Thursday, May 27, 2010

Guest Post: My (Not-So-Secret) Favorite Romance Character Types

Keira writes and runs Love Romance Passion. She’s a longtime romance reader, a new Kindle owner, and a junkie for USA TV shows. She loves marriage of convenience plots and angst ridden breakups that ultimately end up in gooey happily ever afters. You can also find Keira on Twitter at @reviewromance.

When I’m in a bookstore browsing shelves, I’m on the look out for key words in the blurbs on the backs of romances. Most of the time these key phrases refer to the hero or heroine type I’m most eager to gobble up at the moment. Now some of you know me and may have heard of my preferences in one way or another as I’m not shy about disclosing them, but hopefully you’ll bear with me and keep reading.

4 of My (Not-So-Secret) Favorite Romance Character Types: *Cue Applause*

1. Damaged Heroes: I love these guys. No seriously, I LOVE these guys. If the hero is listed as blind or scarred, a recluse, or having headaches from an accident on the back of a book cover it’s pretty much an auto-buy for me.

I’ve gone over different types of Damaged Heroes at my blog, but I’d love your input. Do you crave damaged heroes? Are they one of your favorite character types? If you do, who’s your favorite and why?

I love so many, but one that I read recently was Kilraven from Diana Palmer’s upcoming June release, Dangerous. He’s pretty much the epitome of a tragic hero. The poor guy lost his 3 year old daughter and wife in a brutal murder and it takes much work and skill on Diana’s part to make his romance with Winnie, the heroine believable.

2. Clumsy Heroines: One look at my blog and you can see I am a Twilight Junkie. One of my favorite things about Bella is her awkward clumsiness. I figure if a girl like that can find true everlasting love – so can I! Plus it makes for much fun in the storyline.

I love Clarissa from Lynsay Sands’ Love is Blind. The girl has extremely poor vision and when her stepmother Lydia takes away her glasses she’s simply disastrous, over spilling teacups, knocking over candles, stomping on feet, etc.

3. Older Heroes --- Way Older Heroes: I like heroes who are a good number of years older than their heroines. They’re usually insecure about falling in love with a younger heroine or they’re jaded and regain some of their innocence by falling for the heroine.

Theodore from Years by LaVyrle Spencer is one of my favorite older heroes. He has a son who’s age is closer to the heroine than he is and that really messes with him.

A love for older heroes plays really well with vampires too! Those guys are not simply a decade older than the heroine – they’re centuries older than the heroine. Can you imagine? Yum. I love Jean-Claude from the Anita Blake series. I would eat blueberry pie until it came out of my ears for him.

4. Insecure Heroines: This breed of heroine is very close to clumsy heroines, but an insecure heroine is not necessarily clumsy. Plump and plain heroines fall under this category for me and I adore them. Their heroes are especially scrumptious because they work to tear down that mountain of insecurity and replace it with unconditional love. Tolerance, acceptance, and self-love are major themes in these romances, and really, who doesn’t love that message? We could all do with loving ourselves more.

Minerva from Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie is one such heroine. She’s a little overweight, loves to eat, and wears sexy shoes. It’s the shoes that do the hero in… he lives for her footwear.

So there you have it! What are your favorite character types and why?


PG Forte said...

Fabulous list. Might have to print it out and tape it to my wall.

mustangsabby said...


When the hero is a war veteran and is dealing with the PTSD. Something about the whole unseen wounds of war makes me want to soothe him.

When the hero is a total lady's man, rake, etc, and then gets the whole "whammo" up the side of their head when they meet their twue lurve. Its even better if they think they have lost said twue lurve. Historicals are good for this. Oh to find a rogue! :)

Cowboys who don't need nothin' from nobody. The ones who love just as powerfully once they can't control themselves as they resist before they realize they want the heroine.

Heroine's I like variety. Shy, empowered, young, older... the only ones I can't stand are the ones who are helpless, and rely on the man to make it right, or scream and faint at any sort of danger and woe. Ugh.

Maija A. said...

