Every woman loves the feeling of falling in love, and romance novels deliver that delicious emotion vicariously to readers, over and over again. No matter what the heat level of the book, a woman wants to close those pages with a satisfied smile on her face after she reaches the end.
And who better to put that smile there than the romance hero?
Since romance novels are fantasies designed to help a woman escape the real—and often stressful—world, the romance hero has to live up to that fantasy, maybe be a little larger than life. He’s not so much written as men are, but as women would like them to be.
The romance hero should be attractive. He does not have to be drop-dead gorgeous (though many are), but he does need to be attractive in a way that gets a woman’s juices flowing. Maybe he’s not really handsome so much as compelling. Rugged. Strong. Nice eyes or a nice smile. Maybe his nose has been broken and is now a little crooked. Doesn’t matter. He should have a decent body, preferably with great abs or pecs that look good on a book cover, but he doesn’t have to be a bodybuilder. He should nothave a beer belly or hair on his back!
He should be strong enough and smart enough to protect the heroine. Not that she really needs protecting, of course, but we’re talking fantasy here. Female readers are not going to fall in love with a wimp or a simpleton. They want to be the hero’s lover, not his mother!
He should be good in bed. ‘Nuff said.
He should not be a jerk. This is perhaps the most important. He needs to respect the heroine and not treat her badly. Now, he can start out as a jerk, but the reader needs to understand why he’s behaving that way, and he cannot stay that way through the whole book. Generally, if a romance hero appears to be a jerk in the beginning of the book, it’s because the story is going to redeem him.
Let’s look at the movie Thor, for example. Going down the checklist:
1. He’s very attractive, and that body is smokin’! Pecs and abs sculpted to perfection.
2. He’s definitely strong enough to protect the heroine, and he’s clearly not stupid. Have you heard him talk, that vocabulary? And the accent? (Fanning myself)
3. Good in bed? Though we haven’t seen much more than a hot kiss, I’m betting Thor knows what he’s doing in that area. I mean, check out that hammer! (Wink)
4. Not be a jerk. Uh-oh. Thor definitely starts out the movie as a jerk. He acts like a child, throwing tantrums, breaking things, disobeying his father the king until Dad finally tosses his butt out of Asgard and takes away his powers. It’s not until he learns humility after meeting Jane Foster that he redeems himself and get his powers back (just in time to save the world, of course!)
By the end of the story, Thor meets all criteria for a romance novel hero.
What about you? Who are some of the most memorable heroes you’ve read about? Why did you fall in love with them?
Prodigal Son—the new paranormal romance from acclaimed historical romance author Debra Mullins
Bounty hunter Rafe Montana is a Seer, descended from the fabled Atlanteans. He uses his inherited power to “see” criminals across the globe and track them down, and he’s just started on a new case. Danny Cangialosi is accused of disappearing with a stolen car…but for the first time in his life, when Rafe goes looking, he is unable to “see” him. Instead, his search leads him to Danny’s stubborn, meddling, and very cute stepsister, Cara McGaffigan.
Cara is looking for Danny, too, but not to turn him in. He is her brother, after all, and she’s convinced he has a good heart. If she can just find him before the cops do, she’ll figure out a way to get him out of this. But Cara didn’t count on a scorching-hot bounty hunter getting in her way.
Despite instant chemistry, Rafe and Cara know they’re never going to see eye-to-eye when it comes to Danny. What they don’t know is that Danny didn’t just steal a car—he stole a precious stone, a stone right out of the legends of Atlantis. It holds powers they can only dream of…and its owner wants it back.
About the Author
Debra Mullins is the author of thirteen historical romances for Avon Books and one paranormal romance for Tor/Forge. Her books have been translated into several languages and nominated for awards from both the magazine RT Book Reviews and Romance Writers of America and its chapters, including the Golden Heart, the RITA, the Holt Medallion (twice), the Book Buyer’s Best Award, and the National Readers Choice Award. She also won the Golden Leaf Award for Best Historical for her book, A NECESSARY BRIDE.
Debra has spoken at various RWA chapter meetings, as well as the national RWA conference, the Liberty States Fiction Writers conference and the Emerald City Writers’ Conference in Seattle. In August 2009, she gave a full day special event for the Orange County chapter of Romance Writers of America with author Charlotte Carter, where she spoke on the topics of character and conflict.
Born and raised in the New York/New Jersey area, Debra now lives in Californiaand has been actively writing for over twenty years. A language nerd, she could speak four languages by the time she graduated high school. At age 16, she went to France on a student exchange program for a summer. By the time she came home to the U.S., she was dreaming in French.
She is currently finishing a paranormal trilogy for Tor/Forge. The first book, PRODIGAL SON, is due out in October 2013. Debra is a member of Novelists Inc., Liberty States Fiction Writers, and several chapters of RWA.