Saturday, December 18, 2010
What Romance Hero Should Mrs. Santa Leave Under Your Tree?
Let's say that this year, Mrs. Santa slips a little extra something in Santa's pre-departure hot toddy. She takes the reins to deliver all the bad grown up little girls a very special Christmas surprise. What romance hero should Mrs. Santa leave under your tree?
Now, I'm gonna preface all of this with a big ole' disclaimer. Like many of you, I'm a very happily married lady. While it's cruel of me to have raised his hope for freedom with that first paragraph, I surely don't intend to let my hubby, Mr. Quack, out of my clutches. He's stuck for the long haul. I love him insanely - and y'all know I'm plenty insane. (Yes, I said -y'all, y'all, y'all -- Uhm, sorry. Just having another Apprentice flashback. I seriously think "The Donald" hired the wrong candidate. I expressed my reason on the Quacking Alone Facebook page.) Anyway, I'm just talkin' pretend here. And I guess, I'm also asking, what romance novel hero traits mirror those in real life and which ones would make a hero good for the long haul in real life?
The heroes in romance novels tend to be love 'em and leave 'em types. They plan to continue their roguish ways and have no desire to change. This is a trait that must be as old as the human race. Mr. Quack says if it weren't for women, men would still be living in caves.
Serial romance without strings is a male fantasy and - like cave dwelling - it's in direct opposition to the female desire for security and civilization. Yet even the extreme Regency rogues eventually marry. The issue is - do they change? Do they give up their wandering ways and build a home and life where they're committed to only one woman? I believe this one's a deal breaker. Most ladies will throw back a fish that wants to swim in everyone's pond.
A lot of the heroes are jealous to one degree or another, just like a lot of real life partners/spouses/boyfriends. Many of the RNH's will throw a fit if their lady steps out for the evening with another man. Some can't tolerate her laughing at another man's jokes, let alone dancing with another partner. Others get gosh-green jealous when the heroine smiles at a man in "a certain way." I think lots of ladies have different real-life scales for how green is good, how green is bad and how green is just right. But one thing I think we'd all agree on is that we want to see our man get at least a little jealous. How much is just right for you?
And what do we want 'em to do when they get jealous? Or when another man has insulted you? RNH's often throw punches when another lad steps over whatever line the hero has drawn around the heroine. Some of them will even throw down the gauntlet, pick up swords or guns and head for a duel at Abbott's field, especially if his lady's honor has been insulted. Other lover lads will take jealousy out on the lady, yelling or lecturing or even demanding. Do you want a RNH who'll throw down or shoot it out? Maybe you'd prefer one who yells or lectures. Maybe you'd even like a fellow to make a demand or two.
How about temper? Some ladies like their men to take it slow and easy - in and out of the bedroom. Others prefer a little - or a lot - of spice and expect that a man who really cares will get pretty darned upset from time to time. Some find it sexy when a RNH who gets knocked for a loop by love goes a little nutty, behaves a little irrationally. Do you like a man to take cupid's arrow and keep his cool, lose it just once in a while or do you want love to make him mad as a hatter?
Now we can't mosey away from this list without thinking about affection. I'm not talking about whether he's good at the down and dirty. It's out and out a given that a RNH has got to be a virtuoso who can play his lady like Charlie Daniels strokes a fiddle - or like Elton John tickles the ivories. But how affectionate should he be in public? Here's a spot where RNH's run the gamut. I've read books where the hero made a game of making private moments as public as possible. There are others where he won't dance with a lady twice for fear of giving the wrong impression. Should your RNH confine public affection to hand holding? Kisses? Caresses? Or maybe you like the guys who'll take it to the limit and then push the limits until you forget that boundaries exist at all.
All of these traits would go into making the RNH that Mrs. Santa might leave under your tree. But each of us has a list of other qualities that are important to us but might not matter as much to others. In thinking of my idea of the ideal RNH, a couple of other factors matter a lot to me. Those include his sense of humor and his sense of his place in the universe. It's important that a guy be able to tell a joke or take a joke - even if it's on him. So no matter how high and mighty he might be, it matters to me that he keep it all in perspective and be able to lay it all on the line for his ladylove. I also care a lot that he's tight with his family. My ideal RNH doesn't care a fig for the world's opinion about his choices, but he cares a lot about his family's opinions. It also matters that he's loyal to his friends. If a man doesn't value his friends and his family, he will never value his ladylove.
If I were going to pick a single RNH for Mrs. Santa to wrap up and leave under my tree on Christmas morning, I'd have to go to the way back, to a tried and true RNH who checks all my boxes just right. I'd pick James Mallory of Johanna Lindsey's Mallory Clan. You'll recall that James' story was told in her novel, Gentle Rogue. I liked that James cared so little about society's rules that he turned pirate and took to the high seas. But I liked that he cared so much about his family that he exacted vengeance when his niece got slighted. I adore James' sarcastic wit, especially when he's using it on himself. I found his closeness with his whole clan touching and the pranks he pulled on Georgina charming - especially when they turned around and bit him on the arse. I adored how he kept his cool in a battle at sea and how he lost it when the battleground was his heart. Yep, I think James Mallory is the perfect RNH - unless I could consider the ones I wrote myself, which wouldn't be really fair, now would it?
But you know what? When I think about the things that make James Mallory seem like my perfect RNH, I realize that I see every darned one of them in my very own Mr. Quack. My hubby has a certain touch of piracy in his history. He's devoted to his parents and is amazing with our kids. He's been known to pull a prank or two on me and has shared his wit and wisdom with friends, family and a whole You Tube audience. I hadn't considered it before, but I think I adore James Mallory because he reminds me of my very own, real life love. So, I guess I'll have to tell Mrs. Santa that she won't need to drop off a RNH at my house.
Come to think of it, Mr. Quack would look awful nice curled up under our tree, wearing a lovely red bow.......
Now, it's YOUR TURN. What qualities make for a divine RNH? Do you see any of those qualities in your real life lovers or spouses? And if you had to pick one RNH to show up under your tree - who would it be and why?
Mary Anne Graham
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