The Perfect Hero

The perfect hero in historical romance. Is there one? What fantasy do readers want?

In reality, as much as we are filled with fanciful and romantic thoughts, there probably isn’t a perfect man. Of course, it depends on how you define perfection. Like the variety of readers and their various tastes over heroines, there is no absence of criticism over the perfect male. Once again, I’ve strolled through the reviews of some bestselling authors to find out what women are thinking.

There are the usual complaints of women who dislike emotionally damaged men, along with arrogant aristocrats and walking cardboard characters (boy that term gets used a lot). I think readers who look for the perfect hero want a type of man they can fall in love with during the story. Women are looking for romance and ways to live vicariously through storytelling, sometimes to soothe our lack of it in real life. If you love historical romance, then no doubt you want a swoon-worthy, good-looking chap in breaches, boots, with a ruffled shirt, and white cravat.

So what is the perfect hero? If we look at the typical male stereotypes in works of centuries past, we can categorize them in a variety of ways.

The Darcy Type – Prideful and arrogant but humbled in the presence of one woman. His good sense and social class tell him to walk away. Instead, he bemoans his tortured and bewitched existence as if he’s helpless to resist. “In vain have I struggled, it will not do. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

The Knightly Type – A soulful, kindhearted, and wise man who is your friend. He supports you, chides you when needed, admires you silently, and gradually falls in love. He cares deeply about your well-being and sacrifices his own happiness to ensure your own. When his outward motives reveal a deeper love, he declares the obvious. “Marry me, my wonderful darling friend.”

The Captain Wentworth Type – He suffers in silence over love lost but clings to the hope that he may regain what he desires. As he quietly watches from the sidelines the love of his life, he waits for the opportune time to once again confess his love. “You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone forever.  I have loved none but you.”  Who can deny such a plea?

The Mr. Rochester Type – The tortured soul, who is moody and cynical about life. He has a dark secret, that binds him to another, while in the meantime he lures the innocent and young Jane into marrying him. Even though the Rochester type of hero should contain a warning label, women are drawn to his brooding character. His words of love are filled with desperation. “My very soul demands you. It will be satisfied, or it will take deadly vengeance on its frame.”  It’s not until the ultimate tragedy plays out that happy ever after arrives.

The Mr. Thornton Type – A successful man of determination in his business and family life. A bit too close to his mother, annoyed by his sister, but nonetheless respected by his peers. He is drawn to a woman of strong character, like himself, and they clash repeatedly like a stormy sea. “He shrank from hearing Margaret’s very name mentioned.  He, while he blamed her — while he was jealous of her — while he renounced her — he loved her sorely, in spite of himself.”

The men above are just a small sampling, and I bet you can think of more.

The Edward Ferrars Type
The Willoughby Type
The Colonel Brandon Type
The Mr. Bingley Type

It’s an endless list of possible men who can make you swoon.

I don’t know that there is necessarily a perfect hero by any means because I believe women are drawn to types and situations when they think of falling in love between the pages of a book. Whether they be an arrogant male, steadfast friend, silent sufferer, tortured soul, or irritating sod, they possess alluring and attractive qualities. Every woman has their type. Of course, that makes it difficult for authors to consistently write the perfect hero!

Do you have a particular type of man that you like to read about in historical romance? Frankly, I like the silent suffering male who cannot live without me, like Captain Wentworth.

All our best from Historical Romance Books!

Bridgerton’s Toxic Romance Fails Its Audience (Press This! Screen Rant)

The article linked below makes the point, “The Duke and I, was first published in 2000 – twenty years ago, well before woke culture, the #MeToo movement, and our growing understanding of consent and healthy gender dynamics.” We are back again to the conundrum that historical romance needs to stay pure to the times in which women lived, or we need to tweak the past so that it doesn’t offend those in the present.

