Up until recently, all my books were set in the past. I just can’t help
being drawn to the high stakes intensity of earlier time periods. To me, the
extreme life-and-death circumstances people faced in the past make for the most
gripping and powerful love stories. As you would expect, my taste in heroes
runs to the rather rough-edged, primal types who belong to that world:The ferocious, dark age warrior. The valiant
but deadly knight. The gloriously fierce Viking. The daring, dangerous rake who
can handle himself on the mean streets of Regency London.
I have trouble seeing contemporary men in the same light, as that
larger-than-life hero. Most of them seem too ordinary and normal to get my
pulse pounding. (The exception would be my husband, who manages to combine the
primitive physicality of my ideal hero and still fit in and be successful in
the modern world.)
Given my preference for seriously alpha heroes, I thought all my
stories would be set in the past forever. But then one day, while I was writing
a romance set in ninth century Ireland,
I suddenly saw my heroine in modern day Denver.
I was shocked, and yet… she seemed to belong there. But how did she end up in
that world, and what the heck was she going to do for a love interest? And
then, all at once I knew. She was going to get her ultra masculine,
no-holds-barred hero after all. Because it turns out he fell in love with her
in a past life and followed her to our time. That story became Call Down the Moon.
I love romances. I love heroes—both reading and writing
them. I have, as we all do, more than one favorite hero and hero types. The
alpha male with the heart of gold tops my list, but there’s another layer to
that great character trait that really gets me squirming and clutching the book
(or Kindle, or iPhone, or…you get the picture) to my chest and sighing—the
super-clever, sneaky, purposefully self-deprecating alpha male with a heart of
gold. Sounds complicated? Oh, you betcha. And that excites and invests me in a
story more than any other hero out there. Hard to write, but when he’s done
right… Oh, my.
I just finished reading Georgette Heyer’s These Old Shades yet again, and her hero,
Justin Alastair, the Duke of Avon, is all that and more. Clever, constantly in
control, on top of things, and ten steps ahead of everyone else. He’s
intimidating and awe-inspiring, all the while making people believe he’s a
bored, pampered aristocrat. So when he brings the denouement down on everyone’s’
heads with iron control, calculation, and effect, I find myself cheering and
squeeing like a fangirl every time.
Another hero (or anti-hero, yeah, super-big fan of those
when they’re written well) who may very well be the ultimate example of my
favorite type of hero is C. S. Pacat’s Laurent from her Captive Prince series. Those stories are simply brilliant. Nuanced,
frightening, thrilling, unexpected, nothing-as-it-seems brilliant. She writes
Laurent with some great goal already in mind, I have no doubt, but the
discovery and the journey of his character has been gripping so far. Taking a
character and turning him around, from hating him, believing him shallow,
spoiled, cruel, possibly downright evil and revealing his true nature and
motivations bit by bit in the narrative and action of the story is not only
captivating for the reader, but also difficult to accomplish as a writer. I’m
enthralled and dying for the third book. Dying.
Confession time: I went
about this all wrong. When I first started writing this post, I thought I would
concentrate on what kind of hero I like to write about. A man who isn’t afraid
to say what’s on his mind, who can take criticism like...well, like a man. An
alpha male who embraces his sensitive side, enjoys being around kids and loves
his mother. And hey, if he looks like Karl Urban or Chris Pine, it never hurts
(Oops - did I just out myself as a Trekkie?)
So I fixed a pot of
coffee, flexed my fingers and prepared to write the best blog post ever. Then I
looked at the calendar.
I’m writing this on
September 11. That’s when I knew I couldn't write about the typical brand of hero.
Because the hero I most admire and respect is the person who doesn’t believe he
or she is a hero. It’s the individual who sees an opportunity to help and
doesn’t hesitate to rush in with assistance and then will deny all recognition
of their everyday heroism.
The hero of my Samantha Lytton series of romantic comedies is an
art thief named Nate. Or maybe Sam. (Yes, Sam and Samantha--just go with it.)
He’s a liar. He’s so shady his name keeps changing. And he’s the kind of man
every woman dreams of; he grows into being not just what his heroine needs, but
who she deserves.
