Your Opinion Please: Heroes Made of Awesome

Advice I’m still working on “Everything I Know About Love, I Learned From Romance Novels,” in between cooking the stuffing and having nearly unconquerable urges to clean out closets instead (someone on Twitter called this form of distraction and procrastination “combing the yak hair” – SO apt.) Right now I’m working on what romance readers can and have learned about men from romance novels, and I wanted to ask you: who are your favorite heroes, and why? Which men from romances rock your world?

For me, my favorite heroes are a mix. Sometimes I love reading the abidingly constant lovinghornypants waiting-for-her-to-wake-up hero, or the “I don’t like you, you drive me nuts, I can’t stop thinking about your hair, DAMMIT” hero. One hero I love re-reading is Ethan from the Nora Roberts Chesapeake Bay series. Yet I would TOTALLY be wary of him in real life. Quiet but intense is fun to read about – “What’s going on under the surface? I can’t tell – a puzzle! Fun!” – but not so fun in real life – “I know there’s something going on under the surface but I can’t read it – a mystery, and possibly creepy!” 

As usual, if I quote you, I can use your online pseudonym (the crazier the better, really. How much fun is it to quote “DreadPirateRachel” or “Anony Miss?” TOTALLY fun, I tell you) or a name of your choice. Or, if you don’t want me to quote you but you would like to be part of the discussion, just say, “Don’t quote me, you hose beast.”

And as usual, thank you thank you thank you for sharing your opinion with me.


Random Musings

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  1. 1
    Kati says:

    Oh! My favorite topic! My all time favorite hero trope is the “Caregiving Alpha”. A male who is all kinds of dominant, but spends pretty much every moment after meeting the heroine trying to take care of her—usually to varying degrees of success.

    My all time favorite caregiving alpha hero? Jack Travis from Lisa Kleypas’s Smooth Talking Stranger. Pretty much from the instant Ella accuses him of being her nephew’s father, he is trying to take care of her. Either by finding her a place to live, facilitating her meeting with a high powered player in Houston, or putting together the baby’s crib. He’s completely alpha, but he can not stop taking care of her. And woos her, and the reader, as he goes.

    It’s heady stuff. A big, strong man who is completely dominant, and yet wants nothing more than to provide for you? ::melt::

  2. 2
    akmargie says:

    Elliot March from The Bridal Season by Connie Brockaway.
    Reasons Elliot March is the ultimate romance hero.
    1. Is kind, fair and honest to everyone, not just the woman he wants to bang.
    2. Super smart
    3. Accepts our heroine, even though she’s messed up, lied and made a total muck of things, as herself, flawed but perfect for him.
    4. He’s a war hero and a baron. (This is a historical romance obvs)
    5. Has a close relationship with his father.
    6. Can laugh at himself.
    7. Lets the heroine take the lead and occasionally steal the show.
    8. Can play a mean game of croquet.

    Runner up, Roarke.  It’s the one name thing.

  3. 3
    E.D. Walker says:

    I know for me the perfect example of hero I absolutely love in fiction but wouldn’t necessarily trust in real life is Hardy Cates from Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas. He’s big and randy and dangerous and DELICIOUS on the page but in real life he would probably be a bit too much to take.

    I am a great champion “idiot heroes” like Rupert Carsington from Mr. Impossible and Freddy from Georgette Heyer’s Cotillion. (Georgette Heyer actually excels at idiot heroes to me. Another great one is Hugo from The Unknown Ajax). There’s just something so wonderful about seeing past the surface of someone, past the “idiot” to the wonderful, perhaps selectively intelligent man, beneath.

  4. 4
    Readinginpublic says:

    I’ve been noticing lately that what I love in book heroes, is very offputting in a real-life man. There’s a guy in my life right now who is completely chasing me. He’s very jealous, aggressive, emotionally dependant, and is a black belt in taekwondo. But although I like the protective part, everything else is just scary, considering he won’t take NO for an answer!
    I admire that in book heroes, but the slight obsessiveness is frightening in real-life. It’s wierd. What I read about in books, I will not always like in an actual man.
    I think that what I’d like in a man in real life is more the type who is willing to be pursued rather than doing the pursuing. He’s got to be independant. No whining about how he can’t live without me. That’s scary IMO. And while I don’t mind kindness, he has to be willing to express his opinion. No pushovers should apply LOL. So… maybe not so far from what I like in book heroes??

