What Makes Me Fall in Love with a Hero?
Sometimes, when I pick up a romance novel by a new and unknown author, I know right away that I’ll love these characters. I can sense that I’d better clear my schedule, just so I can sit and read. Some heroes mesmerize me, so well-crafted that after just a few pages, I feel like I truly understand them, like they could step off of the page and sweep me into their arms.
On the other hand, some romance books make me want to throw my Kindle across the room. If I had a girls’ brunch with the heroine of these tales, I’d just want to grab her by the shoulders, shake her to and fro, and shout, “What is wrong with you? He’s perfect! Why are you struggling with such an easy decision!?”
What makes some heroes feel perfectly human, while others just seem uncannily perfect? Why do some characters instantly feel real to us, while others fall flat?
Sometimes, authors want so hard to create the perfect hero that they do just that; they make a perfect man, with zero flaws. I recently picked up Vision in White, by Nora Roberts. Now, Nora Roberts has no problems creating a compelling story. But I had to put the book aside after a hundred pages. Every single character was open and idealized, and no one showed any flaws. If I met any of these flawless, perfect people in real life, I’d feel shy and intimidated!
On the other hand, I’ve found that other authors, such as Kristan Higgins, create heroes and heroines with flaws – and that’s a good thing! Perfect people are boring – there’s no tension, no fun of conflicting personalities coming together and clashing! But when the heroine’s been burned before by a no-good, scheming ex-husband who ran off with her inheritance, and the hero has a bad boy prison record that he doesn’t want to reveal, a shameful skeleton in his closet, I’m much more interested.
Some heroes are perfect – perfectly dull. Other heroes have tragic flaws, shortcomings that let us connect to them. But the best heroes, the ones that make me fall in love with them, are able to acknowledge their flaws and work to overcome their inadequacies.
Don’t give me a perfect hero. Give me a flawed hero, but one who recognizes his flaws and limitations, one who can strive to overcome his weaknesses. Give me a hero and heroine whose imperfections match up together, and I’ll fall in love with your characters.
When I write, those are the heroes that I try to create. I know that nobody is perfect, and I want my characters to reflect that truth. I want my heroes to struggle, to confront the cracks in their history. They realize that these flaws make them unique, give them strength to truly earn the love that they deserve.
A true hero in a story isn’t perfect. He struggles with his imperfections, and I fall in love with him as he overcomes his challenges.