Does he exist? It’s a question I get asked an awful lot (often followed up with something along the lines of, ‘doesn’t reading romance novels give women unrealistic expectations?’). My answer is that yes, the perfect hero exists. But with an article change – namely ‘the’ to ‘my’. Because all readers are different, we all need different things from our heroes. That’s why a romance novel hero doesn’t have to be perfect – but he does have to be perfect for his heroine (or hero).
However, last week, in an orgy of wine and good food, Escape Artists Lily Malone and Eliza Redgold baked up a recipe for their perfect hero – and challenged me to concoct mine. I never back away from a good challenge, so here we go.
My perfect hero:
While a bit of angst only makes the ending sweeter, I can’t go past a playful hero who recognises that falling in love – and all the stuff that goes with it – should be fun. We don’t get a lot of play time as adults – we’re too tied up in our jobs, our chores, our money worries, our families. We need someone that can remind us that playing (whatever that means to you) is just as necessary and probably more important.
leads from the front.
There’s a lot to complain about. My hero doesn’t sit on his butt whinging – he gets up and tries to do something about it. Whether it’s as small as speaking up if someone makes an inappropriate joke or making sure that he separates his garbage from his recycling, or as big as captaining the USS Enterprise, my hero is aware of his own responsibility and power to enact change.
keeps the alpha to a minimum.
My love for beta heroes is well documented. Not for me the foot-stomping, chest-thumping, growling, grunting alpha male. All that pride – it’s just exhausting.
but still fights for what is right.
Even if it’s to his own detriment (and occasionally that of his crew).
seeks to improve himself.
I’m not saying that going to business school in order to best use the profits from your drug ring is necessarily laudable, but you’ve got to applaud the forward thinking and recognition of knowledge gaps – and the gumption to do something about it.
isn’t intimidated by strong women.
or, you know, women.
Because great sex is very important, but a man that can make you laugh? Priceless.
and doesn’t get all in your face about it.
(see: beta heroes, advantages of)
…and, okay, it wouldn’t suck if he looked like this: (I would have looked back, John Thornton! I would have looked back!)
So…what do you think? Have I baked up the perfect hero? What extra ingredients would you add?