Guest Ashley March & Giveaway

Today I have the honor of Ahsley March stopping by today.  Below you will find her guest post, a surprise giveaway & at the end my review of Romancing the Countess.

The Appeal of the Independent Heroine


Thanks so much to Babs for having me on the blog today as I continue the celebration of my latest release, ROMANCING THE COUNTESS!

Just as readers are often drawn to certain types of characters, writers are often drawn to writing certain types of characters as well. For me, I have a tendency to write about independent heroines. This term independent does not refer to the heroine’s status in life—someone who is financially secure and depends on no one but herself—but rather to the heroine’s attitude and underlying strength.

In my newest book, Leah George has been keeping the secret of her husband’s affair for nearly a year. When he dies, she discovers that she is free to pursue her own happiness if only she makes that decision and is willing to live with the consequences. ROMANCING THE COUNTESS is not a story about how an independent woman moves on after her husband’s death; rather, it is about how a woman discovers her own strength and chooses to become independent as she finds a second chance at love. It is a story of self-awareness and realization, of weighing choices and taking risks.

As we all know, women in the 19th century did not have the same privileges and rights that most of us do now. There is something immensely satisfying and empowering in seeing our heroine refuse to conform to society—or, if she does, doing it in a manner where she stills gets her way in the end. There is a strength in the independent heroine that makes us want to cheer her on. We want her to be happy. We want to see her dreams come true, and we want to see her work to make these dreams come true, too. Yes, her actions might result in consequences not necessarily wonderful (as Leah found in ROMANCING THE COUNTESS), but at least they were strong enough to take that path.

However, the strong, independent heroine only remains appealing when we see her vulnerability. If all we saw in our heroine was that she remained stubborn and strong no matter what, I think we’d quickly grow annoyed with her. But when we learn of her vulnerabilities—such as Leah’s desire for a child, or her self-esteem that has been wrecked by comparing herself to her husband’s lover—then we begin to care about her more deeply. She becomes real, because we see not only her strength, but her heart as well.

It is a heroine such as this that deserves the wonderful hero that has also stolen our hearts.

 Giveaway:  Ends 10-24

What is it about a strong, independent heroine that appeals to you as a romance reader? Is there an actual woman, either in the past or present, who gained your admiration? If so, why?


One random commenter will be chosen to win a copy of my newest book, ROMANCING THE COUNTESS (open internationally)! Also, find out how to win the ROMANCING THE COUNTESS Book Tour Grand Prize of 50+ romance novels by visiting  Ashley March Website!  

My review:

Leah George was always the proper daughter and wife.  She tried to make everyone happy that is until she saw her husband being unfaithful.  Again, she does what a proper woman does, sucks it up and pretends all is right in their marriage until the day he dies.  Leah feels relief and free at the same time.  Now she can do what she wants to do and say what she wants something she is not used to.

Sebastian just lost is wife in a carriage accident while grieving realizes she took his best friend for her lover.  Heartbroken over losing her and now finding out she was unfaithful he was in morning.

Sebastian and Leah have known each other for a long time.  They can relate to each other as both spouses have cheated on them.  As they grow towards loving each other it was remarkable to see how they grew into a real lasting relationship.  They do have their ups and down like we all do.

Ashley has done a great job with this book.  I have not read her fist one “Seducing the Duchess” , but I have it down to read.  This is an author worth looking into.


  • Karen H in NC

    Finally, RtC has worked it’s way to the top of my TBR mountain range. I started reading it last night. Only a couple of chapters into it and I’m loving it so far!

    IMO, strong heroines are timeless. They could be time shifted forward or backward and still remain strong, overcoming whatever obstacles fall in their paths. Personally, I really can’t stand a wimpy woman, in fiction or real life. I’d like to slap them upside the head and tell them ‘That’s life, deal with it!’.

    • Ashley March

      Hi Karen! Woohoo! So glad to hear it. Keeping my fingers crossed for the rest of the book. 😉 Lol. I love your comment about slapping them upside the head. I think I feel the same way about wimpy guys, too. Oh, but I could get up on my soapbox about that. =)

  • May Pau

    I guess I always admire the courage and the strength of an independent heroine…. I love seeing how she grows throughout the novel or make difficult and courageous choices.

