I first started reading romance novels almost 20 years ago; around age twelve. I used to hide raunchy paperbacks or harlequin novels under my mattress like a boy hides dirty magazines. (Mom, if you're reading this, I'm sorry.)
I loved the stories but I hated the weak heroines. The female main characters always seemed to be weak. indecisive, and had low self-esteem. The men, on the other hand, were almost obnoxiously arrogant, decisive, and commanding. I remember getting so annoyed with the female characters, I would lie awake at night (or sit in church) and re-create the novel with my own leading lady.
Women like strong men; power is attractive. That might account for some of the success of 50 Shades of Grey - in a society that seems to encourage feminine traits in men (like sensitivity, understanding, and the love of selfies) powerful, decisive men are a breathe of fresh air.
That does not, however, mean a woman needs to be subjugated (or submissive) to complement a male character's strength. I love the current trend of strong women heroines. A knight in shining armor is still a requirement for the leading man, but the leading woman shouldn't be stuck in the tower. Rather, we'd like to see her fighting alongside him, sword in hand, hair artfully mussed.
The new romance novel has strong women and powerful men who coexist beautifully. That is the concept around which I crafted my main characters, Aerina and Marcus.
When I crafted my main characters, I made sure both had strengths and weaknesses. At the same time, they are both characters a reader might want to be, or might want to fall in love with. A strong, courageous woman and a powerful, trustworthy man. What more could a girl want?
What are some of your favorite main characters? What traits did you love about them?