The Feehan Female Formula

faa581382D66a62D49f72D9be82D9b895cf85a3epapersToday was a nice day. I had a conversation with a person who came into where I work about books. That is always a treat, at least for me, because not a lot (meaning virtually no one) in my real life reads what I/we do, so to exchange actual spoken words with another human about a favorite topic is really rare. As we were mentioning upcoming releases and past favorites, the subject of Christine Feehan came up. And that talk got me thinking, which will probably get me in trouble again, but then again it won’t be the first time. Here goes…

I have to qualify this, once again, and say that I pick up all of her books, and Christine Feehan will probably always have a place in my collection. This isn’t me slamming her or her work. She is the author that got me interested in PNR and UF, and it was her books that brought me back to reading again after a years-long stop. I snicker and roll my eyes sometimes, but I am pretty much always counting down a new release day. That said, however, when the lady at work and I were discussing things, I realized that the last few female leads in recent Feehan novels had to me all become the same character. We have discussed here on the blog before the “Alphahole and the Doormat” trend in some of the recent books, but for me things have actually gone beyond that, and the characters have completely blurred together.

When I started to think about things, I realized that in five of the last six Feehan books I have read, you could pretty much substitute one female lead for the next and not know the difference. I am talking the last two Leopard books, the last two Ghostwalker books, and the new Shadows book. Here’s what I mean…

  • All of the female leads are small, curvy, and have long, almost inhumanly thick dark hair.
  • All of them are on the run from the VBM (very bad man) who has hurt them and/or killed someone they love.
  • They are all without family, and only one has a true friend.
  • They all find safety with their VOH (very own hero), but make a half-hearted try to run to save him from the VBM. This is of course stopped before they actually get out the door, but it is the thought that counts.
  • No matter what has happened to them, they have remained innocent and without anger or bitterness. Only sweetness, with a deep core of inner strength (uh, ok).
  • All but one have absolutely nothing to their name, and their VOH buys them long, ruffled skirts and ruffled boots (Seriously. They all have ruffled boots).
  • They are all immediately accepted into their VOH’s very exclusive inner circle and immediately become part of the family. Usually a family that doesn’t trust any outsiders, either, but they are instantly embraced and protected to the death by one and all.
  • All of them are brilliant cooks, or determined to learn to cook perfectly, so they can be the most very perfect homemaker for their VOH. No takeout here, folks. No “make your own sandwich, and me one while your at it”, either. Just brilliant, instantly-made meals that usually leads to a different kind of dessert. Usually on the kitchen floor.
  • Oh, and each and every one of them tempers their VOH’s overbearing, possessive flashes of jealous rage with sweetness, placating, and surrender. Oh, and each one calls their special fella Honey. Not babe, not pumpkin, not any other pet name. Just honey. For all of them. As in “Ok, honey, I understand and I won’t ever, ever do that again. Ever. Even though I didn’t do anything, I won’t do it again. Honey.”

These are just the instances I could think of off of the top of my head. And I guess this formula works for me because I still keep picking up the books (except the last Carpathian book, because I loathed Gabrielle and was a bit horrified by the thought of Grandma Trixie). I have to admit, though, that what I am really getting tired of in the Feehan books is the young, physically and sexually abused girl who ends up being rescued from her horror only to have her story told in a future book. It was done with Skyler in the Dark series, and now there is another one in The Shadows in…Nicoletta? Nicole? Something like that. Maybe it just comes off as too tragic for me, but I could do with that not coming up again anytime soon.

Your turn. Do you think I am nuts, or have you started to see a “female formula” in Christine Feehan’s work? Do you like it, or is it getting old for you? Have you had this sense of deja vu with any other authors that you can think of? Oh, and did my skipping the last Dark book about Gabrielle make me miss anything good, or did it set up any new characters/stories for down the road?


43 thoughts on “The Feehan Female Formula

  1. poetryandreview says:

    Definitely a shouldn’t miss. We discover why Ganrielle is the way she is and what her psychic ability is.
    Grandma Trixie is a good infusion of strong female but also suffers the female character curse of not thinking she is “beautiful enough”.

