Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Tuesday Temptation: It's All About the Hero

Regency Author Julia Justiss says It’s All About The Hero. Always.

As a writer, I’m always interested in what pulls a reader into a book. The story line? An appealing heroine? A hunky hero? Maybe it’s a little of all three. But I’m convinced that what ties a reader to romance most strongly is the hero.

We all want to experience with the heroine that feeling of falling in love again, that wonderful, head-over-heels, nothing-else-in-world matters feeling. That giddy, sing the lyrics to your favorite song to strangers in the grocery line, kiss every baby and puppy you encounter, sunny blue sky day on a tropical beach happy. We want a hero who wins us over, one we can believe in, who is already worthy of the heroine’s love, or one who falls so hard he’s determined to convince her he can be.

Hal, hero of A MOST UNCONVENTIONAL MATCH, which is set to debut in the UK this month, seems to have resonated with many readers although he is considerably different from the “typical” romance hero. A man’s man, uncomfortable in drawing rooms and feminine company, Hal’s few words let his actions do the talking. Intelligent, curious, fiercely loyal to his friends, he forces himself to call on newly-widowed Elizabeth Lowery only because, as the sister-in-law of his best friend whose family is all abroad when her husband dies unexpectedly, he knows Nicky would expect him to offer her assistance in his stead. He’s hoping to complete this duty and speedily remove himself from the company of a woman who reminds him all too much of his beautiful, demanding society mother when he encounters her forlorn, grieving little son. Having lost his own father at an early age, he can’t just walk away. And so begins the dance of attraction between a woman whose character is much deeper than her lovely face and a man who is much more complex than his monosyllabic responses.

Readers—and writers—often form an image of their character’s appearance and are disconcerted if the cover image doesn’t match. I recently experienced this when Hal’s book came out in Italy. Hal (in the English version) is a tall, powerfully-built blond man. The Italian cover featured a handsome hero kneeling at the feet of the lovely heroine. Except…both characters are brunette. I mentioned my concern to the writer of an Italian blog who’d done an interview for the release. She checked with the Italian office, who assured her the references in the book to the characters had been adjusted describe them as brunette; dark-haired characters, the official explained, are more popular with Italian readers than blond ones.

Hmmm. I have to admit, it’s hard for me to imagine Hal (or Elizabeth) as blond.

What was my image of Hal as I was writing? Several famous faces came to mind. One, a young Charles Dance from The Raj Quartet (a side note; the now older Dance recently was knighted for his distinguished career on stage and in film.) Another is Matthew Magonahey, particularly in his earlier blond surfer mode.

So, what pulls you into a story? What does your ideal hero look like? Do you prefer your strong, silent type to be blond or dark-haired? Inquiring Minds Want to Know.
Longtime Regency Author Julia Justiss's has a UK debut of A Most Unconventional Match this month. Learn more about Julia at her website. Julia is one of the authors involved in upcoming 2010 major Historical Continuity --Silk & Scandal.


  1. Crap! Just wrote you a long post and lost it - argh! anyway, thanks Julia, cos my laptop is now covered in drool from gazing at pics of the delicious Charles Dance. Did you know he became known as The Thinking Woman's Crumpet during the screening of The Jewel and the Crown?
    Matthew McC is delicious too - esp. in Sahara and that accent of his! Makes me go all gooey at the knees and in other places too. :-)
    My heroes are all dark-haired, but now you've given me inspiration, I might just write a blonde hero.

  2. Hi JJ,
    there must be something wrong with me. It's always the heroines I identify with. I want to be the one running around in a floaty dress, braving perils, and winning the heart of the rugged hero...

  3. I agree, Annie-I want the heroine to be "me." (and she'd better not be wimpy or dithering or let-the-man-rescue-me.) But what pulls me in is the hero who intrigues, teases, challenges and attracts her. If HE isn't someone who would create the same response in me, then I lose interest in the story. And if he's a jerk (arrogant and overbearing) I'm unlikely to respect her judgment or hang around long enough to see him "reformed."

  4. I almost always imagine heroes as dark-haired and dark-eyed. Even if the hero is described as blond in a story, he's a *dark* blond for me, LOL.

    I'm okay with arrogant and overbearing if 1) the heroine knows how to deal with it, 2) if it comes in useful when he's dealing with people and situations, and 3) if he's not really arrogant and overbearing beneath his facade.

  5. My heros can come in any colour scheme, as long as they are scrumptious.
    I tend to like them strong and silent and wounded. I love the sound of this book Julia, so going to the bookstore today.

  6. Oh, I'm late as usual, JJ. But just have to say that blond heroes don't do it for me. Maybe that's why I married a guy who is half-Italian.

    If I encounter a blond hero, I immediately make him dark-haired in my mind.