Do you know that song, “Holding Our for a Hero,” sung by Bonnie Tyler? When Tyler sings, “I need a hero,” that’s exactly what romance authors think as we breathe life into the character our heroine will fall for.
Readers are looking for a hero to thrill them too.
As a romance author, I spend a lot of time thinking about heroes and how to make a story’s hero be perfect for the heroine.
What Is a Hero?
Is he the guy in the wet t-shirt? He’s got brooding good looks and toned body. Does that make him a hero? People lay claim to football players, rock stars, actors, and other famous types as heroes, but is that really what a hero is? Do extreme success and likability make someone a hero?
Not in my opinion. Popularity, personality, and skill in a demanding field just makes an interesting man. Maybe it makes someone a potential hero, but it takes more thran a pretty face, good body, and charm to be a hero—in a romance novel or in real life.
Real Heroes Give
A real hero gives unselfishly to help others. Most people don’t think about the heroes in their own family, but I think you should look no farther than your own father, grandfather, brother, or other male family members to find heroes.
Think of the men in your family who work hard to give their children a better life. They’re heroes. Far better to idolize them than some hip hop artist or bad boy football star.
Real heroes—whether male or female, on a personal level or the world’s arena—give. They sacrifice, often for strangers. Sometimes that sacrifice is the ultimate one that claims the hero’s life. Real heroes are the Fire Fighters, Police Officers, and other first responders. They are the soldiers who put their lives on the line for us.
They are the doctors and nurses who volunteer for Doctors Without Borders, the emergency room medical staff, the volunteers in free clinics, and the dentists who spend their vacation in third world country villages, providing care for the poorest of people who have little access to any care.
They are the volunteers who dig water wells in poor villages where people don’t have the basic necessities we take for granted like clean water. So many heroes, and they’re everywhere.
Novel Hero Versus Real Life Hero
Is a romance novel hero vastly different from a real life hero? Maybe the romance hero is a little better looking and has six-pack abs rather than love handles, but the qualities of protectiveness, unselfishness, and caring exist in both the romance novel hero and the real life hero.
This desire to protect and serve is why so many romance heroes are soldiers and cops. In my romantic comedy, CinCa Blue, I have a cop hero and a cop heroine. I did a bit of a flip-flop with what the reader might expect. In most stories involving a cop hero, the cop avoids commitment at all costs.
In Cinderella Blue,, Detective Bruce Benton, first introduced in Nobody’s Cinderella, is commitment phobic, but so is Detective Andrea Luft, his new partner who he realizes is perfect for him. He’s the first in their growing relationship to want commitment.
Excerpt, Cinderella Blue
Heat shimmered in waves above the pavement. Across the street, Bruce Benton saw a cluster of shops that created one-stop shopping for women looking to drop a few grand on a pretentious wedding. He crossed the street and headed to the flower shop.
As he passed the glass storefront of a photographer’s studio, he saw a woman inside. A nano second later, he stopped abruptly. The heat must be frying his brain. He retraced his steps, casually glancing in again. The woman wore a wedding dress, but instead of a bridal bouquet, she held a handgun.
Bruce drew his Glock and eased the door open. A bell over the door jingled. He cringed as he slipped inside. Maybe she was deaf.
The woman whirled. Nope. Not deaf. She held her gun in the same shooter’s stance as he. “Take it easy, lady. Maybe the photographer took some lousy pictures of you. That’s no reason to shoot him.”
“Let’s not talk about some Aussie actor. Let’s talk about you. Why would a sweet thing like you have a gun?”
“Sweet thing?” Irritation replaced her grin. “Lower your gun. Lay it on the floor.”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that. You see I’m a–”
Everything happened at once. A man rushed from behind her, slammed into her, and sent her flying into Bruce. They went down in a tangle of arms, legs, and miles of white satin. She came up snarling.
Bruce leaped up, gun in hand. “Freeze!”
He grinned and pulled out his handcuffs. “I always wanted to say that. Just like a TV cop. You lost your gun, sweet thing.”
He stepped toward her. With a snarl, she whirled. He saw a white blur and felt agony in his hand. A roundhouse kick to his solar plexus cut off his gasp of pain. He hit the floor. Wheezing, he tried to rise, but the blonde stood over him with her gun–and his–pointed at him.
She smiled. “Uh uh, sweet thing. You stay right where you are.”
Bruce groaned. Not from pain so much as humiliation. Crap. He’d never live this down.
What kind of a hero do you like best in romance novels? Does your ideal hero reflect the qualities you admire in your real life heroes?
Joan Reeves—Keeping Romance Alive…One Sexy Book at a Time—is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary Romance. From Romantic Comedy to Romantic Thriller, all of her books have the same premise: “It’s never too late to live happily ever after.” Joan lives her happily-ever-after with her hero, her husband, in the Lone Star State. They divide their time between a book-cluttered home in Houston and a quiet house in the Texas Hill Country where they sit on the porch, stare at the big night sky, and listen to the coyotes howl. Sign up for Joan’s Mailing List and be the first to know about new books and giveaways.