      • poetryandreview says:

        Strong willed, almost as feminist as Feehans characters get. I also love her books, she’s the only author I collect regularly. But they are sadly becoming monotonous with damsels in distress, chapter long sex scene that seem to take over the plot and rough he-man type heroes who think his way is the highway.

    • Amy says:

      Not at all. Feehan is the reason I got into PNR, too. I discovered her carpathian books around 2002 and fell in love with them. I was counting down the days to each new book release and re-reading the books I had until the new one came out. I think it was after Dark Celebration things started to feel stale to me. I felt like I was reading about the same two characters. Their names and locations were different, but the dialog was pretty much the same. I struggled to keep up with them until after Skyler & Dimitri’s book, Dark Wolf, because I had been waiting for that one for years. Unfortunatley, I haven’t read much since then. It’s a shame. Those books were so unique in the beginning.

      • kaleigha says:

        Well, I did break down and buy Dark Promises for my i-pad, but I am planning on just skimming the Gabrielle parts, honestly. I just want to make sure that I don’t miss the set up for any other stories. I have found the last few books quite redundant, but I was pleasantly surprised by the recent novella…uh…Dark Crime, I think? It was set in a city, and it featured Tariq’s right-hand Carpathian. I found the change of location away from the mountains or jungle was a really nice change of pace. It totally got me looking forward to Tariq’s story.

  2. Lydia says:

    I could not finish the last Leopard book. Everything started to blur I will finish it sometime but right now I need a break from all her books.

  3. Sam says:

    All of Christine’s story lines are familiar and a duplication of past events- the stories are reworked and the characters give new names but in the end, it is the same premise over and over and over. There is rarely anything new and the males are becoming more alpha and bordering on abusive-the most recent Leopard and Ghostwalker leading ‘heroes’ basically controlled their ‘females’ with threats and sex-Alphahole meet doormat. Most of females, as you say, have long and thick, ‘blue-black’ hair; there is always some sort of loss, abuse or struggle in their pasts.

    CF had a formula that worked early in her career but she is unable to move forward from a proven winner. She has to changed to attract new readers but making her ‘heroes’ abusive is not the way to do it. Her females are cut outs of previous heroines; and don’t get me started on characters names. This has been a major bone of contention for me throughout all of her series as well as using the same names between series e.g. Raven Whitney in the Dark Carpathian series (Dark Prince book 1) and Lily Whitney from Ghostwalkers (Shadow Game book 1). As of one year ago when I stopped counting, Stefan has been used 3 times in the DARK series, as well as in 3 of her 4 other series. Duplication of names and their derivatives is a constant in the DARK series for both leading characters, and secondary and supporting roles: Matias twice; Matt /Matthew 4 times; Henry and derivatives 4 times; John 4 times; Paul 4 times; Peter 4 times; Robert or Roberto 5 times; Tom/Thomas 5 times; and the list goes on). Maxim is a name that has been used twice in the DARK series for major characters-once for an ancient Carpathian-Maxim Malinov- who turned vampire and was killed, and now Maxim Volkov in Dark Crime. The duplication can lead to confusion, especially with the similarity between surnames as well.

    Well, my rant is over and I apologize for going off track from the original ‘female’ similarities.

    • kaleigha says:

      I noticed the names a couple of times, especially the Lily/Raven thing. In my mind, I was convinced that Raven and Peter Whitney were brother and sister, and Raven being psychic is what lead to his research. Actually, I am still going with that theory, since I was so proud of it. For me, the name thing gets really tricky if I am doing a guide. I have to figure out if she meant Stefan #1, #2, or is this a new Stefan altogether? I get one or two reuses, especially if it is something like Tom and Tomas, I can work with that. But outright reusing over and over throws me off quite a bit.

