Musings on Heroes

Have you ever heard of Ree Drummond, aka the Pioneer Woman? She is a former city girl who married a rancher and now lives on a big ranch in the middle of nowhere in the state of Oklahoma with four children, a dashing husband, several cowboys, a few dogs, and several thousand moo cows, bulls, calfs, and horsies. Not to mention calf nuts.

Last week I stumbled across her blog, which has won several bloggies this year, among them the “Best Weblog of the Year” award. She writes about ranch life, homeschooling, cooking, and calf nuts – with not even the tiniest bit of dragon-tail in sight. I was instantly hooked. And then I discovered the section “Black Heels to Tractor Wheels,” the story of how she met and fell in love with her husband. As far as romances go, this was the best I’ve read in a while.

And the very bestest thing?

Ree’s Marlboro Man.

Reading Ree’s real-life love story (lovely alliteration, isn’t it?), I realised (ha! here’s another R) that there aren’t many strong, caring, kind men in romance. Alpha heroes are usually grumpy and tormented. They might turn out nice and caring at the end of the novel, but before that, they’ve got serious problems with their anger management.

So last weekend I stood in front of my romance shelves in my library, looking for kind heroes.

The only one I found?

P.C. Cast’s ClanFintan.

A centaur.

Brilliant.

What’s wrong with romance heroes, I ask you? Why are most of them so very grumpy? (Okay, okay, I admit that getting branded by the heroine at the very beginning of the story does not make for a sunny disposition.) (And I also admit that usually like tormented heroes. But not right now!)

So have you got any recommendations for romances with truly nice heroes? Who are not tormented? (Or at least not horribly tormented.)

6 thoughts on “Musings on Heroes

  1. Laura Vivanco

    Beta heroes tend to be much more cheerful, but looking at the photo of your shelves, it seems as though you have a lot of Mills & Boon Moderns, and those tend to have alpha heroes.

    Freddie in Heyer’s Cotillion is a truly cheerful, nice hero, and so’s the hero of her An Unknown Ajax. I like Henry Tilney in Austen’s Northanger Abbey, who very definitely has a sense of humour. There’s another Henry who fits your description in Fiona Hill’s The Country Gentleman (reviewed part-way down the page here). In Deborah Hale’s Lady Lyte’s Little Secretit’s the heroine who’s grumpy and has secret troubles, so the hero is really quite ungrupy and normal by comparison. Deborah Simmons’s The Last Rogue has a hero with problems, but they don’t make him at all grumpy. If anything, the heroine initially finds him irritatingly cheerful. Jessica Hart’s Mistletoe Marriage has a hero who’s dependable and not at all tormented. Jennifer Crusie’s heroes are generally (with a few exceptions) ungrumpy and untormented.

    Those are the ones that come to mind for me. I’m sure if I thought about it for longer I’d come up with quite a lot more.

  2. azteclady

    Will in LaVyrle Spencer’s Morning Glory.

    Cosmo in Suzanne Brockmann’s Hot Target

    Sawyer in Nora Roberts’ Tribute

    Rafe, Duke of Holbrook, in Eloisa James’ The Taming of the Duke

    Houston and Dallas, from Lorraine Heath’s Texas Destiny and Texas Glory respectively (they have their issues, particularly Houston, but they are both kind)

    I’m sure there are more, but I need more coffee…

  3. Sandra Schwab

    Thanks for the recs! I’ll head over to Fictionwise later today and see if I can find any of those books.

    Laura, have you seen the new TV adaptation of Northanger Abbey by now? JJ Field is absolutely charming as Henry Tilney.

  4. Laura Vivanco

    “have you seen the new TV adaptation of Northanger Abbey by now? JJ Field is absolutely charming as Henry Tilney.”

    Yes, I’ve seen it on DVD, and I agree, he was charming, as was the actress playing Catherine. She managed to seem young and naive without giving the impression that she was stupid. I thought she’d learn from her mistakes (though still retain some of her exuberance). That’s important because Henry Tilney with a stupid wife might end up a bit like Mr Bennet in P&P, and that would be very sad. Although I think Catherine, even when being a bit silly, had a much stronger sense of right and wrong than Mrs B can ever have done.

  5. PC Cast

    Thank you Sandy! ClanFintan is my favorite hero of all my books. Actually, HQ is going to reissue the Divine by trilogy with new packaging, etc., starting August: DIVINE BY MISTAKE, Sept: DIVINE BY CHOICE, October: DIVINE BY BLOOD. Hopefully lots more people will be introduced to that amazing centaur…

    All the best,
    PC Cast

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