Tag Archives: Heroes

Guest: Beth Kery

Hello everyone! We’ve got fabulous author Beth Kery visiting with us today! I’m so excited to have her here visiting with us, especially since Tuesday she had a new release – Exposed to You, which is one of the best books I’ve read this year! In fact, I reviewed it over at Heroes & Heartbreakers. But anyway, you don’t want to hear me – you want to see what Beth has to say. And believe me – if you haven’t read her before, you definitely want to.

I recently watched an interview on one of the news channels featuring Niall Leonard, the husband of author E.L. James who wrote the publishing phenomenon, Fifty Shades of Grey. Mr. Leonard himself had just put out a book, but of course all the reporters weren’t asking him about that. Instead, they wanted to know such crucial—and utterly embarrassing—things, like whether or not Mr. Leonard and his wife possessed their own red room of pain or if he considered himself to be like Christian Grey? To the latter, Mr. Leonard said wryly something along the lines of (I’m paraphrasing): “I hope not. He’s one sick bastard.” I mentally applauded Mr. Leonard’s response, not to mention his grace in general in answering such silly questions.

Those of us in the romance community can’t help but notice the booming popularity of…er…we’ll call him the ‘emotionally challenged hero’. He’s sexy, he’s intense, he’s got more than one diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders. I am not casting aspersions on these heroes. Not at all. I love to write a dark hero with a past, an intense alpha with a wound that the heroine helps to heal with her love. As a psychologist, I love digging into a character, and yes, oftentimes those layers go deep and dark.

But they can also go deep and light. Mental health doesn’t equate with being shallow or uninteresting. No, it might just mean strength of character and the ability to learn after making mistakes.

Given this love of the dark, messed-up hero, I was more than a little interested—and concerned—about what readers would think of Everett Hughes, the hero of my upcoming contemporary erotic romance, Exposed to You.

Here’s the thing about Everett: he’s supremely mentally healthy. Yes, he’s a superstar, but instead of being the screwed-up-celebrity-stereotype, he balances his fame with grace, a sense of humor, and the love and closeness of family and friends. Everett just refuses to be typecast, and that includes being shoved into the restrictive role of a narcissistic movie star.

Everett appeared initially in the first book in the One Night of Passion series, Addicted to You, as the brother of heroine Katie Hughes. He immediately leapt out of the realms of my unconscious and onto the page for me, and I knew I had to give him his own romance.

Katie noticed he was wearing the newsboy hat again, a white T-shirt, horrid knee-length sweat shorts, black socks and white Converse tennis shoes. With his tall, lean body and careless elegance, he actually managed to make the ensemble look quirky chic instead of atrocious, which it would have been on any other human on the planet. If Katie thought Everett was trying to be cute on purpose, it would have annoyed her, but she knew the truth. Almost everything Everett did was effortlessly perfect, right down to the fact that he typically could care less about perfection.
Addicted to You, Beth Kery writing as Bethany Kane

Just like Everett himself, I knew his romance would be sexy, passionate, unexpected and full of fun. He’s the perfect foil for my heroine, introverted, careful, talented, cancer-survivor, Joy Hightower. Joy isn’t quite sure what to make of the gorgeous, unaffected Everett. It’s not everyday that a star blazes into your midst during some of the darkest days of your life.

Did one ever become accustomed to his sexuality? It was like a third person in the room, a guest Joy wasn’t sure if she should ignore or welcome. Her gaze skittered over the opened portion of the robe he wore. The hair on his chest wasn’t a pelt, by any means, but it emphasized his potent masculinity. Hollywood golden boy Everett may be, but he was the polar opposite of an effeminate fop. He seemed about as aware of his looks as he was his own skin.
Exposed to You by Beth Kery

It’s Joy who possesses the wounds in Exposed to You. Not in the diagnosable sense, but in the very real, heart-rending way. She possesses the scars of not only her own cancer scare, but the unhealed wounds from watching a mother die from the disease after a protracted illness. Her father had left her mother rand her after watching his wife wasting away. Joy would never willfully wish that hell upon an enemy, let alone someone she loves.

It was fun to make Everett the savior in Exposed to You, the unhesitant giver…the completely confident lover. It’s his light, his depth and his vibrancy that end up saving Joy.

If you haven’t noticed, Joy’s gorgeous and kind and amazingly modest, considering all her talent and gifts. To be honest, I’m not surprised at all Everett has fallen for her. He hates artifice, even though he thrives in the midst of it. Joy is fresh and understated and . . . and . . .”

“What?” Seth prompted, no longer looking taken aback by Katie’s outburst, but interested.

