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Guest blogger: Carla Caruso

15 March 2015

Carla CarusoOn flawed heroines

Flawed heroines. I seem to have some kind of magnetic pull to writing about them, even if readers are not always so fond of such lasses! Of course, heroes with flaws, big chips on their shoulders, broken men, are lapped up. Loved the world over. But women—who make up the majority of romance readers—don’t always think so kindly towards imperfect ladies in fiction. Romance great Anne Gracie has said readers look at female protagonists as a mother-in-law might, sizing them up to see if they’re a suitable match for the handsome hero. They want nice girls. Marriage material. And if the characters in question don’t measure up? Expect a bad review! Take for instance my first tiny book, Mommy Blogger, with US publisher Eternal Press. The heroine, Stella, lands a fabulous job as a (paid) mummy blogger for an online children’s boutique. But she fails to tell her boss she’s actually childless and uses her friend Pamela’s baby as a ‘prop’. Of the book, Kathy at Book Reviews & More by Kathy wrote: ‘I must confess: I have a love/hate relationship with Stella. For much of Mommy Blogger, she is shallow, immature and dishonest. Granted, she did not plan on deceiving her boss and co-workers, but she sure did not hesitate to embellish an elaborate story about her life as a single mom. Yes, she felt guilty about being a fraud, but not guilty enough to come clean and own up to her dishonesty. It is only a matter of time before someone discovers her lies and exposes her deception.’ Kathy goes on, making some good points for a newbie writer like me to keep in mind. (Obviously I’d been too busy watching films centred on flawed heroines at the time, like Bad Teacher and Young Adult.) What I quickly learned was that a heroine can be flawed, but she needs good reason to be and she must figure out the error of her ways by the book’s ending, without just her hand being forced. Still, it was with some trepidation I recently found myself dipping my toes into flawed-heroine territory again. I’m up to book 3 in my ‘Astonvale’ rom-com mystery series, out in ebook with HarperCollins. First there was A Pretty Mess, then Pretty Shore, and now Pretty Famous. Neat-freak professional organiser Celeste Pretty gets a guernsey throughout (hence, the ‘Pretty’ in the titles), but in the sequel and, er, threequel she also shares the spotlight with another Astonvale character and their love interest. The third time around, Celeste’s nemesis, uber-blonde interior designer Imogen Karmel, was jumping up and down for attention, but she is the very definition of ‘flawed’. Imogen is elitist, ruthless, good-looking and knows it, and her lifelong ambition is to marry a prince. (Wonder what Harry Potter actress Emma Watson, who recently scotched rumours about her dating Prince Harry, would have to say about the latter?) I thoroughly enjoyed writing Imogen as a bit-character, but could she step up onto the big stage in a supporting role to Celeste? Would readers warm to her? Would I? Could she really have good reasons for being the way she is? I like to think so, on all counts but, naturally, you’ll have to read the book to judge for yourself! 😉 (There’s a chance to win a copy of Pretty Famous, below.) And I hope readers will allow me to KEEP writing about flawed heroines because, as an author, they’re challenging and super-fun to tackle. Plus, perfect is boring. Tell me about your favourite flawed heroines in books or films! One commenter will be chosen at random to win an ecopy of Pretty Famous (winner’s choice of format). The giveaway will close on 1 April. (The giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Lilliana.)

Pretty FamousPretty Famous by Carla Caruso A dark secret from Hollywood’s Golden Age. A possible prince-in-hiding. Astonvale’s about to implode… Professional organiser Celeste Pretty swore she’d never work with uber-blonde interior designer Imogen Karmel again, but then she’s presented with a project she can’t refuse. The prestigious Astonvale College is celebrating its centenary and needs the pair to ensure the festivities go off without a hitch. As Celeste sets to work in a flurry of activity—in between organising her own engagement party—she finds herself blowing away the cobwebs on a sixty-year-old secret. Meanwhile, Imogen becomes enamoured with a substitute teacher, Hudson Addison, who may or may not be a royal in hiding. And there’s nothing Imogen dreams of more than becoming a princess. Will all be revealed on party night?

You can buy Pretty Famous here. Carla Caruso was born in Adelaide, Australia, and only ‘escaped’ for three years to work as a magazine journalist and stylist in Sydney. Previously, she was a gossip columnist and fashion editor at Adelaide’s daily newspaper, The Advertiser. She has since freelanced for titles including Woman’s Day and Shop Til You Drop. These days, she plays mum to twin lads Alessio and Sebastian with hubby James. You can find Carla here: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Blog

  1. 20 March 2015 9:54 pm

    You are so right about Ms Jones, Kylie! 🙂

  2. 17 March 2015 8:14 am

    Great article Carla. I find it depends if you want to escape or relate. I find flawed characters are easier to relate to, and more interesting as they have room for growth! Favourite flawed heroine – can’t go past Bridget Jones. Now that story would not have been half as good if she were a skinny, organised, together type, would it?

  3. 15 March 2015 10:29 pm

    Thanks V.K.! Darn, I missed ARRC, but will have to check out any notes on Victoria’s speech. And glad you’re a flawed heroine fan, too, Lilliana 🙂

  4. 15 March 2015 9:08 pm

    Love flawed heroines! They certainly make for an interesting read and I think they are more down to earth and believable. Look forward to reading more of your stories 😃

  5. 15 March 2015 5:20 pm

    Victoria Dahl, who was a key speaker at ARRC15 (were you there, cheering from the sidelines?) loves flawed heroines too. Sounds like a great book, Carla.

  6. 15 March 2015 2:14 pm

    Thanks lovely Cathryn!

  7. 15 March 2015 1:48 pm

    Love the sound of this book, Carla, especially flawed Imogen. It sounds such fun!

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