The millionaire romance hero has gotten a lot of play recently and I don’t have anything against men with money. But how many millionaires do you know? I have this on-going conversation with my critique partners who claim romance readers want fantasy, not reality. Well, no, we don’t necessarily want to read about the grim parts of life, but I maintain that we can all find love and learn to live happily in fulfilling, real life relationships. That’s not fantasy. I don’t have anything against the occasional paranormal–usually those told with humor. I love Janet Evanovich’s Diesel series.
The heroes that spring up in my books, though, are real guys. Not werewolves or vampires or shape-shifting mindreaders. They generally have rock-hard abs and broad shoulders, but they also have stuff to learn.
I recently changed my Mr. Personality cover from a snarling great-looking guy to a cover with a couple. Mr. Personality is great-looking and he snarls. He’s got issues to overcome and he doesn’t feel or act very charming in the beginning. However, my readers were so impacted by the cover of him snarling that they couldn’t get past that. Those who did and actually read the book ended up loving Max. The cover, however, was hard for some to get beyond.
The heroes in my contemporary romances are meant to be guys like your brothers, husbands and sons in their best moments. I don’t see much point in focusing on how often they belch, scratch themselves or wear holey underwear, but real guys dealing with real issues are so much more interesting to me. I love heroes who face life challenges–loss and anger and fear–and come out on top. Sometimes they make bad choices, but they learn from these.
Heroes work. They pay their bills. They may not always like their moms, but they always love and respect them and these heroes try to deal with their own crap. They don’t blame everything on the women in their lives. This is the kind of guy we all want to go home to. Someone who pays child support if he’s not with his kids’ mom and who’s never ever considered roofie-ing a girl so he can take advantage of her.
You know, a good guy.