRake

Beauty is so subjective. 

I think it's important for characters to rise beyond their looks, and for looks to play a minimal part in their eventual fate. I hadn't expected to be asked to turn The Perfect Rake into the first book of a series, so it really was an accident — and not a very welcome one for me — that I ended up with 3 beautiful heroines for the next 3 books. Stunningly beautiful heroines were something very new to me as a writer. However when I thought about it, I realized that even beautiful women are often insecure and tend to focus on their faults instead of their beauty — I know; I used to teach at a girl's high school, and even the most stunning girls never thought of themselves as beautiful. Moreover these three heroines had been raised by a harsh grandfather, and each had their own vulnerabilities, and strengths that arose from that, which are far more interesting.

I remember reading in a script writing text once that "handsome" and "beautiful"  are impossible to act, and I now quote it to people who do my romance writing classes. Looks aren't generally the issue, character is. And those girls had plenty of character. And the right men saw beyond their looks to the character beneath.

Of course the pursuit of beauty is an age-old concern, and in some books I've included some home-made beauty recipes. I've had heroines apply crushed strawberries to their skin, place raw veal on it, and attempt to bleach freckles (which were regarded as a bad flaw) with lemon juice. In my first book I had the heroine making cold cream (which the hero, mistaking it for something edible, tastes before she can stop him.) 

"Are you trying to poison me?" He grimaced again and scrubbed at his mouth with his handkerchief. "What was that foul stuff anyway?"
"Spermacetti oil, white wax, almond oil," she said, between giggles. "I haven't yet added the lemon oil and lemon juice."
 He choked. "Spermacetti oil? You were planning to feed me whale oil? That's for burning in lamps!"

There are some recipes for home made cold cream here.

Beautymask  As a teenager I was fascinated by the various home-grown aids to beauty, so it was easy to incorporate them as needed into my books. Many of these are age old remedies and my guess is that most women have tried some of them at some stage.

There were lots of hair treatments, I remember. There was the egg wash, where you massaged a whole egg into your clean hair and left it for 15 minutes, rinsing out afterward with luke-warm water. I mustn't have rinsed it properly, as I remember that saturday walking to the station to catch a train and feeling the distinct waft of warm egg accompanying me. It wasn't as bad as the beer rinse. That promised thick glossy hair, and I went to some considerable trouble to sneak a glass of beer. The instructions said to let the beer dry in your hair, then rinse. After ten minutes in the sun, I smelled like a brewery so once again, I had to turn around, go home and scrub it all out.Beerrinse

I tried lemon rinses (good for blondes and oily hair) rosemary rinses, supposed to make it extra glossy, and vinegar rinses — they were all fine and smelled pleasant — even the vinegar.

As for the complexion,
lightly beaten egg white and a squeeze of lemon juice is excellent for refining and tightening the skin. Smooth honey, or yoghurt on your skin, leave it for a while and then wash it off with cool water — it leaves it feeling softer.  A face pack of oatmeal and lemon juice tightens and refines skin. I remember one time I made a little muslin bag that I filled with oatmeal and used it to wash my face every morning. There is no end to the home remedies people used, and I like to use them in my books when appropriate. In my current manuscript the the heroine keeps bees, so I'm incorporating some age-old uses of honey and beeswax. 

Oatmeal&honey

 I've also got lots of old recipes for home made medicines — some of which will curl your hair, I'm sure, if only metaphorically.  But I'll save them for another day.

So let's open the question to readers. How important is it to you that a hero/heroine be physically attractive?  What other character traits/meanings does beauty (or lack thereof) communicate to you?
And what home beauty remedies (if any) have you tried?

120 thoughts on “Beauty and the beholder”

  1. Anne, I’m with you on how mutual attractiveness is the key, not staggering beauty. I love your line about the battle scarred tomcat in a sea of sleek tabbies. *g*
    Occasionally I’ve done heroines who are drop dead gorgeous not just to the hero but to everyone–and that beauty is almost certainly a problem to her since beautiful women can become hunted objects of desire. Plus, beauty is a diminishing asset compared to character. Fascinating stuff to play with.
    Mary Jo, who remembers those beer and egg rinses. *g*

    Reply
  2. Anne, I’m with you on how mutual attractiveness is the key, not staggering beauty. I love your line about the battle scarred tomcat in a sea of sleek tabbies. *g*
    Occasionally I’ve done heroines who are drop dead gorgeous not just to the hero but to everyone–and that beauty is almost certainly a problem to her since beautiful women can become hunted objects of desire. Plus, beauty is a diminishing asset compared to character. Fascinating stuff to play with.
    Mary Jo, who remembers those beer and egg rinses. *g*

    Reply
  3. Anne, I’m with you on how mutual attractiveness is the key, not staggering beauty. I love your line about the battle scarred tomcat in a sea of sleek tabbies. *g*
    Occasionally I’ve done heroines who are drop dead gorgeous not just to the hero but to everyone–and that beauty is almost certainly a problem to her since beautiful women can become hunted objects of desire. Plus, beauty is a diminishing asset compared to character. Fascinating stuff to play with.
    Mary Jo, who remembers those beer and egg rinses. *g*

    Reply
  4. Anne, I’m with you on how mutual attractiveness is the key, not staggering beauty. I love your line about the battle scarred tomcat in a sea of sleek tabbies. *g*
    Occasionally I’ve done heroines who are drop dead gorgeous not just to the hero but to everyone–and that beauty is almost certainly a problem to her since beautiful women can become hunted objects of desire. Plus, beauty is a diminishing asset compared to character. Fascinating stuff to play with.
    Mary Jo, who remembers those beer and egg rinses. *g*

    Reply
  5. Anne, I’m with you on how mutual attractiveness is the key, not staggering beauty. I love your line about the battle scarred tomcat in a sea of sleek tabbies. *g*
    Occasionally I’ve done heroines who are drop dead gorgeous not just to the hero but to everyone–and that beauty is almost certainly a problem to her since beautiful women can become hunted objects of desire. Plus, beauty is a diminishing asset compared to character. Fascinating stuff to play with.
    Mary Jo, who remembers those beer and egg rinses. *g*

    Reply
  6. I don’t find overtly attractive heros/heroines to be attractive to me. I find it gets in the way of the story. I’ve really enjoyed Elizabeth Hoyt’s novels where it is rare to find a beautiful couple…
    As for homemade remedies. I went to the hairstylist once and she used some preparation in my hair that would not come out. REpeated washings did not remove it. I ended up rinsing with vinegar in desperation and it took it out. I probably should have gone back and asked her what it was and how to remove it, but I was lazy….

    Reply
  7. I don’t find overtly attractive heros/heroines to be attractive to me. I find it gets in the way of the story. I’ve really enjoyed Elizabeth Hoyt’s novels where it is rare to find a beautiful couple…
    As for homemade remedies. I went to the hairstylist once and she used some preparation in my hair that would not come out. REpeated washings did not remove it. I ended up rinsing with vinegar in desperation and it took it out. I probably should have gone back and asked her what it was and how to remove it, but I was lazy….

    Reply
  8. I don’t find overtly attractive heros/heroines to be attractive to me. I find it gets in the way of the story. I’ve really enjoyed Elizabeth Hoyt’s novels where it is rare to find a beautiful couple…
    As for homemade remedies. I went to the hairstylist once and she used some preparation in my hair that would not come out. REpeated washings did not remove it. I ended up rinsing with vinegar in desperation and it took it out. I probably should have gone back and asked her what it was and how to remove it, but I was lazy….

    Reply
  9. I don’t find overtly attractive heros/heroines to be attractive to me. I find it gets in the way of the story. I’ve really enjoyed Elizabeth Hoyt’s novels where it is rare to find a beautiful couple…
    As for homemade remedies. I went to the hairstylist once and she used some preparation in my hair that would not come out. REpeated washings did not remove it. I ended up rinsing with vinegar in desperation and it took it out. I probably should have gone back and asked her what it was and how to remove it, but I was lazy….

    Reply
  10. I don’t find overtly attractive heros/heroines to be attractive to me. I find it gets in the way of the story. I’ve really enjoyed Elizabeth Hoyt’s novels where it is rare to find a beautiful couple…
    As for homemade remedies. I went to the hairstylist once and she used some preparation in my hair that would not come out. REpeated washings did not remove it. I ended up rinsing with vinegar in desperation and it took it out. I probably should have gone back and asked her what it was and how to remove it, but I was lazy….

    Reply
  11. Anne, your analysis is spot on. A pretty face is fine but the ingredients to that special spark, that special chemistry of attraction are far more complex. Beauty is skin-deep, to use an old cliche, and I prefer both my heroes and heroines to have inner qualities that make them interesting and appealing. It can be wit, humor, spirit or simply that “je ne sais quoi” quality that makes an individual unique.
    And LOL on the home remedies. My friends and I tried the beer and lemon rinses . . .I think I got a bad sunburn sitting and waiting for my hair to turn blonder from the lemon, while our parents were highly suspicious of the brewery reek. I’ve scrubbed with oatmeal (not bad) but haven’t done the egg whites. I love the idea of home remedies, but they always turn out rather messy and less romantic than they sound! However, I look forward to some delicious honey recipes . . . though I fear any that have to do with hair might be scary.

