Over the years, I’ve gotten more than the usual commentary on a few of my heroes who were considered a few steps outside the norm. The hero of my first book, WITHIN REACH, was Mexican. Another, in SOMEBODY’S BABY, was homely. ROGUE’S REFORM’s hero was a con artist villain of sorts from an earlier book.
That all sounds pretty tame now, doesn’t it? But at the times those books were published, those heroes were unusual, though well accepted. Plenty of readers were ready for something different from the rich, powerful, drop-dead gorgeous run-of-the-mill (for that time) hero.
I’m happy to say that in some ways, at least, times have seriously changed. I’ve done other minority heroes, and did another true-blue liar, cheat and thief hero who didn’t even raise any eyebrows.
I just finished reading a book with one of the two most unusual heroes I’ve ever read, both in historical romances. The first, from years ago, was SIMPLE JESS, by Pamela Morsi. Jess truly was simple, caused by an injury during birth, if I remember correctly. But he was an amazingly sweet and endearing hero. If you haven’t read the book, find a copy. It’s a lovely story.
The book I just finished is THE MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE by Jennifer Ashley. Ian is, basically, a savant. He doesn’t grasp a lot — can’t follow conversations, doesn’t understand much that’s said to him, learns how to respond to things by watching others — but he, too, is an endearing hero. He was such a refreshing change from all the smug, incredibly handsome, incredibly rich, (though he’s both of those, too), and incredibly accomplished/sexy/arrogant/etc nobles that populate most British historicals. It was a pleasure to watch him learn what love is and to realize that he, like everyone else, can feel it.
I like a good hero, but reading (and writing) as much as I do, I sometimes feel as if I’ve seen them all too many times before. Heroes like Simple Jess and Mad Ian don’t come along often, so I’m thrilled when they do. Do your best to support their creators. Buy these authors’ books so we can have more great heroes.