Why you should never screw over a romance heroine

This is cross-posted at The Season

Ever had a husband or lover who screwed you over so badly you invented new forms of revenge?

Did you follow through on them?

I’ve been reading all the RITA-nominated contemporary single title romance novels (seriously, there has to be a shorter way of saying that), and two of them feature heroines who get revenge in very contemporary ways.

Not That Kind of Girl coverIn Susan Donovan’s Not That Kind of Girl, Roxie Bloom overhears her boyfriend denigrating her bedroom abilities to his friends – men she has to work with. His insults are so despicable she ends up creating a man-hating blog and describing what a troll he is. Of course, she’s got an instant audience of women who have been equally hurt by the men who’d claimed to love them.

And One Last Thing coverMolly Harper’s And One Last Thing… features a heroine who’s sacrificed her career to support her husband’s business. Lacey even writes the monthly email newsletter to his clients, friends and family. So when she finds out he’s banging his secretary, she goes a little mental and sends out one last newsletter. Unfortunately, her audience isn’t as receptive as Roxie’s, and she has to find somewhere to hide.

Using technology in a novel can be a dangerous thing to do. Readers picking up these books fifteen years from now may be thrown out of the story because of it. Imagine picking up an old Danielle Steele novel now and getting to a seduction scene where the hero slides in an 8-track.

But the very current forms of revenge will resonate with women who’ve found out their lover lied to them and wish they had the guts to humiliate him back. And though the heroines of these two novels do have the guts and end up meeting their heroes as a result, they both suffer for their decisions. One finds her anger spirals out of control until it even turns her dog nuts, and the other is ostracized and made fun of on national television.

Revenge may not be a dish best served electronically.

As appealing as the motto “Don’t get mad, get online” is,  I could never do get revenge online the way these two heroines do. Do you think you could?

What do you think of technology being used in a novel? Ever seen it backfire?


  1. I was just recently thinking how interesting it is when long-time authors start letting modern technology trickle into their work. When there is an entire scene about the hero using Google, it doesn’t go unnoticed.

    But maybe this is because books have been around so long, that we are used to them not having these things. I don’t think the stories will become obsolete, even if the technology does. We still read books about people who have never seen a telephone.

    As for online revenge? I think it would take a lot of skill and luck to do it without being completely tacky. I don’t ever feel that lucky!

    1. No, I’d never be that lucky either. I’d definitely end up being the poster child for how to screw up your own reputation.

      It’ll be interesting to see what people think of these books in a few years. I know we can’t banish all super-modern technology from novels but I just keep thinking about how this would play if this were written a few years ago and they’d gotten revenge via fax.

  2. I follow the “beware what you say online” guideline – too much of a risk that things will come back and bit you. I’m not sure I’d have gone along with what the heroines of those books did–which would have made it a hard sell for me as a reader.

    As an author, I’m already dealing with reclaiming rights to books published 5 years ago. Updating the technology to make them more current is a challenge. Pagers? Who uses those? And why didn’t the heroine spend time on Facebook. It’s a tough call–do I put a disclaimer at the front of the book reminding the reader that the books are set in the early 2000’s, or try to fix things. Or justify them–heroine is broke, so maybe a higher-end computer with access to broadband just isn’t in her budget.

    Terry’s Place
    Romance with a Twist–of Mystery</a

    1. That’s a really interesting point from the author’s perspective, Terry. Last year I read a book that was originally released in the 90s, but I didn’t realize that. The heroine was dyslexic and didn’t know anything about computers so the hero taught her how to use one. I was so confused – was she so badly dyslexic that she’d shied away from computers all her life? But no, at the end I finally figured out the story was written in the 90s, when lots of other people would have been buying their first computers. And the computer ended up being a way she could cope with her dyslexia.

      I missed the disclaimer and didn’t know it was a re-release until I went to the author’s website, so my personal vote would be to have a disclaimer AND modernize the story. Make it more relevant to today’s audience, the one buying the book now.

  3. Technology catches up with science fiction writers all the time. It’s just part of the territory. Personally, I like going back to my old Arthur C. Clark and Isaac Asimov books just so I can say “Got it. Did it. Got it.”

    While a standard plot contrivance, I *always* think revenge is a bad idea in real life. It just keeps the wound oozing.

    1. You’ve hit on exactly why I feel icky about getting revenge online, Sandy Sue. It’s like showing off your oozing wound to millions of people and ensuring it won’t heal. Great (if gross) image.

  4. Probably one of the few times I’ve somewhat liked the use of technology in a book is in Stieg Larsson’s “Men Who Hate Women,” known in the U.S. as “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”

    Electronic revenge is so…. unfulfilling. Whatever happened to juicy revenge? Like keeping what you know about his scummy whereabouts a secret between just you and your closest friend, and then proceeding to make his life a living hell. Muahahahaha.

    1. Oh my God, remind me never to anger you, Michi!

      And I still haven’t read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. *shakes head* So many books, so little time.

  5. Good post.

    I’ve read a number of older books recently where a character had to “go find a phone” and I always think “Now days, they’d just whip out their cell phone.” Some of those stories would be difficult to update because the plot required the character to leave the scene or to have a delay in communicating what had just happened. Tough stuff when you can’t predict how technology is going to change society so thoroughly.

    1. Makes me wonder how much of the technology we take for granted in our novels now will become obsolete in a decade. You’re totally right about having to go find a phone. I’ve seen similar plot devices in current novels where the character’s cell phone battery is dead. Whenever I read a scene like that, I always feel a little panicked and think, “How did we live without cell phones?” But I guess the real question is, will we still be living with them in 2021 – or will they mostly have been replaced by something way cooler and more useful?

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