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For Love of A Hero

funny-pictures-marine-bunnyIn my review of Lauren Dane’s Drawn Together, I made reference to the fact that Brody Brown from Coming Undone is in my Top 5 Favorite Romance Heroes of all time. I had a couple of people contact me via Twitter or Email to say that I should do a post on Favorite Heroes, so here goes…

I should say first that I’m fully aware that there is a certain hero-type that works best for me. While I have warm feelings for a lot of different romance heroes, it’s what I call the Caregiving Alpha that does it for me every time, and heroes of that sort appear more than once in my Favorite heroes list. I like them big, bossy, and completely focused on taking care of the heroine (even better if it’s to varying success for most of the book). I also like when the hero knows he’s in love first and he’s wooing the heroine hard. That being said, I’m also a total sucker for an alphahole, which I know many a reader objects to. I also love a hero who starts off buttoned up, and slowly, with the love of a heroine who might be a bit of a hoyden, thaws. Well, hell, really, I like a lot of different hero types.

Let me also say this: I acknowledge the brilliance of Jamie Fraser and Roarke. I agree that in the pantheon of “Great Romance Heroes” many a reader would list them first. They don’t appear on this list. Sorry.

For now, here’s Kati’s Definitive (Until She Reads the Next Hero She Loves) List of Favorite Romance Heroes:

5. Wulfric Bedwyn, Duke of Bewcastle, Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh – Honestly? I don’t love this series. But I love Wulfric. From his first appearance on the page in Slightly Dangerous:

He was tall and well formed and dressed with consummate elegance in a coat of blue superfine over a waistcoat of embroidered gray with darker gray pantaloons and white-topped, shining Hessian boots. His neckcloth was tied neatly and expertly but without ostentation. His starched shirt points hugged his jaw just so. Both garments were sparkling white. He held a tall hat in one hand. His hair was dark and thick, expertly cut and neatly worn.

His shoulders and chest looked broad and powerful beneath the exquisite tailoring, his hips slender in contrast, and his thighs very obviously in no need of a tailor’s padding.

But it was not so much his impressive appearance that held Christine silent and rooted to the spot, spying when she ought to have moved on. It was more his utter assurance of manner and bearing and the proud, surely arrogant, tilt of his head. He was clearly a man who ruled his world with east and exacted instant obedience from his inferiors, who would, of course, include almost every other living mortal – a fanciful thought, perhaps, but she realized that this much be the infamous Duke of Bewcastle.

He looked everything she had ever been led to expect of him. He was an aristocrat from the topmost hair on his head to the soles of his boots. -Kindle Location 301

to his very sweet epilogue. He is a character who evolves with every moment he’s on the page. As a reader, we’re privy to his innermost thoughts. We know that his overwhelming love for his wild-natured family consumes much of his time. We know that he adores them, and that the cloak of responsibility that he took on at a very young age sheltered his siblings from more demanding society. He is buttoned up, and everything that is proper in the ton. But when he meets Christine Merrick, a poor woman of no means, he is both repulsed by her wild behavior, and drawn to her sunny and unpresumptuous nature. He can’t seem to help himself. And as he falls for her, he thaws. It makes him one of the most compelling and delightful heroes I’ve ever read. I adore Wulfric and Christine’s love story. They are beautiful foils for each other. But it is his slow thaw that makes the story.

4. Lucas Hunter, Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh – Ah, Lucas. Now here’s an alpha male as advertised. Panther Changeling Lucas Hunter meets Sascha Duncan, an unfeeling Psy (humans who have self-programmed not to feel emotion) while working on a business deal with her mother, Nikita. The Psy and Changelings are not at war yet, but strongly distrust each other, so their dealings are expected to be contentious. That is, until Lucas meets Sascha, who he knows immediately feels emotion and he suspects many other things too. His cat is intrigued, the man is determined to make her feel something for him. He feels connected to her from the start, and that fact is reinforced when she shows up in his dreams:

He’d expected only darkness but the most inquisitive pleasure welcomed him into his dreams.