  4. azteclady says:

    Hey, we all enjoy things we find problematic, but I am commenting basically to put my mirth on record. I haven’t read any of Feehan’s books in years (it was hard, but I managed to break up with her; go, me!), and I haven’t re-read, in years, any of the first few Carpathians I’ve kept for my keeper shelves. However, if memory serves for anything…

    Yeah, there may be minor variations, but all of Feehan’s heroines are, essentially, the same (pretty and oh-so-saccharine-sweet) doormat.

    • kaleigha says:

      That is huge to drop an author, so good for you. I did it for a couple, and I actually felt guilty for a while. Weird, I know, but I did get over it. I have a moment here and there where I think I might give one a try again, but then I put the brakes on and tell myself all the reasons I dropped them in the first place. It usually helps get me over my weakness.

      • azteclady says:

        Yes, it does.

        I had a couple of relapses with Feehan, long ago, then I realized I had five or six of her books just sitting there, unread, and that I dreaded the thought of reading them–because reading more of the same was making me hate the first few Carpathians, which I had loved so much at first.

        After that, breaking up with authors has gotten marginally less fraught for me.

        • kaleigha says:

          I was pretty much able to give up all the authors I kept telling myself that I “should” like but never quite managed to. Or the ones where I read a book and after an hour couldn’t even tell you the main characters’ names, let alone the storyline.

  5. PhoenixFyre says:

    I personally got sick of her female types. I love stories that have brilliant, strong yet kick-ass women who doesn’t bow down to their men. They have equal footing with their men and takes no crap from them. Some of my favorites are Tabitha, Aimee, Tory & Bethany from Dark-Hunter. Then I love Xhex, Beth and Payne from Black Dagger Brotherhood. I could go on but if you read their books…you know what I am saying, lol.

    • kaleigha says:

      I actually don’t mind a softer, weaker heroine – just not always the same one with a different name slapped on. I like to see things mixed up a bit, too – maybe one with the tragic past, one who actually has friends and family and a semi-normal life, one who can take care of herself. Just not a redo of the last 5 chicks in a different setting.

  6. cheryl says:

    I am kinda sad that her stories have become so redundant that I forget them almost as fast as I read them. I keep hoping she goes away from “Fifty Shades” and back to a more story driven and not smexy time. I usually listen with text-to-speech on my kindle and it is faster than a audio book … so when 40 minutes goes by and the sex scene isn’t over… good grief. I know several of my favorite authors are doing too much of that as well and it is making me drift toward urban fantasy and romantic suspense in my reading as a break.

    • kaleigha says:

      Dear…god…40 minutes?!? Uh, overkill much? And by that point, you are probably so bored you just want to move on.

      • cheryl says:

        I couldn’t fast forward because I was working and at a point I couldn’t stop and do anything with the kindle… I was singing various lyrics to myself hoping it would stop soon. haha.
        Trust me, I can kill the lyrics of any song I am trying to remember just to get past the boring part of the story and hoping the story moves forward soon. Don’t know what it says about my brain but I can’t remember current songs just one’s from my teens.

  7. Iain says:

    I think a lot of book-machine authors get into a rut after awhile… when you are writing about a new couple 1 or 3 or 5 times a year for decades, they seem to start rehashing alot eventually… burning through a bunch of them in a short span tends to burn me out on those authors…

    I read 5 Ghostwalker books before giving up on Feehan… but she’s not the only one…

    Sherrilyn Kenyon likes to mate off otherwise evil men… when one magic female comes along… sometimes it works… other times it seems a little Stockholm Syndrome-y

    Can’t think of any others right now… but Feehan isn’t the only one becoming formulaic out there is all I’m saying

    • kaleigha says:

      Sigh…I have started to tackle the Kenyon monster that makes up almost half of my TBR, but it is a daunting task at this point.

  8. Anne says:

    Omg, you are so right with that formula, I’m in a place now that even all the guys feel the same:dark,broody and abusive in different degrees, I told myself that I will stop reading her books but I’ve returned and was gratified with the ‘sex on a horse scene’. Go me! :))
    What I’ve noticed about the ‘heroes’–> as much as Feehan praises their “enormous strenght” over and over, they always screw up somehow and the heroine always is injured/beaten and they,the mighty “heroes” prove to be kinda useless/slightly stupid?/unprepared?