    Reply
  12. Anne, your analysis is spot on. A pretty face is fine but the ingredients to that special spark, that special chemistry of attraction are far more complex. Beauty is skin-deep, to use an old cliche, and I prefer both my heroes and heroines to have inner qualities that make them interesting and appealing. It can be wit, humor, spirit or simply that “je ne sais quoi” quality that makes an individual unique.
    And LOL on the home remedies. My friends and I tried the beer and lemon rinses . . .I think I got a bad sunburn sitting and waiting for my hair to turn blonder from the lemon, while our parents were highly suspicious of the brewery reek. I’ve scrubbed with oatmeal (not bad) but haven’t done the egg whites. I love the idea of home remedies, but they always turn out rather messy and less romantic than they sound! However, I look forward to some delicious honey recipes . . . though I fear any that have to do with hair might be scary.

    Reply
  13. Anne, your analysis is spot on. A pretty face is fine but the ingredients to that special spark, that special chemistry of attraction are far more complex. Beauty is skin-deep, to use an old cliche, and I prefer both my heroes and heroines to have inner qualities that make them interesting and appealing. It can be wit, humor, spirit or simply that “je ne sais quoi” quality that makes an individual unique.
    And LOL on the home remedies. My friends and I tried the beer and lemon rinses . . .I think I got a bad sunburn sitting and waiting for my hair to turn blonder from the lemon, while our parents were highly suspicious of the brewery reek. I’ve scrubbed with oatmeal (not bad) but haven’t done the egg whites. I love the idea of home remedies, but they always turn out rather messy and less romantic than they sound! However, I look forward to some delicious honey recipes . . . though I fear any that have to do with hair might be scary.

    Reply
  14. Anne, your analysis is spot on. A pretty face is fine but the ingredients to that special spark, that special chemistry of attraction are far more complex. Beauty is skin-deep, to use an old cliche, and I prefer both my heroes and heroines to have inner qualities that make them interesting and appealing. It can be wit, humor, spirit or simply that “je ne sais quoi” quality that makes an individual unique.
    And LOL on the home remedies. My friends and I tried the beer and lemon rinses . . .I think I got a bad sunburn sitting and waiting for my hair to turn blonder from the lemon, while our parents were highly suspicious of the brewery reek. I’ve scrubbed with oatmeal (not bad) but haven’t done the egg whites. I love the idea of home remedies, but they always turn out rather messy and less romantic than they sound! However, I look forward to some delicious honey recipes . . . though I fear any that have to do with hair might be scary.

    Reply
  15. Anne, your analysis is spot on. A pretty face is fine but the ingredients to that special spark, that special chemistry of attraction are far more complex. Beauty is skin-deep, to use an old cliche, and I prefer both my heroes and heroines to have inner qualities that make them interesting and appealing. It can be wit, humor, spirit or simply that “je ne sais quoi” quality that makes an individual unique.
    And LOL on the home remedies. My friends and I tried the beer and lemon rinses . . .I think I got a bad sunburn sitting and waiting for my hair to turn blonder from the lemon, while our parents were highly suspicious of the brewery reek. I’ve scrubbed with oatmeal (not bad) but haven’t done the egg whites. I love the idea of home remedies, but they always turn out rather messy and less romantic than they sound! However, I look forward to some delicious honey recipes . . . though I fear any that have to do with hair might be scary.

    Reply
  16. In the way of the world, beauty works in different ways for men and women. A woman can be beautiful, and that’s enough.
    Being handsome is an asset for a man, but he also has to do something useful.
    As for me, I want the hero and heroine to match each other. I’m tired of the gorgeous, accomplished hero who wants the plain jane heroine whose only claim to fame is that she’s a nice person. I know it’s the Cinderella story, but I’m pretty tired of Cinderella. I just read a book like that. No end of irritating.
    I want both hero and heroine to do something, and for them to be better than average looking. Romance is part fantasy. If I want average or worse, all I have to do is walk down the street. **grins**

    Reply
  17. In the way of the world, beauty works in different ways for men and women. A woman can be beautiful, and that’s enough.
    Being handsome is an asset for a man, but he also has to do something useful.
    As for me, I want the hero and heroine to match each other. I’m tired of the gorgeous, accomplished hero who wants the plain jane heroine whose only claim to fame is that she’s a nice person. I know it’s the Cinderella story, but I’m pretty tired of Cinderella. I just read a book like that. No end of irritating.
    I want both hero and heroine to do something, and for them to be better than average looking. Romance is part fantasy. If I want average or worse, all I have to do is walk down the street. **grins**

    Reply
  18. In the way of the world, beauty works in different ways for men and women. A woman can be beautiful, and that’s enough.
    Being handsome is an asset for a man, but he also has to do something useful.
    As for me, I want the hero and heroine to match each other. I’m tired of the gorgeous, accomplished hero who wants the plain jane heroine whose only claim to fame is that she’s a nice person. I know it’s the Cinderella story, but I’m pretty tired of Cinderella. I just read a book like that. No end of irritating.
    I want both hero and heroine to do something, and for them to be better than average looking. Romance is part fantasy. If I want average or worse, all I have to do is walk down the street. **grins**

    Reply
  19. In the way of the world, beauty works in different ways for men and women. A woman can be beautiful, and that’s enough.
    Being handsome is an asset for a man, but he also has to do something useful.
    As for me, I want the hero and heroine to match each other. I’m tired of the gorgeous, accomplished hero who wants the plain jane heroine whose only claim to fame is that she’s a nice person. I know it’s the Cinderella story, but I’m pretty tired of Cinderella. I just read a book like that. No end of irritating.
    I want both hero and heroine to do something, and for them to be better than average looking. Romance is part fantasy. If I want average or worse, all I have to do is walk down the street. **grins**

    Reply
  20. In the way of the world, beauty works in different ways for men and women. A woman can be beautiful, and that’s enough.
    Being handsome is an asset for a man, but he also has to do something useful.
    As for me, I want the hero and heroine to match each other. I’m tired of the gorgeous, accomplished hero who wants the plain jane heroine whose only claim to fame is that she’s a nice person. I know it’s the Cinderella story, but I’m pretty tired of Cinderella. I just read a book like that. No end of irritating.
    I want both hero and heroine to do something, and for them to be better than average looking. Romance is part fantasy. If I want average or worse, all I have to do is walk down the street. **grins**

    Reply
  21. I collect faces from magazines or pictures from Art Galleries, etc before starting a novel. For my new story I selected as hero a man from a newspaper advert of a leather jacket. His bad boy look is just perfect for a rake.
    The villain I pinched from a Turkish Airlines inflight magazine, he’s sooo evil looking. But.. when I showed my pictures to a friend, she drooled over the villain! So it’s all in the eye of the beholder. And yes, I used to have beer rinses and oatmeal scrubs as well.

    Reply
  22. I collect faces from magazines or pictures from Art Galleries, etc before starting a novel. For my new story I selected as hero a man from a newspaper advert of a leather jacket. His bad boy look is just perfect for a rake.
    The villain I pinched from a Turkish Airlines inflight magazine, he’s sooo evil looking. But.. when I showed my pictures to a friend, she drooled over the villain! So it’s all in the eye of the beholder. And yes, I used to have beer rinses and oatmeal scrubs as well.

    Reply
  23. I collect faces from magazines or pictures from Art Galleries, etc before starting a novel. For my new story I selected as hero a man from a newspaper advert of a leather jacket. His bad boy look is just perfect for a rake.
    The villain I pinched from a Turkish Airlines inflight magazine, he’s sooo evil looking. But.. when I showed my pictures to a friend, she drooled over the villain! So it’s all in the eye of the beholder. And yes, I used to have beer rinses and oatmeal scrubs as well.

    Reply
  24. I collect faces from magazines or pictures from Art Galleries, etc before starting a novel. For my new story I selected as hero a man from a newspaper advert of a leather jacket. His bad boy look is just perfect for a rake.
    The villain I pinched from a Turkish Airlines inflight magazine, he’s sooo evil looking. But.. when I showed my pictures to a friend, she drooled over the villain! So it’s all in the eye of the beholder. And yes, I used to have beer rinses and oatmeal scrubs as well.

    Reply
  25. I collect faces from magazines or pictures from Art Galleries, etc before starting a novel. For my new story I selected as hero a man from a newspaper advert of a leather jacket. His bad boy look is just perfect for a rake.
    The villain I pinched from a Turkish Airlines inflight magazine, he’s sooo evil looking. But.. when I showed my pictures to a friend, she drooled over the villain! So it’s all in the eye of the beholder. And yes, I used to have beer rinses and oatmeal scrubs as well.