Slender fingers traveled down his front as he lay sprawled on his back, exploring him so carefully that he felt owned. No woman had ever come close to owning Lucas Hunter, but in this dreamworld he allowed her to play. After endless moments, the fingers stopped their stroking and he felt the brush of wet heat against his nipple. His dream-lover was taking her time licking circles around it, arousing him to fever pitch. Opening his eyes, he tangled a hand in the silky curls cascading over his chest.

Her head rose and night-sky eyes met his.

He wasn’t surprised. The panther in him had found Sascha Duncan enticing from the start an in this dreamworld, it was okay to let that fascination free, to indulge his feline curiosity about this most unusual woman. Here there was no possibility of war and she was no longer an emissary of the enemy.

“What do you think you’re doing, kitten?” He let his gaze wander over the dark honey of her skin.

Those eyes widened in shock. “This is my dream.”

He chuckled. Even in his dreams, she was as willful as she was in life. He’d begun to suspect that not everything was efficiency in Sascha. No, sometimes she just liked sharpening her claws on him. “I’m at your mercy.”

She made an annoyed sound and sat up on her knees. “Why are you talking?” -Kindle location 1064

Lucas is one of my favorite heroes because he is extremely alpha, bossy and demanding, but man, he respects his woman. He respects her ability and is more than happy to help her explore her sensual side. Not just sexually, but the side of her that loves chocolate-chip cookies, and cuddling babies, and throwing a temper tantrum. He embraces that temper, her intelligence and cherishes her completely. It makes him an altogether compelling hero, one whose love story I go back to again and again.

3 – Brody Brown, Coming Undone by Lauren Dane – Brody is another prime example of a Caregiver. His folks died when he was young, so he had the care of his younger siblings, Erin and Adrien. He did his best by them, and worked hard to be sure that they had the best in life. He’s a guy who is extremely content in his own skin. He’s got a great reputation as a tattoo artist, he’s got family close by who he adores, and he’s got women when he wants them. But when he meets Elise and her daughter, Rennie, the rug is completely pulled from under him. He knows Elise is wary, that she’s been through something awful, but he’s so drawn to her and her daughter, he can’t seem to stay away. When he discovers that she’s escaped  a horribly abusive marriage, his need to protect and care for her and her daughter go into overdrive:

Brody wasn’t sure what had happened. He’d headed to her studio after not touching her for three weeks. He needed to see her, to talk to her alone. The phone calls had been all their busy schedules had allowed, but he needed more and he could admit it. After that night where she’d revealed so much of herself on his porch, he’d been overwhelmed by how much she made him feel like protecting and taking care of her. He felt a lot more for her than he’d ever planned to, and he needed some distance to work it through. As he’d rolled out of bed that morning, he knew he’d been a dumbass for not seeking her out. Knew he needed her in his life and accepted it.

He needed her companionship. Missed the spot she filled in his life. – Kindle location 1998

What woman doesn’t want to be loved like that? He woos her by being there. Constantly. He’s the ultimate sweetheart. Loving, gentle, despite his brawn, patient and sweet. He has a temper, but nothing about these two females pulls at it. All he wants is to make them happy and to be with them. He’s this fabulous fantasy hero for me. I adore how protective, yet sweet he is.

2- Colonel Jack Seward, All Through the Night by Connie Brockway – In my opinion, All Through the Night is one of the most finely crafted, entertaining, beautiful romances in Romanceland. Which is probably why I adore Jack Seward so much. He’s a guttersnipe, adopted by a ruthless man, crafted into a single minded, seemingly soulless soldier. He is tremendously successful, yet, bereft of love. When he meets the widow Anne Wilder, he knows that she is perfect for him. He falls in love with her quiet dignity, her solemnity, the fact that she is a model of what women in public should be. Yet, he doesn’t really have time to pursue her because he’s after the Wrexhall Wraith, a thief who is brazenly preying on the rich women of the ton. During his first interaction with the thief, he discovers that the thief is, in fact, a low born woman. The thief uses those same feminine wiles to entrance him enough for her to escape. Jack pursues the Wraith relentlessly. He MUST capture this woman who has ensorcelled him. So, imagine his surprise when he finds that the thief is none other than his beloved paragon of womanhood.