    • kaleigha says:

      Yep, the heroes are starting to blend a bit, too. There was a thread a while back and we started snickering how the common theme is “THIS hero is the most dangerous of them all…” Until the next hero, who immediately becomes “the most dangerous of them all”. But wait! “NO, THIS HERO IS THE MOST DANGEROUS OF THEM ALL! THE ONE THE OTHERS FEAR”.

  9. Monika says:

    I just had a brilliant idea πŸ˜‰ If Feehan is using the same abused doormat (I hesitate to call her heroine, so I’ll go with main female protagonist) and the same alpha-asswhole male lead over and over, why doesn’t she just write about the same couple over several books?
    I have to say that I couldn’t finish the last 5 or so Feehan books I bought, my mind just keeps wandering off and I catch myself reading the same paragraph over and over again without registering what it says. Also, judging some of the reading experiences that detail skipping sex scenes (and “chants” haven’t even bee mentioned yet); this doesn’t sound like fun, more like some form of masochistic self-torture…
    I used to love Feehan, and even though her writing has always been a bit formulaic, her early heroines certainly weren’t doormats. I haven’t re-read her early books in a long time, but I can still remember Samantha, the mechanic (whose name I forgot), Francesca the doctor, or Jaxon? the police officer… and Barack and Syndil’s story always seemed to break the mold for me, too.
    Also, there early heroines in Ghosthunter used to fight back and didn’t let themselves be steam-rollered as easily and if I remember correctly, few of them cooked (if any).
    I have the problem with the formulaic main protagonists with JAK, although I still read (and enjoy) her books, I can’t keep them apart in my head anymore, especially the ones from the Ghost Hunter series (and they all have a fluffy dust bunny)…
    The very different heroes and heroines that Elizabeth Hunter writes is one of the main reasons I like her books so much!

    • Sam says:

      You are correct that in the earlier Ghostwalkers the heroines were definitely not doormats and they could hold their own but in the recent story line with CF Ghostwalkers, Dark Carpathians and even the Leopards, the males have been border line abusive with the females (and this doesn’t include the Dark series where many secondary women are victims of rape etc) I am not happy about the current direction of the male and female lead of the 3 aforementioned series-the men are abusive pr*cks, and the women allow the subjugation in the name of ‘mating’ and ‘made for each other’.

    • kaleigha says:

      Yeah, I don’t acknowledge the chants. Ever. For some strange reason, I sneer whenever I come to one. And the ancient Carpathian expression that came about to describe the Carpathian/werewolf dudes? It translated to something like “the heroes of them all” or whatever, that one annoys me. Can’t say it, can’t remember, sure as hell can’t spell it, and don’t care. Call them the Guardians or something and just move on.

      The early heroines did definitely have some variety. And lives and careers of their own. Not quite sure where all of that went, though. And the early Ghostwalker females were great. And “realistic” too, if you know what I mean. Enhanced, but still not so totally out there. Like the recent chick who apparently came with a built-in bullet proof silk lining? Or the one before that who literally had a magically addictive whoo-ha?

  10. Maria says:

    Hi, I’ve read all your comments and agree with everybody!. I abandoned Sherrylin Kennyon after Acheron, and Kresley Cole’s IAD, because after a while, all seems a blurr.
    For me, the abandoning point arrives when I start “diagonally reading” and skipping whole paragraphs. I’m very sad, because I really, really enjoyed the first 15 books of the Carpathians, but my TBR is so huge (and growing everyday) that I decided a while ago that I wouldn’t spend time with something I don’t enjoy. And that’s it: I don’t enjoy her books anymore and haven’t for a long time.

    • kaleigha says:

      I got like that with my entire young adult TBR pile. I was reading them because I had them and I “had to”, and then I realized that I really didn’t. I might’ve already wasted the money, but I didn’t want to waste the time anymore mostly skimming books that just didn’t interest me anymore.

