I’m at the beach with my husband, my sons, my son-in-law, and my daughter. Daughter and I will be surrounded by men! And I couldn’t be happier. (She’s happy, too, as long as they pick up their wet towels.)
Some critics say that romance novels depict men not as they are but as women would like them to be. But I like men. Guys. I like the way they move, laugh, talk, and smell, the way they pound on each other to show affection and don’t hog the hot water in the shower. I like the way they offer to carry the beach chairs and the boogie board and the groceries up two flights of splintery stairs. I like the way they can entertain themselves for hours by throwing baited lines into the ocean and cheerfully take me out to dinner when they don’t catch anything.
Anthropologists and zoologists find the same pattern of male competition and the male’s drive to provide across cultures and species. Not only because the male of whatever species must drive off or defeat his rivals, but his prowess - his ability to protect and provide - attracts his mate.
It attracts us as readers, too. We enjoy reading about those “alpha” heroes, those big, protective guys. Which no doubt explains the popularity of Navy SEALs, gun slingers, cops, and the Undead.
Status and the ability to provide also encompass social power and monetary power, which why we love heroes who are dukes and billionaires.
Establishing the male’s fitness as a mate isn’t only a matter of physical prowess, of wealth or social standing, but of competence. Nora Roberts has said that to a woman with two small children, a hero is the man who can fix the toilet on a Saturday night. This may explain part of the popularity of the “nerd” books, in which the hero’s mental competence is at least as important as his physical strength.
I’m married to a man who can cook. I think one of the sexiest things a guy can do for a woman is feed her. Sooner or later in my books, the hero always feeds the heroine. I don’t care if he’s alpha or beta, he is a provider.
One of the joys of writing the Children of the Sea was the difference between the heroes: rock steady, down-to-earth police chief Caleb in Sea Witch (excerpt)
and sexy, moody bad boy Dylan in Sea Fever (excerpt). Some of my favorite scenes were the ones between Dylan and Regina’s son Nick as Dylan learns what it means to be a hero who can protect and provide.
So, who are your favorite heroes, in real life or in fiction? And what do you wish your man would do for you? Leave a comment as I'll be giving away a copy of "Sea Witch" to a random poster at the end of the day.