9 Badass Heroine Series Starters

If you drew up a list of what makes a heroine truly badass, could you define it strictly in bullet points?

Or would it be some kind of sloppy nonsense? Would you say “oh it’s just some kind of je ne sais quois?

Authors who write characters like that tend to work hard to balance strengths and flaws in their heroes. Believe it or not. Undoubtedly there are authors who have no trouble simply creating a character that’s going to be amazing without even thinking twice, while others labor over the traits that will make their character likable, real, admirable, and yet tough and strong all at the same time.

In a world of Instagram influencers and what appears to be absolute perfection at first glance, one thing that always gets to me is how it’s the imperfect that creates interesting people. Perfection is daunting and unapproachable. There’s nothing there to grab hold of and fall in love with. It’s cold, unsympathetic, and unfriendly.

The struggles in life create wrinkles and scars—they show how a person overcame something in the past and likely developed strength from an obstacle. A face with crow’s feet, a slightly crooked nose from a fight as a kid, a tiny blemish from a skateboarding accident on a person’s chin—all those things create a story in a face, in the eyes.

Like that freaking awesome song by Survivor, “I Can’t Hold Back.” And I can’t. I’m smitten, immediately, by stories in other people.

Anyway, look, I know it’s a stretch. But great songs deserve to be dropped anywhere they can be.

So, in my spare time, ha, I put together a list from trustworthy authors who’ve created tough female protagonists. These ladies kick some kind of ass, while also keeping that certain something which makes them approachable and gorgeous in that specific way we love as readers. There’s nothing like getting to know a character from the inside out that’s so unique to reading.

There’s enough here that if you’ve checked out some of these books, try one of the others! I pulled the blurbs from each book’s Amazon description. Click the cover to go to the Amazon store!

Click to see the sales page on Amazon.

They thought they could destroy House Sinister for good, but they weren’t expecting Evangeline…

Evangeline was living a great life in the Badlands as a Guard at House Sinister, but her world is shattered when three rival Houses attack. She’s forced to watch as her mentor and father figure is slaughtered.

His dying command: The House must survive at all costs.

She escapes to the upperworld, landing her in the middle of Los Angeles, where she possesses the body of a wealthy philanthropist.

Nice.

Too bad she catches the eye of the Black Ops Paranormal Police Department. In exchange for keeping her identity a secret, she agrees to work for the undercover organization.

Lovely.

There are killers hunting for her, and the PPD is putting her life on the line daily, but rage is on her side. All she has to do is survive one year and then she can bring honor back to House Sinister. Besides, it’ll give her the chance to kill a handful of the vicious bastards, and that’s a perk she’ll gladly embrace.

When that year is up, though, Evangeline will return to the Badlands with her two best friends: Pain and Death.

Click to see the sales page on Amazon.

Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up magical problems. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta’s magic circles. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she’s way our of her league—but she wouldn’t want it any other way…

Click to see the sales page on Amazon.

Don’t kidnap a weretiger unless you’re ready to have your ass kicked…

Bethany Black is a rookie cop in the New York Paranormal Police Department (PPD). She’s fast as hell, tougher than nails, and she’s got no problem with blowing up stuff.

She also turns into a ferocious tiger when she gets sufficiently pissed off.

New York City is where the supernatural mob snagged its foothold back in the day. Goblins had poured in from the Netherworld and taught locals how to properly manage the criminal climate. They sold protection, rattled cages, and raked their fingers across the back of honest society.

It took years and tons of Paranormal Police Department officers to gain back control.

But now the city is on the brink of falling apart.

The PPD lost half its uniformed cops during an all-out war with a nasty mage, and the latest mob boss is looking to capitalize.

Translation: Blood, blood, and a bit more blood.

Too bad the mafia decided to kidnap Bethany’s best friend. He’s only one of two remaining weretigers in existence. She’s the other.

Remember what happens when Bethany gets pissed off?

Yeah, well, she’s seriously pissed off…

Click to see the sales page on Amazon.

If there’s one thing I hate more than anything, it’s the undead.

So, just my luck that I’ve got a ghost living rent-free inside my head…

When I was just a kid, my parents were sacrificed by a necromancer. I survived. Barely.

But, the ordeal left me hating two things – necromancers and the undead they bring into the world.

Fast forward years later and I’ve been possessed by a ghost! But, Treth of Concord isn’t just any ordinary ghost. He’s proud, chivalrous and a knight from another world.

