Heroes: All alike?

November 4, 2009 at 4:01 pm 20 comments

Please join me in welcoming Jackie Ivie, author of  romance novels featuring hunky Highland heroes as bold and rugged as the Scottish highlands. Her books include: Tender is the Knight, The Knight Before Christmas and Heat of the Knight.

Jackie’s here today to talk about her preferences in a hero and to challenge readers to defend their favorite type of hero. Jackie is giving away two copies of her latest book, Once Upon a Knight. One copy will be donated as a prize for our 2010 UYS event and the other copy will go to one lucky reader of this post. To enter, simply leave a comment. Let us know if you agree with Jackie about Highland heroes and what you think of the other hero types she mentions. (Are Regency heroes really a bunch of wusses?)

JackieHi.  Jackie Ivie here.  Talking about my favorite topic:  heroes.  (Sigh).  I just love a brawny, stirring, achingly gorgeous man – wearing as little as possible of course –  going up against all odds and somehow winning, because his heart is as big as the rest of him.

My editor has one request of me:  Keep those Highland heroes coming.  And there is nothing better… even if I have to face the fact that they all look alike.  I hear that all the time and…it’s true.  They have the same physical traits.  They’re all big men.  Brawny.  Hulky.  Hunky.  Hot.  Weapon-brandishing, kilt-wearing Highlanders.  It’s in the mind.  I have this 6-foot-3-inch to 6-foot-6-inch hunk firmly set in my mind.  He’ll weigh about 235 to 265 lbs. depending on his height.  He’s got a full head of shoulder-length hair (or longer), feminine-looking lips, firm jaw, high cheekbones, jaw-dropping handsomeness that gets him more embarrassment than anything else.  Women literally fawn on him.  Sometimes he takes their offers.  Sometimes he barely avoids it.

That’s my hero.  I can’t escape it, either.  He’s on every cover.  My heroes are not stout men.  Oh no.  They’re rippling with muscle.  Easily capable of taking a 9 lb. claymore in each hand and working them against the enemy.  Capable of winning a battle against tremendous odds, crossing leagues of country in little more than a hank of cloth, surviving any weather condition, any trauma…winning the heroine’s heart.

And all on an empty stomach.

Take my newest hero, Vincent Danzel from ONCE UPON A KNIGHT.  Vincent’s of Viking descent, has shoulder-length blond hair, dark eyes, jaw-dropping looks, wench-stealing ways, and a frame to make certain of it.  He also has a very dark life-defining secret in his past.  It’s so bad that he’s set his lack of worth on it.  He’s a lying low-life wretch and lives down to that.  There isn’t a task too low for him.  He figures he’s already destined for Hell, so what does anything matter?  He’s got the size, looks and intelligence to make every wench’s heart beat faster just before he takes it, and that’s just what he’s tasked with.  Unfortunately, his cousin knows exactly what Vincent needs to alter everything and bring out the hero in him:  the perfect lass.  Sybil’s quick-tongued, manipulative, self-assured and stunningly smart.  Capable of taking down any man with a well-chosen word, or gesture, or potion.  Vincent is like child’s play to her…until her heart tells her different.

That Vincent.  Here’s a small excerpt from ONCE UPON A KNIGHT showing just one description of him:

***

The blond fellow from the marsh was moving from an indolent position leaning against a bit of rock Once Upon A Knightwall to ask it.  He was more massive than she remembered.  With hands upon his hips and his legs apart, he was effectively spanning the width of her tower hall.  He’d also found a way to a bath and laundry, if what she smelled and observed was accurate, since he was splendidly attired in little more than a kilt of blue and black, while the open sides of his doublet were leaving none of his brawn disguised.  He probably should have donned a shirt as well, she decided, eyeing him with what she hoped was disinterest.

“Well…what?” she replied, since he did nothing more than block her hall while he waited.

“I’ve bathed,” he replied.  And then he grinned.

Sybil had to look down as the strangest shiver ran over her frame the moment she glimpsed teeth and what promised to be actual dimples as well.  Her own body’s response was unfamiliar, unwarranted, and not going unnoticed.  At least by her.  She could only hope her voice had the same disinterested, modulated tone as always when she needed to use it.

She looked back up.  One of his eyebrows was cocked up now and his head was slanted slightly.  There was a visual array of rope-like tendons pounding from the belly he was displaying as well.  It was very practiced, very posed, and very unnecessary.  It was also stupid.

“So?” she replied, finally.

