Dragon’s Blood Author loves my soft heroine, Peregrine!

Peregrine with fox and falcon from the cover of The Gatherer

Soft heroines are where it’s at, folks. If you didn’t get that memo, well… Leah Welker and I are here to help you see the light.

Recently I posted a Reedsy Discovery review of Dragon’s Blood, the newly released first book in Leah Welker’s Blood of the Covenants series. This is a sunny, high-stakes fantasy that delivers all the feels and really hits the mark for YA readers who (like my daughter) love dialogue-heavy, character driven stories.

Leah Welker’s website sports the tagline “Authoring Works of Light,” and Dragon’s Blood certainly qualifies, with a hopeful note that echoes from beginning to end. Welker also has an author blog, and one of her latest posts mentions The Gatherer. Number Five in her “Favorite Things” series is “soft heroines” and Peregrine does indeed qualify.

Dragon's Blood by Leah Welker features soft heroine Sarah Lind

In her Goodreads review of The Gatherer, Welker said, “This is honestly the best book I’ve read in years. It’s full of everything I need from a fantasy book but am having such a hard time finding these days: hope, healing, goodness, and one of the most gratifying (yet clean!) romances I’ve read in a long time.”

On her blog, Welker was discussing how a “soft” heroine should be tender, kind, compassionate, altruistic, or hopeful (or a realistic combination of these qualities). What she should not be, however, is naive, physically or mentally weak, cowardly, submissive, or unintelligent. I heartily agree with this analysis. Specifically discussing femininity, Welker states the following:

Another author I saw this do well recently was Kit Trzebunia in The Gatherer. Peregrine also has a passionate interest in a traditionally masculine space (combat, once again), but she doesn’t harden or become traditionally masculine, no matter how much she has to fight to be there. And it’s only one of her facets—not downplayed, but also not all-defining. In fact, it’s balanced well with Peregrine’s interest in healing, and the interplay between the two domains is explored several times. The combination of the two makes Peregrine a dynamic, fascinating young woman.

(As an aside, I like how Peregrine doesn’t face universal resistance to her interest—just from a character or two, one of whom is female, and almost all the males in her life are adamantly supportive. I’m wearying of fiction in which it’s the lone female fighting against universal expectation, especially from all the men. It’s just been done so much, and it’s exhausting to even read about. Maybe it’s still truth, maybe it’s not, but I think if we want to see men being more feminist, and have feminist views be more universal, perhaps its time to be portraying that more instead. And even the woman who is resistant to Peregrine’s combat training has a legitimate point, which is acknowledged several times in the book.)

—Leah Welker, in “My Favorite Things, Part 5: ‘Soft’ Heroines

Welker’s own character, Sarah Lind, is another delightfully soft heroine. Dragon’s Blood, which released on June 19 (not coincidentally the 2024 Summer Solstice), is available free on Amazon. Fortunately, fans won’t have long to wait for book 2, which will release later this month. In fact, I believe Welker’s entire series is coming out this year, with the final book set to release on the Winter Solstice!

Releasing a series back to back like that—and making the first one free—is a fantastic marketing decision that I wish I were able to take advantage of myself. Alas, my next book is coming along very slowly.

Writing something new feels like boiling the ocean, each time, and I am still on that beach. Which, incidentally, is not my favorite place to hang out. My husband really loves the ocean, but I’m more of a mountain person, myself.

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