“Well, sort of haunted, to be honest,” Katie said regretfully. “It’s the kind of combination a man like my brother would find irresistible.”

“He would think her being haunted was irresistible?” Seth asked, sounding mildly offended.

“No,” Katie said. “He’d find the idea of bringing her peace and happiness irresistible.”
Exposed to You by Beth Kery

Fortunately for Everett—and for Joy—he does end up convincing her that life and love are worth the risk. As for how they get to their happily-ever-after, that’s a journey you’ll have to read for yourself. 🙂

What are your thoughts about dark, tortured alpha heroes and equally alpha, sexy, healthy ones? What draws you to one or the other? If you’re anything like me, both types have their appeal given the storyline. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

We’re so lucky that Ms. Kery is giving away TWO books today! First, a copy of Addicted to You and another winner will get Exposed to You. And I definitely want to know what you think about heroes and which types are your favorites too.

Random Guest: Shona Husk

Hi Everyone! As you see we have Shona Husk visiting with us today! As you see we’re back to our “scheduled not scheduled” posts – as we’ve seen before. As you here Shona is talking about heroes today, so I’m curious as to what you all think. (Shona also writes the Shadowland series with Sourcebooks Casablanca.) Anyway I hope you’ll all join in and chat! Which type of hero do you prefer?

The misfit hero
We all know the wounded hero, the tortured hero, and the alpha at the top of his game, but what about the man who doesn’t quite fit in. The one who is successful, smart but who isn’t accepted into society?

While I often write tortured and wounded heroes I’ve also found myself coming back to the misfit. For whatever reason he doesn’t blend in and he uncomfortable in his own skin despite the face he puts on.

Sometimes it’s because what they are that prevents them from belonging. Absinthe (Enchanting Absinthe) is a Vampire-Shaman half-breed and shunned by all except his fellow band members. He has adoring fans but never lets anyone close. They love what they see, not who he really is.

Other times it’s because of what they know. Dai (Kiss of the Goblin Prince) has spent centuries studying magic, magic that no longer exists in our world. So while he looks like a modern man he will never truly belong because he knows too much and the magic is part of who he is after so long.

While the wounded hero needs healing, and the tortured hero needs to forgive himself the misfit hero is seeking acceptance and to be loved for who he is. I think that is something that is very easy to relate to as a reader. Deep down that is what we all want: that one person to know us and love us for who we are, not who we could be or who we should be.

Enchanting Absinthe:

Claire Winters is two days away from taking her place in the Shamanic Council’s Genetic Protection Program. To keep the fragile bloodline strong, every Shaman female must have one pure Shaman child. Tonight she wants one last fling and she has the lead violinist of Lucinda’s Lover in her sights–even though lustful liaisons with Vampires are strictly forbidden.

Absinthe has shunned long term relationships for so long he’s not sure he knows how to do anything but one-night stands. A forbidden hybrid of Shaman and Vampire, he has the ability to draw up power during shows and enchant people–usually women–out of their panties. But when he chooses Claire and a quickie backstage turns into a passionate night he can’t forget, he isn’t sure who was enchanting who.

Bio: A civil designer by day and an author by night, Shona Husk lives in Western Australia at the edge of the Indian Ocean. Blessed with a lively imagination she spent most of her childhood making up stories. As an adult she discovered romance novels and hasn’t looked back. Drawing on history and myth, she writes about heroes who are armed and dangerous but have a heart of gold—sometimes literally

With stories ranging from sensual to scorching, she is published with Ellora’s Cave, Samhain Publishing, Carina Press and Sourcebooks. You can find out more at her website, on twitter, facebook, or her newsletter.

Guests Heidi Belleau & Violetta Vane Talk Loves and Hates in a Hero

You!!! Guys!!! It’s June already! Freaking June and how did this happen?! Well, excuse me while I go have my little melt down at the year being half over. … Okay. Well, June is also my birthday month. (Whee!) So it’s extra packed with… the usual stuff but plus because it’s my birthday, okay?!

Anyway, every Tuesday we’ll be having a Guest Author & A Giveaway post. Every Thursday we’ll be having a Teaser Tuesday post. (Yeah, Thursdays become Tuesdays here on the blog in June. Deal.) And every Saturday, we have our special reader guest(s) sharing their Reader Post! Whee!

Here we’re starting out with a bang courtesy of dynamic duo Heidi Belleau & Violetta Vane!

4 Things Heidi and Violetta Love (and Hate) in a Hero

Hi! We’re Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane, a couple of co-writers from opposite ends of North America. Like all writers, though, we’re also readers, and we’re here today in that capacity, talking about what qualities we like and dislike in romance heroes. Between the two of us, we read M/F, M/M, and M/M/F, so there should be a little something here for everybody!