Now, with his counsel and some cheap swords I bought on the internet, I hunt the undead of Hope City. For honour, for vengeance, and maybe just a hefty bounty.

My name is Kat Drummond, and I’m a Part-Time Monster Hunter.

Click to see the sales page on Amazon.

I’m Val Thorvald, and I’m an assassin.

When magical bad guys hurt people, I take care of them. Permanently.

This doesn’t make me popular with the rest of the magical community—as you can tell from the numerous break-ins and assassination attempts I’ve endured over the years. But thanks to my half-elven blood, a powerful sword named Chopper, and a telepathic tiger with an attitude, I’ve always been able to handle my problems with aplomb. Maybe some cursing and swearing, too, but definitely aplomb.

That changes when my boss is afflicted with a mysterious disease, a government agent starts investigating me, and a godforsaken dragon shows up in the middle of my latest job.

I’ve taken down vampires, zombies, and ogres, but dragons are way, way more powerful. And it doesn’t look like this one is going to like me.

Worse than that, he wants to use his magic to compel me to do his bidding, as if I’m some weak-minded minion.

That’s not going to happen. I’d die before being some dragon’s slave.

But if I can’t figure out a way to avoid him, save my boss, and get rid of the government spook, I’m screwed. Or dead. Or screwed and dead. And that’s never comfortable.

Click to see the sales page on Amazon.

When my magic manifested at puberty, my parents sold me to the Illuminati. The Order of the Illuminati trained me as an assassin, spy, and thief. But when they sent me to steal a magical artifact that reveals Truth in all things, I discovered that I was working for the Dark and not the Light. The Illuminati trained me well, and paid the ultimate price for their deception.

Thousands of miles away, I landed a job in a quirky little bar. But the scattered remnants of the Order still strive for world domination, and no one leaves the Illuminati alive.

Click to see the sales page on Amazon.

Mercy Thompson is a shapeshifter, and while she was raised by werewolves, she can never be one of them, especially after the pack ran her off for having a forbidden love affair. So she’s turned her talent for fixing cars into a business and now runs a one-woman mechanic shop in the Tri-Cities area of Washington State.

But Mercy’s two worlds are colliding. A half-starved teenage boy arrives at her shop looking for work, only to reveal that he’s a newly changed werewolf—on the run and desperately trying to control his animal instincts. Mercy asks her neighbor Adam Hauptman, the Alpha of the local werewolf pack, for assistance. 

But Mercy’s act of kindness has unexpected consequences that leave her no choice but to seek help from those she once considered family—the werewolves who abandoned her…

Click to see the sales page on Amazon.

Cold-blooded kidnappers. Long-lost magic. When things get serious, she goes full Sherlock.

Ashira Cohen takes pride in being the only female private investigator in Vancouver. With her skills, her missing persons case should be a piece of cake.

She wasn’t counting on getting bashed in the skull, revealing a hidden tattoo and supernatural powers she shouldn’t possess.

Or the bitter icing on top: a spree of abductions and terrifying ghostly creatures on a deadly bender.

And don’t even get her started on the golems.

Reluctantly partnered with her long-time nemesis Levi, the infuriating leader of the magic community, Ash resolves to keep her focus on the clue trail and off their sexual tension because WTF is up with that?

But with a mastermind organization pulling strings from the shadows and Levi’s arrogance driving her to pick out his body bag, can Ash rescue the captives and uncover the truth or will the next blood spilled be her own?

Click to see the sales page on Amazon.

How tacky, that I put my own book in here! Who does that?!

It’s because I really felt that space opera needed representation in this list…

Cue the blurb. 

She just got out of prison…but that doesn’t mean she’s free.

The City of Jade Spires might look utopian, but it’s certainly no paradise. Just ask Holly Drake, a schoolteacher in prison for killing her husband.

Serving an unfair sentence sucks, but at least she’s safe. That is, until someone exonerates her and she walks free. She has no idea who’d do this for her, until they reveal their hand: they have a job for Holly.

Recognizing her old life is over, she has no other choice. If only she knew how to steal a priceless jewel about to be moved off-planet. But as the screws tighten on her need for cash she remembers just who to ask.

With only days to assemble her crew, she races to stay ahead. The question is: how far across the 6 Moons system will they have to go, and how deep will they have to dig into the underbelly of their world to succeed?

More importantly, can they even pull this off before time runs out?

I just looked through these titles again and they’re almost all urban fantasy. Welp. What are you going to do? The ladies rule in UF. 

But, just to twist things up a bit, next week I’ll highlight the genre-bending male leads in urban fantasy! It’ll be epic! 

