Irresistible Heroes: No Cookie Cutter Required
Hi, everyone! First, I want to thank Elisabeth for welcoming me to her blog! She’s full of talent, energy and laughter, and generally the kind of girl I like to be around.
Last month, Elisabeth shared, on twitter and facebook, her pet peeve about promiscuous heroes. You know the ones—they’ve slept with every female in the city and everyone knows it. In real life, unless you’re looking to put the finishing touches on your collection of STDs, this is not sexy.
What makes a sexy hero? Like all good things in lit, there’s no formula. So I wanted to talk about what a great hero might not be.
I always roll my eyes when people talk about alpha heroes like there’s no acceptable alternative. Betas can be just as sexy. Ever watch The Office? How much did you melt watching Jim and Pam find their way together? Jim is the ultimate beta. He sat back and waited for the girl he wanted (Pam) to figure out she was with the wrong guy. Sexual tension? Heck yeah! I loved every minute of it.
The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins is another great example. I love this book on so many levels, but I think it’s a great example of an irritable beta hero. The back story is that Ethan met Lucy in college, fell for her, brought her home (as a friend) to meet his family, and then got to watch as Lucy fell in love with and married his brother. He did all this because he loved Lucy enough to let he be with the man she loved. Let’s be honest: An alpha wouldn’t let this happen. But the story wouldn’t be what it was, wouldn’t have had the delicious tension it had, if Ethan was alpha.
They May Not Be Rich
I have yet to read a romance featuring a lazy, jobless, broke-ass who lives off his aging parents’ Social Security checks. But there’s a lot of room between that kind of loser and the richer-than-God likes of Christian Grey and Edward Cullen. Not all heroes out-gross Bill Gates.
I grew up reading Jude Deveraux, who wrote about this big extended family of millionaires, and there is something to be said for the fantasy of money never being an issue. However, for those of us living in the real world, there’s something even sexier in a man who works hard for what he has. Heroes have to be successful in their own right, but that success doesn’t have to be measured by dollar signs.
They May Not Be Promiscuous
I don’t blame Elisabeth for finding the promiscuous hero…icky. While I think it can be an important part of a hero’s character arc—poignant, even, if handled carefully—I think it’s overused. Does this come from the fantasy of “taming” him? (Gag!) Or just from the desire for the hero to be most-excellent between the sheets? I’m not convinced a long series of one-night stands makes one a stud in bed.
I just finished reading Victoria Dahl’s Real Men Will and realized this post was a great excuse to gush excessively talk about it. It ties in perfectly with the subject of hero promiscuity and why it is or isn’t appealing. To have a chance with the heroine, the hero of RMW, Eric, pretended to be his (allegedly) promiscuous brother. Before you decide you hate him, know he had the confidence to hook up with her only because of her false perception of his sexual experience. Guys have insecurities too. Go figure. He worried he was too vanilla for the heroine—who was also not as experienced as she pretended to be. What a clusterfuck…
Dahl explores societal expectations of male and female sexuality and sexual identity in this novel. One of the themes is that great sex isn’t the result of loads of experience or freaky toys or wild contortionist positions. Great sex happens when you’re comfortable with your partner. And Eric, whose sexual resume isn’t that of his brother’s, is really good in bed. Or, more to the point, he’s good with the heroine.
At the end of the day, I think the only thing a hero has to be is a flawed being (human, alien, were, whatever) with…potential to be better.
What characteristics do your heroes have to possess?
I like to give away things, so I’ll give away a digital copy of my short novella, JUST ONE NIGHT, to one random commenter. I’ll pick the winner on 8/31, so make sure you leave your comment by then.
Author of both contemporary and paranormal romance, Lexi Ryan writes smart, spunky stories that sizzle. She enjoys reading, sunshine, a good glass of wine, and trips to the beach. If she’s not hitting the pavement in an attempt to be a runner, you can probably find her perusing the nearest selection of fully-loaded ice cream.
Lexi’s latest novel, Text Appeal, features a bad boy poker player who has the reputation for being both rich and promiscuous but is neither. Lexi concedes, however, that Charlie’s a little more alpha than beta. Lovers of the beta hero—stay tuned for her January release, Accidental Sex Goddess.
Lexi lives in Indiana with her husband and two young children. You can find her at her website: www.lexiryan.com
Text Appeal is available at most eretailers, including:
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/text-appeal-lexi-ryan/1111454979?ean=2940014791472