Four Loves. By Heidi, who is a part-time sparkle princess.

He has a sense of humor

Click your average online dating profile and it’s the number one thing people are looking for in a partner and it’s easy to see why. Who doesn’t want a lover who makes them happy, and what better way to make someone happy than to make them laugh? But it’s more than just finding your very own stand-up comedian, or a guy who has to get his witty two cents in on everything no matter who it hurts or embarrasses. Sense of humor isn’t just telling jokes, it’s a way of looking at life, an optimism, an ability to find joy in things or lighten a bad mood. How about Jason Segel, who has an unrelenting optimism and a charming ability to laugh at himself? Jon Stewart or Dave Chapelle, who can take depressing realities and make them palatable, even when the humor’s dark? Of course, your mileage may vary on who or what you find funny, but no matter your personal taste, a guy who can laugh at the world and himself can really lift your spirits.

Who’s funny:

Matt Lovell, from Josephine Myles’s free short Pole Star (M/M). Matt’s story could easily be the set-up for a moody drama: an injured male stripper in the emergency room meets a cute radiographer and is ashamed to admit to his real career but feels torn up about lying. Rather than going angsty with it, though, this story is all about the humor of this situation, starting with the fact that although Matt’s passing as a firefighter thanks to his stage costume, he knows the game will be up if anyone discovers his pants are the tearaway kind. The humor of this story could be mean-spirited, but it’s not, thanks to Matt’s charming, self-deprecating sense of humor. It’s a warm, human slice-of-life story that’s genuinely funny to read.

He challenges traditional ideas of masculinity

In M/F, Alpha Males are all the rage, and in M/M readers are constantly praising “real men” and coming up with often-hurtful standards of who gets to claim that title. But let’s give a shout-out to the guys who stretch our understanding of gender, either in how they identify, dress, or even just how they act. This can be as simple as a proud male nurse, as thoughtful as a character whose arc has him choosing not to follow in his father’s macho men-don’t-cry footsteps, or as sexy as a guy willing to experiment with sex roles or wear a little something lacy in the bedroom. Social conditioning is a powerful, pervasive force that starts the minute we’re born, the minute our mom or dad pops us in a pink or blue onesie or buys us a Barbie or a GI Joe. It takes a brave, brave person to push through all that and be the person they know they’re meant to be.

Who’s man enough to cry:

Silvio Spadaro from Dark Soul by Aleksandr Voinov (M/M & M/M/F). Take an emotionally stunted contract killer, living in the hyper-macho world of the mafia. Now make him moonlight as a crossdressing Femme Fatale. Oh yes! It’s just as amazing, sexy, and psychologically complex as it sounds.

He’s resilient

I love me a good tragic past. A dark, mysterious hero with hidden depths of pain and anguish. But what I don’t love is a man paralyzed by it. I know that in the real world, the universe throws things at us that we just can’t handle, and sometimes people succumb to it. But romance isn’t the real world, it’s a fantasy, and while I love the angst of a tragedy, what I need in my hero is a man who can and has overcome. Maybe he hasn’t conquered all his inner demons, but he’s brave enough to face life in spite of them. Or maybe he keeps a sense of humor in the face of personal tragedy. Maybe he did go down some dark spiral at one point in his life, but now he’s picking himself back up and moving forward. How about a hero who’s overcome addiction, or one who takes his struggle with PTSD day by day? When you’ve seen him overcome other obstacles in his life, you can’t help but root for him to succeed in love, too.

Who’s a survivor:

Qiang, from Sharon Cullars’ Gold Mountain (M/F). Here’s a man from a poor fishing family who survives a horrific childhood accident, makes his way from China to 19th-century America, gets employed in the most dangerous job in the country (blasting holes in the mountain to build tunnels for the railway), has a racist white posse out to kill him and his African-American lover… and this is all before he gets involved with a murderous Triad gang. He handles it all with a heroic stoicism that’s also totally believable; we see how much it hurts and daunts him, and the points at which he could have given up. But he doesn’t.

He’s extraordinary

In one way or another, heroes are more than your average schmo. They’re bigger, badder, broodier, funnier, richer, smarter… you get the idea. Now, there’s something to be said for average: a decent looking guy with an unremarkable job, who’s good at a few things and kind of inept at most others, who can answer 1 out of 5 questions on Jeopardy, run a half-marathon, but can’t parallel park. But I already married him. Not that I won’t read romances about average guys, but above-average has its appeal, too. I’m happy with the guy-next-door, but the Old Spice guy gets my motor running too, and since I can have the guy-next-door in real life, I’ve learned to really appreciate the Old Spice guy and his motorcycle hot tub in my romance novels. Think Moulin Rouge: sure we know it’s a gross exaggeration and that the reality could be just as romantic, but the fact that it’s so Out There just enhances and adds to the escapism of the reading (or viewing) experience.

