It has lately been brought to my attention that readers, editors, and critics love "Feisty" females in Historical Romances.
Truthfully I’m not too fond of them. I think they’re faux, at least in Historical novels.
I believe in brave women, smart women and daring women, and have wrriten about them. But not “feisty” women.
I take that to mean women who stand up and speak their minds, no matter the circumstances and the odds against them.
I remember them well.
I saw them in my childhood in all those wonderful luridly TECHNICOLOR (tm*) movies. They were feisty, all right.
There was the heroine on the pirate ship, beating on the pirate’s manly chest and cursing him, as he held his saber to her lily-white throat. She’d spit at him, or bite him, or kick him. He’d laugh, showing his perfect pearly whites if he were the hero, (or rotting stumps, were he the villain) and say: “I like a woman with spirit!” if he was the hero. (Or, “I likes a female with spirit!” if he were the villain.)
On the castle battlements, the medieval heroine, her hair flying in streamers in the wind, would resist the villain, sometimes even with a sword, as he laughed, tossed away her weapon, clutched her to his chest and cried “At last, I have you, my proud beauty!”
In Westerns, there was the woman who fought back, hands, feet and revolver, who earned a: “Ah, a spitfire, ain’tcha?”
That was feisty in the films.
In historical reality, feisty females in most previous eras did not have long or happy lives.
Women had no rights. They couldn’t vote. Couldn’t own property. They were themselves property. Which is not to say there were no feisty ones. If a woman had a title, money, and a large well-to-do influential family, she could have a big mouth and be feisty as all get out.
If she were a fishmonger, I suppose she could be as well.
But in most cases, if an average female behaved like a modern woman, she’d have been punished, or confined to Bedlam, or laughed at and scorned. There were even cruel “Scold’s bridles” used right here in the good old USA in Colonial times, used to lock the jaws of women whose husbands thought they spoke out too much.
So down through the ages women had to learn to plot, plan, be wily, and damned clever. That was the historical equivalent of feisty. It meant they had to hone their brains and be twice as smart as men. It earned them the reputation of being “catty” and devious, and good for them. They had to behave like modest meek creatures, but if they were bright and lucky, they got their way and won the day.
Hoorah for us today!!
But put a modern woman in historic times? I don’t think so.
At least that’s how I feel.
How do you, the Reader, feel about Feisty females in Historical Romances?
Do tell, I’m all ears.
* * *
I’m also all embarrassed.
Last time I posted here I asked readers to tell me which of my books had a dog on the cover. This proved, once and for all, that my readers are much smarter than I am.
I was thinking of LADY OF SPIRIT, the book that Kim and Mary K. identified. There was a big black dog on the cover. He was a ghost dog who featured in the story.
I clean forgot the adorable beagle on the cover of A REGENCY CHRISTMAS CAROL, the anthology that Christy wrote to tell me about. Prizes to all! True, I had Bernese Mountain Dogs (but no beagles) in other Christmas stories – thanks for remembering them – but they were never shown on the covers.
So Winners: please to send me your snail mail addresses, and the pertinent book is yours!