Hi, my name is Pat Esden. I’m delighted to have been invited to chat about the importance of strong women in romance novels. I’m the author of the Dark Heart series from Kensington Books and the upcoming Northern Circle Coven series.

Whether a woman is strong or not has nothing to do with physical strength, mental prowess, or aggressive behavior. They can be a kick-ass woman, a high-powered executive, or an underworld spy. But they can also be someone who’s physically frail, introverted, frightened, or a down on their luck. What makes a woman come across as strong to readers is that they are active. It’s the feeling of strength that is created when someone strives toward a worthy goal, facing hardships and obstacles, failing and backsliding, but never giving up for long.

Readers derive pleasure from this struggle. It drives the story forward and gives the reader a sense of hope that despite all the horrible things going on in the woman’s life, despite their weaknesses and failures, they will never surrender. Instead, they grow and change, become stronger and try harder. In the end, the strong woman deserves their happy ever after because they have earned it. And, when they finally get it, the reader can let out their breath and enjoy the feeling of success and joy with the woman. Also, when two strong characters fall in love, the innate tension is stronger than if one character passively surrenders.

But this immediate pleasure of escaping into a novel isn’t the only reason strong women are important in romance novels. Experiencing the roller-coaster ride of a strong woman’s actions combine with their emotions can bolster a reader and help them become a stronger person in their own life. This is also a reason it’s important for romance authors to provide a diverse variety of characters and stories. Every romance reader deserves to be able to find novels that offer them strong role models and plots that can help them find the strength to deal with the issues in their individual lives.

Have you read a novel lately where there was a particularly strong woman character? Who was it and what made them come across as strong to you?

 

Its power is legendary. It can fulfill every impossible magical desire. But for one young witch seeking redemption, the Northern Circle coven will challenge her skills—and her heart—beyond measure.

One tragic impulsive mistake made Chloe Winslow an outcast to her influential magic family. As a medical student, she wants to combine science with sorcery to heal those she hurt and right her wrongs. But brilliant, charismatic Devlin Marsh re-routes her plans with a once-in-eternity offer: membership in the exclusive Northern Circle, a mysterious Vermont coven known for pushing the limits.

Enthralled by Devlin and their mesmerizing mutual attraction, Chloe makes a dangerous sacrifice to help the Circle’s high priestess awaken Merlin himself—and learn his timeless cures. But a foreshadowing soon causes Chloe to doubt the Circle’s real motives, as well as Devlin’s. . .

Now Merlin’s demonic shade is loose in the human world, while Chloe and Devlin’s uneasy alliance will pit them against ancient enemies, malevolent illusions, and shattering betrayal. And with the fate of two realms in the balance, Chloe must risk her untried power against a force she can’t defeat—and a passion that could destroy her.

Praise for Pat Esden and her Dark Heart Novels

“Esden creates a world of incredible atmosphere.” —RT Book Reviews

“This is a fantastic book. Pat Esden is extremely skilled at creating a tense atmosphere and spooky setting. I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes a good story with suspense, romance, and a super cool world.” —Pintip Dunn, New York Times bestselling author, on A Hold on Me

“It’s a unique paranormal twist on the gothic novel, complete with old family secrets, bloody dilemmas, steamy guy with hidden truths, all set in an vast manor built along the foggy shores of Maine. For anyone in love with Daphne du Maurier. Or if you’re just tired of the same old paranormal fodder out there, this one is a nice and refreshing read.” —Rachel A. Marks on A Hold on Me