Recently I read a review for the Earl’s Well that Ends Well, a new release by Catherine Heloise, on another book website. I won’t go into the review itself but would like to focus upon a comment left by a reader. Perhaps it brings up a singular thought or one that is currently running through the historical romance genre as readers deal with the past versus the present. Can readers find enjoyment in love stories that deal with toxic relationships and time periods that were oppressive to women? On the other hand, are more progressive readers going to demand that authors write novels in tune with today’s social expectations?

It’s an interesting argument that I think is going to split the genre going forward. There will be readers who want historical norms with romance, and others who want a modern romance version set in a historical setting. I think there can definitely be a blend of strong heroines in books going forward as discussed in a previous post, “Changing Heroines in Historical Romance.” All you have to do nowadays is read book reviews and focus on the five and one-star comments. The split of opinions on the subject is growing.

Talk to me! Do you mind reading about “toxic” relationships? Of course, characters should have flaws and the healing of couples can bring two together into healthy relationships. Do the oppressive eras that women dealt with rub you the wrong way, or are you able to handle it if the female character has a bit of spunk?

The problem with Bridgerton is not in how it portrays society but in how it portrays the relationship between Daphne and Simon. Beneath the veneer of romance, it’s a mutually manipulative and toxic relationship and one that shouldn’t be emulated. Unfortunately, it’s this sort of relationship that Bridgerton chooses to center, and in doing so, the show fails its modern audience.

Source: Bridgerton’s Toxic Romance Fails Its Audience | Screen Rant

the ask@AAR: Does Historical Romance Have a Quality Problem?  

This is a very interesting article with lots of comments that deserves re-posting. I, for one, even as an author, lament the rut that Historical Romance has been in for some time.  I wrote about it last year, posting that thought. Read Here.

Some of the comments bring up good points about overused tropes, historical inaccuracies, and characters sounding and acting far too modern. Authors struggle with the fact that the days of bodice rippers are over and the “me-too” attitude should now be in books. That’s a hard task to accomplish when people want historical accuracy but they don’t want to read about women who in reality had very little rights.

Sure, there were pockets of strong women who accomplished much in life in spite of living in a man’s world.  Nevertheless, it’s like the constant focus upon aristocrats in historical romance when only ten percent of the population was in that class in England.  What happens to the ninety percent without titles? I suppose it doesn’t satisfy the need for the fantasy of the rich lifestyles and the titled duke when falling in love with a farmer or bricklayer is no doubt a boring prospect.  We cannot always blame the authors who try to write beyond those constraints because of the lack of interest, although we do have those occasional pirates, cowboys, and Vikings to freshen the mix.

Whatever the thought, you might enjoy the hot comments on All About Romance.

We listen to you, we really do. And we’ve noticed that you, along with several of our reviewers, aren’t all that happy with most – not all, but most – of the historical romance that’s been published in the past year or so. Using our Power Search feature, we looked at all the Historical Romance reviews we’ve written in 2019. We’ve given out 19 As, 47 Bs, 21 Cs, 13 Ds, and 2 Fs. Getting Cs, Ds, and Fs were several authors we’ve reviewed positively in the past: Victoria Alexander, Lorraine Heath, Madeline Hunter, Anne Gracie, Marguerite Kaye, and Laura Lee Guhrke to name a few. Several of the DIKs are debut books are are by lesser-known authors. So, is there a problem with historical romance right now? And, if so, what is it? There was a very strong response to this column, both on Twitter and in the comments below. AAR’s publisher has written a response to the […]

Source: the ask@AAR: Does Historical Romance have a quality problem? : All About Romance

We Have History: 15 Historical Romance Novels About Estranged Lovers

“Dive deep into these drama-free (hah!) historical romances about estranged lovers. Every romance reader has their favorite tropes, and estranged lovers is definitely one of mine. For one thing, in the vast and interconnected web of romance tropes, estranged lovers touches so many of my other favorites: forced proximity, secret baby, crash the wedding, reveeeeenge. For another, estranged lovers is such an emotionally laden trope.”

Read More At

Source: We Have History: 15 Historical Romance Novels About Estranged Lovers