    Reply
  26. I agree, Mary Jo, amazing beauty can blind people to the person inside and can spark all kinds of unwanted reactions, as well as wanted ones. And while it’s different in real life, I think in fiction it’s very hard to empathize with a heroine who is sooo beautful it makes her life sooo hard — I can almost hear the sarcastic remarks readers would make. LOL
    I think it’s only certain kinds of beauty that diminishes with age. I’ve known a few women, my elderly aunt included, who just seem to get more beautiful with age, despite wrinkles etc. I suspect it’s the result of character and inner beauty as well as bone structure.

    Reply
  27. I agree, Mary Jo, amazing beauty can blind people to the person inside and can spark all kinds of unwanted reactions, as well as wanted ones. And while it’s different in real life, I think in fiction it’s very hard to empathize with a heroine who is sooo beautful it makes her life sooo hard — I can almost hear the sarcastic remarks readers would make. LOL
    I think it’s only certain kinds of beauty that diminishes with age. I’ve known a few women, my elderly aunt included, who just seem to get more beautiful with age, despite wrinkles etc. I suspect it’s the result of character and inner beauty as well as bone structure.

    Reply
  28. I agree, Mary Jo, amazing beauty can blind people to the person inside and can spark all kinds of unwanted reactions, as well as wanted ones. And while it’s different in real life, I think in fiction it’s very hard to empathize with a heroine who is sooo beautful it makes her life sooo hard — I can almost hear the sarcastic remarks readers would make. LOL
    I think it’s only certain kinds of beauty that diminishes with age. I’ve known a few women, my elderly aunt included, who just seem to get more beautiful with age, despite wrinkles etc. I suspect it’s the result of character and inner beauty as well as bone structure.

    Reply
  29. I agree, Mary Jo, amazing beauty can blind people to the person inside and can spark all kinds of unwanted reactions, as well as wanted ones. And while it’s different in real life, I think in fiction it’s very hard to empathize with a heroine who is sooo beautful it makes her life sooo hard — I can almost hear the sarcastic remarks readers would make. LOL
    I think it’s only certain kinds of beauty that diminishes with age. I’ve known a few women, my elderly aunt included, who just seem to get more beautiful with age, despite wrinkles etc. I suspect it’s the result of character and inner beauty as well as bone structure.

    Reply
  30. I agree, Mary Jo, amazing beauty can blind people to the person inside and can spark all kinds of unwanted reactions, as well as wanted ones. And while it’s different in real life, I think in fiction it’s very hard to empathize with a heroine who is sooo beautful it makes her life sooo hard — I can almost hear the sarcastic remarks readers would make. LOL
    I think it’s only certain kinds of beauty that diminishes with age. I’ve known a few women, my elderly aunt included, who just seem to get more beautiful with age, despite wrinkles etc. I suspect it’s the result of character and inner beauty as well as bone structure.

    Reply
  31. Piper, I enjoy Elizabeth Hoyt’s books, too, and enjoy seeing her characters get their happy endings.
    I’m so glad the vinegar worked to get out the yukky mix from your hairstylist. Vinegar is one of those miracle substances, good for so many uses, a powerful cleaner, yet natural and gentle on skin and hair.
    Cara/Andrea I suspect the honey remedies will be more sticky than anything else, though it is good for healing wounds. The eggwhite mask is really good, actually. And cucumber… but I’ll stop there. I have so many skin recipes — I was a particularly desperate teenager. LOL

    Reply
  32. Piper, I enjoy Elizabeth Hoyt’s books, too, and enjoy seeing her characters get their happy endings.
    I’m so glad the vinegar worked to get out the yukky mix from your hairstylist. Vinegar is one of those miracle substances, good for so many uses, a powerful cleaner, yet natural and gentle on skin and hair.
    Cara/Andrea I suspect the honey remedies will be more sticky than anything else, though it is good for healing wounds. The eggwhite mask is really good, actually. And cucumber… but I’ll stop there. I have so many skin recipes — I was a particularly desperate teenager. LOL

    Reply
  33. Piper, I enjoy Elizabeth Hoyt’s books, too, and enjoy seeing her characters get their happy endings.
    I’m so glad the vinegar worked to get out the yukky mix from your hairstylist. Vinegar is one of those miracle substances, good for so many uses, a powerful cleaner, yet natural and gentle on skin and hair.
    Cara/Andrea I suspect the honey remedies will be more sticky than anything else, though it is good for healing wounds. The eggwhite mask is really good, actually. And cucumber… but I’ll stop there. I have so many skin recipes — I was a particularly desperate teenager. LOL

    Reply
  34. Piper, I enjoy Elizabeth Hoyt’s books, too, and enjoy seeing her characters get their happy endings.
    I’m so glad the vinegar worked to get out the yukky mix from your hairstylist. Vinegar is one of those miracle substances, good for so many uses, a powerful cleaner, yet natural and gentle on skin and hair.
    Cara/Andrea I suspect the honey remedies will be more sticky than anything else, though it is good for healing wounds. The eggwhite mask is really good, actually. And cucumber… but I’ll stop there. I have so many skin recipes — I was a particularly desperate teenager. LOL

    Reply
  35. Piper, I enjoy Elizabeth Hoyt’s books, too, and enjoy seeing her characters get their happy endings.
    I’m so glad the vinegar worked to get out the yukky mix from your hairstylist. Vinegar is one of those miracle substances, good for so many uses, a powerful cleaner, yet natural and gentle on skin and hair.
    Cara/Andrea I suspect the honey remedies will be more sticky than anything else, though it is good for healing wounds. The eggwhite mask is really good, actually. And cucumber… but I’ll stop there. I have so many skin recipes — I was a particularly desperate teenager. LOL

    Reply
  36. Linda I hear you on the fantasy element of the good looks, which is why I always make the hero and heroine very physically attractive to each other. I do however, have a tendency to make the hero more handsome, and the heroine not quite beautiful. I think that’s part of the female fantasy for some people, but simply “being nice” doesn’t cut it.
    I thoroughly agree that both hero and heroine have to *do* things to earn their happy ending. There’s a Jennifer Crusie quote somewhere that says it all perfectly: that Cinderella got her happy ending by having small feet and Sleeping Beauty got hers by simply looking good unconscious, but that modern readers expect more from their heroines.

    Reply
  37. Linda I hear you on the fantasy element of the good looks, which is why I always make the hero and heroine very physically attractive to each other. I do however, have a tendency to make the hero more handsome, and the heroine not quite beautiful. I think that’s part of the female fantasy for some people, but simply “being nice” doesn’t cut it.
    I thoroughly agree that both hero and heroine have to *do* things to earn their happy ending. There’s a Jennifer Crusie quote somewhere that says it all perfectly: that Cinderella got her happy ending by having small feet and Sleeping Beauty got hers by simply looking good unconscious, but that modern readers expect more from their heroines.

    Reply
  38. Linda I hear you on the fantasy element of the good looks, which is why I always make the hero and heroine very physically attractive to each other. I do however, have a tendency to make the hero more handsome, and the heroine not quite beautiful. I think that’s part of the female fantasy for some people, but simply “being nice” doesn’t cut it.
    I thoroughly agree that both hero and heroine have to *do* things to earn their happy ending. There’s a Jennifer Crusie quote somewhere that says it all perfectly: that Cinderella got her happy ending by having small feet and Sleeping Beauty got hers by simply looking good unconscious, but that modern readers expect more from their heroines.

    Reply
  39. Linda I hear you on the fantasy element of the good looks, which is why I always make the hero and heroine very physically attractive to each other. I do however, have a tendency to make the hero more handsome, and the heroine not quite beautiful. I think that’s part of the female fantasy for some people, but simply “being nice” doesn’t cut it.
    I thoroughly agree that both hero and heroine have to *do* things to earn their happy ending. There’s a Jennifer Crusie quote somewhere that says it all perfectly: that Cinderella got her happy ending by having small feet and Sleeping Beauty got hers by simply looking good unconscious, but that modern readers expect more from their heroines.

    Reply
  40. Linda I hear you on the fantasy element of the good looks, which is why I always make the hero and heroine very physically attractive to each other. I do however, have a tendency to make the hero more handsome, and the heroine not quite beautiful. I think that’s part of the female fantasy for some people, but simply “being nice” doesn’t cut it.
    I thoroughly agree that both hero and heroine have to *do* things to earn their happy ending. There’s a Jennifer Crusie quote somewhere that says it all perfectly: that Cinderella got her happy ending by having small feet and Sleeping Beauty got hers by simply looking good unconscious, but that modern readers expect more from their heroines.

    Reply
  41. Beth, how interesting. Maybe you can turn your villainous-looking fellow from the Turkish magazine into a dark and dangerous hero in another book. Me, I’m always more attracted to a dangerous-looking man than a pretty face — in fiction that is.
    I’m a story collage kind of writer, too. I use pictures to help create the world of the story. When I’ve done a collage, I hang it on the wall in my office and it takes just a moment of looking at it and I’m instantly back in the world of the story. It’s particularly useful when I get stuck, or even on a day (like today) where there have been lots of interruptions and each time I have to get back into the story.
    One of my story collages (for Stolen Princess) is here: http://tinyurl.com/ykokx9e
    I don’t put them all on my website, as some of them give the story away too much.
    There’s another one on the Perfect Kiss page, if you’re interested.

