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The Hero Chronicles: A Hero To Die For…

The Hero Chronicles: A Hero To Die For…

by Kenra DanielsNovember 4, 2011

You know him – the one that makes your heart pound at the thought of being near him, and not just because he’s so beautiful. Being the woman that wins his heart would satisfy you in a way nothing else could. He’s the Hero.

Impressive Cardboard?

Romance novel heroes tend to get a bad rap in the rest of the literary world. What’s that? …Oh, right. The rest of the world, literary or not. Many people believe heroes are just gorgeous faces with chiseled jaws, ripped bods with washboard abs. And don’t forget the “impressive manhood”.

Paranormal Romance heroes have an even worse rep. They’re supposed to be all-the-above, plus they’re either emo vampires, or savage werewolves, bad angels, or redeemable demons. Sci-Fi Romance has its misunderstood aliens. Historical Romance has the rakehell noblemen. Non-Romance readers probably associate all the subgenres with some stereotypical Hero or other.

The few who are so one-dimensional are the ones to get noticed, and perpetuate the misconceptions. No wonder non-Romance readers don’t want to get to know them. I wouldn’t either, if they were truly just cardboard. Fortunately, there’s sooo much more to a good Hero.


The Perfect Hero

But what makes a really good Hero? What makes him who he is? Can he be imperfect? Damaged? Not physically beautiful? That’s what we’re here to figure out.

A person’s appearance is often our first impression. Our, and the Heroine’s, first impression of the Hero is no different. What is it about him that catches her, and our, attention? I’ve read Heroes with phenomenal good looks, and just average appearances, and a few who were horribly scarred. But there’s something more, some indefinable quality, about all of them. Whatever it is, that quality makes them utterly beautiful to their Heroine.

A man’s actions can tell us a lot about him. There are good boys and bad boys, both in novels and in real life. The bad ones seem to be favored right now, just begging to put the past behind them and start all over with the right woman (though we all know that in real life, bad boys usually stay bad). But just because he’s bad, doesn’t mean he can’t have a good side. And even the good boys will do bad things if they have to, and since life is messy, they often do. Then we have Alphas, who take charge naturally, and Betas, who step up when it matters, and both can be sexy as hell.

But appearance and personality are just parts of the person, like so many pieces of the puzzle. What really brings a Hero to life is change. If he’s the same man at the end of the book as he was at the beginning, he’s just window dressing – a hot body to fill in certain empty spaces in the book. Not a real person.

At a bare minimum, he has to have a conflict, and work to resolve it. Ideally, he’ll be conflicted in several areas of his life, both internally and externally. Real people can fight the bad guys, and work on overcoming a phobia stemming from a childhood trauma, while seeing that their elderly mom has what she needs, and making bullies leave the neighbor’s kid alone, all while they’re coming to terms with the monster that lives in their heart, and so can a Hero. While he’s dealing with whatever trouble the author throws at him, he can also handle issues from a bad childhood, along with a jealous ex. Our Hero might not settle all his conflicts, but he will grow as a person because of them.

Romances from a couple of decades ago were full of Heroes who swooped in on their white horses and rescued the Heroine, whether she wanted to be saved or not. Today’s ideal Hero (with an action based plot) fights at his Heroine’s side to save both their asses, and is just as likely to need rescuing as she is. If there’s no bad guy, he’ll still fight, in whatever way necessary, to win his Heroine’s heart. He might start out being an arrogant a$$hat, but he’ll learn to respect his Heroine’s opinion and abilities, and to rely on her.

But what really tops it all off, turns a hot, exciting man into the perfect Hero? Love. Whether he’s a good boy, or bad, alpha, or beta, his love for his Heroine makes him perfect. The kind of love that makes him willing to give up his own life, or the very essence of who he is, for her. He will go through hell and back, and we hope for an ending that allows him to survive, win the heroine’s love, and spend the rest of his life loving her.

One of my favorites is JR Ward’s Vishous. What I like about him is that he comes with baggage of several varieties. He’s also not just a muscle bound warrior – he’s fearsomely intelligent and tech savvy. Definitely not a good boy, he’s a stone cold killer when necessary, and into some pretty hardcore BDSM, but he’ll do anything for the people he cares about. While he’s gorgeous, he’s not the traditional so-handsome-it-hurts-to-look-at-him beautiful. Doc Jane, his Heroine, is his reason for living. He might be a character in a novel, but he’s real.

Who are your favorites?