  5. 5
    Joy says:

    Aral Vorkosigan from Bujold’s Vorkosigan series.  Because he’s a powerful man who does the absolute best he can despite being put in horrible positions and having to make hard choices when the only options available are bad—choices that will affect the lives a few or millions.  He’s trying to make his world a better place, slowly. He’s wonderful to his family.  He backs up Cordelia against his father and probably against his own wishes when it comes to saving fetal Miles. Plus he wears those tropical shirts.  You can’t really be a goon of the evil empire you wear tropical shirts.  It’s not allowed.

  6. 6

    Great topic, Sarah!

    When I was able to read 3-4 romance books a week, I would glut myself on the take-charge hero—think, pirate or medieval knight. A few weeks later, I would get tired of his nonya-business attitude and switch to a more civilized Regency/Victorian gentleman.

    Either way, the hero cherished the heroine.

    I have many hero loves, but the one that stands out the most is Derek Craven of Dreaming of You (Lisa Kleypas). The scene where he dragged her into a hidden corridor and called her “mouse” – ooh-lah-lah.

    Good luck on “Everything…”!!!


  7. 7

    who are your favorite heroes, and why?

    I’m not sure if you’re counting Austen’s novels as “romance” for the purpose of your book, but if you are, then my answer is Henry Tilney. He’s witty, perceptive, intelligent, sensitive, and has moral integrity.

  8. 8
    TheKitten says:

    I’m going also with Nora’s Chesapeake Quartet, but instead of Ethan -who is, as you said, puzzling and fun in fiction, not so much in real life- I’m going either with Cam from Sea Swept, the first book, or Seth from Chesapeake Blue, the 4th one. I think their alphamaleness is quite one of the things that I love about them. Cam is so alpha he doesn’t know how a washing machine works, but nontheless is willing to do it for Seth and Stella’s sake, to take care of the first one and to woo the last one. Also he is caring and amusing and so HOT he steams. And Seth is a quiet artsy kind of guy with a lot going on with insecurities and problems of his own.

    Now that I reflect upon it, the Hs i like the most are the ones who have issues of their own. But aslo those who are willing to do something about it and who have a bit of a problem confronting the idea that they depend on someone else for their happiness. Some of the Cynsters’ saga are aslo like that for example Richard from Scandal’s Bride who has to take a secondary place in the estate of his wife. He has to adapt and become a partner instead of being a “dictator” (that is not the word I’m thinking, but the one closer to what I mean). So Richard Cynster and possibly Ian Maitland from “The Secret” of Julie Garwood cover my historical.

    So, yeah… Troubled (but willing to recover/right whatever is wrong/looking for a way out, etc.) and caring are the two best words to define what I like in my heros.
    [quote if you find it useful]

  9. 9
    megalith says:

    Posting to clear italics.

    In Romance-land, I love many men I would run away from IRL. Lymond is breathtaking on paper, but just a touch intimidating in your living room. Darcy’s ultimately a great guy, but I’m not sure I’d live through the hauteur portion of the program to get there.

  10. 10
    megalith says:

    or not. dagnabbit.

  11. 11
    orangehands says:

    My main two likes are caring and respectful. I like a hero who can laugh at himself, and I like smart heroes (though like ED Walker the “idiot heroes” like Rupert can be very appealing, since they’re usually sweet and funny and loving and have some kind of intelligence), and I like funny heroes, and I like sweet heroes, but mostly I like a hero who cares for the other H and is respectful of the other H.