You are my secret soul mate. Seriously! Those are exactly the kind of character types I _love_ in books. Like PG Forte before me, I'm thinking about printing this list and taping it to my wall.

Keira, have you read Sharing Knife series by Lois McMaster Bujold (it's fantasy with romance)? The hero is really much older than the young girl. And he's injured! I think I should re-read that fabulous series again...

Carolyn Crane said...

What a fabulous post!!!

"If the hero is listed as blind or scarred, a recluse, or having headaches from an accident on the back of a book cover it’s pretty much an auto-buy for me."

LOL. Well put! I love that, too. And apparently, I'm going to have to read Dangerous!!!!

RIght now I'm reading 9 rules to break when romancing a rake that has a plain plump insecure heroine you might enjoy!

Keira of LoveRomancePassion said...

@PG Forte - Thanks! :) If you do print, send me a picture! My email is

@mustangsabby - Try Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer if you haven't yet. The hero is an ex-convict turned war hero who then comes back and has to deal with PTSD. It's delicious.

@Maija - I always need another soul mate! I have not read the Sharing Knife series, but I'm rectifying that right now. Book 1 is on hold at my library.

@Carolyn Crane - Thank you. What can I say? I love me damaged heroes. 9 Rules, huh? I will have to put in a request for it at my library!

AnimeJune said...

1. Damaged Heroes - ME TOO! My favourite would be S.T. Maitland from Laura Kinsale's PRINCE OF MIDNIGHT, which, if you haven't read, you NEED to. Like, NOW. One of the BEST books I've EVER read. He used to a dashing, romantic highwayman but thanks to ear damage he can barely walk in a straight line without getting dizzy, but still manages to be dashing in his own way.

2. Eeeeeeh. It depends. If it's not done in a cutesy way, that it's okay, but I find that slapstick is always risky in books because it's based on timing and it's incredibly difficult to capture that timing in writing.

3. I disagree on this one. I like young, boyish heroes. I think the reason I tend to dislike really older heroes is because - well, they tend to fall for a young, dewy heroine and her "innocence," which I find creepy (creepy enough to explain at length in my own Katiebabs Guest Post on the 31st). For instance, I disliked the age gap between Leonie and Avon in Heyer's THESE OLD SHADES because it gave off a cradle-robber vibe.

4. Insecure Heroines - as long as there's a reason for the insecurity, a real reason that isn't "oooh, my breasts are just TOO unfashionably large," than I'm fine. Wallflowers are awesome.

Tam said...

I read m/m but a hero is a hero is a hero. They all fall in the same categories.

I'm not big on the broken heros because they tend to be angsty and I just want to give them a smack on the back of the head and tell them to suck it up and do what has to be done. Oh yeah, my sympathy runs deep. LOL

I don't mind clumsy heros, they can be good for a laugh. I did read one where the guy couldn't see a thing without his glasses which was kind of awkward at times. It was well done. I like insecure heros if they actually have something to be insecure about, not just their own paranoia. If you're 6'2", have a six pack (not beer), gorgeous blue eyes, thick wavy hair and snow white straight teeth, ummm, get over it. You're a damn model.

I'm torn with the May/December thing. I do like when the younger character brings some youth back to the older but sometimes I start thinking and get squicked. I read something where there was a 25 year age differnce. Sure it's great when he's 50, but then I thought, when the younger guy is my age, his partner will be the age of my Dad. Ewwwwwww. Gross. So I have to be careful not to think too much on that front. Usually around the 10-12 year max works better for me. When he's 70 and you're 60, that's not so bad.

I like heros with normal jobs, who aren't rich and spend all their time in their penthouse loft or jetting around the world. Yeah, I like to escape into fantasy when I read but there's some smidgen that says "Maybe that could really happen to me" (like you said with the clumsy heroine). If it's too unbelievable it falls into eye-rolling territory for me and then the book has lost me.

Great list.

Keira of LoveRomancePassion said...

@AnimeJune - I forget where I read it or anything else really about the novel, but there was one romance that I read that the girl was so large on top she needed special clothes and that if she didn't get a reduction she might have back injuries. That makes it a problem, not just something thrown in as an afterthought.

