Pink VIII: A New Kind of Hero

orchid

My Pink VIII reading over the weekend got me thinking about the heroes we’ve seen so far in the Pink series. I think Andre Jaouen represents a new kind of hero in the series, but Lauren’s been working on breaking her hero-mold for the last three books.

If you think about it, Richard, Miles and Geoff are fairly similar hero material. They are aristocrats, born and raised in the ton, motivated by patriotism and more than a tiny bit of desire for adventure. I’m not saying they are all the same hero (I know who my favorite is of the three), but their backgrounds are fairly similar.

I would argue that Turnip Fitzhugh, while he has a category all his own in my heart, falls pretty neatly in line with Richard, Miles and Geoff.

So we had a series of four heroes, all cut from a similar cloth (though fantastic in their own ways). And then along came Robert from The Temptation of the Night Jasmine. Robert is the duke-by-accident. He’s not really at home in Girdings or in Charlotte’s familiar landscape of season entertainments and court duties. He’s accustomed to a rougher life than our previous heroes, and he has spent most of the later years of his life overseas. Quite simply, he doesn’t feel he belongs in Charlotte’s world.

In The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, Alex Reid takes a step even further afield. He frequently muses on the fact that he feels more Indian that British, and he’s certainly not a member of the aristocracy. In fact, at the beginning of their acquaintance, Penelope thinks of Alex more as a type of servant rather than an equal. I felt like their relationship was the first to really cross a social divide, which seems funny in retrospect, because Penelope has far more in common with Alex than she ever had with Freddy, her social equal.

But with The Orchid Affair, Lauren takes us into uncharted territory and gives us a hero who is from the other side. Andre is French. He was a revolutionary. He currently holds a position of power in Bonaparte’s regime. He is Laura’s assignment, as far from an ally as you could possibly get. And yet (without getting too far ahead of our reread), he and Laura turn out to be fantastically compatible.

Was this shift toward a new kind of hero something anyone else noticed? Does this seem intentional to you, or do you think it’s the happy accident of situations and times as Lauren continued her series? And who is your favorite hero so far?

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18 thoughts on “Pink VIII: A New Kind of Hero

  1. I had noticed the shift, though I hadn’t really articulated the shift. I really appreciate it, giving us some different hero’s and different ways to look at the whole situation. I particularly like how the differences are highlighted a little bit towards the end of Orchid Affair 🙂

  2. I must admit – I ❤ Turnip!! He is kind to a fault. While he was raised as an aristo, he didn't let it get between him and Arabella…I don't think he would even THINK of class or social station for anyone he deemed worthy of friendship…his good nature overpowers his good looks.

    I also have a soft spot for Miles – but if I am looking for a "real world hero" It would be Augustus Whittlesby, who we see a lot of in Silver Orchid, but we find out more of in the next Pink Carnation Tome – he's kind of real world…not a product of the Ton, a "bootstrap" kind of man…successful because of his own intellect.

  3. I think we could also say it’s a shift to more frustrated heroes too, which might be why they are darker. Richard, Miles, Geoff, they never had many problems in their lives, whereas Robert, Alex, Andre, and continuing on, Augustus, and Lucien, all had issues in their lives. Dukedoms thrust upon them, watching their siblings be outcasts, having their dreams of a true Republic smashed, becoming who you are pretending to be, murdered parents… so I think it’s a shift to a deeper, more dimensional and real character we are seeing. Or just Lauren becoming an even more brilliant writer 😉

    • “Frustrated” is a good word for it – I hadn’t thought of that. But you’re right – they all have this “outsider” quality to them that’s come from having something important denied them. Deep water there! I don’t dislike the earlier heroes at all, but I think these later ones are my favorites.

  4. I agree with everyone. As much as I love our first intrepid heroes, I love the dimension we get with these later men. I would argue that this is true of the heroines as well, to a certain extent. Hen is truly a privileged miss of the ton. Amy, for all that she has had horrible things happen to her parents (and her brother is a waste of breathe) and Letty and Mary, for all of their being on the outskirts of the ton, still are quintessentially of the ton, as is Charlotte.

    While Pen may run in the ton, she is decidedly apart from and outside of the bounds of what is proper; She is an outsider. And both Arabella and Laura, while not servants, are barely a step up. So I would argue that as we got more complex heroes, we also got a different breed of heroines, a trend which continues with Emma and Gwen for certain, and to a certain extent, Sally.

    • Dara, good point about the heroines. That may be the reason I loved Arabella so much – I enjoyed her every bit as much as the first heroines, but I felt like she and I had more in common than I would with Amy or Hen.

  5. There has definitely been a new kind of hero in the making – great way to put this, Ashley. I find that as I read these books one after the other, my ideas change as to favorite book and hero. For a long time I felt that Geoff would be and stay my favorite hero, but taking the hero out of the ton has been a real game changer. Most books I have read set in this time period are about who marries which Duke, Earl, Viscount – all titled members of the aristocracy. I found I even got to like Vaughn as his layers were peeled back, certainly an unexpected hero there, but still a member of the privileged.

    Now I lean more toward Robert, Alex, and Andre, and I think it is because of the dimensions mentioned by Miss Eliza and Dara – much more interesting people. While I really like all three of these men and have enjoyed getting to know them through their challenges, I think Andre is now emerging as my favorite. He has gone through quite a lot – death of his wife, dreams shattered of the republic he worked so hard for, and now he needs to protect his children. Dealing with the dastardly Delaroche cannot be easy, and he definitely has grown tired of his job – a job which he doesn’t dare leave or risk death.

    Dara is right about the heroines changing too. Although Charlotte is a member of the ton, she has lived her whole life not fitting in and being criticized by her Dowager grandmother – she has suffered in silence and thankfully had Hen for a friend. I have enjoyed Arabella and Laura also – two women struggling to make their own way in a world where there wasn’t much opportunity for women.

    • Betty, how could I have forgotten Vaughn?? I am sure he would have some particularly stinging remarks for me. But you are right – for all that he is older and has a previous marriage, his background is still fairly similar to our first three heroes.
      I’m also loving this book much more this time around. Something about Laura is really connecting for me in this read.

  6. And I need to get caught up on reading Orchid Affair! I’ve been attending a conference on the American Revolution and wishing Eloise and Laura could have joined me to discuss the antics of the various history professors.

    I think Dara and Betty are right that both Arabella and Laura are also different from the earlier heroines, just as Robert, Alex and Andre are different from the earlier heroes. I wonder if, in some ways, these changes are good way for Lauren to test the waters for finally writing a book from Jane’s perspectives? On the one hand, Jane easily fits into the ballrooms of both England and France and has all the social connections to help her do so, on the other, her experiences have clearly been changing her to the point of wanting to work alone. I know that the Pink books are coming to a close with Moonflower but I do wonder what Jane would see her future as holding once England finally defeated France.

  7. So many great comments and thoughts have been posted here!

    I will say right up front that I know that I am going to seriously love Jack. I have always had a soft spot for Miles, but I think that the reality is that Richard may actually be my favorite. I am okay with being the outlier in the group.

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