    Reply
  42. Beth, how interesting. Maybe you can turn your villainous-looking fellow from the Turkish magazine into a dark and dangerous hero in another book. Me, I’m always more attracted to a dangerous-looking man than a pretty face — in fiction that is.
    I’m a story collage kind of writer, too. I use pictures to help create the world of the story. When I’ve done a collage, I hang it on the wall in my office and it takes just a moment of looking at it and I’m instantly back in the world of the story. It’s particularly useful when I get stuck, or even on a day (like today) where there have been lots of interruptions and each time I have to get back into the story.
    One of my story collages (for Stolen Princess) is here: http://tinyurl.com/ykokx9e
    I don’t put them all on my website, as some of them give the story away too much.
    There’s another one on the Perfect Kiss page, if you’re interested.

    Reply
  43. Beth, how interesting. Maybe you can turn your villainous-looking fellow from the Turkish magazine into a dark and dangerous hero in another book. Me, I’m always more attracted to a dangerous-looking man than a pretty face — in fiction that is.
    I’m a story collage kind of writer, too. I use pictures to help create the world of the story. When I’ve done a collage, I hang it on the wall in my office and it takes just a moment of looking at it and I’m instantly back in the world of the story. It’s particularly useful when I get stuck, or even on a day (like today) where there have been lots of interruptions and each time I have to get back into the story.
    One of my story collages (for Stolen Princess) is here: http://tinyurl.com/ykokx9e
    I don’t put them all on my website, as some of them give the story away too much.
    There’s another one on the Perfect Kiss page, if you’re interested.

    Reply
  44. Beth, how interesting. Maybe you can turn your villainous-looking fellow from the Turkish magazine into a dark and dangerous hero in another book. Me, I’m always more attracted to a dangerous-looking man than a pretty face — in fiction that is.
    I’m a story collage kind of writer, too. I use pictures to help create the world of the story. When I’ve done a collage, I hang it on the wall in my office and it takes just a moment of looking at it and I’m instantly back in the world of the story. It’s particularly useful when I get stuck, or even on a day (like today) where there have been lots of interruptions and each time I have to get back into the story.
    One of my story collages (for Stolen Princess) is here: http://tinyurl.com/ykokx9e
    I don’t put them all on my website, as some of them give the story away too much.
    There’s another one on the Perfect Kiss page, if you’re interested.

    Reply
  45. Beth, how interesting. Maybe you can turn your villainous-looking fellow from the Turkish magazine into a dark and dangerous hero in another book. Me, I’m always more attracted to a dangerous-looking man than a pretty face — in fiction that is.
    I’m a story collage kind of writer, too. I use pictures to help create the world of the story. When I’ve done a collage, I hang it on the wall in my office and it takes just a moment of looking at it and I’m instantly back in the world of the story. It’s particularly useful when I get stuck, or even on a day (like today) where there have been lots of interruptions and each time I have to get back into the story.
    One of my story collages (for Stolen Princess) is here: http://tinyurl.com/ykokx9e
    I don’t put them all on my website, as some of them give the story away too much.
    There’s another one on the Perfect Kiss page, if you’re interested.

    Reply
  46. Oh Anne I love your story board and it is exactly how I imagined Nicky to be! I actually don’t pay a lot of attention to the description of the hero and heroine, I couldn’t even say if they were blonde or brunette! I form an image of who they are by how they act – maybe it’s a subconscious link to someone I know. Anyway it doesn’t matter too much to me if they are devastatingly handsome or utterly plain, it’s the story telling that grips me (or not).
    As for remedies; growing up in England before central heating, I remember we all had very red cheeks and I used a rolled oats face mask. I smelled like porridge but it did lessen the redness. I notice many potraits of the Regency show this heightened colour – or maybe they had TB who knows.

    Reply
  47. Oh Anne I love your story board and it is exactly how I imagined Nicky to be! I actually don’t pay a lot of attention to the description of the hero and heroine, I couldn’t even say if they were blonde or brunette! I form an image of who they are by how they act – maybe it’s a subconscious link to someone I know. Anyway it doesn’t matter too much to me if they are devastatingly handsome or utterly plain, it’s the story telling that grips me (or not).
    As for remedies; growing up in England before central heating, I remember we all had very red cheeks and I used a rolled oats face mask. I smelled like porridge but it did lessen the redness. I notice many potraits of the Regency show this heightened colour – or maybe they had TB who knows.

    Reply
  48. Oh Anne I love your story board and it is exactly how I imagined Nicky to be! I actually don’t pay a lot of attention to the description of the hero and heroine, I couldn’t even say if they were blonde or brunette! I form an image of who they are by how they act – maybe it’s a subconscious link to someone I know. Anyway it doesn’t matter too much to me if they are devastatingly handsome or utterly plain, it’s the story telling that grips me (or not).
    As for remedies; growing up in England before central heating, I remember we all had very red cheeks and I used a rolled oats face mask. I smelled like porridge but it did lessen the redness. I notice many potraits of the Regency show this heightened colour – or maybe they had TB who knows.

    Reply
  49. Oh Anne I love your story board and it is exactly how I imagined Nicky to be! I actually don’t pay a lot of attention to the description of the hero and heroine, I couldn’t even say if they were blonde or brunette! I form an image of who they are by how they act – maybe it’s a subconscious link to someone I know. Anyway it doesn’t matter too much to me if they are devastatingly handsome or utterly plain, it’s the story telling that grips me (or not).
    As for remedies; growing up in England before central heating, I remember we all had very red cheeks and I used a rolled oats face mask. I smelled like porridge but it did lessen the redness. I notice many potraits of the Regency show this heightened colour – or maybe they had TB who knows.

    Reply
  50. Oh Anne I love your story board and it is exactly how I imagined Nicky to be! I actually don’t pay a lot of attention to the description of the hero and heroine, I couldn’t even say if they were blonde or brunette! I form an image of who they are by how they act – maybe it’s a subconscious link to someone I know. Anyway it doesn’t matter too much to me if they are devastatingly handsome or utterly plain, it’s the story telling that grips me (or not).
    As for remedies; growing up in England before central heating, I remember we all had very red cheeks and I used a rolled oats face mask. I smelled like porridge but it did lessen the redness. I notice many potraits of the Regency show this heightened colour – or maybe they had TB who knows.

    Reply
  51. Sue, I’m so glad you like the collages. They’ve become an important part of the process for me.
    However, the people on my story collages don’t always have the exact features or coloring of the characters. I choose the photos for the expression rather than the features, and for the aspects of my character that it evokes. Though sometimes, as with that portrait of Nicky, it’s just spot on.
    As for rosy cheeks, I remember when I went to live Scotland (from Australia) when I was 8, I really noticed the rosy cheeks the kids had. I thought it was beautiful. I didn’t realize it was from the cold. Another possibility for the rosy cheeks in the old portraits is rouge.
    Oatmeal masks are good in all sorts of ways, I think, not just for redness.

    Reply
  52. Sue, I’m so glad you like the collages. They’ve become an important part of the process for me.
    However, the people on my story collages don’t always have the exact features or coloring of the characters. I choose the photos for the expression rather than the features, and for the aspects of my character that it evokes. Though sometimes, as with that portrait of Nicky, it’s just spot on.
    As for rosy cheeks, I remember when I went to live Scotland (from Australia) when I was 8, I really noticed the rosy cheeks the kids had. I thought it was beautiful. I didn’t realize it was from the cold. Another possibility for the rosy cheeks in the old portraits is rouge.
    Oatmeal masks are good in all sorts of ways, I think, not just for redness.

    Reply
  53. Sue, I’m so glad you like the collages. They’ve become an important part of the process for me.
    However, the people on my story collages don’t always have the exact features or coloring of the characters. I choose the photos for the expression rather than the features, and for the aspects of my character that it evokes. Though sometimes, as with that portrait of Nicky, it’s just spot on.
    As for rosy cheeks, I remember when I went to live Scotland (from Australia) when I was 8, I really noticed the rosy cheeks the kids had. I thought it was beautiful. I didn’t realize it was from the cold. Another possibility for the rosy cheeks in the old portraits is rouge.
    Oatmeal masks are good in all sorts of ways, I think, not just for redness.

    Reply
  54. Sue, I’m so glad you like the collages. They’ve become an important part of the process for me.
    However, the people on my story collages don’t always have the exact features or coloring of the characters. I choose the photos for the expression rather than the features, and for the aspects of my character that it evokes. Though sometimes, as with that portrait of Nicky, it’s just spot on.
    As for rosy cheeks, I remember when I went to live Scotland (from Australia) when I was 8, I really noticed the rosy cheeks the kids had. I thought it was beautiful. I didn’t realize it was from the cold. Another possibility for the rosy cheeks in the old portraits is rouge.
    Oatmeal masks are good in all sorts of ways, I think, not just for redness.