As for me, I LOVE (and in ten time bigger font LOVE) These Old Shades. Oh my gosh how I love that book. If I knew where to find fanfic on that book I'd be reading it. lol I would say I'm iffy boyish heroes. The last few I read I wanted to punch in the face and toss in a river to drown.

Oh adn I put Prince of Midnight on hold at the library. I love my library's online catalog. It's great for when I get so many fabulous recs!

AnimeJune said...

Also - for more damaged heroes, have you read HIS EVERY KISS by Laura Lee Guhrke? A composer who, after a head injury, hears a constant whine and can't compose music anymore. Lovely!

Keira of LoveRomancePassion said...

@Tam - That's why vampire romances are awesome. Huge age gap. Still young and fabulous. lol :)

What type of jobs do you go for? White or blue collar? Which is more believable?

Keira of LoveRomancePassion said...

@AnimeJune - On hold at library! Yum!!! :D Not too often one finds hearing problems in romance.

A favorite of mine, involves a damaged heroine who's mute. I thought that was pretty cool. It was psychological and she had her voice back by the end of the category romance, but it was still neat. She ended up being like a real Little Mermaid. It's called Silence Speaks for Love by Emma Goldrick. It's HQN Presents #1465 June 1992.

Maija A. said...

Had to come and list some more... I remembered at least these great books (I gave either 4 or 5 stars).

Lisa Marie Rice: Midnight Angel (beauty and the beast, alpha male, scarred hero, blind heroine) - contemporary romance, some suspense

Mary Balogh: Simply Love (really scarred hero) - historical

Teresa Medeiros: Your Until Dawn (blind hero) - historical

Christina Dodd: Candle in the Window (blind hero) - historical

Beth Cornelison: Healing Luke (scarred hero) - contemporary

Sarah Brophy: Midnight Eyes (blind heroine, thought to be "deformed" but is really beautiful) - historical

Have you tried any of these? And what about these --> They're on my TBB-list:
-Carol Lynne: Never Too Old (age difference)
-Bella Andre: Never Too Hot (scarred hero), just released!
-Georgina Gentry: Diablo (scarred hero)
-Bonnie Dee: A Hearing Heart (deaf hero)

JenM said...

We must have been separated at birth! Your list is exactly the same as mine. The angstier, the better. Scars, physical, mental, bring 'em on. For me, this applies to both heros and heroines. I adore all deeply damaged leads, clumsy leads, wallflowers, physical deformities, whatever.

I read These Old Shades as a teenager (many years ago) and can't tell you how much I loved it. It was just released for Kindle so I bought, reread it, and swooned all over again. Just read Laura Kinsale's Prince of Midnight and seriously swooned.

I'm going to check out some of these others, but in the meantime, my all time favorite damaged hero is Francis Crawford of the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett. This is a six book series set in sixteenth century Scotland/Europe with the ultimate damaged anti-hero. The books are dense with historical details, but there is also a great romance and amazingly, there is a happy ending.

Tam said...

I think I like teachers, bakers (bakers are hot), things like lawyers are fine but the vague "business man" is kind of tired. I do love me a cop or a fire fighter though. Ohhhh yeaaaah. :-) Nurses, I guess people that you KNOW what they do. Vets are good. I don't seem to be fussy, just not rich man with no visible means of support. Unless you are a vampire, then like the age thing all is forgivable. :-)

Keira of LoveRomancePassion said...

@Maija - I've read a few of these. Some have reviews on my site. The rest I tracked down at my library if I could. Thanks for all the great recs!

@JenM - So are you Arnold or Danny? *g*

@Tam - Vague business men are a staple sadly. I don't usually care but I agree for the most part it's a tired job description.

Magdalen said...

I'm a great believer in "never say never" (mostly because the Earth Currents & other Otherworldly Forces will rise up and slap me with the counterexample if I do say never), but I have some general reactions to your list.