Who’s larger-than-life:

Jerricho Z. Barrons from Karen Marie Moening’s Fever series (M/F). I imagine that Jerricho is a hate him or love him kind of character, although I’m firmly on the side of love. But it’s easy to see why he could be polarizing: he doesn’t do anything halfway. He’s immortal! He’s racially ambiguous! He has an unknown accent! He owns a sprawling rare book store! He goes to exclusive clubs! He has a massive collection of expensive cars! He’s acerbic and intelligent and sexy and he has tattoos! And the more outrageous he gets, the more compelling (in a guilty pleasure kinda way, admittedly) he becomes.

Five Hates. Violetta did “Hate” because she’s older and grumpier.

He’s snobby

When it comes to politics, I’m somewhere slightly to the right of Karl Marx. And although I understand how easy it is to divorce real life beliefs and fictional enjoyment, in this area, it’s almost impossible for me. I don’t like kings and princes. I stopped reading almost all high fantasy decades ago (a genre I used to breathe like atmosphere) because I got sick of all the kings and princes. I can read some aristocratic settings, but only if they’re not presented too positively. I loved the French movie Ridicule, for example, and I find Game of Thrones somewhat watchable only because all the nobility are total psychopaths.

I automatically dislike noble heroes—historical, fantastic, or contemporary—and that goes for special-snowflake Chosen Ones too. Any dude who thinks an accident of birth makes him awesome by default is a snob for me, and unsympathetic… unless they get taken waaaay down and humanized.

He has an incongruously plot-convenient sexuality

I love MMF but I’m very picky about it. One trope that I avoid like the plague is the one where two men who are presented as already being in a monogamous, happy, stable relationship inexplicably decide they need a woman to “complete them”. I need some semblance of psychological reality, I don’t find that realistic in the slightest, and in fact it strikes me as… icky.

Menage stories ideally thrive on complicated sexuality. Flattening out sexuality issues via Soulmates! or Completion! hammer ruins everything for me. If a hero has a sexuality that comes straight out of nowhere, I stop believing in them as a character, and they start to resemble a Ken doll instead. If I’m reading most contemporaries, I want to see men struggling with their GFY or OFY or BFY (bisexual for you). Homophobia (and biphobia) doesn’t ever need to take center stage, but I don’t like it handwaved, either, unless it’s in keeping with a tone where other negative social forces are handwaved. And if I’m reading science fiction, I want to understand how sexual socialization has evolved and how the hero fits in (or doesn’t fit in). If it’s the 51st century and everybody’s doing everybody, awesome! Though maybe our hero has a smidgen of angst on account of being a closet monosexual…

One book I loved that doesn’t do this is Amber Green’s Steal Away. Two men, one very bisexual and the other one very gay, end up in a relationship with a woman, and it’s not instant happy happy sandwich time, and no one’s sexuality flies out the window—it’s complicated, and therefore, fascinating.

He has no friends or family

Research has shown that men tend to drop social connections once they’re in long-term relationships with women, whereas women maintain them. So when their respective partners die, men tend to be more psychologically adrift than women, more isolated and depressed.

Maybe I’m weird and morbid, but I think about that a lot. So I like reading about heroes who have healthy friendships and family connections. I like mysterious loners too, but I pull for them to develop camaraderie and belonging. If the hero gets in a relationship with a woman and the story is just the two of them wrapped up in each other, I get a sense of claustrophobia and wonder how their HEA is really ever going to be happy in the long term… and if he’ll cling and cling until he smothers her.

I’m not talking about the no-female-friends sports-and-poker bros-before-hos kind of socialization. I just like for them to be able to make human connections outside of the relationship.

He’s patronizing

Smug and patronizing heroes just plain piss me off. And this is a fine line for me, because I do rather enjoy certain narratives where there’s a vast power differential between partners… real or acted.  For example, I like BDSM stories but cannot stand telepathic doms who always know what’s best for the sub.

When it comes to fantasy or paranormal heroes with godlike powers, I much prefer outright antiheroes who are utterly honest about being selfish, amoral bastards out to please themselves first. “I’m only doing this for your own good!” Yeah, fuck you, buddy.

And on that positive note, what are some of your loves and hates?