My website is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to products on amazon.com. The amount I earn from your purchases is fractions of pennies. I mainly do this for fun and to support my fellow authors!

These 5 Space Opera Heroes Deserve Your Love

Space opera with badass female leads never gets enough love. Well, maybe what I should say is that it needs more love from me.

So I wanted to highlight a selection of books from authors who’ve done female protagonists who really own it as leaders. 

The sole exception to the female lead thing is Empire Reborn, which features a male lead, but I wanted to include the book here, because as of now, it’s a new release, and I know AK Duboff’s books are excellent. 

Everything on this list is well-reviewed, so at the very least, it’d be a great idea to download the sample and see how you like it, then buy the whole book when you’re hooked and feel like the premise will deliver! 

Oh, and don’t forget to enter my giveaway! Go here to enter!

Karin Makos lives a lie. Genetically engineered from birth and raised in a scientific compound to gain unnatural powers, she has since escaped and built another life, hidden from those who created her. For her, the chance to pilot a small-time scrounging vessel to remote corners of space is the dream. After years on the run with her sister and enduring the constant paranoia of living planet-side, going off-radar gives her exactly what she wants: freedom.

That dream is shattered.

A system-wide attack decimates humanity and leaves the survivors scraping for clues. And Karin might know where to look.

But digging into her past comes with a whole new set of secrets and consequences, none of which she wants to face. Plagued by strange dreams of her sister and a sense of growing danger, Karin and the crew of the Nemina must race desperately across space to find their loved ones—and answers.

Jason Sietinen lives in the shadow of greatness. He’s worked hard to become a TSS officer in his own right, but having war heroes for parents is hard to top.

When Jason is assigned to investigate a mysterious attack, he finds evidence of powerful transdimensional beings never before seen. Or so he thought.

Jason soon learns that critical information was lost through the millennia: Tarans had an ancient treaty with the aliens. Unfortunately, rogue actions by a shadow faction within the Empire just broke the peace.

Rudely yanked from cryo-sleep to find herself among a crew of modded humans in deep space, and on a burning spaceship, no less, Daisy’s world just got a whole lot more complicated. And it was only going to get worse.

As if the creepy cyborg and the mechanically-enhanced human crew weren’t bad enough, what was supposed to be a simple flight home to Earth was going horribly wrong. A deadly plot was unfolding. One that could jeopardize the entire human race. And Daisy found herself stuck in the middle

It wasn’t her job, saving the world, and she sure as hell didn’t want it. But the tough young woman didn’t have a choice. But with Daisy reluctantly coming to the rescue, did humanity even stand a chance?

After a soldier is left for dead, Eva Delgado’s life begins to unravel.

The truth of what happened remains a mystery, and the government will stop at nothing to keep it buried.

Together with the unit’s medic, Eva finds herself branded a terrorist and enemy of the State, hunted by two opposing governments.

When the pair uncover a plot that could have ramifications for the whole galaxy, they know they have to act, but it will take all of their training, cunning and just a bit of luck to do what no one else has achieved.

But what do you do when every secret begets another? And how far will you go to find the answers?

On a lost world, far removed from Earth, a group of humans struggle to survive.

Two thousand years after their ancestors lost control of a hidden genetics research facility, the descendants of mankind have been reduced to a tribe of two hundred survivors. They fight, kill, and die in an endless cycle, all in the hope that things will get better.

Lucia is one of these colonists and the daughter of the tribe’s leader, the Director. Together with several other candidates, she must soon undergo a trial to decide her father’s replacement. The winner will shape the future of the entire colony.

She will need to survive monsters while searching darkened tunnels for Cores to win, but making through each day is hard enough. 

Forget winning the trial. The real challenge is staying alive.

Sera leads a simple life.

A little smuggling, some drinking contests, and captaining her star freighter, Sabrina. But when she picks up a mysterious shipping container on Coburn Station, things begin to go wrong. She finds herself at odds with The Mark, a dangerous pirate organization that wants the cargo on her ship.

Inside the container she not only finds a woman, but a secret thought lost millennia ago. The woman is Tanis Richards, and she knows the location of the Intrepid, a missing colony ship from humanity’s golden age.

Sera knows how to help Tanis and the Intrepid. But to do that, she will need to reveal a secret that will pull her back into a life she left long ago. A life from which she was exiled in shame and disgrace.

5 Spring Beach Reads for Adventurers

Have I gone mad? Escape the beach in a book? Who would even?! 

