The Writing Life

Make Mine Plucky! The book winner is Alisha!

Congratulations to Alisha Woods.  You won a copy of my book – The Medic’s Homecoming.

The Pert and Plucky Heroines of Romance by Lynne Marshall


Who they are

  • If you’ve read one or a hundred romances, you’ve probably already been introduced to a particular character type presented by Tami Cowden and      cohorts named The Spunky Kid in their Sixteen Master Archetypes book Heroes & Heroines. This spirited underdog not only has to sort out her messy life, but win the guy along the way.
  • These characters are the unsinkable Molly Browns of the world where “I ain’t down yet” is their mantra, and they are my favorite kind of character.

Who does them best?

  • My absolute favorite author of these types of characters is Susan Elizabeth      Phillips. She manages to strip her plucky heroines down to the bare bones in the beginning of her stories, force them to lose everything, and leave them dangling over a cliff without a foothold. Yet she still manages to bring them back to life…one step at a time, until they conquer all, including the hero, before the end of the book.
  • Isabel Favor watches her self-help empire come crashing down around her in the opening pages of Breathing Room.
  • Blue Bailey begins her journey wearing a beaver suit in Natural Born Charmer.
  • Meg Koranda is down to her last few bucks and, as Maid of Honor, manages to ruin a perfectly planned wedding before the end of chapter one in Call Me Irresistible.

Hmm, this makes me think of a certain young woman dressed for her wedding, standing in a strange American town in Wisconsin holding her decomposing wedding cake.  Fiona Lowe wrote a splendid plucky heroine in BOOMERANG BRIDE.  🙂  Which just happens to now be available in mass market paperback at Harlequin website.

Why do we love these spunky heroines?

  • Because we can relate to them.
  • From where they’re standing, there is only one way to go – UP! These plucky,      pert, minxes pick themselves up, dust themselves off, head into battle, and conquer both their lives and the most unlikely heroes. As readers, we believe every step of their paths. We cheer as they rebuild their lives and themselves into the women they were meant to be.
  • When these pert and saucy underdogs conquer obstacle after obstacle, we believe we can do the same in our own lives. If they can come back from “there” (whatever major fix or disappointment they must overcome) so can we!

I like to think Polly Seymour, the character I wrote for this year’s NYC Angels continuity, in Making the Surgeon Smile, is also a good example of the spunky kid.

Who is a favorite spunky heroine in a book you’ve recently read?  What did you like about her?

 If anyone is interested, I’d like to give away a copy of The Medic’s Homecoming, to one commenter.  This book is my July 2013 Special Edition, and I like to think Jocelyn Howard is one such plucky chick.


24 thoughts on “Make Mine Plucky! The book winner is Alisha!”

  1. I ADORE a plucky heroine, Lynne! Thanks for the mention that Boomerang Bride is out in mass-market paperback. You’ve already named my favourite SEP character, Blue. I enjoy Kristan Higgin’s characters…they are not necessarily all out of luck but they have a ‘can do’ attitude, no matter how misguided.

  2. Recently, I would have to say Robyn Carr’s new series all have plucky women. Powerful women (Sarah in the Coast Guard) stands out the most to me. Raising her younger brother and serving our country, makes a pretty incredible woman!

    Ps. I agree with you Jocelyn is an awesome woman too!

  3. I LOVE Boomerang Bride! Matilda is my idea of a perfect heroine- feisty and plucky and caring. My favourite SEP heroine is Sugar Beth from Aint She Sweet- talk about a woman having to hit the bottom before she can rise, she has to go home and face all the people she trashed back in High School, including the teacher!

  4. I love a plucky heroine too and agree that SEP does em well. I think my fav is Rachael from Dream A Little Dream – SEP broke her down til she had nothing!
    But I think the ultimate plucky heroine, is Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables. She was one plucky gal!

  5. Lynne, I’m with you. Susan Elizabeth Phillips is brilliant at this. And yes, absolutely loved Boomerang Bride. Kristin Hannah’s Meghann Dontess in Between Sisters is one of my favourites.
    Sue Mackay

  6. Lynne, I’m with you. SEP is brilliant with her heroines. And our very own Fiona Lowe’s Boomerang Bride was wonderful. I loved Kristin Hannah’s Meghann Dontess in Between Sisters.

    1. Hi Sue (and the anonymous Sue echo) LOL – two are better than none, I always say.
      I totally agree about Kristin Hannah’s heroine in Between Sisters. She is another fabulous author, isn’t she?

  7. You’ve intrigued me enough with your descriptions to make me want to read all of them- particularly the book with the heroine in a beaver suit. Ouch. I’m on her side already! ps You do plucky heroines brilliantly and Making the Surgeon Smile is on my tbr list!

    Anne x

    1. Hi Anne! SEP always strips her heroines down, and usually humiliates them before they get back on their feet and fight back. Thank you for the kind words, and thanks for putting me on your TBR list.

  8. Lynne,
    I like spunky also. I like Alaina in Ashes in the Wind. She lives with her aunt and uncle who think little of her, has nothing, disguised as a boy she works in a hospital, but still ends up with the great guy and big house in the end. What’s not to love about that?

  9. Hi Lynn, much like you a love a plucky heroine. This is the type of person who faces adversity, but doesn’t lose her heart and continues to fight through odds that makes other characters run the other way. I’ve written a couple of those spirited women in my manuscripts, so I appreciate your perspective.

    1. Hi Carol – I can tell you have written that type of character as you described it perfectly. There’s just something inspiring about people able to rise above adversity and take back control of their lives, right?
      Thanks for commenting.

  10. I could swear I posted a reply to this at 2am this morning when I was wide awake… Hmm. Anyway, I was going to say I love Kristan Higgins (and thank you especially to you because you told me I’d love ‘Catch of the Day’), Fiona’s Boomerang Bride is on my Kindle, and I also think that Jill Shalvis does great plucky heroines 😉

    1. Hi Kate! Thank you for posting the link on FB. I have to check out Jill Salvis books, ASAP. I’m so happy you enjoyed Catch of the Day. Kristan Higgins has written so many wonderful books, all with plucky heroines.

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