Plot Wounds Only

By Laura Vivanco on

Over on Twitter an account which regularly posts about Georgette Heyer noted the existence of a romance convention I haven't seen mentioned all that often:

"When shooting a hero in a novel, please always aim for the left shoulder, and do not allow the bullet to touch any vital spot therein."

— Georgette Heyer (@georgettedaily) April 11, 2021

It's a convention which is alluded to and critiqued in Eve Pendle's Falling For a Rake (2019) in which [SPOILER ALERT - so I'll put in a long break below]




the heroine recalls how she shot her fiancé when he wanted to break off their engagement:

"[...] I hit him exactly where I intended. In the upper arm, just a graze really. We walked back and he didn't seem too bad. A little faint. He embraced me before he rode home. [...] He wasn't supposed to die. I never thought he would."

"What happened?"

"I didn't see him for days afterward. By then his arm was infected. Her voice wobbled. "I just wanted to teach him a lesson. To make him pay for what he did to me. I was so incensed, so hurt. And...[...] I was a selfish little girl. He was happy without me, and I wanted him to be miserable. [...] But the funny thing is, everyone thinks Lady Vidal is a heroine. Lady Dain is a heroine. Miss Jane Fitzsimmons is a heroine. Why?" Emily shook her head thoughtfully. "They punished a man who did them wrong, by shooting him. Their men recovered, realized the error of their ways, and joyfully married them. It never gets infected in novels."

She named women who had been scorned or threatened and had retaliated. It must have seemed quite reasonable to Emily at the time. "It's difficult to accept you might not be the hero of your story."

These are novels written long after the period in which this novel is set: they're deliberate anachronisms which prompt thought about current romance conventions.

Lady Vidal is the married name of the heroine of Georgette Heyer's Devil's Cub (1932), Lady Dain is the married name of the heroine of Loretta Chase's Lord of Scoundrels (1995). I'm not sure about Miss Jane Fitzimmons, but I think she might be the heroine of Once Upon a Scandal (2015) by Julie LeMense.


Pendle, Eve, 2019. Falling For a Rake. Selfpublished.

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