This week a Pink Heart Society Founder makes a guest visit to discuss one of her favourite topics. Is there anyone out there who doesn't love a man in uniform? If there is, Trish Wylie isn't one of them!
Many, many moons ago, or back in 2007 to be more precise, the very lovely Donna Alward posted a PHS blog on the subject of men in uniform. At the time I'd 'turned her on' (her words, not mine. I mean we're close and all, but not that close, y'know? Love you, Donna!) to the cover of Julie Miller's book Basic Training, which to this day remains on my keeper shelf. Donna said it made her think about what it was that made the cover so yummy. After all, it was just a head shot of a good looking guy. She was right, it is, as are two of my own covers which feature men in uniform. And you know what? They're two of my favourite covers, evah! So as I come to the end of a series featuring guys both in and out of uniform, it got me thinking, too. Am I shallow? Could you put anyone in a uniform and they'd automatically become a hero?
Donna made some fabulous points in her blog-some of which included 'uniforms' in a way I hadn't thought about before, so if you haven't read it, go look! But has anything changed in six years?
Well, let's see, shall we?
Their appeal on film and TV certainly hasn't waned. Take Taylor Kinney in Chicago Fire, for example. I'm sure I can't be the only one out there who could *cough* put him to good use *cough*. I mean, isn't this the kind of guy who would make you want to set your house on fire?
Donna said 'There’s something about “the good guys” that draws us in.'
I totally agree with that. For those of you who might not know, Kinney plays Kelly Severide in the show. Severide is a ladies man. He can be hot headed, stubborn and unreasonable but when push comes to shove we still believe he'll 'do the right thing'. He's a firefighter, after all. He risks his life for people every day! His problems with commitment to women, well, there has to be a reason for that, right? It's part of the universal appeal for the bad boy in romance. If he met the right woman at the right time like my firefighter hero did...
In Blue Bloods, we have an entire family of New York's finest, the youngest of which, Jamie Reagan, is played by Will Estes. Jamie has 'good guy' in his DNA and has been trying to do the right thing since he quit law school to become a cop. It's not something he's found easy, particularly when it meant lying to his family, but he believes in what he's doing. Having courage in his convictions and the strength to do what needs to be done are qualities we can't help but admire. And as Donna said back in the day:
'Sometimes it’s not about punishing the guilty, but protecting the innocent. How can you not love a man with that as his creed?'
*sigh* She's so right. My first love had a 'uniform' which included underpants worn outside his tights and a long, flowing red cape, but it was that exact same ethos which made me fall head-over-heels. And the more self-sacrificing the hero, the more we want him to get the happily ever after he deserves. In the case of my first love, it came in the form of Lois Lane. In the case of my first cop hero, it was the woman who saw how much that sacrifice had cost him along the way...
How a uniform can change our persepective was particularly apparent to me with Zac Efron in The Lucky One and Richard Armitage in Strike Back. I'd never been a big fan of either one-an admission I make at great personal risk online! But put them in a uniform and give them a past which has been torturing them and I'm sold.
'Find the right combination, and you’ve got a hero that your reader will hopefully remember for a long, long time!' Donna said.
And again, I agree! It's not just the uniform. Have all the other magical ingredients in place and a uniform is merely icing on the cake. It could be argued it's a chicken-and-the-egg scenario. Which came first, the uniform or the man? Does the uniform make the man? What do you think?
All I know is when I think about the uniformed heroes in the books by Julie Miller, Rhonda Nelson and the lovely Donna Alward (among others) sitting on my keeper shelf , they are so much more than the clothes they wear. In several cases they're not even officially 'in' uniform, whether it's because they left the service or are spending most of the story 'off-duty'. What remains constant for me-and keeps bringing me back to these stories both as a reader and a writer-is a magnified version of everything I think a hero should be. He has a code of honour, a sense of duty, conviction, determination, protects those he loves and will do whatever it takes to reach his goal, even if means risking everything along the way.This guy will be there when we need him and isn't that something everyone wants?
So six years may have passed since Donna wrote that blog, but everything she said still holds true today. At least I think it does. She's a smart one, that Alward.
But what about you? Are you a fan of men in (and out) of uniform? Is there a particular kind of uniform you find sexier than another or is it all about the man underneath? You tell me.
In the meantime, I'll be looking at calenders. Don't know why, but I can suddenly see another firefighter hero in my writing future...
Trish's first Harlequin KISS features a rebellious mayor's daughter and a reluctant NYPD bodyguard. HER MAN IN MANHATTAN is out RIGHT NOW from all the usual outlets in the USA and Canada!
An Amazon review says: 'I love the premise of this book, the characters were interesting, and the sexual tension was so hot that I'm pretty sure New York would suffer a heat wave in winter if these two weren't fictional.'