In romance it is the hero who carries the book. Within the dynamics of reading a romance, the female reader is the hero, and also is the heroine-as-object-of-the-hero's-interest (the place-holder heroine). The reader very seldom is the heroine in the sense meant by the term "reader identification." There is always an element of analytical distance. (32)
I think that, as she identifies with a hero, a woman can become what she takes joy in, can realize the maleness in herself, can experience the sensation of living inside a body suffused with masculine power and grace (adjectives very commonly applied to heroes, including my own), can explore anger and ruthlessness and passion and pride and honor and gentleness and vulnerability [...]. In short, she can be a man.
A fictional man, that is. (37)