There are two things most good – or at least most popular – urban fantasy stories contain. There’s romance (but any half-decent paranormal romance has kissing) and then there’s the ass kickery. Urban fantasy is great because it’s about strong women. It’s not the damsels in distress or the princess locked in a tower. Urban fantasy is about women tough enough to save themselves, and the whole damned world while they’re at it.
When I was asked to do Stomp vs. Romp, and then told I would be tackling the “Stomp” side while Kelly Meding took on the “Romp” side, my immediate response was: “did they mix us up?” Kelly is more known for her gritty butt-kickery, while my heroine toils away with a love square from hell. Then Carmel said “we wanted to make this a challenge” and I was like “heck YES, I love a good challenge.” So this is my very official take on why kicking ass is way more important to urban fantasy than a good tumble in the sheets.
Long before my heroine Secret McQueen ever got herself entangled in a messy web of seduction and romance, she was a bounty hunter. She killed monsters for a living, working with the vampire Tribunal on one hand, and her private investigator partner on the other. She built a name for herself as a lethal, scary, no-nonsense she devil who didn’t take shit and could kill people without a second thought. Secret can wield a sword and a gun with equal ferocity, and has proven she isn’t afraid to take down a cadre of vampires in the tunnels of a New York City subway if that’s what it takes. Even if one of them happens to be the biggest movie star on the planet. A rogue is a rogue, and a rogue must die.
So when did Secret start to falter as a killing machine? When she met a man. More to the point, when she met two men who ultimately turned her whole world upside down. Before Lucas and Desmond arrived with their tumultuous werewolf problems and told Secret she had a double soul bond, her biggest worry was how to keep from getting thrown off a balcony; or how to hide a vampire body until sunrise. Throw sex into the mix and her entire life has been thrown into upheaval.
Can an urban fantasy heroine fall in love and still be a badass? Absolutely. Sex doesn’t necessarily negate a heroine’s ability to be amazingly cool and someone we root for. Who doesn’t love love? Who amongst us doesn’t want to read about a super hot guy blowing our fair heroine’s mind with a little horizontal mambo?
The question here isn’t whether or not sex is the enemy of urban fantasy. It isn’t. The challenge here is which is MORE important, Sex or Violence. So I pose this question to you, dear reader. Would an urban fantasy heroine be nearly as enjoyable if she wasn’t a strong, capable, takes-no-bullshit, fierce and powerful woman? No, I don’t think so would. She would just be another princess in a tower. Another figure who needed to be saved.
Plenty of people love Bella Swan, and they adore her romance with Edward. I am not one of those people. I kept hoping she’d stop waiting to be saved, grow a spine, hit the gym and learn how to throw a punch so she could protect herself when push came to shove. In my reading, I will forego a thousand Bella Swan’s for one Kate Daniels. A woman with a sword who loves the Beast Lord but doesn’t need him? Yes please. Give me those tough girls. The ones who can throw a punch and take one too. The ones who don’t need to hide under the bed. I want the Sabina Kane’s, the Faythe Sanders’ and early Anita Blake’s. I love women who can hold their own and don’t need a man, but choose to have one.
That’s why Stomp is way more badass than Romp. Because let’s face it: I’ve had good sex, but I’ve never kicked a vampire’s ass. So I know which one I’d rather read about, don’t you?
Sierra Dean is a reformed historian. She was born and raised in the Canadian prairies and is allowed annual exit visas in order to continue her quest of steadily conquering the world one city at a time. Making the best of the cold Canadian winters, Sierra indulges in her less global interests: drinking too much tea and writing urban fantasy.
Ever since she was a young girl she has loved the idea of the supernatural coexisting with the mundane. As an adult, however, the idea evolved from the notion of fairies in flower beds, to imagining that the rugged-looking guy at the garage might secretly be a werewolf. She has used her overactive imagination to create her own version of the world, where vampire, werewolves, fairies, gods and monsters all walk among us, and she’ll continue to travel as much as possible until she finds it for real.