    That’s actually the base on my favorite heroes. I like them to put thought and/or action into taking care of their love, and I like them to be respectful of their love’s talents, skills, and abilities. Rupert is so appealing because he loves Daphne’s brain first, and he makes sure she’s okay as she uses that brain, and he is completely good with the fact that in certain areas she kicks his mental ass. I don’t remember him once having to prove he’s smarter than her, or feeling that he’s less than because she is smarter than him.

  12. 12
    orangehands says:

    megalith: You did it!

    Though I seem to be missing pace between my paragraphs.

  13. 13
    Journeywoman says:

    My favorite hero in all of romance novels is one James Alexsander Malcom Mackenzie Frasier from the Outlander books.

    If he were real, I’d have to hit him over the head with a cinder block, but OH does he make me sigh.

  14. 14
    Tinpantithesis says:

    I really love The Frustrated Do-Gooder. I have a weakness for Lawful Good or Chaotic Good guys—people intent on helping others or making the world a better place. Doctors, hotshot lawyers, knights errant, always sticking up for the little guy and doing the right thing.

    Except they’re not cheerful while doing it. When confronted with the ugly realities and inequalities of the real world, they get really irritated. Why are the dumb bureaucrats/corporate fatcats/evil sorcerors/Vulcan hobgoblins making it more difficult to help people? It’s enough to make a guy short-tempered, foul-mouthed, and just plain ornery. But underneath the cynical exterior is a heart that loves people, lost causes, and of course, the heroine.

  15. 15
    Hezabelle says:

    I agree with Kati, I love the “Caregiving Alpha,” as she put it! Which is pretty much every male character from all Karen Marie Moning novels. I like them best when they SEEM like stubborn jerks but then have this secret caring/protective side.

    Sadly, I like them like that in real life too. But without inner dialogue it’s a lot hard to tell whether they’re secretly caring or just plain stubborn jerks.

  16. 16
    jayhjay says:

    I like the heroes that are strong, hot, tough, etc, but still have vulnerability.  Some sort of emotional or physical issue that makes them need the heroine to see deeper into who he is.  I guess it is sort of the Beauty and the Beast trope.  I guess it tempers the “alpha-ness” a bit. In fact, I really do enjoy books with more beta heroes as well. 

    I get frustrated by the heroes that are just a little too “hulk smash” or feel the need to control every single thing.  Or treat the heroine like she is incapable of the smallest move without his protection or involvement.

    But I agree with most of the others that things I can handle in romance heroes I could never handle in real life men. Except for the incredibly hot bodies and never ending sexual stamina of course! ;-)

  17. 17
    joanne says:

    Oh, all time favorite: Sebastian from Dangerous by Amanda Quick. He’s mysterious, brooding, dark and dangerous. And he loves the very, very, very koo-koo Prudence. A lot. From the beginning. He’s also really funny with his jealousy and possessiveness.

    In real life if someone like him shows up in your life shove him out the door and put a safety chain on it while looking for a big stick. In a romance novel he’s wonderful.

  18. 18
    Tracy Hopkins says:

    hmm.  I am also attracted to the fictional kinds of guys that sensible me would never go for in real life: J.R. Ward’s Zsadist as the damaged soul screams for me…but in real life?  Too much baggage.  In a romance novel, you know the guy is going to turn out okay, so it’s okay to love him…in sensible real life, you KNOW you’re never going to fix him so you need to STAY AWAY.  In real real life, I’ve been known to try, unfortunately. 
    Stan from Suzanne Brockmann’s Over the Edge is one I go for in fiction AND in real life…the protector sort.  My real life protector doesn’t have abs that nice, though.  On the other hand, he’s real.  And sensible.

  19. 19
    Liza the evil twin says:

    @Kati said:
    “Oh! My favorite topic! My all time favorite hero trope is the “Caregiving Alpha”. A male who is all kinds of dominant, but spends pretty much every moment after meeting the heroine trying to take care of her—usually to varying degrees of success.

    My all time favorite caregiving alpha hero? Jack Travis from Lisa Kleypas’s Smooth Talking Stranger. Pretty much from the instant Ella accuses him of being her nephew’s father, he is trying to take care of her. Either by finding her a place to live, facilitating her meeting with a high powered player in Houston, or putting together the baby’s crib. He’s completely alpha, but he can not stop taking care of her. And woos her, and the reader, as he goes.

