Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Perfect Man

Most novels have them, and I suppose most of us look for them. Those handsome heroes with gorgeous blue eyes, wind swept hair, and a perfect body. Yes, they are often broken and scarred to add depth to their character, but typically it's the handsome prince and not the geek who plays the part of the hero in our stories. Granted, since most romance novel are read by women that makes sense, but what about your ‘average Joe’ or the belief that true beauty comes from the inside? 

I recently chatted with a male reader of my books who has some legitimate questions. He recently read Blood Covenant where I have a ‘geeky’ guy as one of the characters. I don’t want to give out any spoilers here, he doesn’t get the girl as my reader had hoped. Here is what he said. (With his permission)

“It always frustrates me that in all romantic novels that I end up reading by Christians, the girls are always incredibly beautiful and the guys seem to be out of GQ complete with sparkling blue eyes. As one of the geeky guys in the world – and there are far more of us than the type usually characterized in novels such as yours – I wish that there were more of a place for us types to be found attractive, even if its not for our physical “hotness.” 
He continues to say:

“If you gotta have a  romantic angle, then can’t you at least have more “ordinary” people falling in love and not people who look like celebrities straight out of People magazine?”

He also mentioned the familiar story of Beauty and the beast.

“Here we have a beautiful heroine finding love in a beast, not because of his outward lack of beauty but his inner beauty. Then, at the last instant, she kisses him and he turns into a handsome prince – who she ends up marrying. It’s as though even a fairy tale can’t end without the beautiful princess only marrying the handsome prince, and not some ugly dude. It seemed to communicate that you have to be beautiful on the outside to be loved by someone who is beautiful on the outside.”

Personally, I think he has an interesting point that has made me think about my own hero/heroines. In a romance, physical attraction is important, but have you noticed an over abundance of perfect people? (At least on the outside)

As both an author and a reader, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.

Readers, have you read any books lately that don’t have heroes and heroines who seem perfect--at least on the outside. Is this something you’d like to see more of or, because this is fiction, do you enjoy more a stunningly beautiful hero and heroine?

Authors, have you written a book with a hero/heroine who are more like the “geeky guys in the world?”

Leave a comment below and happy reading!


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  1. I do agree on books having gorgeous looking characters normally of a Anglo-Saxon descent. I have noticed that alot of the Christian romantics books don't have the main characters of other cultures or ethnicities. The geeky love interest is a departure from your handsomely gorgeous love interest but we still are a ways to go in having real, imperfect characters who find love as well.

  2. Rochester (Jane Eyre) wasn't a geek, but he wasn't perfect either! Trying to think of a contemporary hero who's not gorgeous but haven't come up with one yet. Dr House (TV) was physically imperfect, a genious and a miserable human being. Was he a romantic hero? Dunno. :-)

  3. Maybe we need two sets of books, one with the beautiful, one with the geeks.

  4. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I find the subject interesting and want to make my own characters deeper than just their outside beauty. I'd like to see more of a variety in cultures in stories as well, Elise.

  5. There is a definite place for a bit more cultural variation in American Christian fiction. Writers like Lisa and Jeanette Windle are trying, but a lot of readers don't want to read anything outside their own familiar culture.

    But, back to looks. I think one thing to remember here is that we all have different definitions of attractive.

    For example, Kaye Dacus sometimes posts photographs of people she is thinking of when writing about specific characters. She describes them as attractive, but they always have a five o'clock shadow. My definition of male attractiveness starts with cleanshaven. So when I read her character descriptions of a handsome or attractive man, my mental picture is cleanshaven - even though I know hers wasn't. Mine will probably have dark hair and brown eyes - even if she describes him as a blue-eyed blonde. Mine is more likely to be a bit geeky (which is one reason I like her writing - her heroes tend to be writers and lawyers and chefs, which are a bit geeky).

    And the hero is often described from the point of view of the heroine. Of course she thinks he's attractive. That's the whole point, especially in a romance novel. But if ten readers took that basic description and then picked photos out of a lineup to match that basic 'attractive' description...

    ...I'm sure they'd pick ten different people.

    1. Good observation. In real life, people are attracted to all different kinds of people, both physically and their inner person. And in a romance, as you said, they will be attracted to someone they view as attractive.

      I do think it would be nice if we as authors could expand our h/h and have more of a variety of cultures, but another good point made is that those buying our books want a certain kind of story. Yes, there are always exceptions, but I've struggled with this in my own writing as readers and thus publishers want something inside their own culture. And sales seem to show this as true as well.

    2. My thought is your thought, Iola--the lover always finds the person attractive even if no one else does and that is the POV from which we are writing. Maybe we need to show the lack of good looks before the emotions kick in, and then find those oddities we noted earlier endearing or unimportant compared tot he inner beauty.

  6. What a great picture, Lisa! You know, I kindof prefer the geeky guys--my mother said they were more likely to be trustworthy. i guess it's the same as for villans--they shouldn't be all bad, either. It certainly makes for more realism, if less fantasy.

    1. Very true, Donna. We can't have anyone all good or bad as that isn't real life, is it?

  7. Lisa,
    I have a geek for a hero in Disarming Andi, and a "plain girl" that the hero doesn't find necessarily attractive at first in Praying for Rayne.

    But maybe when someone is gorgeous or handsome it doesn't necessarily mean they are attractive to everyone, but to the hero or the heroine, which is important.

  8. You're so right. I'm definitely going to start looking at my h/h more their their eyes and not my own. Meaning how would THEY see each other, not just me or the reader. What do they want. . .what are they looking for.

  9. I admit I get fed up with descriptions of beautiful people with 'emerald eyes.' I don't know about you but I've never met anyone with that colour eyes. Green yes, emerald , no. And who wants someone who is all outward show? Not this person.We're getting sucked into the world's way of looking at people, from the outside.

  10. Good thoughts, Dale. And yes, I'm still looking for those emerald eyes. :-)

  11. I recently read Central Park Rendezvous, a collection of 4 novellas featuring war heroes. Several of the men felt they were unlovable because of physical scars they bore. The stories partly stand out to me BECAUSE the heroes were not 'perfect.'

  12. Both physical and emotional scars add deeply to characters. What a great theme to explore.