Saturday, May 20, 2006

Romance heros vs normal guys

Lately, I've been thinking about what makes a hero sexy. I've never been a sucker for an alpha guy. Honestly, they scare me. But lots of readers seem to love them. Give me a good hearted Beta who'll pop the corn and cuddle up with me on the couch for a romantic movie to a swaggering Alpha who leaves you sitting at home while he roars off on his Harley for a night out with boys and you can't help fearing he's eyeing the women who come into the bar.

But it doesn't seem to matter what I personally like. In romance, Alphas rule the world. Look at all the guys who populate the real world who'd never make it into our novels. No short guys need apply. If you've got red hair, you're out of here. Bald? Ha! Overweight? Fuggidaboutit. And heaven forbid if a romance hero isn't hung like Trigger.

In an earlier post, Candy asked the question about why romance heroines couldn't be as flawed as television heroines. I content the road is just as hard for heros, maybe even harder. He's got to be tough and sensitive. Gorgeous and rugged. Have washboard abs and be a minimum of six foot tall and listen attentively while slaying dragons. The bar is set pretty darned high.

Do we want out heros as total fantasies? Is it possible to ever have a hero who needs to drop a few pounds and has male pattern baldness and a flat butt? Or must he forever have a lush head of hair and a 32 inch waist? I don't know. Maybe it's just me. I've written 35 books and I'm just a tad tired of unrealistic guys. How much reality are you willing to accept in the romances you read? Should we keep our heroes on a pedastal? Or is it okay to guys who are just a little more real?


Nonny said...

... am I the only one who'd find a red-headed hero sexy as all hell?

As for height, well, men that are too tall intimidate me (I'm 5'11), so when the author stresses the height issue, it tends to annoy me. (Exception being J. R. Ward. She's the only one who's managed to pull it off yet.)

TBH, it's personality and attitude that does it most for me rather than appearances. Especially in a novel, where it isn't as visually focused as a movie. If the hero's a total dickwad, I don't care how sexy he looks, I'm still gonna want to bash his balls in with a nice heavy iron skillet. Nah, better yet, a mace. *evil grin*

Realistic heroes would definitely be nice. I'd like to read about something other than the standard business mogul or lord or private investigator or doctor, etcetera. Why don't we ever se, like, male nurses or IT techs as heroes?

At the same point, I don't want to read about a thirty-something dude who's still living with his mum and playing video games all day, either. Realism is nice, but I think some people end up going too far in the opposite direction when they try to make something "realistic."

Manuelita said...

I read romance for the fantasy. I don't want a "realistic" hero. I do prefer Beta males to Alpha males. He has to have a sensitive side. But physically, I want the hero to be tall, hunky, eyes you can drown in, have abs of steel ... basically, the hero has to make me drool!!

Candy Halliday said...

What a great question, Lori!

Finding a good balance for a hero has always been hard for me.

In general, the romance criteria for a hero dictates that he must be hunky so the reader will fall in love with him. But (as the author) I want to fall in love with him, too. And that's where the "reality" part kicks in, and it gets a bit tricky for me.

Personally, looks have always been way down on my list of priorities. Show me a man with a good sense of humor, a good heart, and with the right attitude about love and life, and I'm swooning.

I'd love to write a romance where the only average-looking guy gets the girl. (Think Miranda's Steve in Sex and the City).

But I'm ashamed to admit that in my books, and for my readers' sake, I always go with Carrie's Mr. Big types.
the wimp

Diana Holquist said...

Well...seeing as my next book is called "Sexiest Man Alive"...I'd have to vote for the alpha guy.

(Really. I swear. That's the title. I laughed out loud when my editor suggested it, but now I'm seeing how right it is for this book.)

Anyway, my problem isn't with the alpha hero, but with the always-strong, in control heroine. This book has a shy heroine, and my critique partners are scolding me...

Guess it goes both ways.


MaryF said...

I really like fantasy guys. Even some of Suzanne Brockmann's heroes look a little too realistic for me. I knnow, I'm shallow ;)

But I could go for a redhaired hero. I know Michele Albert did one, and there's always Jamie Fraser.

Diane Perkins said...

Oh, give me an alpha guy any day. But when I look at it, my heroes also have strong beta traits. They always come through for the heroine, even if they haven't in the past.
I don't care too much about the physical, though. It is the personality that works for me. Tell me he is handsome and give very few details and my mind fills in the rest (a Gerard Butler lookalike???)
I don't want a redhead! In my mind Jamie Fraser never had read hair. I'm reading a book now that mentions the hero's red hair way too often!