I've been thinking about heroes lately. Not the kind of heroes who rescue puppies, but the heroes who populate our books (not that they can't also rescue puppies!). Romance heroes. All of us who write have a type of hero we like. I don't know why, but I *love* a wounded hero. I write wounded heroes. And I know they won't resonate with all readers.
Some readers really don't like the hard alpha who hides his hurt beneath a veneer of prickliness. Some readers think this hero is just mean. I try to understand that, but the truth is that I really don't. When the hero is well motivated, I just want to hug him and tell him it's okay. I want to tell him that I know he's not really bad, and that the heroine knows it too, and that he'll find it out soon enough.
If you've read J.R. Ward, for example, you probably either loved or hated Zsadist. He appeared on scene in the first book as the baddest, evilest vampire of all the Brothers. None of the Brothers understood or trusted him. And yet my heart melted. He excited me and intrigued me. When he got his book (Lover Awakened), I couldn't sleep or eat or do anything but read it to the end. I absolutely bawled at his happy ending. OMG, that was a hero I could love.
And now I write for Harlequin Presents, that line known around the world for having the unapproachable alpha male. The tycoon. The self-made man who is in control and in command. I love him. Obviously, or I wouldn't be writing these books.
I don't think he's mean or evil. I think he's closed off emotionally, and the heroine is the only person in the world who can get through. This man is going to fight her because he doesn't want to feel. He's tried feeling before, and he got hurt in some way. His answer is not to feel.
This makes me all gooey inside. I don't know why. My husband is the nicest, sweetest man imaginable. He's not unapproachable. He would never dream of forcing me to marry him (if we weren't already) or blackmailing me or getting revenge on me.
And yet I write hardened alphas who do all these things. Before I was published, when I was still writing suspense, I wrote hardened alpha military guys. These are the men I love, whether they wear BDUs or Armani suits. I won't apologize for it, and I won't water them down when writing. They are who they are.
What kind of heroes do you like to read? What kind do you write? Have you ever been tempted to change your hero (or even your heroine) to be what you thought people wanted?