    Reply
  55. Sue, I’m so glad you like the collages. They’ve become an important part of the process for me.
    However, the people on my story collages don’t always have the exact features or coloring of the characters. I choose the photos for the expression rather than the features, and for the aspects of my character that it evokes. Though sometimes, as with that portrait of Nicky, it’s just spot on.
    As for rosy cheeks, I remember when I went to live Scotland (from Australia) when I was 8, I really noticed the rosy cheeks the kids had. I thought it was beautiful. I didn’t realize it was from the cold. Another possibility for the rosy cheeks in the old portraits is rouge.
    Oatmeal masks are good in all sorts of ways, I think, not just for redness.

    Reply
  56. Sherrie, I was brought up on oatmeal for breakfast — Scottish blood will out, even after 6 generations in the antipodes — though we call it porridge. And for the “real” stuff — ie not the instant kind, we always used to soak it overnight. Then it didn’t take forever to cook in the morning.
    We used to eat it with treacle — very dark molasses I guess you’d call it — and milk. I used to love making islands and seas with it. I mostly have the quick cook stuff these days.

    Reply
  57. Sherrie, I was brought up on oatmeal for breakfast — Scottish blood will out, even after 6 generations in the antipodes — though we call it porridge. And for the “real” stuff — ie not the instant kind, we always used to soak it overnight. Then it didn’t take forever to cook in the morning.
    We used to eat it with treacle — very dark molasses I guess you’d call it — and milk. I used to love making islands and seas with it. I mostly have the quick cook stuff these days.

    Reply
  58. Sherrie, I was brought up on oatmeal for breakfast — Scottish blood will out, even after 6 generations in the antipodes — though we call it porridge. And for the “real” stuff — ie not the instant kind, we always used to soak it overnight. Then it didn’t take forever to cook in the morning.
    We used to eat it with treacle — very dark molasses I guess you’d call it — and milk. I used to love making islands and seas with it. I mostly have the quick cook stuff these days.

    Reply
  59. Sherrie, I was brought up on oatmeal for breakfast — Scottish blood will out, even after 6 generations in the antipodes — though we call it porridge. And for the “real” stuff — ie not the instant kind, we always used to soak it overnight. Then it didn’t take forever to cook in the morning.
    We used to eat it with treacle — very dark molasses I guess you’d call it — and milk. I used to love making islands and seas with it. I mostly have the quick cook stuff these days.

    Reply
  60. Sherrie, I was brought up on oatmeal for breakfast — Scottish blood will out, even after 6 generations in the antipodes — though we call it porridge. And for the “real” stuff — ie not the instant kind, we always used to soak it overnight. Then it didn’t take forever to cook in the morning.
    We used to eat it with treacle — very dark molasses I guess you’d call it — and milk. I used to love making islands and seas with it. I mostly have the quick cook stuff these days.

    Reply
  61. No one could complain about eating the cold cream from the recipe in the link. It seems to be mayonaise without seasoning. I suppose if it doesn’t harm your insides, it won’t hurt your outside either.
    Fun post!

    Reply
  62. No one could complain about eating the cold cream from the recipe in the link. It seems to be mayonaise without seasoning. I suppose if it doesn’t harm your insides, it won’t hurt your outside either.
    Fun post!

    Reply
  63. No one could complain about eating the cold cream from the recipe in the link. It seems to be mayonaise without seasoning. I suppose if it doesn’t harm your insides, it won’t hurt your outside either.
    Fun post!

    Reply
  64. No one could complain about eating the cold cream from the recipe in the link. It seems to be mayonaise without seasoning. I suppose if it doesn’t harm your insides, it won’t hurt your outside either.
    Fun post!

    Reply
  65. No one could complain about eating the cold cream from the recipe in the link. It seems to be mayonaise without seasoning. I suppose if it doesn’t harm your insides, it won’t hurt your outside either.
    Fun post!

    Reply
  66. Ingrid, yes, I thought it looked quite tasty as well. The recipe in the link wasn’t the one in the book — that was made using spermacetti oil — oil extracted from whales, and used at the time for burning in lamps, as well as white wax. No eggs or anything tasty. Spermacetti oil isn’t available these days. I think.

    Reply
  67. Ingrid, yes, I thought it looked quite tasty as well. The recipe in the link wasn’t the one in the book — that was made using spermacetti oil — oil extracted from whales, and used at the time for burning in lamps, as well as white wax. No eggs or anything tasty. Spermacetti oil isn’t available these days. I think.

    Reply
  68. Ingrid, yes, I thought it looked quite tasty as well. The recipe in the link wasn’t the one in the book — that was made using spermacetti oil — oil extracted from whales, and used at the time for burning in lamps, as well as white wax. No eggs or anything tasty. Spermacetti oil isn’t available these days. I think.

    Reply
  69. Ingrid, yes, I thought it looked quite tasty as well. The recipe in the link wasn’t the one in the book — that was made using spermacetti oil — oil extracted from whales, and used at the time for burning in lamps, as well as white wax. No eggs or anything tasty. Spermacetti oil isn’t available these days. I think.

    Reply
  70. Ingrid, yes, I thought it looked quite tasty as well. The recipe in the link wasn’t the one in the book — that was made using spermacetti oil — oil extracted from whales, and used at the time for burning in lamps, as well as white wax. No eggs or anything tasty. Spermacetti oil isn’t available these days. I think.

    Reply
  71. That storyboard is a dream, Anne. I could spend an hour just gazing… Thank you for sharing that. And for the idea of using mr nasty as a dark hero elsewhere. My friend would love that.

    Reply
  72. That storyboard is a dream, Anne. I could spend an hour just gazing… Thank you for sharing that. And for the idea of using mr nasty as a dark hero elsewhere. My friend would love that.

    Reply
  73. That storyboard is a dream, Anne. I could spend an hour just gazing… Thank you for sharing that. And for the idea of using mr nasty as a dark hero elsewhere. My friend would love that.

    Reply
  74. That storyboard is a dream, Anne. I could spend an hour just gazing… Thank you for sharing that. And for the idea of using mr nasty as a dark hero elsewhere. My friend would love that.

    Reply
  75. That storyboard is a dream, Anne. I could spend an hour just gazing… Thank you for sharing that. And for the idea of using mr nasty as a dark hero elsewhere. My friend would love that.

    Reply
  76. I must confess that I have a weakness for a plain heroine–no doubt the lingering after-effect of a difficult (nerdy girl) adolescence and early exposure to Heyer’s “Sylvester.”
    One of the nice things I’ve experienced as I’ve gotten older is an increasing appreciation of beauty–both the obvious physical beauty of the young, and the luminous beauty of the not-so-young that seems to emanate from within.
    In my line of work (hospice) I see so many kinds of beauty every day, in the people I work with and the stories I hear–the beauty of kindness and companionship, the beauty of a face lined with experience or a body stooped from carrying life’s burdens, the beauty of people caring for each other through difficult times. It’s a different world from “Romancelandia” but I often think that if I could write a romance, it would be about people like our burly, bearded,tattooed, motor-cycle riding (male) nurse who is nobody’s idea of a romance hero but is one of the most kind, inspiring, and yes, beautiful people I know.
    I firmly believe that love is transformative, and one of the ways it can transform us is to show us the beauty that lies within even the most unlikely of people.

    Reply
  77. I must confess that I have a weakness for a plain heroine–no doubt the lingering after-effect of a difficult (nerdy girl) adolescence and early exposure to Heyer’s “Sylvester.”
    One of the nice things I’ve experienced as I’ve gotten older is an increasing appreciation of beauty–both the obvious physical beauty of the young, and the luminous beauty of the not-so-young that seems to emanate from within.
    In my line of work (hospice) I see so many kinds of beauty every day, in the people I work with and the stories I hear–the beauty of kindness and companionship, the beauty of a face lined with experience or a body stooped from carrying life’s burdens, the beauty of people caring for each other through difficult times. It’s a different world from “Romancelandia” but I often think that if I could write a romance, it would be about people like our burly, bearded,tattooed, motor-cycle riding (male) nurse who is nobody’s idea of a romance hero but is one of the most kind, inspiring, and yes, beautiful people I know.
    I firmly believe that love is transformative, and one of the ways it can transform us is to show us the beauty that lies within even the most unlikely of people.

