|If she's the heroine, I need to want to be her. Not dread seeing her coming.|
I like it best when I identify with her so closely that I sort of step into her skin and live the story with her. If I'm going to fall in love with the hero, I need to "be" the heroine in a sense, and it breaks me out of my little fantasy world if she's not someone I can identify with or like.
Again, I have to bring up Karen Marie Moning's Kiss of the Highlander as a great example of a likable heroine. You feel you could be best buds with Gwen, that if she lived in your apartment building or worked with you at the office you'd totally hang out with her.
Likable heroines have real problems and issues, and they don't see themselves as picture-perfect beauty queens. They have some doubts and insecurities, without being a complete neurotic about it, but in a "hey, I'm pretty normal like you" kind of way.
I also love heroines that drool over the hero right along with you, that aren't immune to his manly charms. I like it when she feels excited about getting his attention, because that's how I would feel.
And, I love heroines that fight for the right causes, show some intelligence, some courage, and some ambition.
And last, this might be just my little quirk, but I don't want her beauty to be over-the-top-perfect or constantly described in detail. Just enough to give me her general picture, and she'd better not be a world-famous super model. I want the hero's gorgeous looks to be up front and center and described down to the last tidbit, but not hers. I want to know he's attracted to her, and he can certainly think about some details of her beauty...but I don't want to constantly hear about it like I do the man's. But maybe that's just me.
So what about you? What's YOUR ideal heroine?