Friday Fun: Femmes Fatales

Barbara Stanwyck: noir goddess

by C. Margery Kempe

You may not know her name, but you know the look on her face means trouble. She’s got a shape that lures your gaze to fondle it, but her mind’s always working the angles. Someone’s going to end up on top — and it’s not you.

After looking at rogues last week, I figured it was time to look at their female counterparts: the femmes fatales!

They’re untrustworthy, conniving, double crossing and undeniably sexy. Whether it’s noir goddess Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity or The Strange Love of Martha Ivers or bad girl-who-wants-to-be-good Gloria Graham, they have incredible sex appeal. When she walks into the room, the femme fatale draws every eye like a slinky magnet. Her dress might be low cut and it’s probably tight as a second skin, and she’s bound to be tottering on stilettos with a dainty ankle chain just to make sure you’re looking at her legs — but it’s her expression that holds you. She knows too much and what she knows isn’t good for you.

But you can’t resist!

Gloria Graham

Can we imagine a romance novel with a femme fatale heroine? Or are they destined only for dark crime stories where everything goes wrong? It seems somewhat difficult to imagine, but surely someone must rise to the challenge!

Maybe she could be won over and leave behind her vampish ways. But if it were told from the heroine’s point of view, could the reader identify with the bad girl?

Do you have to be a bad girl to enjoy the femme fatale? I have written a good number of them in my crime stories but I have to admit most of my romances feature good women who mean well and only want the best for their paramours, too.

Well, maybe the Man City gals have a touch of the femme fatale: Shai and Lizzie scheme a little bit, but for a good cause: a ménage-à-trois! Surely they can be forgiven a bit of intrigue — after all, everyone shared the prize in the end. 😉

Can you imagine a femme fatale heroine in romance?

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  • Kemberlee Shortland

    There’s a femme fatale in my book, A Piece of My Heart. She’s a real piece of work. Sexy as h3ll, conniving and scheming right up there with the best of them. I’d love to give her a romance of her own, but she may be beyond redemption 😉

    Reply to Kemberlee Shortland
    • Post authorcmkempe

      LOL, yeah maybe they work better as rivals!

      Reply to cmkempe
  • LizEverly

    Interesting question. Could you have a femme fatale in a HEA? Maybe. Certainly in a HFN. I think Sasha in my second book might have a bit of the femme fatale in her.

    Reply to LizEverly
    • Post authorcmkempe

      Maybe they can be bad but not fatal. I suppose Chastity Flame is a bit femme fatal-ish — until she falls in love!

      Reply to cmkempe
  • Elizabeth Shore

    I love the whole idea of a femme fatale in a romance. I see touches of it here and there, but not the 100% bad girl femme kind of heroine. It would be terrific to see for sure!

    Reply to Elizabeth Shore
    • Post authorcmkempe

      I’m thinking on it, for sure! I like a challenge :/)

      Reply to cmkempe
  • Elizabeth Delisi

    Barbara Stanwyck…no question she’s a femme fatale. I’d love to see someone like her in a romance!

    Reply to Elizabeth Delisi
    • Post authorcmkempe

      She is aces! Now you’ve all got me thinking of the possibilities!

      Reply to cmkempe
      • madelineiva

        She is absolutely my fave classic movie star. And yes, I think you could have a femme fatal star in a romance– it gives you a lot of lee-way for the hero to have done very bad things. And I like a hero, I find, who’s done some very bad things. Excellent post–so glad I got to a chance to finally check it out!

        Reply to madelineiva
  • ellaquinnauthor

    Don’t forget Great Garbo and Betty Davis as well.

    Liz I think you can, but it’s tricky. Georgette Heyer did it in “An Infamous Army.”

    Reply to ellaquinnauthor
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