Likability in heroines

Likability in heroines

When I read, I try to sympathize with the main character as much as I can, as long as they’re not a brat, stuck up, or not self-aware. If the character is like this, I love when there’s character development but if there isn’t, I can’t say I’m a fan.

There are some books where I’ll understand where the heroine is coming from, understand the thought process, the stress and anxiety that would play into her making a certain decision, no matter how stupid it is, but there are other times where I kind of wish she just used her brain.
For example, in a recent book I read, “Passion & Venom”, the heroine was kidnapped and held in the basement. Down there, she is with another prisoner and at one point, she expresses her need to pee but the bathroom door is locked. He advises her to just piss in the corner but instead, she called down one of the mafia members and proceeds to ask if they could open the door for her. *Spoiler* he doesn’t unlock the door and does something worse.

Shouldn’t she be trying her best to stay out of their way and not attract any attention to her? These are the same men who killed her husband after all. Throughout the books, there’s little character development.

She is, in fact, a very strong female lead but it just comes off as…snobby.
And oh my goodness, don’t get me started on suddenly forgiving the completely horrible hero who is such a shitty person all around but suddenly, his backstory is revealed for sympathy point and all his previous actions are forgiven because, boohoo, he has such a bad past. That does not give anyone a pass to be a horrible person, especially if they refused to change. In Passion & Venom, it’s to be expected as he is a mob leader and while we weren’t exposed to his back story in book one, it was hinted at and I know it will be revealed in book 2 but I can’t be bothered to find out because I know he’s going to continue to be a shitty person and the heroine is going to fall in love. Bonus, he’ll continue to be a horrible person to everyone but her. Go figure.

But there have been books where I understood where the heroine was coming from and despite the stupid mistakes, they were understandable. The character themselves were likable too but after I’ve finished and gone onto Goodreads to see what other fellow readers had to say, only to be disappointed in what I read. Some readers absolutely despised the heroine but the funny part is, they would love the hero (who’s an absolute jerk, mind you).

A mild example I can give is ‘The Stand-In’ by Lauren Campbell. I loved this book with all my heart and soul. I couldn’t stop reading, recommended it to everyone I know, and had a good laugh while reading it. When I opened Goodreads, expecting that there couldn’t possibly be people who didn’t like it, I was disappointing. Of course, in my moment of excitement for this book, I forgot that not everyone has the same opinion as me. The heroine was great; she was funny, a little crazy, made questionable choices, and even had me frustrated a few times but I did try to see where she came from. After all, what would a book be if the hero/heroine was perfect? There were a few comments I read that say they found her to be self-absorbed and selfish (understandably) but I never considered that perspective until I read that review.

I consider this a mild example because I’ve seen way worse on other books that I can’t remember at the moment.

Is there a book you’ve read where you’ve found yourself criticizing the heroine a little too harshly and giving the hero one too many passes?

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