A Different Kind of Hero

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.

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5 thoughts on “A Different Kind of Hero

    • I love British historicals, so it’s fun to find one with a character who’s so different.

      And it doesn’t hurt that he’s got two very appealing brothers. (Okay, there’s a third brother, but I didn’t like him very much.)

  1. Hmmm. Let me think about it. 😉

    I was double-checking the title (I sometimes call books by titles I think suits them instead of their real names) and saw that an Amazon seller has a new copy for a mere $57 and change. Not bad for an old paperback, huh?

  2. Marilyn,

    I totally agree that it’s fun to read books with different heros. There were a bunch of old series romances that did this… one author made me fall in love with a mortician, a garbage man, and a stove up male stripper. Mary Kay McComas was genius that way. I wonder if she has any new interesting heros?

    There are a couple of good historicals where the heros have some injury from the war that they are keeping on the QT. One I’m thinking of made the hero unable to form sentences correctly, so he just got more arrogant and stuck up… and how the heroine perceives him made the story incredible. There was an old (90’s vintage) contemporary where the hero had his legs sheared off by a train and was in a wheelchair. I remember reading the love scenes and never once questioning the reason why the gal fell in bed with him.

    Done right, the different hero is a magical thing in fiction. spw

  3. I totally agree, Sandee. With emphasis on the “done right.” I remember an old category romance in which the hero appeared to be mentally handicapped (turned out he wasn’t; there was some explanation for it, and it went away). But while thinking he was challenged, the heroine several times made the comment that it was a shame he was because he was so good-looking. Every time I cringed, shrieking at the book, “So it would be okay if he was ugly???”

    I never read that author again. 😉

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