Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday Fun - Do Readers Really Want Realistic Heroines?

We're delighted to invite Wendy S. Marcus to the Pink Heart Society today, to talk about realistic heroines, complete with an exciting GIVEAWAY...  
First off, thank you to the lovely ladies of The Pink Heart Society for inviting me here today to discuss my new Cosmopolitan Red Hot Read from Harlequin, The V-Spot, more specifically, to introduce you to its heroine, Emma.

When I first got approval for The V-Spot, I was thrilled that Harlequin/Mills and Boon had agreed to my ‘big girl’ heroine. I’d requested a beautiful, full-figured, woman for the cover. What I got was a beautiful, thin woman in a bulky sweater. Since I LOVE the cover it was a compromise I happily accepted!

In the story I describe Emma as ‘…a woman at least a dozen pounds past pleasingly plump’ and ‘…a size-fourteen woman – well, a size sixteen Spanxed-down to a fourteen…’ and readers used their vivid imaginations from there. 
Weight is a touchy subject, and reviewers have been rather passionate in expressing their love/hate for the way I portrayed Emma and issues pertaining to her weight/body image.

The positive have been very positive, with USA Today Bestselling Author, Amy Andrews, even recommending it on the PHS last month“This is a freaking great book… I love that Wendy didn’t shy away from Emma’s size to make it more ‘palatable’ to readers. … And even better – she’s not a depressive lunatic cot case. Sure she has the same negative internal monologue pretty much all women do (regardless of their size) but she’s got her head screwed on straight and I LOVE that.”

And Sara from Harlequin Junkie, gave The V-Spot the prestigious HJ Recommends seal: “There was something about Emma that struck a chord with me. She was terrific at her job as a nurse, full of confidence in her abilities. But when it came to the opposite sex…she had been put down and treated badly too many times to have a high level of confidence socially. As a woman, I can totally understand that.”
How about my everyday readers?
Liz: “I really dug Emma. I thought she was hilarious and real and had a good grasp of how the world works. See, she's a self-proclaimed "big girl" and big girls have to navigate society in a different way. I liked the fact that she didn't hate herself and that she wasn't constantly dieting or disparaging herself. She didn't feel bad for herself or have a pity party every other chapter. She was who she was.” 

Nas: “THE V-SPOT is a very sexy and sensual read. The reality of being a plus size woman looking for a date and love is shown sensitively.”  

Here are some quotes from readers who didn’t love Emma – even though the majority still enjoyed her story.

Kjen: “If you are into stories with a very plus-sized lead female, this will be fine for you. I didn't necessarily think that the 'curvy' mentioned in the synopsis meant there were a lot of body image issues involved.” 

Maggie:  “How come when the female lead of a romance is overweight or even just not super skinny authors feel the need to mention it all.the.time? While I appreciate characters that look like average people (and sadly the average American is overweight) I am also so tired of hearing about the poor fat main character who's somehow managed to catch the eye of the super-muscled hot guy.” Of note, after this Maggie went on to call The V-Spot a fun read.

Kelly: “This book is fun in so many ways, and I enjoyed reading it except for one thing (but that one thing is kind of a big deal for me.): I had a problem with the way the word "fat" is used in the book. …. I wanted to ask the author if she's ever seen a size 14 or 16 woman. I wanted to ask the author if she meant to pass on all that fat-shaming to any women sashaying around in size 14, 16 (or, God help them, 18 or above) dresses.”  

Okay, so OUCH!!!

And now I’ll ask you. If you’ve read The V-Spot, what did you think about Emma? 

If you haven’t, what’s your opinion on realistic heroines in romance novels? Do you like heroines who look like you or your neighbor? 

Do you like to know the good, the bad and the ugly of what they’re thinking deep down? Or do you feel realistic heroines ruin the escapism quality of romance novels?

One lucky commenter will be chosen at random to receive an e-book copy of The V-Spot.

Before I leave you, here’s The V-Spot blurb:
How hot is your night going to get? Take the quiz and find out!

1. You're a curvy, cute and practical nurse, ready to unleash your inner naughty nymphette for your 25th birthday. You start with...
a. Chocolate cake.
b. Champagne. Lots of it.
c. A blind date set up by your daring best friend. 

2. Your guy turns out to be popular (and insanely hot) wrestler Brody "The Bull" Bullock. You...
a. Run for the door.
b. Admire his hotness, then run for the door.
c. Imagine him naked.

