Academic Heroines

I wrote a post, “Undressing the Hero: Judith Ivory’s Untie My Heart” for Heroes and Heartbreakers that went live today.

Now on to today’s topic. I don’t intend to make “unusual heroines” a weekly thing, but I do want to know…where are the romance heroines who are academics?

Career academic who solves murders, yes: Quieter than Sleep by Joanne Dobson, which I mentioned yesterday. Grad student swept into fantasy realm where she has to learn to use a sword, sure: The Time of the Dark by Barbara Hambly.

But not so much with the heroines in contemporary romances. Bluestockings or so-called bluestockings in historical romance novels, yes, pretty often. I think of them as a different category, since most of them were educated at home or through an indulgent family, not at all the same thing as today’s academic world. (There’s a list of bluestocking heroines at All About Romance here.)

My question is more aimed at contemporaries. Where are the romance heroines fighting for tenure, balancing writing their dissertation with the demands of their billionaire lover, having to skip an anniversary dinner because of a conference? If there are women academics in romance novels, how often do we actually see them do anything, well, academic?

I mentioned on Twitter that I was writing this post, and promptly got some suggestions!

Victoria Dahl’s upcoming novel, Bad Boys Do, features a heroine who’s an instructor at a university, which means no job security–a great touch of realism!

The heroine in Erin McCarthy’s Hard and Fast is working on a Master’s degree in sociology.

The heroine of Judith Ivory’s The Proposition is a linguist, but isn’t shown to be associated with any particular university; she might be considered more in the “bluestocking” category.

I would be grateful for any further recommendations.

About Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen [she, her] currently writes cozy space opera for Kalikoi. The novella series A Place of Refuge begins with Finding Refuge: Telepathic warrior Talia Avi, genius engineer Miki Boudreaux, and augmented soldier Faigin Balfour fought the fascist Federated Colonies for ten years, following the charismatic dissenter Jon Churchill. Then Jon disappeared, Talia was thought dead, and Miki and Faigin struggled to take Jon’s place and stay alive. When the FC is unexpectedly upended, Talia is reunited with her friends and they are given sanctuary on the enigmatic planet Refuge. The trio of former guerillas strive to recover from lifetimes of trauma, build new lives on a planet with endless horizons, and forge tender new connections with each other.
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2 Responses to Academic Heroines

  1. Megan says:

    “Tolstoy Lied,” by Rachel Kadish, features a protagonist fighting for tenure as she works through a tempestuous relationship. Very good book. One of the most invisibly-written present-tense novels I’ve ever read; as in, I forgot that it was in present tense while reading, whereas with most things it always jars me a little.

  2. That sounds really interesting, thank you!

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