What Do You Want in a Hero?

Couldn’t you see him on the cover of a romance novel?
So I met a guy. And he’s nearly perfect. Sigh… He’s got light caramel colored skin, and curly dark hair. His big brown eyes always look at me in a slightly worshipful manner. And he’s got an accent! Kind of like Antonio Banderes only a little bit softer. Plus he loves me. He tells everybody how smart I am. How I know everything in the world. And he thinks I’m bee-yoo-ti-ful. I get the most lavish compliements from him every day. Too bad he’s only eight years old.

I hope my little Mario doesn’t lose any of his charm because one day he’ll make some girl (his own age) very happy.

Thinking about him got me thinking about heroes. I am in the beginning stages of my WIP and therefore am in the getting to know you phase with my characters. I know my heroine because honestly each one of them has a little bit of me inside of her. But my hero… he’s a little more complicated. Which brings me to the question I ask my self every time I start a book.

What makes a hero a hero?

I think it may be different for each of us but here are some of the traits I commonly see in the heroes of romance novels.

He’s rich…

Hey, baby. Want to roll around in my millions.

A lot of them are, especially in Regency romance as well as titled. In category romance there seemed to be more than enough billionaires to go around. Susan Elizabeth Phillips likes athletes. Many of her books are based around the fictional Chicago Stars Football team. And if they aren’t filthy rich they at least have good jobs. I see a lot of FBI agents, doctors, lawyers, contractors, firemen etc. I haven’t seen one romance novel where the hero was a regular old teacher. Have you? I might have to write one. But knowing myself he would fall into some kind of inheritance and soon become rich.

So why do we see so many rich hero’s? Because we need to know that he is going to be able to take care of our girl.

He’s super sexy…

Why don’t we ever see any chunky heroes? None with pot bellies. Or balding heads, or buck teeth. No short ones. No. Our loves are always tall and have hard rippling bodies. Even if they aren’t classically handsome they make our heroine swoon and they always seem to have ah-mazing stamina in bed.

Why? Because heroes are fantasy. They are little bits and pieces of perfect rolled up into one man. The men we secretly wish other men would turn into.

Although I have to give it Mary Balogh who in Lord Carew’s Bride makes her hero born physically disabled. He wasn’t your usual big strong sexy masculine romance hero. But that book worked for me. I love to see my characters with a little more depth.

He’s strong…

And I’m not just talking about physically strong. Emotionally (at least in the end) he’s everything our girl needs in a man. He holds her while she cries. He fights the bad guy. He’s tough but sensitive. He lends support. He makes her see the world in a different way.

Two books in one!

Why is this? Because weak heroes aren’t sexy. Nobody really wants to see a man crying and cowering behind his woman.

Help me make my hero a whole man. What kinds of traits do see in heroes that you go gaga for? Were there some I missed? What kind of man do you like to write about? Any and all comments are welcome.

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15 thoughts on “What Do You Want in a Hero?”

  1. I think you hit the mark with all the above. I would like to add, -the hero should also have a flaw or two adding to the character’s dimension. Perfect can be boring.

  2. Awesome requirements and all spot on. I think for the sake of complicating your character, I would add that there needs to be some fatal flaw that makes him a little less than perfect, (cause let’s face it, none of us can live up to perfect, nor do we trust it.) Flaws can also show that he is a man who has been tested by fire and has come through it, a bit wounded or scarred perhaps, but that’s what makes us want to care for them.

  3. I’m a fan of blue collar guys who work hard and appreciate the small things. Sense of humor, I agree, Casey! And a wound from the past…I love that@

  4. “A wound from the past” certainly adds a touch of mystery. Makes a woman wonder what it is, and how she could heal him. A touch of mischief is fun, too. And, of course, being romantic, and spontaneous. Spur-of-the-moment kisses… And, he catches me when I swoon! Ooh, I love him already!

  5. Personally I am a sucker for the wounded tough guy..you know…Dean Winchester, Damon Salvatore, Spencer Reid, Ronon. I have even been known to blind myself to the cleft chin or dimple (big turn offs for me) if he is compeling enough.

  6. I adore Antonio’s accent. He speaks and I melt. I agree with all the above. I’m always attracted to the bad boy, so even though he’s our hero, he has to have something really daringly naughty about him …

  7. So I agree with all the above…but sadly I also like the ones where the guy/girl gets injured and when their loved one is close to death, there’s the ‘anguish scene.’ In a novel only please :) . Hmm…I also like guys who will leave me alone while I’m busy living out my life selfishly doing what I want… but that’s rolling over into real life now lol.

  8. I’m more in the ‘wounded/bad boy’ camp. It’s the nurse in me, I think. I want to take care of them.

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