Why? Do you prefer bad boys, or good boys? Alphas or Betas? Movie-star-handsome, or not? Describe your perfect Hero – not just how he looks, but those aspects of him that make him who he is.


To see the other discussion topics in this series, go here!


Image credits:

  • Breaking Free by Nathie on DeviantArt:  see it here
  • Measuring Muscles & Muscle-bound Beauty from  see them here
  • Dark Warrior by SMVgrey on DeviantArt:  see it here
  • Bones from the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost:  more info here


How to Enter to win the Swag…

Read the Rafflecopter instructions below, then follow them to enter!  The comment topic is:

*If you said “What swag?”, check out this overview post for the Discussion Series.

Who are your favorite heros/types and why? Discuss!

This giveaway is open to the continental United States ONLY!

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About The Author
Kenra Daniels
I write steamy paranormal romance novels featuring weredragons and daywalking vampires. I live in rural eastern Kentucky with my husband of 25 years, our 5 dogs, 2 cats, and 2 snakes. We have one daughter, and three adorable little grandsons. The first novel in my BLOOD DRAGONS series is on submission with several publishers, and I'm working on the second one
  • Amanda M Barker
    November 7, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Who are your favorite heroes/types and why?

    I am a fan of the dominate heroes. I don’t like the picture perfect look, I like the jagged edges so to speak. I like the ones that have become dominate because of the crap they have had to overcome in their life. For someone to become dominate because of having to overcome things, I feel that brings more to the table and a different sort of edge.

    • Kenra Daniels
      November 8, 2011 at 9:29 am

      Hi Amanda,
      I think you’re right. If a person has overcome adversity in life, they’re far more interesting than someone who’s always had things easy. Fighting the big battles in life, become dominant by necessity, I think makes a more interesting Hero.

  • rochelle
    November 7, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    My Favorite is Vane from Sherrilyn Kenyons series on Were Hunters which is a part of the Dark Hunter series. Why do I like him besides hes hot, he is an ALpha, will kill to protect those, is willing to sacrifice and even die for those he loves and is willing to drop over 600 dollars on a necklace when he just meets a woman. And this was before the sex. Yeah and he doesnt have the best people skills. and did I mention he can get really hairy.YUM

    • Kenra Daniels
      November 8, 2011 at 9:33 am

      Hi Rochelle,
      Vane is one of my favorites, too. IMO, Sherrilyn Kenyon has mastered the art of creating To Die For Heroes. They’re certainly never cardboard cutouts! 😀

  • November 7, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    Mmm I also like the alpha type, but the betas can be sexy too. Sometimes I need a break from the overbearing commando dudes.

    What I especially like is a man who is 100% dedicated to his woman. When he looks at her, she feels beautiful and believes that he truly finds her that way.

    Of course, the perfect hero has to know how to push all the right, erm, buttons… if you know what I mean. Since we’re making up the perfect man anyway, why not go all out?! =)

    • Kenra Daniels
      November 8, 2011 at 9:37 am

      Hey, DVK!
      Yeah, Beta Heroes can be sexy as hell, too! As long as they’re not all passive-aggressive. Can’t stand that. But I love the type that steps up and takes charge when it’s necessary. He doesn’t always need to be the center of attention, would rather avoid the limelight, but he can get the job done.

  • November 7, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    Oh, and I just have to say that I LOVE that piece at the beginning of the post that is Breaking Free by Nathie. Love love love it!!! I want a print of it for my office!

  • Captain Dirty Pants
    November 7, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    Oohhh…yummy men who love their woman. There are so many to chose from.

    Adam Hauptman from Mercy Thompson series is smart, sexy as hell, dependable, sweet, kind, and a werewolf that will destroy you if you mess with his pack or his kid. He is also smart enough to realize he can’t always be there to protect his ladies (daughter Jessie and Mercy) so he insists that they are studied up on martial arts so they have a fighting chance on their own.

    So I guess what I really love is a guy who wants to take care of his family, but knows that one of the best ways to do that is to teach them to take care of themselves.

    The man candy on this post is delish squared. And I am totally in love with a smokin sex scene so my favorite heroes need to have the skillz.

    • Kenra Daniels
      November 8, 2011 at 9:42 am

      Hey, Cap!

      Oooohhh, yeah. Definitely the Hero that makes sure his loved ones can take care of themselves if need be! To me, that shows his love even more than keeping them in a crystal palace or something.

      And the skillz are absolutely a must!

