A romantic hero must possess an awareness of himself, his motives, convictions, and his inner world. This hero must understand the value of his experiences, whether through intuition, logical reasonings, or dare I say it, getting in touch with his emotions. He may act irrational, may behave contrary to his inner thoughts, but his awareness must be piqued. The audience must be able to relate and emotionally connect with our romantic hero on some level of his emotions so that no matter what his experience is we can relate and expect the best of our hero.
In the romance genre there are a few stereotypes for our heroes.
Bad Boy Hero:
Nice girls and bad girls alike love to flirt with danger. Nothing says danger more than the bad boy. He is in a league of his own, breaking barriers, breaking rules, and breaking women’s hearts until he meets his match. More heroines and readers fall for the Bad Boy than any other hero. He is the ultimate rebel: mysterious, aloof, seemingly indifferent, the one we are convinced we can change. He starts off behaving badly and unrepentant, a rebel through and through. His inner good is revealed in the end due to actions of the heroine or circumstances that force the Bad Boy to become the knight in shining armor, and reveal that she in fact is the one that broke through to the tender heart inside.
The Alpha Male…we love him, we hate him, we adore him and resent him. The born take-charge leader in any situation, all look up to him and want to be him. He’s cool, confident, steady, strong, and sure. And of course he is uber sexy – flinging his locks in a carefree manner. A body like Joe Mangionella, hair like Fabio’s, a smile like Jake Gyllenhall, and a voice that leaves us weak in the knees. His ultimate role, I’ve noticed, is to take care of the heroine in whatever capacity is availed to him. He rescues her from a fall, from thieves and bandits, and always looks good doing it. Later, when the heroine has captured his attention he takes care of other needs like no one else is humanly capable of. Fair damsels in distress, and the Disney hero is on the scene.
What a tortured soul our Brooding hero is, misunderstood, just needing the opportunity to prove himself. Oh, how we love to torment him! He is aloof, angry, wounded, and ultimately the most vulnerable heroe out there. The Brooding Hero has captured many hearts in recent history with Angel and Edward Cullen. Yes, the misunderstood sensitive brooding hero is the perfect foil for the paranormal. Don’t hate him because he is vampire, he didn’t ask for this.
The Rogue, the Regency staple, is essentially a womanizing cad, a promiscuous dog that would nail a snake if you held its head down. Other than needing a clean card from his physician, he is a charmer, can be quite dashing, carelessly sexy, carefree about life, and love. The Rogue knows no bounds to his carnal desires, turning innocence to wanton, releasing the inner vixen in readers and heroines. He embraces his women like he embraces life; with zeal and deep passion. Commitment is not a word in his vocabulary, until the heroine turns his world on end, making nothing else matter as much as having her in his life. If I were to write about the rogue, this is the point where my heroine would have him begging her, pleading her to stay with him, he’ll change and she turns the tables on him, shattering his life into a million brittle pieces, making him feel life is but a shallow husk without her in it. but I believe in the happily ever after, so I skip this heartbreaker for my own writing.
Another name for the Nerd Hero is the Beta Hero. He’s kind, sweet, and decent. He can be the goofy best friend, or the slightly awkward guy that is overlooked. This hero type is thrust into the hero role almost exclusively due to the heroine, and always rises to the occasion proving that good guys are great guys, and great lovers!
This hero type litters many romance books. He can be a millionaire, billionaire, prince, shiek, or wealthy boss. Ninety percent of the time the Tycoon starts out isolated and jaded. He is dissatisfied with his “playboy life” and often meets a down to earth girl that shows him happiness.
The Protector Hero comes in many disguises and professions, most are obvious, but some are a little harder to discern . You can find him playing the role of a cop, firefighter, spy, detective, bodyguard, part of the military, etc. The plot behind many Protector Hero stories involves a mystery where he almost loses the heroine while trying to save her. The near loss brings him to the reality that he needs her desperately.
Pirates, swashbuckler, and superheroes make up the majority of Daredevil Heroes. They love action, fights, they live for the thrills. Enter the damsel in distress and they are on it! Daredevil heroes can sometimes be found in humorous romance, as their antics trying to impress the damsels are often quite comical, but in the end he wins the fair maidens heart.
The Warrior Hero, oddly enough is a reluctant hero. He thinks he’s above it all. His mission is to fight and protect his home, his country, and his men. He fights for honor, integrity, he fights because he is a man above other men. Then a woman shows up and throws his ordered world into chaos – gotta love that. Havoc ensues, not necessarily because of her but it becomes centered around her. He fights his emotions, fights love every step of the way. Other lesser men fall for women’s charms but not him. In the end, he’s the sweetest most docile caring lover that ever was, but the warrior is always just below the surface now ready to defend her honor and fight for his new life with her. Ironically, this hero is conquered by the most demure of heroines.
Then there’s the Paranormal Hero, when a human male just won’t cut it. The Paranormal Hero is prepared to win hearts, yet steal our very souls. He oozes sex appeal with his otherworldly hotness, taking our imaginations down a one way road to a dead-end alley of no return. He gives us images of erotic passions, extraordinary experiences that a simple human could never provide. The ultimate forbidden fruit, tempting us to sample just one bite knowing there is no turning back. Call him a vampire, a wizard, a lycanthrope, or whatever sort of being, it’s all the same to him. He lost his soul ages ago, and the heroine might , just might be able to save his wretched soul from despair, or at least provide a good meal in the end.
The anti-hero is akin to the nerd hero, but is less obvious. The reluctant hero, the guy you don’t expect to come through in the end. Sometimes he seems like the antagonist, right up to the critical moment when it comes down to making the right choice, and hero boy can’t cut the muster, then anti-hero steps forward, letting the heroine know that he’s been there for her all along, and always will be.
So, where are these guys in real life? Only in our imaginations, which is why we turn to fiction. In reality the alpha male that tries to boss us around or order us around is going to meet with firm resistance to the point that no matter how hot he is, he can take a flying leap back to the medieval times. In real life bad boys end up in jail – not a promising future as provider for our future sons and daughters. The tycoon? Well, they are out there but we don’t travel in the same circles as Shiek Hotness, or Heir von Richness. There are plenty of rogues out there breaking hearts left and right. When I come across the next ‘Angel’, I’ll send him on a mission to rid the plant of them. In the meantime, you decide for yourself which heroes appeal to you.
In the end it all comes to this, we dream of being romanced, pursued with passion like the characters in those books. We want the hero to want us, or at least a man who would romance us to some degree.
Write on my friends, write on!