Alexia Tarabotti, the heroine of Soulless, the first book of Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series, is the kind of strong, intelligent fearless woman we all wish we could be but she lives in a time when those traits aren’t valued in a woman. Does she change who she is to fit in? No. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t act like a proper Victorian lady of her standing as much as possible. She just doesn’t try to hide the fact that she is intelligent and strong. Her strength, though, doesn’t mean that she isn’t hurt by the things her family and society say. After years of being told that because of her dark Italian coloring, her Italian features, and her fiery Italian temperament she is unmarriageable, doomed to remain a spinster, Alexia isn’t able to believe it when a man finds her attractive and is drawn to her dominant personality. I don’t know about you, but this makes me sad and a bit angry because I feel like most women allow the way they see themselves to be dictated by others. I know I’m guilty of that. Anyway, because the man in question happens to be a werewolf, Alexia attributes his desire for her to his animal side and the approach of the full moon. She simply cannot be convinced that anyone, especially the powerful, attractive Lord Maccon, could love her for who she is.
And what is it about these supernatural men we find so irresistible? In Soulless the romantic hero happens to be a particularly large, alpha male, Scottish werewolf (that’s just a lot of sexy put together!) but I’ve read novels with cool, intellectual vampires, or brutish, bad boy demons, or arrogant, aloof wizards and they’ve all been wonderfully sexy. But are they any sexier than the athletes, firefighters, accountants, and English teachers that have been the romantic heroes in non-fantasy romances I’ve read? Not really. So it isn’t about profession or species; it’s about their characters. A good hero must be flawed. Such as being a blood-sucking immortal or an over-protective guy who turns into a wolf once a month. And they must love the flawed heroine. In the case of Conall Maccon, Soulless’s sexy lycanthrope, the fact that he is attracted to the strong-willed, outspoken, intelligent Alexia only makes him sexier. Loving a woman because of the things she sees as her faults is always a plus. Right?