    Reply
  78. I must confess that I have a weakness for a plain heroine–no doubt the lingering after-effect of a difficult (nerdy girl) adolescence and early exposure to Heyer’s “Sylvester.”
    One of the nice things I’ve experienced as I’ve gotten older is an increasing appreciation of beauty–both the obvious physical beauty of the young, and the luminous beauty of the not-so-young that seems to emanate from within.
    In my line of work (hospice) I see so many kinds of beauty every day, in the people I work with and the stories I hear–the beauty of kindness and companionship, the beauty of a face lined with experience or a body stooped from carrying life’s burdens, the beauty of people caring for each other through difficult times. It’s a different world from “Romancelandia” but I often think that if I could write a romance, it would be about people like our burly, bearded,tattooed, motor-cycle riding (male) nurse who is nobody’s idea of a romance hero but is one of the most kind, inspiring, and yes, beautiful people I know.
    I firmly believe that love is transformative, and one of the ways it can transform us is to show us the beauty that lies within even the most unlikely of people.

    Reply
  79. I must confess that I have a weakness for a plain heroine–no doubt the lingering after-effect of a difficult (nerdy girl) adolescence and early exposure to Heyer’s “Sylvester.”
    One of the nice things I’ve experienced as I’ve gotten older is an increasing appreciation of beauty–both the obvious physical beauty of the young, and the luminous beauty of the not-so-young that seems to emanate from within.
    In my line of work (hospice) I see so many kinds of beauty every day, in the people I work with and the stories I hear–the beauty of kindness and companionship, the beauty of a face lined with experience or a body stooped from carrying life’s burdens, the beauty of people caring for each other through difficult times. It’s a different world from “Romancelandia” but I often think that if I could write a romance, it would be about people like our burly, bearded,tattooed, motor-cycle riding (male) nurse who is nobody’s idea of a romance hero but is one of the most kind, inspiring, and yes, beautiful people I know.
    I firmly believe that love is transformative, and one of the ways it can transform us is to show us the beauty that lies within even the most unlikely of people.

    Reply
  80. I must confess that I have a weakness for a plain heroine–no doubt the lingering after-effect of a difficult (nerdy girl) adolescence and early exposure to Heyer’s “Sylvester.”
    One of the nice things I’ve experienced as I’ve gotten older is an increasing appreciation of beauty–both the obvious physical beauty of the young, and the luminous beauty of the not-so-young that seems to emanate from within.
    In my line of work (hospice) I see so many kinds of beauty every day, in the people I work with and the stories I hear–the beauty of kindness and companionship, the beauty of a face lined with experience or a body stooped from carrying life’s burdens, the beauty of people caring for each other through difficult times. It’s a different world from “Romancelandia” but I often think that if I could write a romance, it would be about people like our burly, bearded,tattooed, motor-cycle riding (male) nurse who is nobody’s idea of a romance hero but is one of the most kind, inspiring, and yes, beautiful people I know.
    I firmly believe that love is transformative, and one of the ways it can transform us is to show us the beauty that lies within even the most unlikely of people.

    Reply
  81. I love Imprudence. She is such a great heroine. Though she was the plainest of the five sisters, her inner strength and honest desire to only see the best for her sisters made her very beautiful indeed. And Carradice! *sigh* I loved him because he loved Prue and couldn’t understand why no one saw how beautiful she is.
    But I loved her sisters as well, more because even though they are beautiful, you made their inner scars real and relateable and I’m so glad TPTB “suggested” it become a series. I would have greatly missed the sister’s stories.
    I think that’s the difference though between heroines who really reach out to the reader and those who don’t. I’ve read many a romance where the H/Hn were blindingly beautiful, but the book was ho-hum because beyond their beauty, they didn’t have much substance and I ended up reading it more because of the villain.
    I agree. They have to be beautiful *to each other* and not necessarily to the reader in order to be endearing. At least to this reader! 🙂
    theo-who also remembers all of those old home remedies, as well as the porridge her gran from Scotland used to make her for breakfast…

    Reply
  82. I love Imprudence. She is such a great heroine. Though she was the plainest of the five sisters, her inner strength and honest desire to only see the best for her sisters made her very beautiful indeed. And Carradice! *sigh* I loved him because he loved Prue and couldn’t understand why no one saw how beautiful she is.
    But I loved her sisters as well, more because even though they are beautiful, you made their inner scars real and relateable and I’m so glad TPTB “suggested” it become a series. I would have greatly missed the sister’s stories.
    I think that’s the difference though between heroines who really reach out to the reader and those who don’t. I’ve read many a romance where the H/Hn were blindingly beautiful, but the book was ho-hum because beyond their beauty, they didn’t have much substance and I ended up reading it more because of the villain.
    I agree. They have to be beautiful *to each other* and not necessarily to the reader in order to be endearing. At least to this reader! 🙂
    theo-who also remembers all of those old home remedies, as well as the porridge her gran from Scotland used to make her for breakfast…

    Reply
  83. I love Imprudence. She is such a great heroine. Though she was the plainest of the five sisters, her inner strength and honest desire to only see the best for her sisters made her very beautiful indeed. And Carradice! *sigh* I loved him because he loved Prue and couldn’t understand why no one saw how beautiful she is.
    But I loved her sisters as well, more because even though they are beautiful, you made their inner scars real and relateable and I’m so glad TPTB “suggested” it become a series. I would have greatly missed the sister’s stories.
    I think that’s the difference though between heroines who really reach out to the reader and those who don’t. I’ve read many a romance where the H/Hn were blindingly beautiful, but the book was ho-hum because beyond their beauty, they didn’t have much substance and I ended up reading it more because of the villain.
    I agree. They have to be beautiful *to each other* and not necessarily to the reader in order to be endearing. At least to this reader! 🙂
    theo-who also remembers all of those old home remedies, as well as the porridge her gran from Scotland used to make her for breakfast…

    Reply
  84. I love Imprudence. She is such a great heroine. Though she was the plainest of the five sisters, her inner strength and honest desire to only see the best for her sisters made her very beautiful indeed. And Carradice! *sigh* I loved him because he loved Prue and couldn’t understand why no one saw how beautiful she is.
    But I loved her sisters as well, more because even though they are beautiful, you made their inner scars real and relateable and I’m so glad TPTB “suggested” it become a series. I would have greatly missed the sister’s stories.
    I think that’s the difference though between heroines who really reach out to the reader and those who don’t. I’ve read many a romance where the H/Hn were blindingly beautiful, but the book was ho-hum because beyond their beauty, they didn’t have much substance and I ended up reading it more because of the villain.
    I agree. They have to be beautiful *to each other* and not necessarily to the reader in order to be endearing. At least to this reader! 🙂
    theo-who also remembers all of those old home remedies, as well as the porridge her gran from Scotland used to make her for breakfast…

    Reply
  85. I love Imprudence. She is such a great heroine. Though she was the plainest of the five sisters, her inner strength and honest desire to only see the best for her sisters made her very beautiful indeed. And Carradice! *sigh* I loved him because he loved Prue and couldn’t understand why no one saw how beautiful she is.
    But I loved her sisters as well, more because even though they are beautiful, you made their inner scars real and relateable and I’m so glad TPTB “suggested” it become a series. I would have greatly missed the sister’s stories.
    I think that’s the difference though between heroines who really reach out to the reader and those who don’t. I’ve read many a romance where the H/Hn were blindingly beautiful, but the book was ho-hum because beyond their beauty, they didn’t have much substance and I ended up reading it more because of the villain.
    I agree. They have to be beautiful *to each other* and not necessarily to the reader in order to be endearing. At least to this reader! 🙂
    theo-who also remembers all of those old home remedies, as well as the porridge her gran from Scotland used to make her for breakfast…

    Reply
  86. Jason Isaacs — yes! (from Anne’s story collage).
    As for beauty, I need to believe that the H/H find each other physically attractive, so if too much emphasis is placed on how UNattractive they are, I can’t buy into the fantasy. There are a couple of Georgette Heyer’s like that (e.g. “A Civil Contract”), and shallow as I am, it subverted the romance for me (although in that particular book, it was more that I found Jenny boring). He needs to have broad shoulders and she beautiful skin or some other positive physical attribute for me to accept that yes, lust is possible.
    Unlike Linda, I also find it undermines the fantasy if both H/H are gorgeous. That’s not fantasy, that’s Real Life, where movie star handsome men marry movie star stunning women, and few trophy wives are older and less good-looking than the first wives (Camilla being the exception, of course). That being said, it need not spoil the romance, and I’ve loved many a book with genetically blessed H/H.
    But, as always, it comes down to the writing and the creation of characters who are more than a mere assemblage of body parts or characteristics. Furthermore, I need to see those characteristics in action. Don’t tell me the heroine is smart or witty, show me, because only then can I believe that the hero sees those characteristics as well. One reason I’ve loved so many wench novels is that they do just that.

