Strip the Willow and Rip the Bodice

Because everyone needs a hobby …

A Ginger Post: Part 3 June 1, 2010


Epic Ginger Post today!

Well … ‘epic’ as in this post is going to span all three books I’ve read so far on the subject of gingers.

In my rather recent trip to B&N, I looked for Roach’s book (aka checked on my iPhone to see if it was in stock) and, of course, it wasn’t. So – have to put an order in. Simple.

Luckily, though, for this post, I’m not going to need it. This is more … compare, contrast. Since this is the first female protagonist that isn’t a ginger, I thought it would be interesting to look at how the gingers differed from a dark-haired female.

In the realm of these three books, of course. I can’t make giant claims but I think the difference I found in If He’s Wild is rather startling – or, at the least, semi-interesting to me.

So – quick reminder of the past two heroines.

Isabella (Isa) – Robbie hated redheads but ended up with her. Fiery and independent, lived on her own and spoke her mind. Ends up happy with Robbie in the future in the end.

Breanne – one of several Viking princesses that stay at Caedmon’s house while running form the murder they committed to help their sister. Breanne gives up her virginity to Caedmon in order to get protection but they fall in love, of course, and marry with family at the end.

In both of these women, we have tempers, independence, and the strong opinion that they do not need a man in their lives to make them happy, wealthy, etc.

Here’s some quotes to remind you …

A Highlander’s Homecoming

“Why couldn’t the old laird leave her in peace? He’d never once hidden the fact that he had no use for her. He’d been overjoyed when she broached the subject if moving from the castle to live out here in this little cottage of her own. It had taken him no time at all to have his men build an animal shed and provide her with her own chickens and goats. Granted, he sent someone to check on her each month, but it was obvious to her he did so only to collect the goods she had to sell. Or perhaps out of a sense of guilt.” p.52

“Wild red hair, looking as if it had never been tamed or even washed, surrounded her, curling wetly down her shoulders like a filthy cape. It hung in clumps in front of her face, hiding her features from all but those who might venture close.” p.61

Viking in Love

“Breanne’s calloused hands kept snagging on the silk threads, and she swore under her breath for about the hundredth time since they had buried the hated earl. Truly she was much more at home building things with wood than engaging in the womanly arts. From a young age, studying a piece of wood, she saw visions in her head of what it could become. Same was true of buildings. Thus, of her very capable hands had born benches, bedsteads, trestle tables, pretty garden fences, even a pigsty one time, with finely carved runic symbols along its eaves. Her father had nigh had a falling fit at that one.” p.21

“It was she who squeezed his hand then as she leaned slightly against him. She probably did not realize her body pressed against his side, from upper arms to thighs. The faint rose scent wafted up to him from her hair. He had never been overfond of red-haired women, but hers was amazing, taking on different lights through the day, from darkish blonde to deep crimson.” p.142

And now – away with the gingers!

To Alethea.

Here’s her description, first off:

“She was small, dainty, and dark. Thick black hair held a gloss of blue beneath the candlelight was done up in a severe style, with only a few curls dangling to soften the look, but it was a style that suited her small, faintly heart-shaped face. The ivory tone of her skin next to her thick dark hair reminded him strongly of a cameo, for her features were soft perfection, as if carved with an expert hand.” p.19

Obviously, Alethea is not helping a sheep give birth like Isa or killing some evil dude and making woodcarvings like Breanne. Instead, she’s this dainty little ivory mouse with dark hair. She is more similar to Vana in Viking in Love.

“Ofttimes referred to as Vana the White because of her Icelandic white-blonde hair, she had more than earned that title today with her fair, deadly white skin contrasted against a blackened eye and cracked lip, seeping with blood. The fingermarks about her neck, old and new, resembled a black and blue and yellow torque.” p.3

Sure, Alethea has those ‘gifts’ that she does put to use. The gifts stand in as Alethea’s independence, her power. She does have some inherited wealth, but Alethea, like Vana, needs a protector more than just her lover (thus, enter her uncle Iago).

And, also like Vana, she gets beat up and bruised.

“‘He said he was giving me a warning.’ It hurt to talk but Alethea suspected it would hurt even more so very soon. There was so much pain in her face; she suspected her attacker had hit her again even as she was sinking into unconsciousness from the first blow. She was sure it was already swelling and had the brief, vain thought that she must look terrible.

‘I know. I heard him. I was trying to slip up behind him, as I was not sure if he had a weapon.’

‘Just his fists.’ She started to sit up on her own, fighting the inclination yo stay in Hartley’s arms, and gasped aloud at the pain that shot through her side.” p.111

I’m not saying that hair color is the be all end all of protecting yourself or being independent but it is interesting that the first non-ginger I’ve encountered is a complete damsel in distress compared to the other heroines.

Question is: would we feel differently towards Alethea if she had red hair? Would we expect her to fight back? Or am I taking the whole ‘hair color’ too far?

And more to question: taking out the whole concept of hair color – how exactly do we feel towards Alethea? If we took away her ‘gift’ what sort of heroine would she be? Well … I don’t think she’d be a heroine at all. She needs the addition of a ‘gift’ to give her that extra umph.

Maybe then, in Isa’s and Breanna’s cases, their gift is their hair. It’s not an actual plot ‘gift’ but it is something that seems to add something to their characters.

This is all speculation, obviously. But it will be interesting to see how another different heroine (that is, not a redhead) is portrayed? Damsel in distress? Or kick-ass woodcarving, running her own farm girl?

And, for your consideration, a TFLN that Caroline posted on my Facebook:

(519): i finally watched harry potter… a tad unrealistic if you ask me… i mean a ginger kid with 2 friends?



Hill, Sandra. Viking in Love. New York: Avon Books, 2010.

Howell, Hannah. If He’s Wild. New York: Zebra Books, 2010.

Mayhue, Melissa. A Highlander’s Homecoming. New York: Pocket Books, 2010.


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