3. You're meeting Brody at The V-Spot, a "Voyeur Motel." What are you wearing?
a. A cute sundress with wedge sandals
b. You're not going anywhere without Spanx
c. Doesn't matter. Brody is sexy enough that it's all coming off!

If you selected all of the above, you're in for the night of your life...

You can find excerpts for The V-Spot and my upcoming release Loving You Is Easy (Dec. 9th) on my website:


  1. Thank you so much for having me! I'm busy cleaning up after my very fun but extremely exhausting Thanksgiving celebration. Soon I'll be off to bed but I'll be back first thing tomorrow morning (Friday here in the U.S.) to respond to any comments.

  2. I like real women. But I can never quite figure what a size 14-16 is any-more. In the US there are women wearing size 0-4 who are apparently not skeletal. The smallest regular size in Australia is Size 8 so I'm not sure how that relates to American sizing. British sizing is more like Aussi sizing. 14-16 in Australia isn't considered oversize. 18 plus is where the "Large sizes" start here.

  3. Hi Fiona!! And weight is very subjective. How many times has a friend told you she looks fat when, in your opinion, she doesn't look fat at all. What does pleasingly plump mean? Different things to different people I'm sure. And a size 16 woman who is 6 feet tall will look much different than a size 16 woman who is 5 feet tall. I tried to write Emma's story from the way she sees herself, not necessarily how the world sees her. Although the comments made by some jerks in the crowd at The V-Spot did seem to validate how she saw herself. Some readers objected to that. It was called 'fat shaming'. (The first time I've ever heard of that.) But people are mean and that's just how it is. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I'd love to see more diverse representation of women in our romance books leading roles - good on you! I think reader reaction to anything that bucks the norm will always be mixed, but I personally think it's great - all women deserve to be loved, curvy girls included.

    I've downloaded The V-Spot and can't wait to read it.

  5. Thank you Stefanie!! And I totally agree! I hope you enjoy The V-Spot!

  6. I should have mentioned I read the V-spot and didn't think the mentions of her being curvy excessive. I just thought it was great the hero had big...hands.

  7. Ha ha ha! You can always make me smile Fiona!

  8. Hey Wendy. You know, I dont remember Emma being given a size label in the book although clearly she was as you just quoted and as Fiona points out sizing is different in different countries but in my head she was much bigger than a size 16 (although I think a US 16 is like a Aus 20) and I think that's the skill of your story because you gave such a good visual of Emma ultimately what "size" she was doesn't matter because to me she wasn't just curvy or voluptuous she was BIG and I love how you didn't back away from that.

    I did think it was a shame they went with a skinny woman cover but (sadly) I understand why....

  9. Hi Amy! There are so many beautiful plus-sized models out there. I'd hoped.... But I love the cover. And yes, people had some very different perceptions of Emma's size. I'm so glad you loved the book and really appreciate the kind words you shared about it!

  10. One of my favorite romance authors was Betty Neels, and one of my favorite things about her characters were that the women, while very rarely raving beauties, were practical, smart and would stand up to the men. This is way more in line with how I see myself than some six foot supermodel who only thinks she's not attractive (it's like how all those romantic comedies had "ugly ducklings" who only needed to ditch their glasses and wax something to be smoking hot--totally unrealistic!). I find it easier to lose myself in a complex character who has the same concerns as I do when it comes to life and love. I like for my heroines to be realistic. Now, the men...those have to be more fantasy!

    1. Okay, third time. I hope they don't all post.

      Hi Mz. ZeyZey!

      You and me both. I like my heroines realistic and my heroes good looking. They can have imperfections, but overall I like them tall and fit. They don't have to be billionaires. Blue collar bad boys will do just fine.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  11. I have not read this but from reading this blog I am really looking forward to it.

    1. Hi Sharon!
      Great to see you here. I'm so glad you're interested in reading The V-Spot.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  12. Can't wait to read this book! Love to read about people having fun and letting loose no matter what they look like :-)

  13. Hi Anonymous!

    I'm all for having a good time!!! And Emma sure does let loose in The V-Spot!

    Thanks for stopping by!

  14. And now to pick a winner! Congratulations.....Sharon Sommer! You've won an e-copy of The V-Spot! E-mail me at Wendy at WendySMarcus dot com to let me know how you'd like it, pdf, e-pub or mobi and what e-mail addres you'd like it sent to.

    Thank you to everyone who stopped by to read my post! And a special thanks to everyone who commented.