Mariah Avix again posed a great question. What hero flaws are generally “okay” and don’t turn me off as a reader.
Thinking through this made me realize that in many, many novels I’ve read, the heroes don’t have too many flaws. As I think through these books, and the heroes I’ve liked, here are some of the flaws I’ve seen that worked for the character without making me dislike the character:
Demanding. Setting extremely high standards for themselves and those around them, sometimes too high.
- In Finders Keepers, the Captain was known for being extremely difficult and held his crew up to the same high standards he held himself to.
- I’ve seen this is several other books, such as the The Bride. He takes responsibility for his entire Clan, keeping peace, etc.
Bucking Society. This one usually works when something perceived as appropriate by historical society differs with today’s views. For example:
- A hero that spends most of his time with his wife and family rather than away from them. (Most Regency)
- A hero that accepts being considered crazy because he married for love and still loves his wife. (Accidentally Compromising the Duke)
- A hero that dances with his wife to the exclusion of all others.(Accidentally Compromising the Duke)
- A society that forces a woman who was raped to be shunned and viewed as a “soiled dove” (The Study of Seduction).
Interestingly, I recently read Loving a Lost Lord and the Madness of Ian Mackenzie (book reviews are coming, I promise!). I rated both of these books very high. The first dealt with a duke whose father was English and whose mother was Indian. This was a central issue of the book although it was mostly glossed over. This was treated as a “flaw” for the historical time frame, with the heroine loving him without regard to his heritage. The second had an autistic hero. The author did an amazing job with the hero, keeping him powerful, brilliant and in control. Yet, he clearly had flaws. Such as being unable to meet people’s eyes, shunning large groups, and being unable to lie.
Ruthless. Granted, this tends to be a trait the hero has to put aside for the heroine. It always makes me a little uneasy as I am not a fan of the “being saved by a good woman’s love” trope. But ruthlessness can really work. I am in the middle of reading Marrying Winterbourne, and he is most assuredly ruthless. You see ruthless heroes in Stephanie Laurens’ work as well.
Selfishness. No great examples of this in recent fiction I’ve read, but Han Solo always comes to mind. Granted, he overcomes it by Return of the Jedi. Character arc?
Arrogant. Thinking of Darcy here in Pride and Prejudice. Again, he gets over himself somewhat by the end, but that’s the point of a character arc, right?
I’m sure there are more. What do you all think? What character flaws can a character have or grow out of that you can still find them a good hero?