    As for real-life woman who gained my admiration, I would say my mother. I don’t always feel this way until I am an adult myself and realize how much difficulties she went through raising 3 kids. My mother is definitely not perfect but she did the best that she could and she has always tried her best raising us. I admire her for that.

    • Ashley March

      Hi May! I know not everyone really liked Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind, but I think this is one of her characteristics–probably the main one, actually–that really made me love her as a heroine. Sure, she wasn’t always the nicest person, and there were plenty of times she was selfish…but she didn’t give up and she didn’t back down. She had grit. =) I’m so glad to hear I’m not the only one who would put my mom at the top of this list. =) Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Bronwen Evans

    I loved Seducing the Duchess and I’d love to win a copy of this book too! I think independent heroines earn our admiration because in the 1800’s independence was hard to achieve for any woman. It took strength and determination and most of all BRAINS. That’s what I love to see. A woman who can take on the establishment and win on her terms.

    Queen Victoria has my admiration because she came to the the throne very young with her mother and others plotting to use her. Yet she managed to become a great ruler.

    • Ashley March

      Hi Brownyn! Oh, I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed SD! =D I couldn’t agree more about intelligence and strength going together. Speaking of queens, one of my favorites of all time is Queen Elizabeth I. Talk about a woman with a spine! It’s women like these that inspire me to continue writing strong fictional heroines–we have such great historical figures to draw upon. =)

  • Desere

    I strong independant herione that can stand her ground is a powerfull and important part of a book to me I love to see a woman that will not simply back down because she needs to face a difficult situation or a man that stands in her way of getting what she wants.

    She will fight till the very end no matter what life throws her way ! In real life a this woman is my mom she is a fighter and a go getter and has taught me to not give up in certain situations no matter how hopeless it might seem.

    Thanks so much for the chance to win your book it sounds lovely !


    • Ashley March

      Hi Desere! Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment! =) I like what you said about a woman not backing down. Although I think there are times when it’s necessary to back down in certain circumstances, I think the strong, independent heroine would still work toward what is needed. And cheers to your mom!! –she sounds wonderful. =)

      • Desere

        Your most welcome Ashley and thanks for your nice comment about my mom ! And I see if from your side as well now I agree there are times when the heroine would need to back down but still get to what is needed very nice point that you made !
        Thanks again so much for the chance to win !

  • Anna

    These blogs are the worst! I find all these authors I simply must read. This looks really good. I think the independent heroine is appealing because of their strength and determination. If you’re independent in a historical setting, for the most part you’re going against the grain. That takes some extra special spark. Plus, you can get yourself into all sorts of scrapes that someone who tows the line wouldn’t (= boring!).

    Can’t wait to read the book.

    • Ashley March

      Hi Anna! =D I will try not to write any blog posts in the future that will jeopardize your bank account and TBR pile. 😉 I’m so glad you liked it! And if you ever do get a chance to read ROMANCING THE COUNTESS, I hope you enjoy it! This is a great point about the independent heroine–she’s never boring because she creates conflict wherever she goes. This is a great characterization insight. =) Thanks for visiting with me today!

  • LSUReader

    My maternal grandmother was a wonderful role model of the strong, capable, intelligent and independent woman. She passed all those great traits down to my mother. Both of them had plenty of disappointments and difficulties. But they never let those things get them down. They adapted and moved on and seemed to be able to handle anything. And they always exhibited such an enjoyment of life. I know I’m lucky to have them in my family tree.

    Thanks for another good column and giveaway.

    • Ashley March

      Hi LSUReader! They sound like wonderful women. =) You also made me think of two other important qualities to a strong, independent woman: they are adaptable and they continue with a positive attitude (enjoyment of life) no matter what they struggle with. Thank you so much for your thoughtful answer! =)

  • Sue Pengelly Peterson

    Ashley March is one of my new favorite authors. Waiting patiently to get my hands on this book. As far as a strong, independent heroine, would an alpha hero like a milquetoast for a lifelong companion and love. I don’t think so. The strongest woman I know – my grandmother, who raised three kids alone. My grandfather died when my mom was 3. She even took them on a trip out West, back when the roads were still gravel, (no super highways at all), all by herself. She lived to be 101. Still miss her.

