Whether he’s beautiful and broken or charming and sweet, we need to understand first that our hero is down-deep a decent guy. If he’s done something bad, he deeply regrets it and cannot forgive himself. Although he may not be model-gorgeous, he’s fit and he has all his teeth. Heroes frequently are gorgeous, even though they have flaws and struggles. The flaws are important because we need to feel our hero is identifiable. He needs to seem real.
We don’t pine after Cinderella’s Prince Charming. He’s a stock figure and he looks good, but contemporary romances these days need a little more from their heroes other than looking good wearing a crown. We want to connect to a hero who might actually exist, a living, breathing individual. His flaws only help make him seem like a flesh and blood reality.
If he’s a veteran returning from war, he may struggle with post-traumatic syndrome disorder, but he likely saved his buddies’ lives. His struggles need to have a basis we can understand. Of course he’s a jerk sometimes, we think. Look what he’s dealing with.
Some heroes are fabulously rich and some are regular joes, but they both eventually–if not right away–are captured by the heroine and will love her forever. Heroes don’t cheat on the women they love and they aren’t mean to their mothers. They’re the men we love, even when they annoy the tar out of us.