Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Perfect Hero

I have a thing for heroes. Really, I do! I don't really care about her when I'm reading a romance. I want to know about him. I want to be in his head. It's taken the market many frustrating years to catch up with my reading preferences. While it is getting better, there's still a long way to go before I'm overwhelmed with choices.

Creating heroes is the easy part of a romance for me. Creating her is like climbing Mount Everest with no oxygen tanks. My romance novels are HIS story. His relationships, his past, his future, his issues. I have very firm ideas about what makes a hero, and I'm going to share some of them today.

Right now I'm in love with Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter books. Specifically I'm in love with a 6'8" Atlantean god named Acheron, leader of the Dark Hunters. He has everything I love in a hero: Height, a fierce sense of loyalty, a tragic backstory, will do anything to protect those he loves, tries his best to always act with compassion and kindness, and tries not to hold people's pasts against them. This dude is the KING of tragic pasts. It's a miracle he has any compassion and kindness left in him.

Acheron is my idea of a perfect hero. But it might surprise you what draws me most to him. It's not my undying fascination with Atlantis, or his height, or his tragic past, though all of those things are important to my love of him as a character. It's his compassion. No matter how much he gets stomped on and betrayed by people he should be able to trust, he refuses to give up. Even while his former best friend schemes to kill him he holds on to the hope that one day they can at least tolerate each other again.

My perfect hero is a man of compassion. A man who never gives up, no matter how much life beats him down. He's a warrior with a strong sense of justice and loyalty. He's a protector of those weaker than him, male or female, animal or alien. Most importantly he's not afraid to lay down his life for the one he loves. And he's not afraid for her to know it.

The hero can be a smart-ass, a rogue, have a bad attitude, or any number of other things. So long as he is compassionate and treats his lady (by the end of the story) with kindness and compassion, I will love him.

When heroes walk into my head, and they always come first, they tend to be warriors. Warrior does not mean alpha male as in paranormal romance alpha male. That gets old. A warrior is someone who fights his battles instead of shirking them. Someone who feels a strong sense of responsibility for those under his care. Someone who acknowledges his duty, whatever it may be, and performs it to the best of his ability. They're also noble and put others first.

Don't overlook the importance of having a noble hero. If I don't like your hero I'm not going to finish the book. And if I don't like MY hero, that I created, I'm definitely not going to finish the book.

Rachel Leigh Smith is a romance writer, a geek, and a Southern belle. She lives in Louisiana with a half-crazed calico named Zoe. When not adding words to an SFR novel she’s reading paranormal romance or crafting while watching some type of SF on TV. She’s still unpublished, but hopefully not for long. She also blogs sporadically at www.rachelleighsmith.com and hangs out on Facebook.

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