Saturday, March 5, 2011

Men: Can't Live With 'Em, Can't Kill 'Em...

Though sometimes we'd really like to, wouldn't we?

When I first started writing, I didn't understand the incredible popularity of romance novels because I'd never read one. I read my first romance novel after I sold my first novel and became acquainted with some romance writers. Over the years, however, I've come to see not only why women like to read them, but why we as writers like to write them. We live vicariously through our heroines. We get to have a man who may be flawed but gets it right in all the ways that really matter. Let's face it, girls--how many of you can honestly say your husband/significant other could be a hero in a romance novel?

We might love them in real life, but the guy who is too often insensitive and takes you for granted wouldn't sell many novels.

I initially balked at the idea of writing romance because I thought the heroes were too good. I wanted to write love stories that weren't necessarily romances. I didn't want them to be perfect. I wanted to create the kind of men I could love. I wanted them to be strong, but not cads. Thoughtful without having to be beaten into submission to make them remember the little things. Unafraid to express feeling, but not wimpy. The three men I created in my most recent novels have a great deal in common....

Connor Mackenzie, Chasing the Wind: he's got secrets--and emotional scars. He's sworn off love, but when circumstances force him to forge a bond with Lynne, he finds himself experiencing emotions he thought impossible. Once he allows himself to love, she's his priority... 

Jamie Randall, Final Hours: he married for the wrong reasons and stays with his wife out of a sense of obligation. Still, when he falls in love with Kate, he falls completely. She's the one he loves, the one he wants to be with--and he lets her know it...

Alex Stewart, An Army of Angels: his very existence has created a barrier between him and anyone who might get close to him--but when Robyn refuses to give up on him, she finds herself with a husband who would face death itself to be with her...

Think about it, girls. Who comes to mind when you think of the ideal man? Jane Austen's legendary hero, Mr. Darcy? Rick in Casablanca? Richard Gere's Edward from Pretty Woman, who conquered his fear of heights to prove his love to Vivian?

I'll bet nobody picks the crude, insensitive, selfish Al Bundy from Married With Children.... 

I refuse to settle. I guess that's why I'm still single...



  1. OMG! My sentiments exactly!!!

    I have never actually read a romance novel, but, for the same reasons you listed, I have created male characters that I would date. They don't have to be perfect, but they do have to be sensitive to the female characters needs. You hit the nail right on the head!!! Great blog!!!

  2. I'm betting the women will all get it, and the men will scratch their heads and wonder why they're underappreciated.

    They can be such insensitive pigs. And when they try to explain themselves, they invariably dig themselves in deeper.

    My dad once sat quietly and listened to a guy I was seeing make matters worse with every word he uttered. Finally, Dad looked at him and said, "That hole you dug yourself into is filling up with quicksand. If you shut up now, she might let you live."

  3. First I need to say that I bow to you for have the strength to stay single. I am currently married,(not the first time) after being single for 8 yrs. and single is better. I had to give marriage one more try.

    Secondly, my ideal man would be like Harry, in when Harry met Sally. And, he wouldn't revert back to his old ways after we tied the knot.

  4. I like romance novels. While my sweetie is close enough to perfect for me, it's still nice to imagine the guy who fills a room and takes your breath away.

  5. Thank you, Susan! I'm not opposed to marriage...just to being taken for granted.

    I like Harry, too...once he grew up!

  6. Karla--I don't need to be swept off my feet. I don't need Prince Charming. But as much as I like pigs, I wouldn't marry one.

  7. My husband is a true nerd but sweet. But sometimes terribly insensitive. Mostly nerd though. I know, I repeated myself. A bit sleepy right now.

  8. Those guys in the romance novels usually have long flowing hair prettier than mine. I think pigs have the edge- at least their hair style is masculine.

    When I see those book covers with the hero's hair blowing across the sky, I imagine the herione coming up behind him with a scrunchy.

  9. Get some rest, Shelly. We all understand.

    I got the following response on Facebook:
    "Words fail...why can't we kill them?"

  10. Lynn, too funny! A scrunchy. I'm going to start carrying one in case I run into a Romance Novel guy. I don't read romance novels. They're too sugary sweet. I don't write Women's Lit either, but all my novels are Women's Lit. Go figure. I had this boyfriend once that was so wonderful. After a year, I couldn't take it anymore. Whatever quality you see in me, my husband is the opposite, although we are both neat freaks.

