Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Ideal Romantic Hero

I came across this wonderful interview (first of a six part series) by Serena Chase of USAToday with nine authors who responded to questions about romantic fiction as a genre and where it fits in the lives of modern women. 

One of the interviewees was one of my favorite authors, Shannon Hale (who I stalk, so I know when she has cool stuff going on like interviews and new books and her film adaptation of AUSTENLAND being shown at Sundance film festival this weekend...I'm not obsessed, really I'm not!).

So after this fun read, I got to thinking of my favorite heroes in fiction and romantic fiction in particular. I have to say that I loved Wesley (The Man in Black) from The Princess Bride. When I read the book (after I'd seen the movie) I decided I was going to marry that boy...After I mastered my own sword master skills.  Which probably explains why I never married Cary Elwes or a swordmaster.
(See last week's blog regarding my sword obsession.)

I also read Louis L'Amour's historicals (set a few centuries before his westerns, for the uninitiated). Heroes like Barnabas Sackett and his sons, and Mathurin Kerbouchard became my ideals. 

But sword wielding heroes were a bit scarce in the early 90s when most guys I knew wore flannel and were trying to reproduce Nirvana sounds from their guitars or showing other guys how to get a mosh pit started.

In college it was not much better. Maybe I tried too hard? Most weekends while my roomies went on dates, I'd attend dance parties, then go home, curl up in my bunk and read a Dick Francis novel.
I hoped that some horse-mad, everyday-fellow would see my quirkyness as cute and would dig deep into his soul to overcome his shortcomings and defeat the bad guys for me...
or just work up the guts to ask me out on a date.

 Finally at the end of college, I had my first real genuine, bonifide boyfriend. He thought I was amazing and "out of his league".
He really said that...about me! I was hooked.
He was a bit of a cowboy. Great! I loved cowboys!
He was a runner, on scholarship for the swiftness he brought to the college track team. Super! I started running and working out and going to track competition things that lasted All-Freaking-Day-Long. 
I even skipped a few classes to spend time with the cutie (I still feel guilty about this!)
But I had my first  kiss and I the club. I was no longer an outsider. I was going on dates, I was staying out late. I even broke curfew! I was so naughty.
(Not really. But it felt naughty. And I was doing it for LOVE so it had to be worth it, right???)

But, we eventually broke up because...well, all the same reasons that so many others have broken up over the eons of history.

Then, after a few of years , I met the ONE! The man that later asked me to marry him.
I first noticed him because he could Ballroom dance. Yeah !  
*raises eyebrows suggestively*
Like Dancing with the Stars - kinda.
We were awesome together (cuz, I can dance too)! 

I soon found out lots more about the guy.
He was a runner.  I (still) wasn't.
He was a science/math brainiac. I was a music/drama nerd.
I loved making music. He was happy to listen to it, but not that LOUD!

Despite the differences, I discovered that I really liked the guy...
Really, REALLY liked him.

And it wasn't because he was bold and brave like the heroes I idolized. At least not with a sword or a pistol or an army at his back.

He was more like Sam, Frodo's buddy in The Lord of the Rings.

Before our second date, he told me about his nephew that his parents were raising. He said, "Other than his grandpa, I'm the closest thing to a dad James has. If anything happened to my parents, James would live with me."
That was it, on the table. James was part of the deal if we got married.

He told me about his relationship that had ended badly. And though I waited to hear him bad-mouth his ex, it never happened.
No blame, no vitriol. I asked why.
He quietly described the problems that led to his divorce. I was aghast. Any other guy would have laid it on thick how he'd been wronged. But my man was different.
It was sad. It had broken his heart. But he wasn't going to spend his energy degrading the woman who had held his heart for so long.


When I finally got up the courage to bare the ugly corners of my soul to him, I shouldn't have been surprised that he put his arm around me and let me cry.
(For a very messy and very long time.)

When my father and I had an argument, my man tried to step in as a peacekeeper.
This was my weakest moment. My father was the dragon that needed to be slain. Yet, my man stood up for me. Defended me.
When my (bi-polar) dad started getting out of control, my sweetheart took me away to a safe place.
In my own anger and embarrassment, I raged about my father and he listened. Then he reminded me of the good things my father had done.
He knew I wasn't ready to forgive, not yet. But he encouraged me not to destroy the already damaged relationship with my father.
"Don't throw it all away. Not over this."

And with that, I knew.

This man had the heart of a hero.

He was good. He was brave in his own quiet way. He was loyal.
He would stand by me as I made the best, most difficult choices.

I wanted to be by his side forever.

So, my man may not wield a sword. He may not parry with witty repartee. He sometimes wears that ugly sweater with the burgundy plaid instead of rugged hero-wear. He definitely doesn't fight bad guys (or indians or pirates or masked criminals in back alleys with his bare fists). But I found my hero.

And its funny, though I start each story I write with a handsome fellow who does some (or all) these things. He always ends up becoming my husband somewhere in his heart.
Loyal, brave and true.
Because without those things, he just wouldn't be a hero.


  1. That was so sweet! An early Valentine's post. You guys are such a great couple and family.

  2. Aww...Thanks! I actually was planning on the post going a different direction, but I kept coming back to "real life". :)