She’s also a book lover (of course!), obsessive collector of OPI nailpolish and the owner of way too many pairs of shoes.
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Some secrets are dangerous. This Secret is deadly.
For Secret McQueen, her life feels like the punch line for a terrible joke. Abandoned at birth by her werewolf mother, hired as a teen by the vampire council of New York City to kill rogues, Secret is a part of both worlds, but belongs to neither. At twenty-two, she has carved out as close to a normal life as a bounty hunter can.
When an enemy from her past returns with her death on his mind, she is forced to call on every ounce of her mixed heritage to save herself—and everyone else in the city she calls home. As if the fate of the world wasn’t enough to deal with, there’s Lucas Rain, King of the East Coast werewolves, who seems to believe he and Secret are fated to be together. Too bad Secret also feels a connection with Desmond, Lucas’s second-in-command…
After cheating death twice in one night, confessing her true nature to her werewolf soul mates and being asked to kill one of her closest friends, Secret took a much-needed vacation. By running away.
Now she’s back in town—dragged kicking and screaming—determined to clear Holden Chancery’s name. Right after she finds out what he’s accused of. It shouldn’t be hard—Holden has a habit of using their new and scintillating psychic bond to break into her thoughts and dreams at some very, shall we say, awkward moments.
Just a few things stand in her way: a secretive Tribunal leader, a group of would-be vampire slayers and two werewolf boyfriends who refuse to let her operate in her customary lone-wolf style. Even less amusing are the terrifying creatures that someone is using in an attempt to gain control of the council. Even for this out-of-the-ordinary bounty hunter, it’s a challenge with potentially deadly teeth.
Warning: Contains an ever-plucky heroine with no shortage of weapons, super-hot mind games, an ever-complicated love triangle and one hell of a creepy amusement park.
The only good Secret is a buried Secret.
Secret McQueen has hunted vampires, werewolves, and every conceivable supernatural menace-to-society. Seen it all? Not even close. When the queen of the were-ocelots comes to her for help finding a missing girl, the half-vampire/half-werewolf soon realizes how much she has to learn about the things that go bump in the night.
The case of the missing cat is one thing. Pile it up with her new duties as a Tribunal Leader, her tenuous position as mate to the king of the Eastern werewolves, and a slew of new (and unwelcome) supernatural abilities, and Secret is once again in familiar territory. “Way” over her head. But for this multitasking half-breed, it’s business as “un”usual.
What knocks her for a loop, though, isn’t her lover’s intoxicating kiss. It’s the missing memories rushing at her from out of nowhere, signaling a rapidly approaching fork in her destiny. Her choice will affect not only her life, but her love.
Warning: Contains a werewolf king with wandering hands, a creepy English professor with nefarious plans, and one hell of an unexpected gala evening at Columbia.
Something old, something blue, something deadly…what else is new?
It’s a nice day for a white wedding. At least that’s what Secret McQueen is hoping for, with her poofy-princess-dress marriage to a werewolf king looming closer and closer by the day. But as ever, nothing can be that easy for a vampire/werewolf hybrid for whom someone still harbors a death wish.
Summoned to the south by her werewolf uncle, who makes no bones about the fact her mate bond with Lucas doesn’t pass muster, Secret learns her furry heritage looks more like a tangled vine than a family tree. Getting her royal uncle’s blessing hinges on finding one of the missing twigs. Even with vampire sentry Holden Chancery at her side, she manages to land up to her neck in a swamp of trouble.
As an assassin’s scope zeroes in, family dramas boil up and a fast-collapsing love square threatens to bury her alive, making it to the church on time could be the least of Secret’s problems.
Warnings: Contains a grumpy bride who shouldn’t be wearing wedding white, a motley crew of bridesmaids, a dangerous scenic drive in the woods and a smoking-hot trio of suitors who might be too scorching to touch.
Read Kelly Meding’s ROMP post and then VOTE via the poll on my sidebar on who you think should win today’s showdown!