He’s not an alpha male; he doesn’t run around punching people and
doing things for Samantha’s “own good.” Ugh. I wouldn’t put up with that crap
in real life, and my heroines don’t in books. Respect means understanding that
a woman is a human being capable of knowing what she wants all by herself.
That’s my kind of hero.
Sam changes his life in order to fit into Samantha’s because he’s a
big enough boy to understand a great thing when she bops him on the head (um,
accidentally!) in her sleep. Heroines so often change for a man--give up a job,
whatever. But my hero doesn’t subscribe to narrow, old-fashioned gender roles.
He follows his heart. And he realizes that going on the straight and narrow for
a bodacious redhead is a helluva lot better than rotting in jail drinking
toilet wine. My hero is no moron.
I've read I don’t want to even admit how many heroes
and created seven so far in my writing career and My Kind of Hero has to be
flawed. My leading man has to have problems and imperfections. (Even my most
stereotypical alpha hero, from historical romance Unbidden, has flaws.) I want strength but I don't like domineering
men. He must be capable of respect for a woman, and forming a relationship
beyond physical attraction.
I'm currently infatuated with Boone Ramer. (My Kind
of Hero is usually whomever I’m writing at the moment.) Boone is the male lead
from my new release, Eruption. He's the second son in a family of Nebraska
cattle ranchers, and he’s a level headed, all-American nice guy. The kind of
guy a woman stares at and, even as she does it, isn't sure why. I physically
modeled him on a youthful Bailey Chase, the man who plays Branch on the TV
series "Longmire." Boone's easy on the eyes, with a nice body from
playing football, but not underwear model handsome. He's the boy you wish your
daughter would bring home instead of the unemployed goth biker dude, and confuses
my main character, Violet. She thinks she likes bad boys but develops a giant
freshman crush on Boone. (She and her BFF/roomie refer to him as Hotness!)
If he wants to reciprocate, he hides it, because
he's an RA in her dorm. A relationship with her is against school policy and,
as you've probably guessed, Boone is a rule-follower.
Holly Wilder finds some of those rules pretty difficult to follow during her boss's visits to present the Employee of the Month award. A relationship between them is prohibited, and even if it wasn't, Holly has no intention of ever falling in love again. But that doesn't stop her from craving Max's touch.
Hotel owner Max Lazzari never expected to break his own rules, especially when they are so important to him. But sexy employee Holly is too hard to resist. Their no-strings, secret arrangement fits in perfectly with his no-commitment plan. A plan to ensure that no woman will ever again have the opportunity to hurt him.
Sizzling nights together mean Holly and Max start looking forward to the monthly visits more and more. Until they are both brought down to earth with a bump—a pregnancy one!
Will rule breaking lead to broken hearts?
Content Warning: contains sensual sex and some strong language
"Alright you Primitive Screwheads, listen up! You see this? This... is my
boomstick! The twelve-gauge double-barreled Remington. S-Mart's top of
the line. You can find this in the sporting goods department. That's
right, this sweet baby was made in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Retails for
about a hundred and nine, ninety five. It's got a walnut stock, cobalt
blue steel, and a hair trigger. That's right. Shop smart. Shop S-Mart.
You got that?"
College student Tess Burke is on the verge of eviction. Her life
changed when her dad was in a bad car accident. He’s been in the hospital for
months and making little progress. Desperation is setting in. They’re about to
Successful architect Chase Carlisle has made a name for himself among
the rich and famous. His work keeps him busy, leaving little time for a social
life. When an old family friend contacts him and asks him to care for his
vibrant, sassy daughter, Chase feels obligated to take her in; Patrick Burke
had helped him when he was a troubled teenager, heading down a path of
destruction. If not for Pat, he would have never become the man he is today.
The wild child turns Chase’s world upside down, tempting him in ways he
can’t resist. The sexy younger woman shows him what he’s been missing the past
few years. Their attraction is obvious from the beginning despite Chase’s
apprehension to getting involved with Pat’s daughter. Tess wears him down but
gets caught in her own trap when she becomes the object of his deepest, darkest