Random thoughts on our impending doom and everyday life, courtesy of a Romance Writer who occasionally feels the need to talk like a Sailor.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

What Maketh a Leading Man?

Discussions regarding the portrayal of Heroes and Heroines in Romanceland always fascinate me. The truth is we do tend to fall back on some staples. The term ‘charm fatigue’ came up in a post by Anna Cowan.  You can find it here She discussed the ugly hero and the trend towards more normal looking people inhabiting our bookshelves. I thought I might muse upon this matter. 

Fact is we’re writing fantasy (not necessarily as in swords and unicorns, though swords and unicorns are v. cool), but being open to a wider array of features for our heroes and heroines is not a bad thing.  Cherise Sinclair comes to mind as someone who doesn’t mind mixing up her minxes. Lauren Dane and Lorelei James have both had some heavily tattooed and pierced types parading through their pages.  They don’t all need to be petite beauties with raven hair and flashing blue eyes, do they? Truly? For shame... ride away on your white stallion with the red velvet skirt of your gown trailing behind you!

Romance is a big mother of a genre, there’s room for everyone willing to go the Happy Ending and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Geek girls need love too. Boys do make passes at girls that wear glasses. Instant Attraction by Jill Shalvis and Hard and Fast by Erin McCarthy for instance. Viva lá Difference! Our hero might not be over six feet tall and pushing the parables of marble-like perfection. He might be like my other lust object of the week, Jeremy Renner. Now, Jeremy, (currently cast as Hawkeye in the Avengers and The Bourne Legacy later in the year) has acne scars, a non classically handsome face, and is 5’9. Shock! Horror! But wait... he’s got charisma in spades. Attitude. I think he’s a sexy devil. 

Now, a great love story doesn’t rely upon perfect specimens to carry itself off. It’s the love. The emotion that sweeps you away. Now watch closely because this is where my double standard comes in. No, no, this hand, look at this hand! Shit. You saw. Yeah, Jeremy’s ripped. I’m not talking muscle-bound freak, but he’s a fit boy. For this is my fantasy and I am unwilling to forgo the hunky man body, it’s true.  Romance is still mostly written by women for women. But a perfect male specimen to rival David Gandy I don’t always require. It’s still the personality that nails it. The charisma. A certain confidence, even.

My last piece of evidence? Displaying my geek girl cred, I gave you ‘Silk’ from David Edding’s ‘The Belgariad’ series. Silk was an aristocrat and a thief. He had a nose prone to twitching like a rat's. He was thin and not particularly tall. Silk had attitude through the roof and you couldn’t help but swoon when he entered the scene. So dashing and clever, sarcastic and daring was he. What wit! Simply put, Silk rocks. He was a great hero and I was delighted when he met his plus one in series two.

That’s all from me but I'd love to hear your comments...

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