His eyebrow fell, as did his smile.  He had wickedly dark eyes, and with them dark lashes, both of which were incongruous and superficial-looking with his coloring.  He knew it and was used to wielding it, which made the reaction her body was giving even worse.  He’d lowered his chin, made a knot bulge out on side of his jaw, and favored her with a stern look, but since it was being shadowed by his lashes, it didn’t do much.  It was just as theatrical as the rest of him.

Sybil’s lips quirked despite her effort.

***

Sound familiar?  (another sigh)  I’m going to guess I write a typical alpha-male Highland hero – but I’m just going on covers and reading some of them.  Let’s face it, brawn and lots of it define a Highlander.

What about a Regency hero?  These are rather effeminate guys in my book (and if I put one in, he’s going to look plenty silly).  They look fantastic in evening wear, including champagne-shined Hessian boots, they have an arrogance few can crack, they deliver perfect lines with stunning wit.  Most are tallish, slender, and look like they spend hours in the saddle.  These fellows are born to speak the innuendo and rarely if ever get embarrassed.

What about a Gothic hero?  He’ll probably be pale slender, secretive, ultra-intelligent.  Western hero?  Reticent, slender.  Modest.  There are more.  I’m certain of it.  I’m guessing a hero can be pegged to his genre by a description of him.  Any dissenters out there?

For a chance to win a copy of Jackie Ivie’s book, Once Upon a Knight, leave a comment to this post by Friday November 6 at 5 p.m. Eastern. We will pick a winner Friday Knight, er night!

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20 Comments

  • 1. Teresa Bodwell  |  November 4, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Okay, Jackie–you got my dander up with your assessment of cowboy heroes, but I’m going to hold my tongue and hear what other folks have to say about it.

  • 2. Kit Donner  |  November 4, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    Hi Jackie,
    Let me first say, I’ve never seen your picture- you’re lovely! I really love your description of the highland hero. However, my heart does belong to those Regency heroes, those dashing, witty, creme de la creme, men who singe you with just one look. My favorite is the Scarlet Pimpernel. Is it true your highland heros have more brawn than brain? Just wondering. 🙂

  • 3. Teresa Bodwell  |  November 4, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Oh, Kit. Just because they forget to put on any underwear under those kilts doesn’t meant they’re dumb!

  • 4. QLady48  |  November 4, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    Hi Jackie, nice blog!! A hero is a hero is a hero, I like all heroes big and small, well maybe not small!! LOL!! I really do enjoy heroes from any genre. Looking at the cover of Once Upon A Knight, have to agree he is NOT fat!!! I have yet to read any of your books. I have read other Highland stories and enjoyed them. Thanks, Sue

  • 5. Jackie Ivie  |  November 4, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    Hi Kit! Thanks for the kudos with the picture. (It was a good shoot with Studio 16 – if you ever meet them. They’re at every RWA I think – and then they photo-shop it!. They do a great job – spendy, though.)

    I absolutely love heroes, too. All of them. I just think you can peg the genre of the book from the hero’s description. Not the heroine’s, necessarily – but the hero? Yep.

    Oh! My highland Hunks have a lot of brawn…but most of them are really smart guys – IF they’d use it right. That’s the trouble when you’re a big alpha male. Nobody expects you to be anything other than victorious. And you spend a lot of time proving you’re the biggest, strongest, bravest… Not a whole lot of book learning going on. That’s why my heroine always gets the big guy. They spark his intellect!

    Jackie

  • 6. Sandy Blair  |  November 4, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    Hi Jackie,
    Cute blog and I agree. Hunky Highlanders have been know stop a woman’s heart.

  • 7. Lizbeth Selvig  |  November 4, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    Hi Jackie!!
    So great to read your blog–almost like hearing your voice! You KNOW I love your highland hunks, and a woman has to be dead not to get all hot and bothered over a kilt. But, I’m one of those wacky weird chicks who loves, loves, loves her Beta Heroes (no tomatoes, please). Give me a guy who’s a hot hunk-and-a-half but whose looks are just decoration to a deep, sensitive soul–one that totally “gets” (with perhaps a little head-scratching) a complicated, sophisticated, searching, maybe wounded heroine. He may have his own wounds but in the end I love a hero who can slay modern-day “dragons” and then sweep the girl away with just as much dash as any Highland hero.
    Great blog!
    Stay warm up in my beloved Alaska!

  • 8. Carolyn David  |  November 4, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Love your blog, but then you knew I would, I like the big, brawny, barbairian types … great job!

  • 9. Boone Brux  |  November 4, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    Jackie, I’ve been a sucker for a kilt long before I ever new why. I love the covers of your books! Great blog.

