Sunday, June 15, 2014

Perfectly Imperfect

Tortured heroes... love em or hate em they are playing just as large a role in romance novels today as the were 20 yrs ago. In fact, it may even be more common. Whether their torture has been physical or mental or even both, they are as popular ever. What has changed though is the way they deal with their issues. The eighties tortured hero was more likely to be the strong silent be a bastard to the heroine type with maybe a little forced seduction thrown into the mix. In today's version there is still an element of that but they are more likely to get an ass kicking from the heroine and a 'get thee to a shrink or don't come back near me' ultimatum.
Is this a reflection of how women and society in general feels? Or is it just another victim of political correctness?
Personally, I think it's a little of both. Either way I still love reading and writing a good tortured hero and yes, I own a lot of those eighties book with men who are bastards as slightly guilty pleasures. They are a bit like chocolate though, one or two leave you wanting more but too many will make you sick.

Then there is the cross over, that other sub-genre of books which seems to have gained in popularity.
The Hurt Hero.
The heroes of these books have been injured in some way or have some kind of 'imperfection', whether it be scarring, visually or hearing impaired or in a wheelchair. Sometimes they are healed by the end of the book, sometimes not and not all of them are tortured. So what is the appeal of this kind of hero? In my search for the tortured hero I've read many of these books and the appeal, to me at least, is their vulnerability and ultimately their strength in dealing with whatever cards have been dealt to them. It does however take a very talented author to write it well. The first book I read in this genre and still my favorite is A Man Like Mac by Fay Robinson.
It seems that many publishers are still not sure of the reception of a hero who is less than perfect and if the book even makes it to print, many times the book blurb will make no mention of it and certainly not the cover art. Yet, I know I am not alone in their appeal since all you need do is search Amazon or Google to find other people's lists of books which fit the theme. In fact the book I plan to start after my current WIP will feature a blind hero.
So how do you feel about hurt heroes? Do you love, or hate a tortured hero? Who are your favorites?

Photos belong to Michael Stokes, to see more of his work go here:

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