I was out running this morning trying to think of subjects to blog about when Bonnie Tyler came on my shuffle with “I Need a Hero.” I love the song and it made me smile and run faster (no mean feat as I am not a very good runner) so I thought I’d write a little about my take on what I need in a hero.
According to Bonnie, a hero needs to be strong, fast, fresh from the fight, and larger than life. According to the dictionary “he’s a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.” I agree with both to a certain extent.
I write romance, and so, by “hero” I mean the male protagonist in my stories. And because I write romance, my heroes have to be romantically appealing. They have to be someone I can imagine myself falling in love with, making love with, wanting to spend eternity with. And I have to somehow inspire the same reaction in my readers.
That’s not always easy. The type of man we find attractive, swoon-worthy… heroic, is a very personal thing. My preference, in both reading and writing, (because I’m a strong believer in writing the sort of things I love to read) is for total alpha, badass heroes. And if he’s wounded and tortured, so much the better. I also go for the whole tall, dark and handsome cliché (I’m starting to sound a little shallow here, but I’ll get on to the deeper stuff soon.) But whatever your personal preferences, I’m guessing all heroes have certain attributes in common.
Here’s a few things I think every hero needs:
1. Courage. I don’t believe courage is the same thing as being fearless. In some ways it’s the opposite. For me, someone is much more heroic if he is afraid and he has to face and overcome his fears. Often heroes in romances might believe they are fearless, until they fall in love and they discover the one thing that terrifies them—losing their heroine.
2. A deep-rooted almost overwhelming need to protect those he loves and those he feels responsible for. I think this characteristic is at the heart of all alpha males.
3. He needs a flaw, because perfect people are really annoying. Whether it be fear of commitment, too domineering, obsessed with his work…possessed by a demon. There needs to be something for him to overcome—with the help of the heroine.
4. He needs integrity, faithfulness, honor, humor…
5. But for me what makes a hero really heroic is doing what they believe to be the right thing regardless of the dire consequences. Someone who, when he has choices to make, will take the hard road, if that’s the right thing to do, even if it means sacrificing everything, including himself.
Of course, doing what’s right is never straightforward, and it’s never simple, and it’s often not “right” for everyone. As Sebastian Crane finds out in my latest release, BETTING ON JULIA.
Sebastian is my type of hero. He’s gorgeous, he’s powerful, he’s tortured, and while he’s never been a good man (he’s actually a warlock) he really wants to do the right thing. Unfortunately, he’s also possessed by a demon. Dante has been with him for two hundred years and during that time there has been a constant battle for Sebastian to do what he believes is right as opposed to doing what the demon wants to do—Dante has a fondness for kinky sex and extreme violence. Now Sebastian is losing the fight and will do whatever is necessary to prevent Dante taking control and being released on an unsuspecting world.
So what do you think is the essential characteristic for a romance hero? Or alternatively, what characteristic would turn you off a “hero” completely? Let me know and I’ll e-gift two commenters one of my backlist books of their choice.
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