She averted her face, unwilling to meet his gaze, and after the first few strains of music, she made no attempt to keep her artificial smile on her lips. Indeed, they trembled and lost all hint of pleasure, mirroring her distress far too clearly. They had been soft beneath his kiss, soft and tended and, for the space of a heartbeat, yielding.

He wanted her. He wanted her as much, no, more than he had wanted the thief. Which was impossible.

Pain washed through him, pricking him with the knowledge of his inconstancy. He pulled her nearer. Her gaze flickered to and from his face and she recoiled from his embrace. […]

Lithe and supple as a willow, she moved in his arms and beneath his hand. Her body was unlike those of other gentlewomen; no softness padded her slender form. Indeed, her fragile appearance belied her tensile strength. He could feel smooth muscle beneath his palm, the strength in the fingers grasping his hand so tightly in her futile attempt to hold him distant.

It intoxicated him. It bewildered him. It set him on fire.

She speared him with a look of distress and anger. She did not want to be here. Too damned bad.

He closed his eyes and pulled her closer still and breathed deeply. She smelled warm and angry and clean, devoid of any masking properties of perfume or soap —

His eyes opened slowly, like a man who knows he will witness some horror. His breath grew shallow. Strength and passion, no betraying scent. Dear God, no. […]

“My thief,” he said. – Kindle location 2838

The cat and mouse game between the Anne and Jack is fabulous, with wonderful twists and turns and some truly amazing chemistry. Plus, there’s this scene with a chair that is just…amazing. This book is one of my very favorites to recommend, so if you haven’t read it, I urge you to give it a try. If you do, I hope you’ll let me know if you like it.

1- Jack Travis, Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas - For the longest time, Roarke was my favorite hero. Suave, sophisticated, ruthless. But then I read Jack Travis.  Ella Varner has taken over care of the infant son that her sister abandoned. She’s only taking care of him until her sister can complete some time in a rehab center. Ella is determined that the baby’s father be notified of the baby’s existence. She knows her sister runs with a fast and flashy crowd in Houston and information she has received indicates that Jack Travis, son of an oil magnate, Churchill Travis, and successful businessman in his own right is the baby’s father.  She goes to his office to meet him.

Aware of the figure approaching from one of the hallways that branched out from the reception area, I turned gratefully. I assumed it was the receptionist, back with the bottle. Instead I saw three men walking out, all dressed in expensive-looking suits. One of them was fair and slim, the other short and a bit portly, and the third was the most striking man I had ever seen.

He was tall and big-framed, all hard muscle and easy masculinity, with dark eyes and heavy well-cut black hair. The way he carried himself – the confidence in his walk, the relaxed set of his shoulders – proclaimed that he was accustomed to being in charge. Pausing in mid-conversation, he gave me an alert look, and my breath caught. A blush crept over my face, and a hectic pulse began at the front of my throat.

One glance and I knew exactly who and what he was. The classic alpha male, the kind who had spurred evolution forward about five million years ago by nailing every female in sight. They charmed, seduced, and behaved like bastards, and yet women were biologically incapable of resisting their magic DNA. -Kindle location 722

Jack what I’d describe as the quintessential Caregiving Alpha. He is everything I want in a hero and nothing I don’t. He’s a playboy: easy going, rich, gorgeous but dominant. He’s a gentleman, the kind who open doors for a woman, and insists on paying for dinner, but also bossy and willing to manipulate a situation to get what he wants. But in reading him, I never doubted that the respects Ella. He admires everything about her and wants nothing more than to make her life easier. He shows this by endlessly taking care of her – he puts together a baby crib for her. He helps her get a meeting with a powerful individual in Houston, he arranges for an apartment for her. By giving the care that he does, he woos both her and the reader. Smooth Talking Stranger remains a total comfort read for me, and Jack is a hero that I go back to time and again.

