After taking a look at heroes I didn’t like, the next step is to take a look at those I did like. Much like with heroines, when I first started this post, I thought the heroes I liked would be the exact opposite of what I didn’t like.
It turned out a little more complex than that.
I have to have the basics: no brooding, no jerks, and a character doing something. But as with the heroine, when I think through what I about the characters I like, there’s more to it.
The Bride – The hero is a powerful Scotsman, who may be considered barbaric, but he takes care of his people and protects his wife. He is physically capable and a good leader.
The Highwayman – While I didn’t like him because the author took it too far, his cold, rational and eminently practical persona is appealing.
Finders Keepers – I loved the hero. Yes, he was a powerful captain in the Imperial “star fleet”. But he was smart, extremely capable, and a demanding commander. He had a touch of the cold and aloof, but he also didn’t spite himself when he realized he loved the heroine.
The Study of Seduction – While I hated the heroine, I liked the hero. He was practical, not willing to be swayed by the whimsy of other people’s opinions, and he was actively trying to help and then protect the heroine. He was smart, well-educated, and could build metronomes.
A Gentleman’s Honor – This hero is one of those “perfect” types, but perfect for a reason. He is the alpha male without ever being a jerk. He protects the heroine from the beginning. Yes he’s attracted to her, but there’s more than that as well. There’s his honor. And what’s right. He is intelligent, physically perfect, and acquainted with the rougher things in life. He firmly believes in his obligations to take care of the people on his lands and his duty to serve because of his birth-rites.
So, what does it take for me to actually like a hero?
Competence – I like characters that are actively out there doing something and being good at it. I do not find bumbling or indecision endearing. Intelligent characters, especially, seem to be my favorites. Part of this competence is accepting their feelings, even if they don’t like them, and dealing with them. In the romance genre, the hero has to be believably in love by the end of the story.
Need to Protect – I am actually surprised at myself by this one, but there it is. I strongly favor heroes who protect rather than exploit. They are the “good guys” although bad-boy characters can be fun, they’re fun when they use their bad-boy skills to be the protector the heroine needs. Yeah, I know. Not exactly the feminist ideals I hold myself to, but there it is.
Honorable Leader – The ability to command respect is important in a hero, but so is the ability to turn his back on society’s opinion and do what’s right. A strong moral fiber to keep the hero on the high road rather than becoming a villain.