Monday, April 12, 2010

Tall, Dark and Cliched?

Having posted here in the past about beta heroes, and more recently on my blog about balding heroes; over the next couple of days I'll be writing about a couple more hero types - the anti-hero and the short hero.

But first, I thought I'd ask the (probably rather obvious question) why is tall, dark and handsome so popular? Why do we embrace the cliche?

I think we have a checklist of things we like to see in a romantic hero.
  • Tall
  • Dark
  • Interesting
  • Kind to furry animals and small children
  • Nice eyes
  • Able to explain Schrodinger's equation (Is that just me? I have a thing for physicists, lol.)

However, if I'm honest, the most memorable heroes (for me) are the ones that have broken the mold - they've been flawed but have still succeeded. I think the older I get, the more I find I'm bored with tall, dark and handsome. The author that can write a quirky or unlikely hero and make me believe in and root for him is far more likely to sustain my interest as a reader.

Looking at my hero picks I think that this is clear.

John Matthew from the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. When we first meet him pre-transition he is a skinny, undernourished youth. Living in a vampire world where physical perfection is prized, he is mute, which immediately marks him as an outsider. But he forges a place for himself. (I'm ignoring the fact that he turned into something of a wanker in the last book).

Curran (Ilona Andrews - Magic series) and Raphael ( D.B.Reynolds - Vampires of America) - both pretty much a more traditional hero. However, they both take the meaning of arrogance to the extreme.

Jeremy Danvers (Kelley Armstrong Otherworld series) - He's the alpha werewolf, but for me he's the epitome of a beta hero.

Richard Tremayne (Lynn Viehl's Darkyn series) - Takes the idea of arrogance to a completely new level. Pursues his own agenda ruthlessly but I'm always left wanting to know more about him.

Duncan Reever (Stardoc Series) - Telepath and when we first met him, emotionally stunted (not the word I want to use but I can't think of a more explanatory one) and unable to communicate effectively with Cherijo.

It's seeing how the heroes overcome these flaws or the fact that they don't see them as a problem that really draws me in. So do you have any quirky or unlikely heroes to recommend? Or do you prefer tall, dark/blond and handsome?


Sullivan McPig said...

Balding heroes?
Sounds interesting.
As for tall dark and handsome:
Handsome isn't required I think, a flawed heor is even cooler than handsome, but tall and dark works better for me than short and/or blond.

As for unusual heroes:
talking about bald: in Yargo by Jacqueline Susann all the males are bald! I really liked that about the story.

Kris said...

The physics thing is definitely just you. :P

I love flawed heroes. Like you, I enjoy reading hoe their characters development over time.

My fondness for the twink character in m/m has seen my interest in tall and handsome wane... a bit.

I also have a bit of a thing for heroes with glasses. Heh. Maybe I do have an interest in geeks after all. ;)

LesleyW said...

Sullivan - there should definitely be more balding heroes.

Kris - I thought the physics thing might just be me. lol

Chris said...

Hmm, smart is good, but the physics thing isn't a requirement! ;)

I'm a sucker for tall, dark, and handsome. But! I always have been. The first crush I remember in junior was on a handsome & athletic senior guy who was 6'6" and had black hair...

KC Burn said...

I'm a sucker for the geeks! But as for dark? Not so much. I like blond, I also like bald. I think Josh Lanyon's Adrien English qualifies as a beta hero (and he's so sexy). Also, if you've got a blind hero, I'm SO in! I will read just about anything with a blind guy. Why? No clue! Maybe it's the extra obstacles - like finding a soul mate isn't hard enough!

LesleyW said...

Chris - looks like I might be alone in the physics department, lol. Though just smart is good.

KC - Love Adrien English, and I think some of the blind hero thing is the idea that the rest of the senses are heightened. I've just ordered a book with a blind hero and you're really making me wish it would hurry up and get here. :)

Tracy said...

I have to say I almost liked JM better when he was skinny and under-nourished. Just sayin. :)

Jeremy - yum.

Renee said...

Love this topic! I've posted before about misfits and smart ass heroes. They are both types I really love. These types are less physical types, but more personality/character types.

Misfit heroes: Vic from JCP's PsyCop series, Clay from Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld series.

Smart ass heroes: Suze Brockmann's Izzy Zanella and Nalini Singh's Hawke.

One reason I really like both these types is that typically they are also highly intelligent, as well. I may not know from Schrodinger's equation, but brains definitely do = sexy.

Of course, it never hurts when they are tall, dark, and handsome as well. ;-)

Unknown said...

I think there would be something really dreamy about going out with a guy who tries to explain the physics of a how everything moves to you... it would be so sweet! John Matthew! I still need to get his book!

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