Valentine’s Day is coming up. It’s also my anniversary with the man in my life. 22 years. Doesn’t seem possible. I love you, honey!
But, even though I’ve got my own hero, I write romance so I’ve naturally considered, analyzed and fantasized about many different heroes. Through 30+ published stories, I’ve shared a number with my readers.
And I’ve come to the conclusion that I like my heroes flawed.
Strange to say that? Maybe. But I’ve found through my own reading that I really hate perfect men. You know the kind, the filthy rich, achingly beautiful, big hearted (even if it’s camouflaged) alpha males who manage to be knight in shining armor, breadwinner and teddy bear all rolled into one. To tell the truth, I hate reading about perfect people. It’s boring. If they’re perfect, they think of everything, they’re perfectly kind, perfectly safe, perfectly attentive, perfectly sexy… blah, blah, blah. Where’s the story in that? Ugh. Not to mention, that perfect alpha-type males makes my teeth itch.
Now, that’s not to say that I don’t like my heroes to have some perfections. Perfect looks is almost a given because… well, I’m shallow that way. You can ask my man. I like to look at pretty men. Always have, always will. It gives me understandable joy. But, I like to remember that one perfection can and really should subtract from other perfections. A man that looks that good has to work to make it so. He has to work for the perfect body, whether in the gym, through sports or through hard work. A perfect face still needs care — shaving, some kind of skin care because that perfect man shouldn’t have zits, etc. — and the perfect hair needs at least some seeing to otherwise it becomes a ragged mop that detracts from the overall appeal of the man. So, spending all that time on the looks means he simply can’t spend as much time on other things. So, he can’t be a scientific genius and have an encyclopedic knowledge of ’80s pop rock and medieval life. I’m not saying that there aren’t hot scientists or nerds out there, but sitting behind a desk all day or trolling the library does not contribute to the maintenance of the bod. And I’m not saying that men who pay attention to their looks have to be stupid. What I’m saying is that there’s got to be a balance. If a guy is a scientist who pays attention to his hot bod, he simply cannot be a gourmet chef, a pilot and donate his time to working a lunch line at the local homeless shelter while being a wonderfully attentive doggy dad. There is not enough time in a day, I say, and to pretend otherwise tests the limits of even my vivid and extensive imagination.
So when I write a hero, I find my character in the balance. What’s important to him? What does it take to maintain the perfect I’ve attributed to him? What gets him from when he wakes up to when he falls asleep? What makes him smile and what gives him satisfaction? Once I identify those key ingredients, I can usually figure out what balances out in his life. It’s better that way. In many ways, ignorance is good. If he knows everything about everything, what’s the fun in getting to know the heroine or other hero of the story? Johnnie Heaven was damn near perfect, but he’s a tad headstrong and overbearing, isn’t he? And I can tell you that’s he’s not all that well read and he can’t cook for shit. Radin’s pretty close to perfect, but it took him some work, some trials and divine intervention to get there.
My guys are almost always wonderful and attentive, or love gets them there, but I cannot and will not allow any of them to be absolutely perfect.