  • November 8, 2011 at 11:02 am

    I’m a man who doesn’t read a great deal of romance. I’ll filch a novel in which my wife is particularly interested so that I know what she’s talking about, but if I wasn’t married, I might not bother with romance at all.

    As an author myself, I find the heroes’ characterization annoying. Underneath every hero I see an assumption on the author’s part that the hero needs to be with the heroine, even if he doesn’t realize it himself. I see an assumption that every man needs a woman that isn’t much different from the old assumption that every woman needs a man.

    I would rather see more romances in which the hero does not need the heroine at all, for any reason. He should be fine on his own, and capable of finding happiness in his own life without a woman, even if the heroine’s presence in his life improves it to such a degree that he’d have to be a moron to let her go.

    Men are supposed to be independent, right? Let’s see some real male independence, not the sort that turns out to be a macho persona when the plot requires that he open up and be vulnerable.

    • November 8, 2011 at 8:52 pm

      Yeah I know what you mean. I think the best well-written heroes (and heroines too) are the ones that ARE independent: secure in their ability to lead or contribute, confident in their personality, and determined to make things “right” (whatever that is) no matter what. A good hero doesn’t NEED a heroine to complete him, but romantically-inclined ladies sure prefer it that way. 😉 A good example of a strong set of heroes that aren’t co-dependent are Raphael and his Seven from the Guild Hunter series.

      Even so, we’re talking about romance books and women want the guy to need his woman. That’s part of the appeal. We don’t want him to be a clingy, sniveling wuss, but we do want him to feel our absence when we’re away and to want to be near us. Because that’s how we feel about him.

    • Kenra Daniels
      November 8, 2011 at 9:04 pm

      Hi Matthew,

      You raise an entirely valid, point.After all, the Hero who can’t live without the Heroine really doesn’t have a choice in the matter, does he? But for a man to *choose* to lay his life, and his heart, on the line says far more about how much he loves his woman.

      The authorial assumption that the Hero needs the Heroine whether he knows it or not seems less common in the newer Paranormal Romances I’ve read, thankfully. BTW, some authors use a variation, where the Heroine needs the Hero whether she knows it or not. I think both are more common in some of the other Romance sub-genres, especially in novels written a few years ago.

      I actually stopped reading Romance for nearly a decade because of this assumption, combined with “The Great Misunderstanding”, and a couple of other too-common factors. Back then, it seemed like new Romances were just rehashes of old ones, with names and locations changed. The Great Misunderstanding, otherwise known as idiotic failure to communicate, has become far less common in the last few years. We can hope The Ignorant Hero/Heroine goes away, too.

      • Kenra Daniels
        November 8, 2011 at 9:22 pm

        I should probably qualify this a bit, lest I offend someone. I stopped reading Romance in the late *gasp* 80s. Maybe the fact that I had to choose from whatever was available at our local Stars And Stripes Bookstore on whatever installation we happened to be on at the time was a factor in the quality of the books I read. (Twenty or fewer titles in the back corner wasn’t all that uncommon.)

        When I came back to Romance in the mid 90s, many of the issues I had with the genre had fallen by the wayside, or at least faded. Over the years, Romance has grown and changed for the better, and I think it will continue to do so. In some of those changes, Paranormal Romance seems ahead of the game.

  • Sophia Rose
    November 10, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    I do not have a hero type when it comes to books which is why whether it is Jeaniene Frost, Patricia Briggs, Gena Showalter, Karen Chance, Kresley Cole, or Jane Austen for that matter, I can appreciate the alpha hero who has no baggage and is perfect, the antihero who comes with baggage and steps up reluctantly, the beta who calmly and quietly gets the job done, or even the villain turned almost hero who comes through and shocks everyone. Heroes are never taken in isolation anyway they generally come with heroines and trusty sidekicks so that plays a factor too.

    Thanks for the thought provoking question.

    • Kenra Daniels
      November 10, 2011 at 7:26 pm

      Hi Sophia,

      I like all the different Hero types, too, depending on how the author handles them. As long as he’s well written, I don’t care about his personality type at all. Though I do have to admit, there are a few well written Heroes with such annoying traits that I couldn’t finish the books.


  • November 11, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Congratulations to Amanda Barker, winner of the swag! I’ll be sending it your way soon, and it’s quite yummy.

    Thanks to everyone who participated! Be sure to check out the rest of our Hero Chronicles series, including the Babes Who Slay discussion going on right now. =)

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