I know. I know. Call me crazy, but reading and the beach go together like tequila, triple sec, and lime juice (and salt, for sassy people, like me!). So if you’re going to do it, do it with the right books. Why read something boring when you could be out in space or fighting vampires, while you soak up the sun between dips in the water? 

In a few days, I’ll be on the beach, and I’ll be reading from this list. Trust me. I’ve already started a couple of them (and they’re good!). I usually have about 3-4 books going at once and the best ones win! 

No, it’s more mood based than that. So, that was a little joke for competitive people like myself. 

That’s the part about writing as my job that I love–reading is “work.” WORK! Ha! Life-hack. 

book cover of woman in flames
Click to see on Amazon!

I’m currently in the middle of this one. I dig it. For fun, I recently looked at the reviews on Amazon and laughed that someone complained that it’s like the Kate Daniels books. Then they cited a bunch of mythology tropes as though proof that Breene copied the Ilona Andrews team. 

I guess no one can ever write stories now with similar tropes in them because of Kate Daniels! Everyone else go home! Stop writing, fools. 

Ha. Yes, well, I haven’t read Kate Daniels yet, but the sheer brute force of the fans is daunting. 

But I like the style of this one. I love that Reagan isn’t a wilting flower, or an overly girly girl. She wears leather and I haven’t had to endure even one scene where she looks in the mirror to describe her dress for three paragraphs and how the color accentuates her amber curls.

I like the way the book is built, giving equal attention to character and action. Reagan isn’t comically overpowered and struggles to win battles.

And ultimately, I dig her vibe. Would have drinks in a bar with her. My newest form of rating. 😉 

Click to see on Amazon!

Read the first, loved it and have really really wanted to immediately dive into the second. But I had other things I needed to read first. 

From the first, I can say that I dig both leads, including the pirate Tenebris. I know that Buroker meticulously creates her storylines and worlds, so I basically know what I’m going to get and chances are, I’ll love it. 

Would have drinks with Casmir, and likely the smuggler Han Solo type character (but we might get in a fight!). But mainly Casmir. I’d probably scare him, but he’s so gentle I’d never know. 

Click to see on Amazon!

Started this a few weeks ago and had to put it on hold. Kingsolver’s voice is a lot like Breene’s in the Born of Fire, where the chick is a no-frills badass type. 

So, this is just a personal preference. While I can fully hang with the Anne Shirley, Jane Austen female-character types, there is something I struggle with in certain Urban Fantasy heroines. I still haven’t put my finger on it.

Maybe it’s the overwrought prose or where I’m bludgeoned over the head with talk of just how cutesy these ladies are, you know, even though they go around kicking vampire butt, they STILL love to don the evening gown and be the center of all the male attention. 

I want to punch them. It’s me. Not them. 

And no, I don’t feel that way at all about Lizzie, Emma, or Anne Shirley. 

And I didn’t feel that way about the protagonist in this book. She’s cool. So far. Would have a drink with her. Probably… 

Man with gun book cover
Click to see on Amazon!

So, I know what I’m going to get in a Logsdon book. Strong writing that carries me along at satisfying clip, together with settings that don’t confuse me, plus an exciting story with jokes and twists I don’t see coming. 

Also, I’ve heard about this character a ton from several people (including the author) and so I want to sample the wares. Also, the gun on the cover is pretty sweet. I wonder what it is?! I almost want to say a 1911, but the cut of the barrel doesn’t look familiar.  

Oh, just looked it up. It’s totally a Desert Eagle. Damn. Of course Ian Dex has the biggest caliber handgun around. What a man, what a mighty fine man (sung like Salt ‘N Peppa). Laughing emoji. I wonder what he’s compensating for? Hmm. Laughing with tears emoji (have I overdone this joke?).

Not sure about drinks with this guy yet. Probably? With a gun like that… well… is he safe?  

man-woman-posing-book-cover
Click to see on Amazon!

This one is burning to be read. I finished book 7 and was pretty distraught and a bit too emotionally drained to dive right into 8. 

I feel an incredible amount of loyalty for the characters and the storyline, and in the end, that will outweigh the apprehension that’s gnawing at my peace. Why is it being gnawed at? I don’t know. A lot of destruction. Stuff I didn’t see coming at the end of book 7 (even though that was the first book I’d read in the series…crazy story, that. So this was my second read). 

I was a bit sapped at the end and felt a smidgeon of indignation (killer band name!) for how it all went down. That’s a good thing, right? Because it means that the author has kicked so much ass through seven books that my heart was shredded at the end and yet I still want to keep reading. 

