The romantic hero is evolving, that’s for sure. Many years ago when I read my first romantic novel, the hero was domineering, almost nasty, and of course rich. I mean who wants to choose between a Chanel and Louis Vuitton when you can have both.
The hero was either a gifted businessman who didn’t get out of bed for under a million or he was high born and could turn his heroine into a princess, literally.
There were many exceptions to the hero rule (cowboys, pirates, policemen) but the uber rich businessman/playboy or the Count was the norm.
But not any more. I’m reading two eBooks at the moment and both heroes are a surprise.
The first one is Black Ice by Anne Stuart, first published in 2005. Wow, that hero takes nasty to a whole new level. Maybe we have 9/11 and terrorism to thank for him. In the excerpt below, he’s in the heroines room, uninvited. She’s a young innocent girl, asleep, drugged into oblivion, thanks to him.
“…it would simplify matters if he killed her now. He could do it fast, neatly, and simply tell Hakim he didn’t trust her…He put his hand on her neck…He tightened his fingers for just a moment.”
Yep, he’s a bloody thirsty assassin without a conscience. He regularly debates killing his heroine and at once stage, walks away leaving her in the hands of a torturer. After about an hour, he turns up to view the torture and is surprised to find her still alive, although badly cut and burnt. Truly!
And the truth is, I haven’t been able to put the book down. Why? Because I must know how Anne Stuart manages to turn her callous killer into someone we readers wish we were with.
Imagine waking up next to him when he’s nursing a bad hang-over!
The other book is Kendall Talbot’s, Lost in Kakadu. It’s an adventure read, which I am enjoying but then I like stories about people stuck in the wilds and their struggle to survive. The thing is, the hero is gay. At least he was, until his partner died in the plane crash. He’s a wonderful cook though, and he cooks the heroine delicious camp fire feasts.
By half way mark, he’s become bi-sexual and latches onto her. As the reader, I like him. He would make a great best friend. But I just can’t see him in a romantic light.
I reckon that this hero diversity is good news. It means that, as writers, we can make our heroes be anything or do anything we want. We just have to be clever enough to get away with it. Happy writing.