Friday, June 26, 2009

Perplexed

This is just a tiny, mini-rant (no rage involved), and it's regarding Christian Fiction.

All of the men seem a little too....nice. I know, I know, Beta males are the helpful guys, right? But shouldn't they still have some sort of Man quality. You know, the thing that makes a woman shake her head, snort (you know you do it) and think, "That's just like a man."

Remember those old romances, where the man was almost to the point of jerkiness and the woman was either a fiery wildcat or a gentle waif? Things seem to have switched now, to where the woman is self-involved and controlling, while the man is a cowering, apologetic...thing.

I'm perplexed. Does anyone else think Christian romance heroes are becoming more effeminate, or is it just me? And maybe my perception is skewed? Maybe manliness is not measured by abruptness, rudeness, lack of listening, bossiness, flatulence, possessive streak? Clue me in, ladies and gentlemen, because I'm missing the "jerks" of old.

There are CBA authors, though, who really write a man well. Heitzmann, Rivers and Lessman, to name a few. What do you think about men in Christian fiction?

43 comments:

Jody Hedlund said...

Hi Jessica,
I haven't read enough CBA fiction lately to have a grip on the maleness factor. But I did purchase a couple of books yesterday and finally got Lessman's first book. So, I'm starting to try to catch up with some reading! I'll have to let you know what I think once I get through a few!

Jessica said...

Ooh, I hope you like it. There's lots of drama and conflict, always fun stuff in a romance. :-)

MeganRebekah said...

How funny, because Heitzmann and Rivers (and LL Chaikin) immediately came to mind with this! But you're right, so many Christian novels feel that the man has to be superbly perfect to be Christian, and perfection is annoying!

sherrinda said...

I'm with you. I kinda quit reading as much CBA books for that very reason. They just fell flat. Now, I will say, Julie Lessman has it down right! Her guys are hunky and they can stand up to their spunky heroine. A man should be a man, in my opinion. Strong of body, mind, and spirit. Give me an alpha male any day! ;)

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

I have to admit to only reading a few Christian romance novels. The main reason I stopped was that men were "unreal". I want to read about a man who's not always "nicey-nicey!"

Will have to grab one of your recommendations and try another Christian romance novel.

Jessica said...

Hi Megan,
I think you hit it on the head with the perfection factor.
So, with Heitzmann and Rivers, you thought of them because the heroes were real or because they weren't? I guess, specifically, I was thinking of Rivers's Mark of the Lion series. The men in those are ....woohoo! LOL

Jessica said...

Sherrinda,
I love how you put that. I like a man who can stand up to a strong heroine too, not do everything she tells him and apologize every five minutes. LOL
I like Lessman's guys too. Yum!

Jessica said...

Hi Donna,
You might like Lessman's books. They're considered edgy Christian romance because there are a lot of sparks, but there's also a lot of faith and how passion relates to God.
If you do try one of those authors, let me know what you think. ;-)

Jeanette Levellie said...

Jessie:
you are too young to remember, but in the fifties and sixties, men in tv shows and movies were more "manly" and jerky, as you say. Then the Feminist movement hit, and they became wimps and noodles. I think literature, unfortunatly, is a reflection of that turning.
I'd love to see it come back, in every form of media, to more traditional roles.
I once had someone ask me about my column: "You pick on Kevin, don't you?" My reply was, "Maybe, but he gets me back in his sermons!"
The tete a tete is fun and interesting for reader and listener alike.
Am i rambling?
Happy Weekend,
Jen

Jeanette Levellie said...

Make that unfortunately. Sorry!
Jen

Jessica said...

LOL Jen. I do love a good tete a tete, as you put it.
I don't mind strong characters at all, though when the women get real mean it annoys me. But if the man can handle it, then things are okay.
You cracked me up with the noodle comment! :-)

MeganRebekah said...

I haven't read Rivers' Mark of the Lion series (or I might have but its been a long time) but I love, love, love her books Redeeming Love (best book ever) and Atonement Child.

And Heitzmann - I have re-read the Secrets/Unforgotten series about a hundred times. I want a Lance of my own, he felt so real (because he wasn't perfect but tried to do the right thing).

I love stories with strong male and female characters - the interaction is so much better that way!

Kristen Painter said...

I don't read Christian fiction because there aren't any vampires or shapeshifters or enchanted swords.

Are there any good modern Christian fantasy authors? I would try those.

Jessica said...

Oooh, Megan you'd love that series! (I think, lol) I think I read one of Heitzmann's Secrets. Um, the one with the child up for adoption who has cancer? So the mom has to tell the dad, and he didn't know... Is that Lance, btw? 'Cause I loved the hero in that story. The books of Heitzmann's that I really liked were the historicals with the Italian heroine. :-)

MeganRebekah said...

Oh, you're thinking of Rush of Wings with the child with cancer - that was a great series too.

Secrets and Unforgotten were about the old villa in California. It had Lance (Italian-American) as the hero and Reese as the heroine. If you haven't read those, I'll have to dig them up and lend them to you. You'll love them!

Kristin - I've read the Firebird Trilogy which is Christian sci-fi. I'm not sure of any Christian fantasy, but I've never looked for it either.

Jessica said...

Kristen,
I don't read much of fantasy, so I couldn't say whether they're any good, but I do know that there are some CBA fantasy authors out there. I know of some bestselling YA Dragon authors. Not so sure about Adult authors though.
YOu know, I would really love to see a good CBA vampire story. That would be awesome.

Jessica said...

Megan, I would LOVE to exchange some books. I could lend you the Mark of the Lion series too. :-)

sherrinda said...