I think that’s what it all means. I love the adventure and look forward to the challenge of overcoming the messes made in 7. Would have two drinks with Kane and Rebel, together. Or separately. Lancelot too. 

My website is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to products on amazon.com. The amount I earn from your purchases is fractions of pennies.

Four Urban Fantasy & Space Opera Reads for Escaping the Commute

I’ve been reading a lot lately–almost as much as I did in college as a literature major!–and have developed many, many, many opinions. And what do we do with opinions? Share them! Right? 

I agree. 

So basically, I’m throwing out four great reads that really slay it in any of the following places: on the bus, on the train, poolside, or on a long flight. 

I’m about to go on a long flight, myself, so I’ll probably come back with even MORE great reads, and I guarantee I’ll be reading books in these series or by these authors (+ more!). 

Let’s get started! 

Should it be PNR? I don’t know, and I’m on book 8, so…

What I do know is you should read it if you enjoy any of the following shows and the tension between the leads: Warehouse 13, Bones, and probably Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I’ve never watched it, but I hear that the banter and tension resembles what’s in that show). There’s globe-trotting, vampires, epic fight scenes, and hunting for answers that are usually just out of reach.

Point is, this series is damn fun. The main POV is that of Kane Arkwright who is funny as hell. I don’t remember which book it’s in, but I’ll never forget this one line where Kane drops onto the back of a flying vampire like “a really good-looking anvil.” 

An anvil! I don’t know, it just made me laugh out loud.  

Kane’s easy to love though arrogant, and he looks out for his friends and nurses a crush on his partner, Rebel, and so there’s basically nothing I want more for Kane than for him to ONE DAY LAND Rebel. 

I know that sounds not very romantic, and maybe a bit shoddy of me, but they’re just the facts. I have this sneaking suspicion that the author will never let that happen…

Amazon US : Amazon UK : Amazon AU : Amazon CA

This one comes out of the gates of hell at full speed. But also, at this nice, emotionally fulfilling pace. The main protagonist quickly brings us into her world, which is not ours–but rather a version of the underworld where succubi and other sundry creatures live and compete for supremacy.

Logsdon’s writing is sleek and to the point, with well wrought scenes that keep both halves of your psyche engaged–we get the emotional sphere of the female lead as well as her no-nonsense action. She’s never overpowered and knows what she’s up against, but her wits keep her alive, which benefits all of us. 

Also, it’s hilarious.

Amazon US : Amazon UK : Amazon AU : Amazon CA

You’ll just have to. I didn’t want to, I’ll be honest. I was hoping to stick to one POV in this superb entry point into the Star Kingdom universe, but unfortunately Buroker is a master and I ended up loving both POV characters.

Both the aging (and full of aches and old war-wounds) scrappy female smuggler, and the mild-mannered robotics engineer are excellent characters. I just have to say, damn.

As I think about how this one worked me over again, surprise, I’m smitten once more. Buroker is skilled at starting at two points and setting up the entire story to work perfectly as the two seemingly unrelated storylines come together.

I may have given away too much already, but I really dug the world building in this and the galactic tension she’s set up. I have no idea where it’s going to go, but I’ve got book 2 queued up and can’t wait to dive in.

Amazon US : Amazon UK : Amazon AU : Amazon CA

…with no hope on the horizon. Oh wait, getting out of jail when she expected at least five more years, that’s kind of hopeful.

Ok, so yes, I’m recommending my own book. I know. It’s very classy. That’s how I live. This series is space opera, but it’s also the origin of a found-family. Holly Drake is basically starting from scratch. She needs a new career, new friends, and maybe someday a new lover (will she, won’t she…hmm, what will it be?!).

A job that could help her falls in her lap, but now she’s got to put together a crew to run a heist. How the hell does one pull off a heist? She’s about to learn.

Amazon US : Amazon UK : Amazon AU : Amazon CA

Check them out! And look, if you choose any from this list, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

There are entire universes out there, waiting to be discovered. Is that why we read? Escape? To learn how others see the world? To vicariously experience more than we could ever conceivably live in just one lifetime?

For me, there are so many reasons. One is to fall in love, to explore the mind of another, and in doing that learn more about myself. It is the ultimate exploration, a journey of the interior. Why do YOU read? 

If you’ve tried out any of these books, do let me know in the comments! And leave your recommendations for me there, if you’ve got something you think I should check out!

My website is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to products on amazon.com. The amount I earn from your purchases is fractions of pennies.