There’s a commonly accepted theory among both readers and writers that every book (and specifically in romance novels, possibly every heroine) has a piece of the author in them. If we understand this theory to be true, then it would appear that the heroine of my upcoming book, Romancing the Countess, is somewhat similar to me.
We’ll soon answer the question of who Leah George is, but to better understand her character, let me briefly tell you about the book Leah is in.
In Romancing the Countess, Leah George and Sebastian Madinger, the Earl of Wriothesly, are acquaintances at the beginning. Actually, they are a little more than acquaintances, simply for the fact that Leah’s husband is Sebastian’s best friend. However, when both Leah’s husband and Sebastian’s wife die in a carriage accident at the beginning of the book, Sebastian discovers that they were having an affair and determines to keep it a secret from the rest of the world. The only other person who knows of the affair is Leah, and she informs him that she’s known for a year.
They both loved their spouses, but whereas Sebastian feels the immediate sense of grief and betrayal because he just discovered the truth, Leah has had an entire year to process her anger. And while she does grieve a little, she also feels a great sense of relief at being able to move on, especially when she’d thought she would have to live the rest of her life hiding the secret of her husband’s affair. The love story begins between Leah and Sebastian when Sebastian tries to keep the affair a secret even after their deaths, and Leah’s actions to make herself happy for once risk this plan.
Going back to the question, then: Who is Leah George? She’s a woman who, after finding out about her husband’s affair, decided to keep secret about it. She didn’t confront him, and she didn’t ask him to stop because she could tell that he loved Sebastian’s wife and doubted he would have stopped regardless. Instead, she made a bargain with him, one that while he lived tore her soul apart.
Now I’ve never been in any of Leah’s circumstances, but I have faced situations where others would find it easy to be hopeless. And if pieces of the author portray themselves in the heroine, then I suppose I am like Leah in that I would prefer to suffer alone than let the entire world know of my shame and embarrassment. There are some women who go on rants to everyone about those who wronged them so they can show that they won’t be the victim—I’m not one of those women. I want people to think I’m strong, even when I’m at my weakest. I don’t want them to know everything about me and my private life. This is who Leah is, too, and this part of her personality drove her motivation and her actions while her husband was alive.
However, after her husband died, Leah began her transformation. Suddenly she realized that she was not only free of the bargain she had made with her husband, but she could also be free of complying with Society’s expectations that she be a proper, obedient wife. No longer did she care what others thought of her—finally, for herself, she wanted to seek her own happiness. Even if that happiness came with consequences.
I am also similar to Leah in this regard. Although I can keep to myself about things that are bothering me, I will try to find a way to be happy. I’m an optimist; there’s something in me that refuses to accept that a current situation will make me miserable for the foreseeable future. No matter the difficulty or that other people might just accept something as their fate, I will try to change my circumstances so I can be happy again. I respect myself too much.
But underlying both of these similarities, there’s something more in Leah with which I can identify the most.
Above all, the answer to the question of who is Leah George is this: she is a woman of strength. It takes strength to know the husband who you loved decided to betray you with another, and more strength to continue on, showing a brave face to the world as if nothing’s wrong. It takes strength after he dies to do what’s best for you instead of leaning on others and their opinions of what is right and what is wrong. As women we could all learn from Leah about this—about making our happiness a priority. And finally, it takes strength to choose to love again, after you’ve been hurt and your heart has been broken and you don’t know if you even want to trust another person again.
Who is Leah George? She is vulnerable, yes. She is hurt, yes. But like every romance heroine that I as a writer want to write and I as a reader want to read, she is strong. And if you get the chance to read Romancing the Countess when it comes out on September 6th, I hope that, as I did, you will find yourself cheering her on to find a new happiness, too.
I’d love to hear with what characteristic of heroines you most identify yourself, too! Is it strength? Cunning? Bravery? Something else? What, to you, is the most important trait a heroine should have?
One random commenter will be chosen to win a copy of my newest book, ROMANCING THE COUNTESS, and will get a chance to send a copy of my debut, SEDUCING THE DUCHESS, to a friend (open internationally)! Also, find out how to win the ROMANCING THE COUNTESS Book Tour Grand Prize of 50+ romance novels by visiting www.ashleymarch.com!