Damaged heroes require a skillful author. Two much psychological damage and I think the guys needs a shrink more than a squeeze. Too much physical trauma can also be distracting. But withdrawing from society is just fine! To Beguile a Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt is a lovely book, for just that reason.

Klutzy heroines require a skillful author to prevent what I call the "cringe-worthy" scenes. I can empathize with a physically awkward heroine, but if her calamities are too disastrous, I am embarrassed for her and I get that yucky prickly feeling as if I had made the faux pas.

Older heroes require a skillful author. (Are you sensing a theme here?) Heyer pulls off the Duke of Avon - LĂ©onie romance because it's plausible that she's no sheltered miss after 19 years. Otherwise, 22 years would be a lot, maybe even too much.

Insecure heroines are ubiquitous. (Hah. Fooled you.) All heroines are insecure at some level or about something. If they weren't, they would know all along that the hero was going to fall in love. (Or else the heroine would be TSTL, which I know is NOT one of your favorite types.) Insecurity is one of those things that allow us to connect with a heroine, no matter how ruthlessly efficient she is. You wait -- even uber-woman Parker Brown from Nora Roberts' Bride Quartet is going to turn out to have a secret doubt about something.

Great list, Keira, and great comments. I've already ordered the Emma Goldrick book -- thanks!

Anonymous said...

My tastes differ from yours quite a bit, though I do think I can understand your reasoning. :)

1. Damaged heroes...are difficult for me. If they're done extremely well, like S. T. Maitland from The Prince of Midnight and Elizabeth Hoyt's To Beguile a Beast, all right. But I really sometimes think that you need a heck of a lot more than a little sex to get over some of the damage I've seen on heroes. And then, there are the psychologically damaged ones. Ouch. Daddy issues pain me--and not in a good, empathetic way.

2. Bella drove me nuts. While a certain degree of reality (ie: not perfect swanlike grace) is terrific, the klutzy heroine often reads to me as a semi-slapstick kind of trope.

3. May/December does give me a bit of a cradle robber vibe. Susan Wiggs does it relatively well, in The Lord of the Night, but then again, Avon totally squicked me out with his constant "my infant"-ing in These Old Shades.

4.I loved Min. Absolutely 100%. But then you have Evie Jenner, Penelope Featherington, and a number of others whom I sometimes just wanted to slap. I'm actually really fond of the socially insecure bluestocking (like Lydia, from Meredith Duran's Bound By Your Touch), but I might prefer well-adjusted society leaders, like those in Kate Noble's two latest books. Of course, too much brass is just TSTL, but the constant self-doubt can read as extreme self-absorption if it's not written well.

JenM said...

Can we both be Arnold? Maybe we were cloned.

Kaetrin said...

Sorry I'm late to the party. Count me in with the damaged heroes and the insecure heroines. I actually like the insecure hero (although they're rare I think) and the damaged heroine too. I love it when the hero rescues the heroine from something awful and the heroine rescues the hero from some terrible inner angst.
I agree with you about Min from Bet Me and I loved Christian Jervaulx from Flowers from the Storm as an example of the damaged.
But, as long as they're not TSTL, I'll pretty much give anyone a go!

Keira of LoveRomancePassion said...

@Magdalen - Haha. Your theme is a good point. I hope you like Silence Speaks for Love. I just reread it today. :D

@Anonymous - It takes all kinds. I can see where Bella would drive people nuts, but I liked her for all her flaws. I don't think I've read Evie or Penelope, what books do they come from?

@JenM - Sure! I'm good with that. ;)

@Kaetrin - Never late! The party only starts when you show up (right? *g*) I'm good with damaged heroines so long as they're not rape victims I think (to pull from Magdalen) that it takes a very skilled author to make a raped heroine believable. It would surprise you to learn that I couldn't stand Flowers from the Storm -- I couldn't stand the gibberish after a while and it took too much effort to decode it.

Anonymous said...

Penelope Featherington is from Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn......and I absolutely loved her. It got tedious near the end....but this book is one of my go-to re-reads. Of course -- I absolutely adore wallflowers.