The modern woman is capable of everything all at the same time. She is educated, socially powerful, physically fit, elegant, beautiful, passionate, etc... Oh yeah, she is also a wonderful mother. With this wonder-woman ideal in mind, it must be hard to read historical romances where the woman is uneducated and raised solely to obey her father and then her husband. Where the woman is flawed if she fails to produce
Then again, I can't remember the last historical romance I've read that had a heroine that fit the norms of the social history of her era. More and more, she seems to fit modern norms. Occasionally there is a meek young miss who is submissive and reproductive, but then she grows out of it and develops a modern day backbone.
This does not really bother me. Why? The reader needs to relate to the heroine. She needs to want to be part of the fantasy. She's not looking for realism or else we'd have the heroine have an awkward menstrual moment or pee when she sneezed. We read romance to escape reality. So a historically unrealistic heroine is fine(ish).
What is not fine is the increasing amount of alpha females I read about. Not only is she perfect, both in our era and her's, but she is dominant and everyone accepts that. The poor men that try to challenge her supremacy end up emasculated husks, shivering in a dark corner of their room. Except for the alpha male they end up with.
Alpha + Alpha = bloodbath
An Alpha male wants to dominate. An Alpha female wants to dominate. He thinks he'll cure her dominant spirit with his magical penis. She thinks he's too stupid to realize she's manipulating him, which she's not. This is not a good situation. But, what ends up happening? There is some hot domination, she gives in, and the magical penis prevails.
Eventually, he respects that she's intelligent, but it doesn't really matter because she's learned to trust him implicitly. And the penis.
So that leads me to a question -- is that the fantasy women want to escape into? That the alpha super woman needs a good man to tame her? Hey, I understand the dream of having no responsibilities and being taken care of (being a cat), but that aside, women have fought hard for the right to have unattainable standards of excellence. And even though the heroine archetype may have changed a bit to meet our standards, her fall into love is also a fall into cavewoman-like subservience.
I'm not saying this is wrong, but it seems counter intuitive.