Hero Worship

...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. ;)


Ashley N said...

This must be why we get along so well as CPs. :) I couldn't agree more! I need a guy who isn't a traditional hero but more rough around the edges. If he's too heroic I just roll my eyes and skim through the text. The guy's gotta have some grit. :)

April Vine said...

I couldn’t agree with you more, Cari! I love a dangerous hero, a rugged bad boy. Too good and nice and I don’t get any goose bumps and boy do I love getting those goose bumps
: )

J.A. Saare said...

I like em' rough around the edges. One of my favorite books (as in I've read it numerous times) is Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward. Zadist is not your typical hero, but there is just that something about him you can't turn away from.

Great blog topic!

Christina Phillips said...

Oh my, yes. I love a hero who's rough around the edges, who doesn't necessarily have all the right words at the right time, but when it really counts he's there for his heroine. In fact, that's just the kind of hero I'm writing about in my wip!!!

Donna Marie Rogers said...

Count me as another who loves her heroes rough around the edges. My hero in MEANT TO BE can be a real crab ass, but he's the hero I get the most comments about...LOL He's a big, moody cop with a heart of gold.

I don't care for a hero who is just too damn nice and noble. Though he'd better come through in the end...LOL

J.A., I simply loved Zsadist. He's easily my fave brother, though I love them all. ;-)

Lia Slater said...

I like what Ashley said about grit. And I have to ditto what Christine said, too. lol! Rough around the edges is hot but I find, too, that there's a fine line between alpha and a**hole. So much to consider, right? Great post, Cari!!

tara leigh coons said...

Hiya CP.
We've had many a discussion about this haven't we?

Just don't always want a cookie cutter kendoll kind of guy do you? LOL Not that I blame you. I like guys with a little spice too.

At least when I write.

Reality--well, I don't know, I'm always working or writing. He'd have to be bold enough to bash me on the head to get me to pay attention to him. LOL

And Nunzio is exactly what I pictured. Those sleepy, bedroom eyes would do me in. LOL

Fiction Vixen said...

I've said this many times before, I love my heroes and heroines imperfect with rough edges. I like them human, even the paranormal ones. I want to see them make mistakes, and find their way to redemption, or better, be big enough to allow those around them to believe they're less than perfect in support of the greater good. If they keep me guessing as to their true nature throughout the book, even better.

Great post!

Sarah Simas said...

I like out of the way heroes, too. My favorite is Brodick from Julie Garwood's Ransom. Hunky, over bearing, and rude Highlander.

I also adore Sherriyln Kenyon's Vane (I'd the book name, but I loaned it to someone who kept it!! Grr!)

I can pretty much get behind most heroes as long as they treat the heroine right. lol I guess that makes me easy. *wink wink*

Kaye Manro said...

I'm with you on heroes too. Rough around the edges and not so perfect is great. And yes, they best come through in the end however! Good comments here, all.

Shelley Munro said...

It's the rough edges that make a character interesting to me. It makes him unpredictable and exciting. You're never quite sure how he's going to react, and of course, it's fascinating seeing how the right heroine can make him shine. And of course, actions speak louder than words. Give me an action man every time!

Lynne Roberts said...

Give 'em to me rough around the edges. Perfect men aren't interesting.

Sure, maybe he can quote Byron, but balance that with a Harley, a slightly sarcastic attitude and a deep respect for the heroine. : ) You know what I mean.

By the way, putting Angels Fall on my TBR list immediately.

Emma Lai said...

Rough around the edges, please! Life wouldn't be interesting if everyone walked around PC all the time. Plus, people without edges just don't seem as real.

Helen Hardt said...

Count me as another Zsadist fan. Definitely not your typical hero, but I can't resist him! I've said this before -- the hero that grabs me is passionate, a little tormented, and has a fierce, absolute love for his heroine.

Kaily Hart said...

Wow, Angels Fall is a book I remember as well. I can't read a 'traditional heroic hero'. He's just - well - BORING. I need someone real, I like tortured (Zsadist yes), and rough around the edges pretty much defines all my heros. I think that's why paranormal became so hot. You can really explore the alpha hero and have him do things not acceptable in contemporary settings. Also, I like to see the more tangible impact a heroine has on a hero - the lengths he's willing to go to for her, what he needs to overcome to be worthy of her, how he evolves and what he sacrifices, because it's kind of against his nature. We all love that, right?