Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I Need a Hero ! ( Cape Optional )


Come on! Admit it!

Those of us "of a certain age" had the hots for Christopher Reeves from the first moment we saw him in those tights and cape. Turns out he was a hero in real life as well. The way he handled every day after the tragic riding accident that took his mobility and eventually took his life made him a Superman no mere film could capture.


I'll be forever grateful to Gerard Butler and the film 300 for
introducing my nephew to the wonderful world and history of ancient Greece. A few simple questions to his "history nut" aunt and he dove into Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey and from there became so fascinated by the history of Greece he has been studying the language of ancient Greece at the University of Alabama. The film 300 produced images of Gerard Butler no doubt used by romance writers everywhere as inspiration, computer screen savers and just plain nice scenery. I mean, really ! You could do a whole load of laundry on those abs !! The actual Battle of Thermopylae produced heroes who lived the axiom "Spartan, come home with your shield, or on it." Gotta' love a man like that.


So what is a hero, exactly?

Does he have to have super powers? (A romance novel hero had BETTER have super sensual powers,but we won't get into that here.)

Does he have to be "drool worthy" good looking? (I give Gerard as Leonidas 5 out of 5 drooling towels. Hugh Jackman as Wolverine too.)

He has to be brave, of course! I don't care how many times I see shots of those firemen going up the stairs at the World Trade Center while everyone else is running out, it still gives me chills. There are all sorts of bravery. What sorts make for good heroes?

My own father fought in Korea. At the age of eighteen he and his unit were ambushed by Korean and Chinese forces. They were pinned down with no way out. My father drew fire onto his position so the rest of his unit could retreat. Then he went back for three of his comrades who were injured and hauled them back to the fall back position. His commanders wanted to give him a bronze star. He refused. "You don't get medals for doing your job." Did this make him brave? Probably. But I didn't know him then. The man I knew worked every day to look after his family. He never treated my mother with anything less than appreciation and respect. We weren't rich, but he made sure we had what we needed and he taught us the world didn't owe us a thing. Anything we wanted we could have, so long as we EARNED it. He is forever my hero for the things I saw him do every day.

So, tell me, my fellow writers, what makes a hero? What sort of hero appeals to you in a romance novel? What flaws are a deal breaker for you? And who are some of the most surprising or unique heroes you've encountered in romance novels? What made them so memorable?

18 comments:

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Aileen Fish said...

I love the mention of your father in there. I think the majority of our heroes have those types of qualities: they fight for what they believe in and want no accolade for doing their jobs. They love deeply, even if they have trouble expressing it aloud. They are persistent enough to finish a job, especially when it comes to winning the heroine, yet they turn a blind eye at her weaknesses and flaws. I think they do have super powers, but keep their capes hidden so they look like the man next door. Or the fireman down the street!

Ella Quinn said...

Your dad did what many men fail to do and was truly a hero. I think a hero needs to make you feel as if he can protect you, even if you don't think you need protecting. Which can lead to some interesting struggles.

Chris Bailey said...

Louisa, I definitely see your dad as heroic. My four-eyed, flat-footed dad didn't get to go off to fight, but he put on a tie for 37 years. Bravery in battle is sexier, but dependability on any front counts as heroism in my book.

Lexi said...

There are many qualities that can make a hero appealing. But, I think one thing that makes a hero likeable and memorable in a romance is the strength to do the right thing, no matter the consequences. A hero that surprised me and made me fall in love with him was the Earl of Sheringford in Mary Balogh's AT LONG LAST LOVE. You start the book out thinking he's a total cad and discover that he's a hero. One of my favorite hereos of all time!

Lexi said...

Oops, HEROES. Fumble fingers!

Suzie Grant said...

I think you nailed it on the head when you spoke of your dad. He's a man who does his job and doesn't need a pat on the back for it. He's a man who takes care of his family and makes sure they have what they need, as well as teaches them to earn their way through life. What an excellent role model imho. Great post, Louisa!

Sharon Cullen said...

My favorite hero is one who is gruff on the outside but soft on the inside. Especially when that soft spot is for the heroine.

Louisa Cornell said...

Ooh, Aileen, I love the part about having trouble expressing their love AND the part about turning a blind eye to the heroine's flaws! Great hero qualities!

Louisa Cornell said...

Making you feel protected even if you think you don't need it is DEFINITELY a great romance novel hero quality. Some of the very best romances are built around this and the struggle to reach a balance that validates both people.

Louisa Cornell said...

Chris,

Dependability on any front is a fundamental part of any real hero!

Louisa Cornell said...

The strength to do the right thing no matter the consequences! A sigh-worthy quality in a hero to be sure. And I LOVE Sheringford's transformation in AT LONG LAST LOVE! Mary Balogh is an artist when it comes to turning cads to heroes!

Louisa Cornell said...

Thanks, Suzie! My Dad really was an amazing man. He was always so quiet and humble about the things he did for others. We didn't realize until his funeral how many people's lives he touched; people that we never knew about because he simply didn't think to tell us.

Louisa Cornell said...

Sharon, isn't that gruff, macho hero who turns to mush over the heroine just divine! The tougher and gruffer he is the better!

Katherine Bone said...

Louisa, what a great post today. I agree. Heroes are just men doing what comes naturally to them. They think about others, put themselves last, know hardship and are willing to endure it for the ones they love. Heroes often neglect their own desires, some to the point that they've forgotten what it's like to love, accept love. These are the heroes I love in romance novels. And it is the heroine who can connect with that hero and bring him peace with himself and those around him.

Louisa Cornell said...

Awesome description, Katherine! You nailed it !!

Cari Hislop said...

Men like your father are the real heroes! As a child I loved Superman. Both my sister and I wanted to grow up and marry him so that caused some fights, but I think in the end I decided I'd have to have Captain Kirk while she wanted Spock (she married a Scientist). I didn't marry a Star Ship Captain, but my hero is very intelligent with a heart of gold. Tribbles (like all other animals) would adore him! He doesn't have much hair nor does he wear tight polyester pants, but he does have a communicator and an English accent! I think I'm pretty darn lucky.

Louisa Cornell said...

Oh Cari you ARE lucky! And any man tribbles would love is definitely a hero to me!