  11. I've always thought that opposites balance each other, as long as they share the same core values and respect and value each other.

    Personally, I think the following should be added to the marriage vows: "Thou shalt not take each other for granted on penalty of death."

    But then, the marriage rate would drop dramatically....

  12. My husband is perfect and if I went on about would sound like I'm making it up.(We compliment each other-like my characters) Great post...I think many men are dorky and usually that's the type of characters I have in my novel. In other words, they think they're cool and they are so not cool. Someone reading my descriptions might get a chuckle out of their idiotic behavior. The women that like the dorky men have their own character flaws that make them perfect for these bozos. I guess I want the reader to feel superior.

  13. Eve--you are so lucky! When a woman is lucky enough to find a man who loves her and really appreciates her, she'd better hold onto him.

  14. Lynn--you must be thinking of the poster boy for historical romance, Fabio.

    I make it a rule to never date a man who has better hair than mine.

  15. Hm ... your romance is Chasing the Wind, and mine is Storm Chaser ... :-)

    I'm with you on the type of hero. Being a male romance writer, I could add that the type of heroine is important, too. She's generally the viewpoint character, and you have to believe your perfect hero would be attracted to her, so she can't be too wimpy or too abrasive, among other things.

  16. I just wanted to comment on Lynn's point about the long flowing hair and his hair looking better than hers....!!

    My male characters have always been "good looking", my very first male character looked like an actor that I think is cute (I won't say who because I'll get chastised--and quite possibly stoned LOL) but, he doesn't have long hair. In fact, the person I had pictured would look horrible in long hair. I've seen him in long hair, and he it's not a pretty sight.

    I think we usually make our characters (male and female) with looks and traits that we like/admire. For instance, I made my female character in "The Bracelet" to be feminine but yet, strong enough to wield a sword when the time comes. Same with the male characters. I wanted strong (physically or mentally) men, and ones that would fight to the bitter end for you.

  17. I agree with you, Mark. One issue I had when I was starting out was my editor's desire to have my female characters be feminists (yes, I know it will surprise a lot of people to know that I'm not a feminist myself). I felt that the feminist issues got in the way of the romance.

    Whenever I think of abrasive female characters, Patricia Heaton's character in Everybody Loves Raymond comes to mind.I hated that character--she was always angry!

  18. Beth--that's the bottom line: a man who will go the distance for you.

    My dad wasn't the most romantic guy in the world, not good with words, but my mom never had to doubt his love for her, because it was so evident in his actions. And when you get down to it, some words are so overused ("I'm sorry" comes to mind)that they lose their meaning. I'd rather see love in action.

  19. Norma, you're in good company. After my mom's last marriage she swore she'd never settle again. She's been single for around 15 years because she refuses to settle for "good enough" instead of her best friend!!!!

  20. Christy, no one should ever settle. I think the best marriages come when the couple is each other's best friend.

    I am not by any means anti-marriage. If the right man asked me, I'd say yes in a heartbeat.

  21. Oh I'm going to sound cheesy, but I think my man could star in one your novels, Norma. He'll build a shed sweating in the sun, then join me for a mani/pedi. He's my kind of Mr. Perfect anyway. :)

  22. Last night, I got to spend an evening with my perfect hero--Indiana Jones. I confess--I've lusted after Indy for years. He has all the traits I admire, and, if only he were real, he'd be one of the few men on the planet who could stand to live with me for any length of time.

    But he's taken now. Oh, well. I always said of all the women in his life, Marian was the only one who was really a match for him....

  23. LOL! Lynn, that made me cry I laughed so hard!
    Well, I think everything is always "perfect" when you're falling in love. When you start hearing them fart everyday and you have to clean their sweaty's easy for romance to go out the window. But, then again, maybe it would be more romantic if I'd have gotten flowers more than just twice in SIX YEARS!!! And if I didn't have to fish for every compliment, and...I'll just stop right there.

  24. Fishing for compliments is my least favorite sport. If you have to ask for it, it becomes're only getting it because you've requested it.

    I'm no good at begging. Too much pride!

  25. I'm not good at begging either. However, I am unfortunately very good at off-handed remarks under my breath while rolling my eyes.


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