Thomas Nelson put out a vampire book last fall by Eric Wilson. I haven't read it, but plan to at some point.
http://thechristianmanifesto.wordpress.com/2008/05/28/eri-wilson-slated-to-release-christian-vampire-tale-with-thomas-nelson/
If you google Christian vampires, you get a few links to stuff just coming out. Very interesting.

Terri Tiffany said...

I like the guys to be real--as real as they can be or I can't believe the story. I have trouble with some of the flaky women in the books too!!

Jessica said...

I think I have Eric Wilson's debut novel. I had no clue he had a vamp book out. Thanks so much for the link Sherrinda!

Jessica said...

Hi Terri,
I like them to be real too, but with strong qualities, because as we know, some guys really are weak. But I like a strong hero. LOL
Ditto on the women.

Jeannie Campbell said...

hmm...i'd add siri mitchell to the CBA list of women who write men well. totally agree about lessman...i'm reading her series now and had trouble putting it down to get on blogger. DEFINITELY alpha males in her stuff. whew. tamara leigh also writes men well. but since i haven't really read many books lately with insipid male characters, i don't know that i could make the conclusion you have. maybe you're right, though. being christian doesn't mean being weak.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess -

I think it's sad that men are portrayed either as jerks or wimps. Either extreme upsets me.

Julie is so successful because of the conflict and tension in her characters' relationships. They have their flaws - both men and women.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Jessica said...

Hi Jeannie,
I like your last line. Very true. I've never read Siri Mitchell, though I've heard of her.

Jessica said...

Hi Susan
You're so right. Either extreme won't make a good hero, although sometimes I think jerkiness can have a solid motivation that will make the reader empathize.
Julie does give her characters good flaws, but I still think her men are strong in their flaws and in their virtues. LOL I just plain like her men. They make me think of my own darling hubby! LOL

Dara said...

I agree.

I also think that it seems to go back and forth between either extreme--being a jerk or being a wuss.

I guess it's hard to balance though--if the guy is a complicated individual with a harsh past, he comes across as jerky. And then there's the other end of things too.

How do you make a well-balanced guy?

I should watch what I say--the guy in my historical fiction tends to lean towards the jerky spectrum. I'm not sure how else to portray him--he's had a rather dodgy past and it's also a society where emotions are hidden behind a stern facade.

Oh well; guess I'll have to keep working on it!

T. Anne said...

I found the same thing when the men are already CHristian at the beginning of the story, not true for those stories where they start out flawed and later convert. BTW< I love your topics!

Eileen Astels Watson said...

I wonder if it's because too many of us writers are females and haven't figured out how to write a man yet. I know I'm seriously lacking in that area. Maybe I should have signed up for Ingermansons course at ACFW. I'll definitely buy the cd track of it.

You're right, though, they need to have some quirks that drive the heroine nuts to make them real. Yet another thing to add to my editing list.

quixotic said...

I have a feeling it is the new aged feminist women writers out there, helping to push female characters to a new level. Personally, I like a give and take. Both male and female characters should be able to counter each other, without one having to be strong and the other weak.

I'm not a huge romance reader though.

Lady Glamis said...

Oh, wow, I'm not sure I can help you out on this one! I don't read much Christian romance, if any at all... But it's sad to hear that it's all kind of following the same vein. UGH! I would love to see it all mixed up and original. I guess that's up to you! And an upper hand, right? You can change it up and maybe get the ball rolling in a different direction when you're published and famous. :D

Jessica said...

Dara,
I don't know how to make a well-balanced guy. Yet. LOL Well, maybe my last book the guy was good. I think it's balancing out the flaws with the virtues, as well as motivation.
I wouldn't worry about your guy too much. If the reader empathizes with his past and sees why he acts the way he does, then things will probably be fine. :-)

Jessica said...

T. Anne,
That's an excellent point. Now that I think of it, it's the non-Christian heroes who I really learn to love. The other ones are more low-key, it seems.

Jessica said...

Hey Eileen,
Quirks. That's a good idea. I don't know if it's because we're women or not. It seems the secular market has a stronger take on manly men. I could be completely off here too. I do read inspirational romances, but it's balanced with writing so I don't get to read as many authors as I used to.
I'm stoked for that class! Don't worry, I'll share some juicy tidbits! LOL

Jessica said...

Katie,
I think you're right on. Maybe it's the imbalance that makes the man weaker...good point. The man should match the woman, or complement her.

sherrinda said...

Okay, let's talk about quirky. What is that exactly?

Jessica said...

LOL Lady Glam! Famous...I can't even see that happening. Snort! But thanks for the thought. It made me smile. :-)


Things are changing, thank goodness. The CBA market is opening up to a lot of different stuff. I just hope we still get the heroes I enjoy so much in secular romances. It's not too sad out there. :-)

Jessica said...

Anything out of the ordinary, I'd guess. Something a particular person does that no one else seems to do. LOL And it can be kind of funny. Or annoying. LOL!
You frequent Seekerville, right? I think someone did a post on quirks recently. Maybe Mary Connealy? It was really good. :-)

You don't have to have a lot of quirks in your character. I'd think it would depend on genre.

Maybe some others will give their definitions too?

sherrinda said...

Oh yes!!! I remember now! M&Ms!!!! Having little things they do like not eating the brown M&M's like Matthew McConnauhey in The Wedding Planner. :) It's coming back to me now. Quirky. Got it.

Danyelle said...

I don't read many, but the few I've read have been great. The guy and the girl both have faults--and that's what keeps things interesting. :D

Jessica said...

I'm glad you liked the ones you read. :-) That's awesome.

Jessica said...

Great example Sherrinda! That's exactly it.

Silver said...

well, all i can say about the maleness thing is times have changed and that's probably why.. the appeal is different ;)

~Silver
Reflections

Jessica said...

Good point, Silver. Thank you for stopping by! :-)