    Reply
  87. Jason Isaacs — yes! (from Anne’s story collage).
    As for beauty, I need to believe that the H/H find each other physically attractive, so if too much emphasis is placed on how UNattractive they are, I can’t buy into the fantasy. There are a couple of Georgette Heyer’s like that (e.g. “A Civil Contract”), and shallow as I am, it subverted the romance for me (although in that particular book, it was more that I found Jenny boring). He needs to have broad shoulders and she beautiful skin or some other positive physical attribute for me to accept that yes, lust is possible.
    Unlike Linda, I also find it undermines the fantasy if both H/H are gorgeous. That’s not fantasy, that’s Real Life, where movie star handsome men marry movie star stunning women, and few trophy wives are older and less good-looking than the first wives (Camilla being the exception, of course). That being said, it need not spoil the romance, and I’ve loved many a book with genetically blessed H/H.
    But, as always, it comes down to the writing and the creation of characters who are more than a mere assemblage of body parts or characteristics. Furthermore, I need to see those characteristics in action. Don’t tell me the heroine is smart or witty, show me, because only then can I believe that the hero sees those characteristics as well. One reason I’ve loved so many wench novels is that they do just that.

    Reply
  88. Jason Isaacs — yes! (from Anne’s story collage).
    As for beauty, I need to believe that the H/H find each other physically attractive, so if too much emphasis is placed on how UNattractive they are, I can’t buy into the fantasy. There are a couple of Georgette Heyer’s like that (e.g. “A Civil Contract”), and shallow as I am, it subverted the romance for me (although in that particular book, it was more that I found Jenny boring). He needs to have broad shoulders and she beautiful skin or some other positive physical attribute for me to accept that yes, lust is possible.
    Unlike Linda, I also find it undermines the fantasy if both H/H are gorgeous. That’s not fantasy, that’s Real Life, where movie star handsome men marry movie star stunning women, and few trophy wives are older and less good-looking than the first wives (Camilla being the exception, of course). That being said, it need not spoil the romance, and I’ve loved many a book with genetically blessed H/H.
    But, as always, it comes down to the writing and the creation of characters who are more than a mere assemblage of body parts or characteristics. Furthermore, I need to see those characteristics in action. Don’t tell me the heroine is smart or witty, show me, because only then can I believe that the hero sees those characteristics as well. One reason I’ve loved so many wench novels is that they do just that.

    Reply
  89. Jason Isaacs — yes! (from Anne’s story collage).
    As for beauty, I need to believe that the H/H find each other physically attractive, so if too much emphasis is placed on how UNattractive they are, I can’t buy into the fantasy. There are a couple of Georgette Heyer’s like that (e.g. “A Civil Contract”), and shallow as I am, it subverted the romance for me (although in that particular book, it was more that I found Jenny boring). He needs to have broad shoulders and she beautiful skin or some other positive physical attribute for me to accept that yes, lust is possible.
    Unlike Linda, I also find it undermines the fantasy if both H/H are gorgeous. That’s not fantasy, that’s Real Life, where movie star handsome men marry movie star stunning women, and few trophy wives are older and less good-looking than the first wives (Camilla being the exception, of course). That being said, it need not spoil the romance, and I’ve loved many a book with genetically blessed H/H.
    But, as always, it comes down to the writing and the creation of characters who are more than a mere assemblage of body parts or characteristics. Furthermore, I need to see those characteristics in action. Don’t tell me the heroine is smart or witty, show me, because only then can I believe that the hero sees those characteristics as well. One reason I’ve loved so many wench novels is that they do just that.

    Reply
  90. Jason Isaacs — yes! (from Anne’s story collage).
    As for beauty, I need to believe that the H/H find each other physically attractive, so if too much emphasis is placed on how UNattractive they are, I can’t buy into the fantasy. There are a couple of Georgette Heyer’s like that (e.g. “A Civil Contract”), and shallow as I am, it subverted the romance for me (although in that particular book, it was more that I found Jenny boring). He needs to have broad shoulders and she beautiful skin or some other positive physical attribute for me to accept that yes, lust is possible.
    Unlike Linda, I also find it undermines the fantasy if both H/H are gorgeous. That’s not fantasy, that’s Real Life, where movie star handsome men marry movie star stunning women, and few trophy wives are older and less good-looking than the first wives (Camilla being the exception, of course). That being said, it need not spoil the romance, and I’ve loved many a book with genetically blessed H/H.
    But, as always, it comes down to the writing and the creation of characters who are more than a mere assemblage of body parts or characteristics. Furthermore, I need to see those characteristics in action. Don’t tell me the heroine is smart or witty, show me, because only then can I believe that the hero sees those characteristics as well. One reason I’ve loved so many wench novels is that they do just that.

    Reply
  91. Beth, I’m so glad you like it. You can see how a collage helps the story along, can’t you?
    Lyn S — thank you for that hint about jojoba being a good substitute for whale oil in cold cream. Smells a whole lot nicer, too, I bet. Not that I’ve ever smelled whale oil, but jojoba is lovely.
    RevMelinda, I loved your story of your burly bearded male nurse. Speaking of “romancelandia” I know some of the Mills and Boon “medicals” tackle some quite gritty subjects and lead us to a lovely warm feel- good ending — I could see him as a hero in that line. Those books are not all “nurse doctor” books, but modern stories with at least one main character working in a medical setting — doesn’t have to be a doctor or a nurse. They’ve had veterinarians, paramedics — all sorts. A lot of the writers are in the medical field or married to people in them. I’ll see if I can find one to send you, along with your prize.

    Reply
  92. Beth, I’m so glad you like it. You can see how a collage helps the story along, can’t you?
    Lyn S — thank you for that hint about jojoba being a good substitute for whale oil in cold cream. Smells a whole lot nicer, too, I bet. Not that I’ve ever smelled whale oil, but jojoba is lovely.
    RevMelinda, I loved your story of your burly bearded male nurse. Speaking of “romancelandia” I know some of the Mills and Boon “medicals” tackle some quite gritty subjects and lead us to a lovely warm feel- good ending — I could see him as a hero in that line. Those books are not all “nurse doctor” books, but modern stories with at least one main character working in a medical setting — doesn’t have to be a doctor or a nurse. They’ve had veterinarians, paramedics — all sorts. A lot of the writers are in the medical field or married to people in them. I’ll see if I can find one to send you, along with your prize.

    Reply
  93. Beth, I’m so glad you like it. You can see how a collage helps the story along, can’t you?
    Lyn S — thank you for that hint about jojoba being a good substitute for whale oil in cold cream. Smells a whole lot nicer, too, I bet. Not that I’ve ever smelled whale oil, but jojoba is lovely.
    RevMelinda, I loved your story of your burly bearded male nurse. Speaking of “romancelandia” I know some of the Mills and Boon “medicals” tackle some quite gritty subjects and lead us to a lovely warm feel- good ending — I could see him as a hero in that line. Those books are not all “nurse doctor” books, but modern stories with at least one main character working in a medical setting — doesn’t have to be a doctor or a nurse. They’ve had veterinarians, paramedics — all sorts. A lot of the writers are in the medical field or married to people in them. I’ll see if I can find one to send you, along with your prize.

    Reply
  94. Beth, I’m so glad you like it. You can see how a collage helps the story along, can’t you?
    Lyn S — thank you for that hint about jojoba being a good substitute for whale oil in cold cream. Smells a whole lot nicer, too, I bet. Not that I’ve ever smelled whale oil, but jojoba is lovely.
    RevMelinda, I loved your story of your burly bearded male nurse. Speaking of “romancelandia” I know some of the Mills and Boon “medicals” tackle some quite gritty subjects and lead us to a lovely warm feel- good ending — I could see him as a hero in that line. Those books are not all “nurse doctor” books, but modern stories with at least one main character working in a medical setting — doesn’t have to be a doctor or a nurse. They’ve had veterinarians, paramedics — all sorts. A lot of the writers are in the medical field or married to people in them. I’ll see if I can find one to send you, along with your prize.

    Reply
  95. Beth, I’m so glad you like it. You can see how a collage helps the story along, can’t you?
    Lyn S — thank you for that hint about jojoba being a good substitute for whale oil in cold cream. Smells a whole lot nicer, too, I bet. Not that I’ve ever smelled whale oil, but jojoba is lovely.
    RevMelinda, I loved your story of your burly bearded male nurse. Speaking of “romancelandia” I know some of the Mills and Boon “medicals” tackle some quite gritty subjects and lead us to a lovely warm feel- good ending — I could see him as a hero in that line. Those books are not all “nurse doctor” books, but modern stories with at least one main character working in a medical setting — doesn’t have to be a doctor or a nurse. They’ve had veterinarians, paramedics — all sorts. A lot of the writers are in the medical field or married to people in them. I’ll see if I can find one to send you, along with your prize.

    Reply
  96. Theo thanks for those comments. I’m very glad you enjoyed that series. Substance is everything, I think. (I also managed to delete the double posting, though not the follow up.)
    Susan, I agree with you about the stressing of their unattractiveness. It needs action to counterbalance it, otherwise you’re left with a sour taste in your readerly mouth.
    RevMelinda’s comment about Heyer’s Sylvester is an excellent example of the counterbalance — Phoebe was said (repeatedly) to be a plain, thin brown girl, and certainly the hero saw nothing beautiful about her, but there was no doubt that she engaged him and provoked him on a number of levels and that she was an excellent match for him. And no doubt in my mind at the end that their love was real and enduring. Phoebe’s attractiveness and strong personality — as well as her ability to strike sparks off Sylvester– was delivered through her own words and actions, instead of repeated assertions of her physical drabness.
    I agree you, Susan, about Heyer’s Civil Contract — I think they were both too luke warm, and although I was sure they’d live a comfortable life, it seemed a bit dull. Also I wanted Jenny to be really loved, instead of merely appreciated.