  • 10. Barbara Elness  |  November 5, 2009 at 12:41 am

    I get what you’re saying about the big, brawny highland hero, but it seems to me there are other genres that have nice large muscular heroes, especially the paranormal / urban fantasy stories. I’ve read lots of great westerns with a nice muscular hero too. You might be right about the regency dudes though :o)

  • 11. Jackie Ivie  |  November 5, 2009 at 3:54 am

    Hi Barbara!

    Of course there are tons of romances out there with big, brawny, large muscular heroes. I’m all for that! …BUT – in general – can you peg what sub-genre you’re reading when you get the hero’s description? Even without a cover? I think so. And that’s not a bad thing…now is it?

  • 12. Jackie Ivie  |  November 5, 2009 at 4:21 am

    Oh!

    I just had another continuing thought. About this Western hero. Aren’t they generally on the lean side with great physiques, abs, and lots of strength? And aren’t they also a bit reticent due to all the long lonely hours in the saddle?..Are there Westerns with heroes that are 6 ft 3 in to 6 ft 6 in., weighing 235 to 265 lbs? Being that size had to be hard to maintain (with food intake) and the quantity of exercise (hours in the saddle) and had to be hard on the normal mode of transportation (a horse).

    No? Yes?

    Can a reader tell what genre you’re reading from a hero’s description or not?

    You tell me.

    Jackie

  • 13. Julie  |  November 5, 2009 at 7:44 am

    I confess to gravitating towards large, growly alpha males. Being rather tall, it’s hard to find somebody that makes me feel…petite (hurrah for those huge Highlanders!). The feeling of safety is also very comforting, so brawny is a good thing in my book; I find it cute when the heroine can basically disappear behind her man. But brains are a must, too; a hero too dumb to think through a plan of action is a hero too dumb to live and not worth a smart heroine.

    I don’t ask for much, do I?

  • 14. Teresa Bodwell  |  November 5, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Okay–big Cowboys. How about Russell Crowe in 3:10 to Yuma?

    My hero in LOVING MERCY was supposed to be about 6’4″ with a linebacker build. I always pictured Merlin Olson in his football days when I thought about Thad. It always cracked me up that they put that lean cowboy on the cover because they obviously had not read the descriptions in the book.

    And Barbara is right about paranormals and urban fantasies. Have you read Alexis Morgan’s Paladin series? Those guys are really, really big.

  • 15. Jackie ivie  |  November 5, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    Hi Teresa!

    I’ve read Teresa’s cowboys and they’re fantastic heroes. Fantastic. If anyone gets a chance to snag a copy, do it! But I missed Thad’s size, I guess. Must be a preconceived notion I have. Russell Crowe is a great actor – hunky. Hot. Spectacular in 3:10 to Yuma…but at 5 feet 11 inches in height, he’s shorter than me. And that’s a lot smaller than I write my Highlanders.

    As for the paranormal genre? The sky’s the limit with those – and even past that. Three’s no telling what physical traits a hero would have in any given world that an author creates.

    I’m going to have to give in a bit here. I’ve been getting emails privately about this and I’ll back-pedal. While it’s true my heroes all look alike and they’re all larger-than-life, that doesn’t mean ALL heroes look alike. Because size doesn’t make a hero.

    So…what does?

    Jackie.

  • 16. Teresa Bodwell  |  November 5, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    Jackie–you’re right, Russell Crowe is not tall. But I would never describe him as slender.

    What makes a hero? If size matters at all, it’s the size of his heart. 🙂

  • 17. Teresa Bodwell  |  November 5, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    Okay–Matt Dillon from Gunsmoke. James Arness is 6’7″.

    Is that more in the realm of your fantasies, Jackie?

  • 18. Jackie Ivie  |  November 6, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    James Arness was on the lean side. At only 235, he’s the perfect build for (Jackie’s preconceived notion of what) a Western hero looks like – he actually is the same frame as my hubby. But he’s about 40 lbs of muscle shy of what I envision. Either way, he was terrifically heroic.

    Jackie

  • 19. Barbara Elness  |  November 7, 2009 at 12:15 am

    What makes a hero? Someone the heroine feels safe with, who will protect her from all perils. Even though he may not be super smart and he may be rough around the edges, he’ll eventually treat her with respect and tender loving care. I guess what they look like isn’t as important as how they make her feel.

  • 20. Teresa Bodwell  |  November 7, 2009 at 12:25 am

    Barbara–that’s a great answer!


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