    It’s heady stuff. A big, strong man who is completely dominant, and yet wants nothing more than to provide for you? ::melt::”

    Ditto, ditto, ditto!  The delicious Jack Travis is the first hero that came to mind when I read your post, Sarah.  In addition to what Kati so eloquently stated, I love how relentless Jack is in pursuit of Ella. Not in a crazy, stalker-ish way, but in his focus on HER needs, desires, concerns and happiness.  Plus, he is so fun loving, and has such a wicked, smart-assy sense of humor that just slays me.

    Quote me if you must…

  20. 20
    Laurel says:

    Ditto on the “I like to read heroes I would never date” notion. I like some Alpha in my heroes, borderline overbearing, but never-ever-ever disrespectful. It’s a tricky balance between slightly overprotective and don’t you worry your pretty little head, sugar britches.

    I like Adam in the Mercy Thompson books, Lord Percy in The Scarlet Pimpernel, Holmes in the Mary Russell books, and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing. And of course Curran in the Kate Daniels books.

    The best literary hero who would translate to real life swoonworthy has to be Anne of Green Gables’ Gilbert.

  21. 21
    Milena says:

    Although I, too, often like heroes who would not be charming in real life, there’s one important thing for heroes to work for me both in books and in RL, and that’s understanding that they were wrong, and trying to make it right. One of the latest examples that comes to mind is Rhys from Iron Duke: he’s obnoxious at first, but slowly learns how not to be—and that’s when his best qualities really get to shine.

    Feel free to quote, of course.

  22. 22
    SheaLuna says:

    I, too, tend to like variety in my heroes.  One day it’d Tall, Dark and Deadly, and then next it’s Tall, Dark and Furry.  But my all time favorite hero wasn’t even a hero at all. 

    David from Suzanne Brockmann’s The Unsung Hero made my heart go pity pat.  Especially when he created the ultimate girl superhero based on the woman he loved.  Ahhhh!  Plus, I always did have a soft spot for a geek. :-) 

    Granted, shy men with geeky tendencies have their own pitfalls.  Most of which tend to leave a person frustrated beyond belief, but in general I much prefer a man who isn’t ashamed to share some of himself with me than one who goes all mysterious.  My personal experience has taught me that mysterious never ends well…

  23. 23
    Anony Miss says:

    I got a shout out! I got a shout out! Feeling the love!!

    I read a romance once (can’t remember the name) where the hero was SO “I love you and want the world to know and won’t let anyone come between us and will never let you forget it” that I was a little stalker-ed out, you know? That and a memorable scene when Heroine was menstruating and he said “I won’t let something like that come in the way of our love” and jumps her – and the author meant it to be “aw” and I was all like “GIVE THE WOMAN SOME SPACE!”


    Feel free to quote me with my pseudonym, or my real name, Queen Elizabeth the II (of Windsor).

    (What? What? You don’t believe me? Off with your head.)

  24. 24
    jayhjay says:

    In a romance novel, you know the guy is going to turn out okay, so it’s okay to love him…in sensible real life, you KNOW you’re never going to fix him so you need to STAY AWAY.

    Yes, I think you have hit on why this works in novels. You know they will turn out ok in the end and he won’t just be a total stalker, crazy guy.  But in real life, way too much crap to deal with when there is no guarantee he will end up lovable. 

    Yikes, spamword looking39!  I still have two months to go and I need every minute!

  25. 25
    Lyssa says:

    Okay, I thought about the male characters I love in novels (and even though I may read novels in the mystery, UF, Sci-Fiction genres the heroes I fall in love with are always romantic).

    1. They have to have a sense of the absurd. That ability to laugh at a situation, or themselves. Miles Vorkosigan, Izzy Zannella, Daemon Sadi all can laugh, or mock their own importance.

    2. They all have to have the ability to trust those closest with their private secrets.  Over and over it is the hero who can share his fears, flaws, insecurities with a loved one that gets to me.

