By Debra Mullins
What makes a romance hero? Well, you take a hunky man, add a dash of danger, a smidgen of sexiness and a streak of kindness…mix well, then insert into book.
I wish it were that easy.
One of the reasons I love writing romance is because of the hero. What woman doesn’t love to fall a little bit in love with a guy who is protective, strong, vulnerable, loyal, kind-hearted, smart and has a great sense of humor? He might be dashingly handsome or homely-yet-attractive, but it’s the heart of the hero that captures us as readers. We cheer for him even as he makes mistakes. We want him to be worthy of our heroine.
When I create a hero, it usually starts with an emotion. Whether I get the inspiration from a song or a movie or some other place, it starts with that intangible feeling, whether good or bad. It might be that the hero has to learn to deal with the bad emotion or that he has to learn how to earn the good one. That’s where the heart of the hero lies.
In my new book, TO RUIN THE DUKE, the hero is trying to avoid feeling the pain of the recent loss of his wife and unborn child. Especially the unborn child. Yet in order to grow as a person, he needs to deal with these emotions. So how better to make him do that than to bring in the heroine, who shows up with a baby on his doorstep?
Watching Wylde resist the lure of the innocent baby—a child the heroine insists is his, though he knows it’s not—tugs at the heartstrings even as we watch him ruthlessly track down the man who has been impersonating him all over London. The heroine—who was friends with the baby’s mother before her death in childbirth—is determined to make sure Wylde takes responsibility for his child. She does not believe his protestations of innocence.
The one thing Wylde always wanted was a family of his own. He desperately wishes his son had not died. And now here is another little boy who needs a home, a son everyone believes is his yet isn’t. Wylde can hardly bear to be near the child because it reminds him so painfully of what he lost. He is tormented by the situation, yet being a good guy he does not turn Miranda and the baby out into the street. He provides for them until he can discover who the father is—especially since it might very well be the same man he has been hunting down.
The thing that makes a great hero is a man who doesn’t get going when the going is rough. Wylde sticks around despite his personal torment. He does the right thing by helping Miranda, who has nowhere else to go. And forced to deal with his own dark emotions, he eventually does find peace with the situation.
Does he make mistakes? Sure. Does his personal torment sometimes make him act less than noble? Of course. But he learns from all of his missteps. He immediately regrets his actions and seeks to make amends. And this turns him into the man the heroine can fall in love with.
This turns him into a hero.
Romance heroes linger in our minds because they are the men who prove themselves worthy of love. By finding the courage to show their vulnerabilities and their strengths, they open up their hearts…and steal ours.
Who are some of the heroes who linger in your memory?