What Do We Want In A Hero?

The last few weeks I’ve been reflecting on what it is about romance heroes that attracts us so much. Why do we as readers get sucked in and fall in love with a fictional character in a book? I’m sure every reader has a different answer, however I think there just might be a few qualities about romance heroes that we all long for.

Especially in today’s imperfect world, I don’t think readers expect a hero to be flawed. I think they expect to see a few chinks in the amor. For instance, the hero in my book Lost Betrayal was a cowboy that had been caught up in the rodeo drug scene in his younger years. That’s a far cry from the perfect hero who has it all together!

While we love to see some imperfection, vulnerability and perhaps a slight weakness to make us believe they could be real there are some qualities that are non-negotiable.

One of the characteristics that I like to see in a hero is initiative. Heroes make things happen! They go after what they want. They make the first move. As the Millionaire Matchmaker founder Patti Stanger would say, they hunt!

Another quality is physical strength. They don’t have to be built like Arnold Schwarzenegger but no one gets hot and bothered over a character that looks like “Thin Arms Rob Lowe” in his cable commercial! Those big biceps and solid abs aren’t just about the drool factor either. We want someone who could beat up that thug – if needed! We like to feel safe.

Strength isn’t just a physical attribute that we want to see in a hero. It’s also a character trait that we want to see. No one wants to read about a hero that whines a lot! We want a hero that’s mentally tough and independent and that will stand up for something. We want to believe that they can handle anything.

I think we also want a hero that’s protective. A hero that makes sure what is his is taken care of completely. He doesn’t want his heroine to worry or be hurt in any way and he’ll do whatever it takes to make sure she is ok.

Another quality that I think we want to see is that they love deeply. Underneath that strong exterior we want to see a hero that has eyes for only one woman and that will move heaven and earth to keep her. He doesn’t have to say “I love you” every five seconds but his actions and how he’s focused on her say it loud and clear.

So what about you? What characteristics do you want to see in a hero when you pick up a romance book?