    3. They have to be able to trust the woman in their life to be able to do what she does. To trust her to be at the top of her game, or to know when she asks for help that this does not make her weak. A recent addition to my Romantic hero list, Curran provides a prime example of this. At the end of Magic Bleeds, he offers help for a situation, not negating what the heroine has done before, but tossing out a diplomatic solution she may not have thought of.

    So yes, my criteria has the big three, 1. Humor 2. Communication, 3. Allowing the female to be strong as well. Yeah the brawn and brains are nice, but if they are hitting the big 3 they have brains, and brawn ? Well I am in LUV with Miles V…so I think the rest of the package is more important.

  26. 26

    In contemporaries I love the nerdy heroes, in regencies I lover Heyer heroes. I think what it boils down to is that the hero is not perfect for every or any woman out there, he is perfect for that specific heroine. I think it makes the reader have more hope for their own life or own relationship. Not every girl will be able to land a Brad Pitt or a Fabio, but you have a realistic chance at that one man who is flawed, but flawed in a way that you can stand, and maybe even complement.

    As mentioned above, Freddy in Cotillion is wonderful because he does small things and isn’t the most handsome or the most intelligent or the most charming, but he is the RIGHT man and the man that will make THAT heroine happiest. The Grand Sophy has another great hero that would be a horrible match for many ladies, but is perfect for Sophie. There isn’t much to the book after the proposal, but you close the pages knowing that they will bring out the best in each other for the entire marriage.

    I would love you to quote me if you find something worthwhile in my rambling.

  27. 27
    Laurie W says:

    Hmm… I like the unlikely hero, the one who is beat up and scarred by life, and maybe even an outcast, who suddenly finds his most unexpected princess.  Then this totally alpha male who normally doesn’t quite know what to do with a woman out of bed, very matter-of-factly turns his life inside out to take on this woman’s problems, to care for and be the man she needs.  My favorite is Doug in Lisa Marie Rice’s Midnight Angel, and I also love those Mackenzie men from Linda Howard’s Mackenzie series, Wolf and his son Zane.

  28. 28
    Deb says:

    Has anyone mentioned Mr. Darcy from PRIDE & PREJUDICE?  He helps protect Elizabeth’s sister from ruining her reputation, not because he cares for the sister but because he cares for Elizabeth.  That’s really going above and beyond.

    If you want to quote me, I’ll be DiscoDollyDeb.

  29. 29
    Isabel C. says:

    I actually don’t do well at all with possessiveness in heroes, and am not terribly thrilled about protectiveness either: admiring concern, sure, but it doesn’t take very much to cross the line with me. In RL, I want someone to have my back, but I don’t want someone to take care of me most of the time, and that distinction crosses over to romance. And jealousy, as opposed to envy…gaaah, no.

    I like partnership in general, whether willing—“We’ve been friends forever!”—or unwilling—“What do you mean I have to be his bodyguard?” Willingness to let the heroine take the lead in that partnership. Common interests. Intelligence. Good looks, of course. Having a life, goals, and friends outside of the heroine. All of these are things I look for RL too.

    The traits I like in romance but would be really wary of in RL…well, mostly the “Music of the Night” Dark Seduction kind of thing. It can be really cheesy if done badly, and totally guilty-pleasure hot if done well. Even better if both people know it’s a game, and that’s the only way I’d go for it in reality.

    Another only-in-fiction thing is the withdrawn-enigmatic-intellectual guy. Very hot, but…well, I’ve been there and done that, and it didn’t end well.

  30. 30
    Jessica says:

    I thought sure someone else would have said Jamie Fraser from Outlander by now.  I love that he is a big strong warrior, but generally not a creepy alpha stalker type.  I love how much he loves Claire and how much he is willing to do for her and personally I like that he loves her big arse and says it all the time.  And he’s smart too!  A must for me. 

    Otherwise I have a tendency to like romance heroes that I would never want near me in real life like anyone from JR Ward’s BDB

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