...or why do I like jerks?
Don't worry, this isn't a post about my dating habits. Nope, this is strictly about the stuff good romances are made of. Namely, a hot hero. We've all heard how important it is for the reader - and you, as the writer - to fall in love with the hero in a romance novel. All well and good if the kind of man you like is "traditionally" heroic. What happens when you tend to like guys rougher around the edges without that clear S on their capes? Are you doomed to continually hear that your hero is not sympathetic or likable, especially when you're dealing with books that aren't single titles?
Case in point: my favorite Nora Roberts' book, Angels Fall. Yes, I gush about this book to my friends a lot. Take a wounded heroine who's a bit odd, a lot smart and gutsy as hell and pair her with a hero that isn't one the Hallmark channel would have any clue what to do with. Sold! So sold, in fact, that I'm finishing my 4th reread of AF and own the book in both paperback and HC. Brody is my kind of hero. He isn't full of poetry and doesn't always woo. Sometimes he's downright crass. One of my favorite lines is when Reese, the heroine, waits for him to kiss her goodbye after their first kiss and he says, paraphrased, "What, are we going steady now, Slim?" That's Brody.
Brody also is a hero in ways that many men would never be, ways I won't illustrate here for fear of spoilers. He's a man of action, not words. Words are cheap and lots of people buy them on layaway.
He's also the kind of hero I write, or that I've tried to write. When aiming towards a market other than ST, you have to be mindful of reader expectations. A lot of readers expect a traditional hero, and apparently, that means one who thinks heroically at all times. To me, a true hero/heroine is one that sees a way out of doing the right thing, knows they have a choice, but still does the right thing anyway.
What do you think? What makes a hero? Are you okay with rougher edges if the person is, fundamentally, a decent human being?
And while we're on the topic of heroes...take a look at my image of Nunzio, the Italian hero of my current short, Passionate Ink. Mine works with computers and doesn't do a lot of manual labor, but otherwise, he's pretty damn close. ;)