There are a few schools of thoughts on leading men. Back in the day of romance writing (I’m thinking two decades ago) the main man had a few distinguishing qualities. He was usually wealthy, powerful and had a certain edge about him that made other men look tame. Then about a decade ago metro-ness took over and those tough heroes all of a sudden weren’t so tough. They had feelings. Lots of them and—gasp—some of them even cried.
In the last few years, the super dominant, alpha to the point of a$$ hole character-type has become popular. And you know, after that time when all of our heroes were sissies, I can completely understand why the difference is so intriguing. There have been plenty of really well written alpha male characters who have thrilled me, but just like the sissies, they get old after a while.
So where is the perfect middle in all of this? What kind of characteristics do women really want in their leading men on paper? I’d say, for the most part, we want in stories what we really wish we had in real life.
*a man with a job he is capable of doing without bitching constantly
*a man who knows how to converse but doesn’t monopolize every conversation
*a man who makes a pair of jeans look good
*a man who knows his way around the bedroom, or at least is oh so willing to learn
*a man who isn’t afraid to speak up when it counts (like defending his lady when the occasion
demands it, that never goes out of style)
*a man who, when asked, remembers to get milk. And should he forget, he’s the one who gets up early to make sure there’s enough for everyone’s cereal (that’s pretty darn alpha to me)
Of course, there’s no such thing as a perfect hero for all readers. But when the leading man and leading lady (or any combination of genders) get together and the relationship sparks and the personalities meld, the reader wants it to work. So I’m thinking the perfect hero depends on his counterpart, when they match up and the reader grabs their pom-poms, whether he’s an alpha, a sissy or somewhere in between, he’s just right.
Excerpt from Cross Stitch and Brimstone: Available from Breathless Press October 22nd
The cat hissed again, and Beth sighed. "Fine, I'll let you out, you stinking beast," she muttered, going to the side door that released to the wraparound porch she loved. "Go on now, and don't you— Who's there?"
The figure at her front door, only three feet away from her, froze. It was the middle of the night, so she'd long ago turned off the porch light. Terror welled. Her longevity was a given, but she was still as easily broken as any human woman under five feet tall and just as susceptible to villains of the night.
The figure turned with her name on his lips. That voice. It sounded familiar, but she couldn't place it. She flipped on the light switch for the hall behind her, but it didn't help much, not until he came into the light.
She ran for him, the three steps taking only a heartbeat before she launched into his arms. He felt just the same as when she'd given him one final embrace before he'd gone off to fight with his brothers so long ago. How she'd loved her soldier boy, though before the war he'd been sweet and gentle, a young man on his way to the seminary to be a preacher.
She ran her fingers down his face, the same face she remembered in her dreams. Not so often anymore, but there was no way she could have forgotten about him. Not him.
Stephanie Beck is a romance writer who bases all of her heroes on her husband in one way or another. She has yet to hear a complaint from either characters or her husband. Check out www.stephaniebeck.net for her latest releases including her newest stories, BDSM themed David’s Angel and a little Halloween fun with Cross-Stitch and Brimstone.