What’s so great about Romance Novel Heroes?
Besides being gorgeous to look at, I mean. Although they are usually portrayed as superior physical specimens, they are also flawed in some way- they have some score to settle or some major emotional scars to overcome. A typical Romance Hero spends the first part of any good romance novel pissing off the Heroine, and more often than not, seducing her against her better judgment. Why are today’s women, who have more freedom and independence than previous generations, still so fascinated with the “Alpha Male” hero stereotype?
There is something very primal about the male taking charge, taking care of a woman. Whether he is a billionaire with control issues, or a seventeenth-century scot, or an ageless vampire, a common thread emerges- he “rescues” the heroine. The threat may be soldiers, supernatural foes, or he may even be saving her from herself. But the hero brings something to the story that is way more satisfying than the heroine doing all these things on her own.
Women in real life do amazing things all the time, with or without men in their lives. Novel Heroines are written all the time that kick butt, take no prisoners and save the day. Some of those are excellent stories, with interesting, vivid characters. But some people are drawn to the Romance, Erotic Romance, and the countless other sub-genres of Romance because they prefer particular elements in their stories, such as the “Happily Ever After”. The relationship between the two main characters in these genres is forefront, and they must end up together once the story arc is complete.
Sure, it’s a formula, but there is a reason for it- fulfillment. Just as you would expect the mystery to be solved by the end of a novel in the Mystery genre, Romance readers expect the two main characters to be committed to their relationship at the end of the story.
Nowadays, there are more sub-genres of Romance than ever before. There are BDSM, Gay and Lesbian romances, Paranormal Romances, and countless other variations. But in this post I am focusing on the more common male-female relationship, as that is the one that has been the focus of most of the books I have read.
I believe the “take-charge Alpha Male” (albeit in countless variations) is so popular because he is the ideal. The heroine does not have to remind him about his Mother’s birthday, help him find his socks, or endure the clip-ping of his monthly toe-nail cutting. He is not subject to mundane reality, and his focus for most of the book is on the Heroine.
With our Romance heroes, we can live out our fantasies. He is an eleven on a scale of one to ten in the bedroom, and he always looks sexy. Even though he has flaws, we know they can be fixed, and usually are by the end of the book.
And this is all ok. We need this outlet, to know that men can have all these awesome qualities, so when we see flashes of them in our boyfriends and husbands, we can smile that special smile, saved for our own real-life Hero.
And it makes it easier to understand that in men’s fantasies, there is an ideal woman. We may not agree with or particularly enjoy what they fantasize about, but when your man gives you that special smile, you may have just done something to remind him that you are the ideal woman, the Ultimate Heroine, in his eyes.
Do you like the way Heroes are portrayed in Romance Novels? What would you like to see done differently in regard to Heroes?