    • Ashley March

      Hi Sue! Thank you so much for your wonderful words. I hope you love ROMANCING THE COUNTESS when you get a chance to read it. =) This is a great point about a strong, independent heroine–she needs someone who won’t let her walk over him, someone who can challenge her throughout their lives. Your grandmother sounds like an amazing woman. =) I can’t imagine even taking 2 kids out West like that. From someone who’s lost someone close to me as well, I’m sending you big *hugs*.

  • Na S.

    I am definitely in agreement with you here, it’s all about the attitude and that is what appeals to me most in a strong and independent character. No one is perfect or not subjected t otough situations but their attitude -a positive one will give help them overcome obstacles and help readers identify with their plight.

    • Ashley March

      Hi Na! I’ve just started Meredith Duran’s A LADY’S LESSON IN SCANDAL recently, and although it’s pretty dark at the beginning and she is angry, her attitude is not one that drives me away. I want to cheer her on, knowing that she’s a survivor. Even though she’s desperate and angry, she is written in such a way in that she is still likeable. Yes, authors do tread a fine line with such a character, but I love these heroines, too–I’ll forgive almost anything for an interesting character who wins me over in the end. =)

  • Rhonda

    An Independent woman means she’s not gonna let a man dictate, her needs or wants. She will determine her path in life and not follow what society or others think. I read Romancing a Countess and Leah was tired of living a lie and be damn the consequences.

    • Ashley March

      Hi Rhonda! Thank you for reading ROMANCING THE COUNTESS! I think Leah deserved to do what she wanted after everything she went through, lol. I agree with you wholeheartedly about the way you described an independent woman. There’s a vast difference between making sacrifices for others and giving up your dreams and desires. A smart (strong) woman knows which is which and continues living with hope.

  • Melanie Friedman

    First, AWESOME post. Love the topic 🙂
    Congrats on the book, and I’ve read it and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!

    I agree with you in regards to the description of the independent heroine. It’s the strength of character that those chicks have and how they SEE themselves that appeals to me.

    In the actual woman department, the first woman that comes to mind is my best friend Zora. She is her own woman, yet to see her with her family and her husband (they’ve been married over 20 yrs now) I never fail to be in awe of her. She loves them all, now she’s got three grandkids too, but I always see her as a strong, independent person with strong convictions and a purpose to everything she does. I have yet to find out if there’s anything she can’t do! She loves life! She enjoys life…


    • Ashley March

      Hi Melanie! =) Thanks so much for your comment, and I’m so glad you loved ROMANCING THE COUNTESS. =D Two things in your comment really impressed me: the way that strong heroines see themselves (even though Leah’s self esteem was rocked, she never pitied herself); and, with the example of your friend Zora, the fact that a woman who is independent SHINES when she is loving and is loved by others. Thanks for these reminders. =)

      • Melanie Friedman

        Thanks. Speaking of Leah. I always took her for strong. Here’s a woman that was fully aware of her husbands infidelity for a FULL year, and she put on her ‘pants one leg at a time’ if you will, held her head high and her pain to herself. That takes GUTS! Not to mention STAMINA, Day in and day out…WOW! I can tell you right now, I couldn’t have done it. Period!

        • Ashley March

          You know, I think some readers might think of it as weak, and in some ways it is, but in other ways I completely agree with you. She did what had to be done; she made that bargain for herself and for nobody else.

  • Sheila Mulholland

    Looking forward to reading this.

    I never really realized it before, but my granny was a strong independant woman. Widowed suddenly in 1923 in Scotland, with 3 children, my mother the oldest at 13, and suddenly very poor, she sold what they had and emigrated to Canada where she had a cousin. She took in washing and my mother had to quit school and get a job cleaning. That took guts, leaving everything and going to another country across the ocean.

    • Ashley March

      Hi Sheila! Thanks for visiting with me today! =) She sounds like an AMAZINGLY strong, independent woman. Even having a cousin in Canada, moving children away from the life they know and going to a new country and a new culture just seems beyond courageous. It sounds like your mom was pretty strong, too =)

  • eli yanti

    i’m still reading gayle callen’s book – in pursuit of a scandal lady, even haven’t finish yet, but i think the lady rebecca is the strong heroine.

    the actual woman who gained admiration me is my mom, my father has died when we are child and only my mom who’s take care of us (her 5 childs) and hard work to raise, educate us and etc, i love my mom =D

    love to win your book Ashley

    thanks for the giveaway

    • Ashley March

      Hi Eli! Thanks so much for your comment! =) Oh, I’ll have to look up this book. I met Gayle Callen at RWA this summer, and she seemed so very, very nice. Amazing how just an author’s personality can make you inclined to want to buy their books. =) I’m so sorry to hear about your dad, Eli. =( But I’m so very glad to hear that your mom is such a wonderful woman! She sounds truly amazing–especially with 5 (!!!) kids! =) Good luck with the giveaway!

