Thursday, March 3, 2011

The perfect erotic-romance hero...does he really have to be?

I was just going through reader comments on Smart Bitches about those perfect male physiques in erotic romance novels and some of the reader complaints totally struck a chord with me. Do we really need all our heroes to be over six feet tall with chiseled features and the musculature of a body builder?

I've tried to make my male leads attractive without classically perfect looks (Marcus, my hero in Cat's Game, sees himself as generally unattractive, "Sharp features that included the ultimate Roman nose, courtesy of his Italian grandfather, did not make him the most photogenic man and his character tended toward curt and demanding rather than charming. Dates had been far harder to get in his college days." Of course, my heroine still thinks he's the hottest thing since habanero peppers.) But I must admit I haven't dared stray too far from the typical alpha male romantic lead.

No longer! I'm finally going to be brave and step outside the safety zone. In my current project, my hero is (gasp!) short. I really LOVE short guys and have been itching to write about an undersized hero for ages. I'm only a little over five feet myself so have had the pleasure of dating men of all sizes, and I can tell you from personal experience that short guys are great. They often have a cocky arrogance and forceful charm that is very appealing. Call it a Napoleon Complex if you will, but I think short guys are more likely to use their wits and words to stand out of the crowd because they can't rely on sheer physical presence. And a man who can use wits and words to good effect makes me go all toasty and tingly—much more readily than the big, strong, silent type.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed (a real challenge while trying to produce a novel) and hoping against hope that my editor doesn't ask me to change my short-dark-and-handsome hero into the expected oversized hunk.

What do you say? Are you with me on this?

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