Book Review: Strength by Carrie Butler

StrengthTitle: Strength
Author: Carrie Butler
Paranormal Romance, College Romance
Publisher: Sapphire Star Publishing (March 7, 2013)
Reading level: New Adult
ISBN-13: 978-1938404351
Find it: Amazon (paperback version available now)

When college student Rena Collins finds herself nose-to-chest with the campus outcast, her rumor-laced notions are shattered. Handsome, considerate, and seemingly sane, Wallace Blake doesn’t look like he spends his nights alone, screaming and banging on the walls of his dorm room. Hell, he doesn’t look like he spends his nights alone, period.

Too curious for her own good, Rena vows to uncover the truth behind Wallace’s madman reputation–and how two seconds of contact had left her with bruises. Of course, there are a few setbacks along the way: guilt, admiration, feelings of the warm and fuzzy variety…

Not to mention the unwanted attention of Wallace’s powerful, supernaturally-gifted family.

They’re a bloodline divided by opposing ideals, two soon-to-be warring factions that live in secret among us. When Rena ends up caught in their crossfire, Wallace has no choice but to save her by using his powers. Now they’re really in trouble. With war on the horizon and Rena’s life in the balance, he needs to put some distance between them. But Rena won’t let go. If fighting is what it takes to prove her own strength and keep Wallace in her life, then that’s what she’ll do–even if it means risking a whole lot more than her heart.

Personal Reaction
I loved this book! I found the main character, Rena, very likable and humorous. She’s a down to earth, yet determined character with a huge heart. And Wallace (*fans self*) YUM! He’s a handsome and mysterious character with a dark secret. I enjoyed watching the relationship between Rena and Wallace grow from friends into something more. Butler did a fantastic job creating a well-rounded cast of supporting characters such as Gabby, Aiden, Cole, and Clara.

Strength by Carrie Butler is a witty, captivating, and engaging read.


Hero Personality Traits

During Gretchen Craig’s workshop “Writing Romance Today” at the OWFI 2011 Conference, we learned about hero/heroine personality traits and what readers expect in romance novels. Though, I think this information can apply across genres.

Gretchen said readers typically read for the hero in books. I have to admit, I love Carlos Riviera, the hero  in L.A. Banks’ Vampire Huntress series and Clayton Danvers in Kelly Armstrong’s Otherworld Novels. They both possess some of the qualities Gretchen listed under Hero Personality Traits.

Hero Personality Traits

  • rough
  • rude
  • ruthless
  • but sympathetic
  • likely to be emotionally closed off or remote
  • might not recognize his own feelings
  • his touch is always honest, kind, tender
  •  trustworthy (he will hide this)
  • self-indulgent
  • readers should feel like hero is risky but worth it

Heroes can be further divided into two additional categories. Alpha and Beta. Since it’s more likely we’ve seen the same movies, rather than read the same books, I’ll use movies to show characters with Beta Hero traits. Think of Andy Stitzer in the “40-Year-Old Virgin”, or perhaps Henry Roth from “50 First Dates.”

The Beta Hero

  • Mr. Nice Guy
  • Mr. Patience
  • Not theüber males
  • Sensible
  • Reasonable
  • Self-sufficient
  • Not needy
  • Heals the heroine
  • Heroines job is to catch him, or let him catch her

Alpha Heroes are the complete opposite. Vin Diesel, need I say more?

The Alpha Hero

  • Mr. Dangerous
  • Mr. Wounded
  • Can’t admit they love a woman
  • Must be conquered, but will resist it so they can function as antagonist
  • Tormented
  • Damaged (physically or mentally)
  • Sexual
  • Hot
  • Honest
  • Trustworthy
  • Heroine’s job is to teach the most dangerous creature on earth

Gretchen also spoke about two types of heroines. I think Louise Sawyer from “Thelma and Louise” falls into this category, at least in the beginning of the story.

Traditional Heroines  (for historical novels)

  • Lacked power
  • Financially dependent
  • Expected to be subservient
  • Expected to marry whomever she’s told
  • Selfless

The modern heroine is all about power. Characters in this category include Ripley from the Alien Quadrilogy or Stella Payne from “How Stella Got Her Groove Back.”

Modern Heroine

  • Already independent
  • Nobody’s doormat
  • Demands compassionate marriage
  • Not passive
  • Passionate about something

When reading romance, the reader has expectations of both emotional and sexual tension/experiences.

  • They expect a sensual sexual yearning
  • Vicarious sexual tension
  • Escapism
  • Need a chance for emotional engagement

Physical attraction is where it usually begins for most characters, even if one of them is plain, there’s still something captivating about them. This could be a silly laugh or some other quirky behavior. The woman is exquisitely responsive to man’s touch. He has to earn her trust and faith and have her best interest in mind.

Heat Levels

This refers to how intense romantic scenes are in a story and how intense the sexual tension is between the characters.

Sweet – stories do not have consummated love scenes.

Sensual – consummated love scenes without explicit graphic content.

Ultra Sensual – consummated love scenes with explicit graphic language and adult themes.

Erotic – explicit love scenes.

For a more detailed description of heat levels, I found Starla Kaye’s blog very insightful.

For more information about Gretchen, visit her blog or website. 

Do your heroes/heroines share some of these personality traits? Can you think of other examples for the personality traits listed above?