    Reply
  97. Theo thanks for those comments. I’m very glad you enjoyed that series. Substance is everything, I think. (I also managed to delete the double posting, though not the follow up.)
    Susan, I agree with you about the stressing of their unattractiveness. It needs action to counterbalance it, otherwise you’re left with a sour taste in your readerly mouth.
    RevMelinda’s comment about Heyer’s Sylvester is an excellent example of the counterbalance — Phoebe was said (repeatedly) to be a plain, thin brown girl, and certainly the hero saw nothing beautiful about her, but there was no doubt that she engaged him and provoked him on a number of levels and that she was an excellent match for him. And no doubt in my mind at the end that their love was real and enduring. Phoebe’s attractiveness and strong personality — as well as her ability to strike sparks off Sylvester– was delivered through her own words and actions, instead of repeated assertions of her physical drabness.
    I agree you, Susan, about Heyer’s Civil Contract — I think they were both too luke warm, and although I was sure they’d live a comfortable life, it seemed a bit dull. Also I wanted Jenny to be really loved, instead of merely appreciated.

    Reply
  98. Theo thanks for those comments. I’m very glad you enjoyed that series. Substance is everything, I think. (I also managed to delete the double posting, though not the follow up.)
    Susan, I agree with you about the stressing of their unattractiveness. It needs action to counterbalance it, otherwise you’re left with a sour taste in your readerly mouth.
    RevMelinda’s comment about Heyer’s Sylvester is an excellent example of the counterbalance — Phoebe was said (repeatedly) to be a plain, thin brown girl, and certainly the hero saw nothing beautiful about her, but there was no doubt that she engaged him and provoked him on a number of levels and that she was an excellent match for him. And no doubt in my mind at the end that their love was real and enduring. Phoebe’s attractiveness and strong personality — as well as her ability to strike sparks off Sylvester– was delivered through her own words and actions, instead of repeated assertions of her physical drabness.
    I agree you, Susan, about Heyer’s Civil Contract — I think they were both too luke warm, and although I was sure they’d live a comfortable life, it seemed a bit dull. Also I wanted Jenny to be really loved, instead of merely appreciated.

    Reply
  99. Theo thanks for those comments. I’m very glad you enjoyed that series. Substance is everything, I think. (I also managed to delete the double posting, though not the follow up.)
    Susan, I agree with you about the stressing of their unattractiveness. It needs action to counterbalance it, otherwise you’re left with a sour taste in your readerly mouth.
    RevMelinda’s comment about Heyer’s Sylvester is an excellent example of the counterbalance — Phoebe was said (repeatedly) to be a plain, thin brown girl, and certainly the hero saw nothing beautiful about her, but there was no doubt that she engaged him and provoked him on a number of levels and that she was an excellent match for him. And no doubt in my mind at the end that their love was real and enduring. Phoebe’s attractiveness and strong personality — as well as her ability to strike sparks off Sylvester– was delivered through her own words and actions, instead of repeated assertions of her physical drabness.
    I agree you, Susan, about Heyer’s Civil Contract — I think they were both too luke warm, and although I was sure they’d live a comfortable life, it seemed a bit dull. Also I wanted Jenny to be really loved, instead of merely appreciated.

    Reply
  100. Theo thanks for those comments. I’m very glad you enjoyed that series. Substance is everything, I think. (I also managed to delete the double posting, though not the follow up.)
    Susan, I agree with you about the stressing of their unattractiveness. It needs action to counterbalance it, otherwise you’re left with a sour taste in your readerly mouth.
    RevMelinda’s comment about Heyer’s Sylvester is an excellent example of the counterbalance — Phoebe was said (repeatedly) to be a plain, thin brown girl, and certainly the hero saw nothing beautiful about her, but there was no doubt that she engaged him and provoked him on a number of levels and that she was an excellent match for him. And no doubt in my mind at the end that their love was real and enduring. Phoebe’s attractiveness and strong personality — as well as her ability to strike sparks off Sylvester– was delivered through her own words and actions, instead of repeated assertions of her physical drabness.
    I agree you, Susan, about Heyer’s Civil Contract — I think they were both too luke warm, and although I was sure they’d live a comfortable life, it seemed a bit dull. Also I wanted Jenny to be really loved, instead of merely appreciated.

    Reply
  101. Sherrie, here. Ahhhh, so that WAS Jason Isaacs in Anne’s collage! He’s so deliciously evil in Harry Potter and Patriot, but in true life he’s the complete opposite–humorous, animated, a real motor-mouth!
    Anne, I did collages long before they were “in.” And when I wrote, I’d drag out the collage for inspiration. This works for people like me–I’m very visual.
    Right now, I have a photograph of a painting of a Regency lady that is my heroine to a T, and the visual reminder helps keep me focused. My heroine is a very repressed and proper lady on the outside, but seething with emotion, sensuality, and fierce intelligence on the inside. The artist perfectly captured this proper lady on canvas, yet beneath it all, the force of her personality just blasts out at you from the picture frame and almost makes you stagger backwards. (Sure wish I knew who she was! I believe the portrait is famous, but how to look it up if you don’t have a name?!!)

    Reply
  102. Sherrie, here. Ahhhh, so that WAS Jason Isaacs in Anne’s collage! He’s so deliciously evil in Harry Potter and Patriot, but in true life he’s the complete opposite–humorous, animated, a real motor-mouth!
    Anne, I did collages long before they were “in.” And when I wrote, I’d drag out the collage for inspiration. This works for people like me–I’m very visual.
    Right now, I have a photograph of a painting of a Regency lady that is my heroine to a T, and the visual reminder helps keep me focused. My heroine is a very repressed and proper lady on the outside, but seething with emotion, sensuality, and fierce intelligence on the inside. The artist perfectly captured this proper lady on canvas, yet beneath it all, the force of her personality just blasts out at you from the picture frame and almost makes you stagger backwards. (Sure wish I knew who she was! I believe the portrait is famous, but how to look it up if you don’t have a name?!!)

    Reply
  103. Sherrie, here. Ahhhh, so that WAS Jason Isaacs in Anne’s collage! He’s so deliciously evil in Harry Potter and Patriot, but in true life he’s the complete opposite–humorous, animated, a real motor-mouth!
    Anne, I did collages long before they were “in.” And when I wrote, I’d drag out the collage for inspiration. This works for people like me–I’m very visual.
    Right now, I have a photograph of a painting of a Regency lady that is my heroine to a T, and the visual reminder helps keep me focused. My heroine is a very repressed and proper lady on the outside, but seething with emotion, sensuality, and fierce intelligence on the inside. The artist perfectly captured this proper lady on canvas, yet beneath it all, the force of her personality just blasts out at you from the picture frame and almost makes you stagger backwards. (Sure wish I knew who she was! I believe the portrait is famous, but how to look it up if you don’t have a name?!!)

    Reply
  104. Sherrie, here. Ahhhh, so that WAS Jason Isaacs in Anne’s collage! He’s so deliciously evil in Harry Potter and Patriot, but in true life he’s the complete opposite–humorous, animated, a real motor-mouth!
    Anne, I did collages long before they were “in.” And when I wrote, I’d drag out the collage for inspiration. This works for people like me–I’m very visual.
    Right now, I have a photograph of a painting of a Regency lady that is my heroine to a T, and the visual reminder helps keep me focused. My heroine is a very repressed and proper lady on the outside, but seething with emotion, sensuality, and fierce intelligence on the inside. The artist perfectly captured this proper lady on canvas, yet beneath it all, the force of her personality just blasts out at you from the picture frame and almost makes you stagger backwards. (Sure wish I knew who she was! I believe the portrait is famous, but how to look it up if you don’t have a name?!!)

    Reply
  105. Sherrie, here. Ahhhh, so that WAS Jason Isaacs in Anne’s collage! He’s so deliciously evil in Harry Potter and Patriot, but in true life he’s the complete opposite–humorous, animated, a real motor-mouth!
    Anne, I did collages long before they were “in.” And when I wrote, I’d drag out the collage for inspiration. This works for people like me–I’m very visual.
    Right now, I have a photograph of a painting of a Regency lady that is my heroine to a T, and the visual reminder helps keep me focused. My heroine is a very repressed and proper lady on the outside, but seething with emotion, sensuality, and fierce intelligence on the inside. The artist perfectly captured this proper lady on canvas, yet beneath it all, the force of her personality just blasts out at you from the picture frame and almost makes you stagger backwards. (Sure wish I knew who she was! I believe the portrait is famous, but how to look it up if you don’t have a name?!!)

    Reply

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