A Strong Heroine, by Annie West
I’ve been invited to post about my new release IMPRISONED BY A VOW, which I’m thrilled to do as it’s a book I’m particularly proud of. I had the idea of it a couple of years ago but it took a long time brewing before I was ready to pull all my ideas together.
“Her breath snagged as her gaze climbed a big frame to his rugged face. His strong features weren’t chiselled but hewn, all tanned angles and sharp edges, stark lines and deep grooves. His black hair, though brushed back, curled overlong at the collar. She had the impression of unruly wildness, combed into temporary decorum, till she met his eyes and realised this man was anything but lacking in control.
He surveyed her with the keen alertness a banker devoted to his financial reports.”
Joss is marrying her in a business deal. He doesn’t really want a wife. He doesn’t want emotional attachments and he doesn’t intend to have children. He marries Leila because of what she can do for his business. And Leila? She jumps at the chance to marry a stranger who’ll take her far from her controlling stepfather who’s made her life hell for years. Once out of the country she’s sure she can build the life she’s always wanted and taste freedom again.
A win-win situation.
Except life is never so simple.
First up there’s a current of attraction between Leila and Joss that neither wants to feel.
Second there’s a complication Leila hasn’t foreseen – after being locked away by her brutal guardian for so long, she finds stepping out the door of her new home a monumental challenge. She’s determined to conquer this newfound fear. After years being strong, she refused to give in just as her dreams are within her grasp.
As for Joss – he wants to get on with his life just as before. Leila doesn’t want or ask for his help but he’s drawn to her, intrigued by her mystery and determined to unravel her secrets despite himself. He can’t simply walk away from her as he’d planned. Instead, admiring her feisty determination, he finds himself helping her.
Joss has his own demons and in the act of supporting Leila, he begins to move on from his own difficult past.
I wondered when I wrote this story what readers would make of Leila, whether some would view her fear as a sign of weakness and not want to read on. So far the feedback from early readers has been the exact opposite, with people talking about devouring the book in one sitting and barracking for both Leila and Joss.
For me, she’s one of the strongest heroines I’ve written. She’s endured so much with stoicism and a determination never to be cowed. I see her fight against debilitating fear as a sign of strength and courage. Overcoming fear is, I believe a sign of true courage.
What do you think? Do you like heroines who have to battle for what they want? Do you admire people who’ve overcome adversity? Do you have any examples you want to share?