Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t romance the only genre in which the main male character is referred to as the ‘hero’? There’s a good reason for that. The main male character in a romance novel is a hero. Maybe he doesn’t save the world (or maybe he does), but there is always something heroic in his nature, even if he doesn’t recognize it. And sometimes even if the reader doesn’t at first recognize it.
Take one of my favorite Nora Roberts books, for example. I didn’t think much of Tucker Longstreet in the first few chapters of Carnal Innocence. Of course he was good looking and charming, but on first glance he was also lazy and about as shallow as a kiddy pool. As I read the beginning of this book I remember thinking “I don’t like this guy”. But Nora Roberts certainly put one over on me. Slowly, she revealed that it was Tucker who looked after his brother and sister, and was the one who worked hard to keep the family business afloat. He was the solid presence everyone relied on. But when it was divulged that Tucker couldn’t provide an alibi for the night of a murder because he’d been home alone reading poetry, I was hooked. He was reading poetry? Be still my heart.
My character Zane Martin in A Long Way from Eden starts out as arrogant, almost a bully. When he discovers his teenage daughter is pregnant and that Meg Evans’ son is the father, he insists the two of them marry. Having been forced into abusive marriage by an unplanned pregnancy, Meg knows love is the only good reason to marry. She refuses to go along with his plans, and wants nothing to do with him. But as she slowly gets to know Zane and the reasons for his actions, she realizes he wants to protect the people he loves so much, that he sometimes pushes too hard. Everything he does, he does out of love.
Sometimes a hero’s greatest strength turns into his Achilles heel. In my recent Carina Press release, First and Again, Jack Davison is a loving father. His ten year old daughter Leslie is the sunshine of his life. But Jack is so busy protecting Leslie that he doesn’t let her live. It takes a heroine like Bridget Grant to point that out to him. In fact, it always takes a heroine to show the hero how truly heroic he can be.
Who are some of your favorite romance heroes? What strengths do you like in your romance heroes? What’s your favorite flaw for a hero to have?