On an early morning fuel run at the local Shell station this week, I had plenty of time to think while my aging Chevy Suburban sucked up a full tank. Several vehicles gassed up and left, and a half dozen more parked and waited while their owners ran into the convenience store for coffee. Most of the vehicles at the station had one thing in common: they were trucks. Pick-up trucks. Some with extended cabs, some with caps covering the bed, some old, some newer, no particular color dominating the lineup.
As a romance novelist, I made up stories about the men (they were all men) driving those trucks. I based my tales on what they were wearing and what items they bought at the store. I know them all, even if I don’t know their names. They are the men I grew up with in a small farm community in the Midwest. I’d guess many of them have belonged to the local volunteer fire department at some point in their lives. They know how to drive a standard transmission. They change their own oil and tires. They wired the lights in their garage workshop.
Are they romance heroes? Not if they have to dress up for the part. They own only one suit—for weddings and funerals—but they have three sets of sockets and wrenches in metric and standard sizes. Would they come to your rescue? You bet. And they wouldn’t pull out a cell phone to call someone else to help you. These guys just handle stuff themselves. I like that.
Important question you may be asking (and it’s a fair question): Are they sexy? Not all of them. Not every day. Not to every woman. But they don’t have to be. For writers, particularly writers of romance, what is the challenge of creating a character? Making the hero believable AND making you believe you want one just like him.
Maybe he’ll fix your flat tire, fix you with a steamy look, or hold you fixed in place against the wall with a muscular arm. And you’ll like it. That’s a contemporary romance hero and a character I wouldn’t mind buying a cup of coffee for, next time I’m leaning against my car at the gas station. I should probably caution him that he might end up in a novel some day, but maybe that could be my little secret.
In my contemporary romances Her Lucky Catch and Her Lucky Prize, Kurt Reynolds drives a pick-up truck and is a full-time firefighter in a small town. I’ll have to check his closet to see if he even owns one suit. He’s a character I love, and I’d love to have a man just like him. Just in case I have a fire that needs a hero with a hose.