      • azteclady says:

        I used to read every book I started, to the bitter end, even when I felt like chucking the book (or the phone) to the wall. I finally accepted that I have more TBR books than I have time left to live, so I allow myself to not finish them when I don’t enjoy them, and to let them go (usually to my sister’s grabby hands), when I know I’ll never get around to reading them.

        • azteclady says:

          (Sorry, posted too soon)

          I reached the same point with series, a while back–though it’s hard to give up. I’m in the throes of giving up on two much-loved series, and I keep back tracking, hoping the next one will be good again…

        • kaleigha says:

          Yep, I was the same. I still have a hard time with a single DNF book, but I can scrap a whole series pretty quickly now. Weird, I know, but I think like you said it is amatter of not wanting to waste time.

  11. Dawn says:

    I totally agree with everything that’s been mentioned. The series that I got away from after book 12, 15 or whatever are IAD, Kitty Norville & Midnight Breed, and I sort of avoid Dark Hunters & In Death as well. But the one that I really dropped was Anita Blake — that one should have ended years ago!

    Now, I will still pick the books up if they go cheap (or free on kindle, as that’s been known to happen on occasion), but even then they stay on the real/virtual TBR for awhile, as I either have others I would rather read, or feel as though I need to do a total re-read. And when there’s 15 or more (about 27 for Anita Blake, and 36 for Dark Hunters), it gets to be too much at once.

    About the only series that feels formulaic that I do still buy as soon as I can and read immediately is when a new story comes out in Lora Leigh’s Breeds series. The female leads in those don’t seem to be written from a checklist (at least when they are the lead, when they are a secondary character it’s different), but the male characters are. That could be because of the underlying premise of the Breed’s creation, though. But when I have to wait over 2 years for a new story — pushed back AGAIN to March! — then I will definitely get it, since who knows how long it will be until the next. That’s is the only reason they don’t seem to follow as much of a formula — there’s too much of a wait time!

    • kaleigha says:

      The monster size of both In Death and Dark-Hunters was what stopped me from getting into them for a long time, just because it is a major project to tackle something that big. I am going slow enough that I haven’t gotten bored yet, but quickly enough to stay interested, if that makes sense. I still do the Breeds, too, even though the changes in characterization and backstory drive me nuts sometimes. But the delays on that one are wicked. And don’t ever, ever, for the sake of your own sanity, ever read a blurb or summary of an upcoming book that Lora uploads to her site. They come off as a hot mess, and as confusing as hell. I always wait for the official blurb so I don’t spend an hour trying to figure out what it actually is trying to say.

  12. Maria says:

    OMG, I had forgotten about Anita Blake! Yeah, I left her too, and don’t miss her a bit πŸ˜‰
    I keep on with the in Death series because I think they’re different and always keep me hooked. The breed series is on debate. The last books have evolved to something that I don’t quite like. I think the story should wrap up. Guess I’ll give her a last chance… So difficult to break up with her, mmmmmm
    Also, I guess I have evolved too. Last few years, I’ve read paranormal non stop and after a while it’s difficult to find a story that seems original. Vampires, werewolfes, gargoyles, aliens,,, you name it, I’ve read it. So I find myself a bit tired and I’m reading other genres, so it gets easier to drop the series that I’m not in love with.

    • Iain says:

      Its so nice to find something different after reading so many… Whether its a were-snake, or a sphinx or something else entirely… I’ve branched outside the genre a bit too… steampunk is so fun on audio… and just variety in general

      • kaleigha says:

        I could never get into steampunk, and I don’t know why, but I have found I am enjoying an occasional romantic suspense book now and then.

        • Monika says:

          If you don’t read anything else, do read Meljean Brook’s The Iron Seas. I don’t like steampunk either, but I loved all her Iron Seas books and stories!

    • kaleigha says:

      Heh…that one slays me every single time. Being hunted by a shifter/moster/serial killer? NO problem…you have ruffled boots.

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