  • Diane Sallans

    I think a strong, independent heroine appeals to me because that’s the way I would like to be.
    sallans d at yahoo dot com

    • Ashley March

      Hi Diane! Great response. =) I would also like to think that I have those attributes all the time, but it’s hard. Reading about strong heroines like this gives me hope to become better myself. =)

  • Lora Patten

    Strong, independent heroines appeal to me, especially in 19th century or earlier settings, because women in those days were brought up to be meek, mild, and subservient to the men in her life and any woman who went against the grain to assert herself deserves respect. I am a huge admirer of women like Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Jane Austen, and Maya Angelou because even though they may not have been overtly assertive in their quest to change the world they live in, they have each made significant impact in the world as we now know it.

    • Ashley March

      Hi Lora! This is such a wonderful comment–thank you! In some ways when we think of independent heroines, I think the focus is on the women who are loud and make their voices known. And the world–both in real life and in fiction–needs that type of woman. But we also need those who are quieter, but who still are able to stand strong and make a difference. I would love to write about such a heroine, too. =)

    • Ashley March

      Hi newan! Thanks so much for visiting with me today! =) This is a great point–I know a lot of women who depend on others to make decisions because they don’t want to be at fault if something goes wrong. Or because they don’t know what they want, which might be even worse. And I agree–Mother Theresa was one of the strongest women I can think of ever having lived.

  • Babs

    Thank you for the great turn out everyone. I loved reading all the answers. The support for Ashley has been wonderful. Good luck everyone and I appreciate you all coming by the blog today.

    My Great Grandmother would be my tough woman :). She had a little brother John Ruben who had a disease and passed at 12. He was her life and she made sure we all knew about him and how they treated their slaves like family. She was strong to have 5 children and my great grandfather passed the day after I was born. She took care of my mom after her mom passed away when mom was 18. She lived a long life and took care of us all.

    • Ashley March

      Hi Babs! Thank you so much for hosting me today. =) I’ve loved reading all the comments, and am thrilled to see that this post resonated so much with others. Your great-grandmother sounds like one rocking lady. =) Too many times I think we tend to think of independent as almost synonymous with “selfish”, and I think in actuality we should think of it as being closer to “loving”. Thank you for sharing. =)

  • Kaetrin

    I love a strong, independent woman. I always admired Eleanor of Aquitaine – for her time she was a very powerful woman and hers and Henry’s story is romance novel worthy!

    hankts AT internode DOT on DOT net

  • ClaudiaGC

    I love to read about strong independent heroines especially in historicals because it’s so much harder to portray them without making them look bitchy or cold.
    Thank you for the post and giveaway!

  • Rita de Canha

    LOL I think its a control issue but I do enjoy reading this type of women then say one that does not have a backbone! It is very inspiring and guess that is the reason I love reading about strong independent women, they know who they are and want they want and then take action.

    Rita from South Africa
    bitemeash (at) gmail (dot) com

  • winnie

    This is a great post to read and I definitely agree with you Ashley about the strong, independent heroines. I personally really like reading about these types of heroines because they are not afraid to take matters into their own hands and do get in on all the action along with their heroes. As you also mentioned, a reason why these types of heroines are appealing to us is because we also see their vulnerabilities. Not only does this allow us to more easily relate to the character, but we would also begin to really care about the character and would root for her to overcome obstacles and to ultimately find her HEA as well. 🙂


  • Rebecca

    I really enjoyed this post, and I agree with you and the other commenters about liking strong, independent heroines. I think in our society women have to be strong. We have it better than women of the 19th century, but at the same time we’re expected to be everything to everyone. That’s one reason it’s nice to read about a heroine who literally has to overcome her situation and society in order to succeed. Gotta root for a gal like that!