So now, I ask you, Dear Author readers, who are your favorite heroes and why?

 

Kati

I've been reading romance for more than 30 years and reviewing regularly for the last five. My first romance was Irish Thoroughbred by Nora Roberts, and once I read it, I was a goner. I read most subgenres of romance (except inspirational and steampunk) but focus mostly on contemporary and paranormal, with a sprinkling of historical thrown in for flavor. I am an avid sports fan, so I have a special place in my heart for sports themed romances. I'm a sucker for old skool romance, which is probably most evident in the fact that The Windflower is my favorite romance of all time.

49 Comments

  1. KMont
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 06:45:48

    “Lucas is one of my favorite heroes because he is extremely alpha, bossy and demanding, but man, he respects his woman. ”

    I totally agree with this statement! It’s one of the top reasons why that’s still my favorite Psy/Changeling series book to date. YUP.

  2. Mandi
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 07:24:41

    Wulfric makes my list too. When he looks at her and says “I want you” I get shivers with EACH reread. <3

    Barrons is my ultimate alpha hero. A total ass yet he had his reasons ;)

    Alexander from the Bronze Horseman, Ty and Zane from Abigail Roux's series, Adrian (Hawker) by Joanna Bourne and Adrien English by Josh Lanyon :)

  3. Elyssa Patrick
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 07:37:28

    I love this article. Love. I thought about this long and hard, and I kind of realized my top five hasn’t pretty much remained the same. But, like you, I’m always willing to adjust depending on the hero. ;)

    My top five:

    5. Phillip Quinn, Inner Harbor by Nora Roberts. Phillip is urbane, sophisticated, and a bit cold. In other words: it’s a trifecta of I cannot resist. He cares deeply but he doesn’t like to show it, and he is the slowest to warm up to Seth–but when he does, he will do everything to protect the kid. His slow unravel to love with Sybil is one of the most delicious things to read.

    4. Damon Doukakis, Doukakis’ Apprentice by Sarah Morgan. Ruthless and set on revenge, Damon is thrown off-course when he meets Polly. She’s not what he thought she would be–and he changes everything because of her. I often reread this because I love the hero so much.

    3. Wulfric Bedwyn, Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh. Yes, to everything you said. I love the slow thaw to Wulfric. I love the quizzing glass. I love everything about him. Every time I reread this book (which happens every few months) I melt all over again.

    2. Kaleb Krychek, Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh. Dangerous, possessive of deadly powers, and scarily sexy, Kaleb would normally be the villain in any other book. But Singh takes this anti-hero and makes him heroic–his determination to find the heroine for a super long time always makes me swoon. He doesn’t give up and he will do anything to protect her, save her, and love her. Sighhhh.

    1. Derek Craven, Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas. I love Derek’s determination and love for Sarah, the quiet, country-raised, shy but inquisitive heroine. I love how he raised himself from the slums to be this super rich, super successful guy who owns a gambling den. He is so affected by her–he can’t stop thinking about her. When he keeps her glasses in his pockets–how this powerful, dangerous man just is so overtaken with love for the heroine, And oh my god his love for her…. swoooon.

  4. JoJo
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 08:02:41

    Many years and hundreds of books later, Jake Travis is still my number one *sigh*.
    Great synopsis Kati!

  5. EmDempster
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 08:15:41

    I have a question first and then I’ll try to come up with my own list (bearing in mind that I’ve only been reading romance for a few years and judging from some of the books mentioned above, I am missing out on some awesome books) – I believe I’ve read one of the books in the Balogh series mentioned but not the rest – can Slightly Dangerous be read without reading the others?

    Now, onto my fave heroes, in no particular order:

    St. Vincent from Devil in Winter – I’m not sure I’ve read a Kleypas book where I didn’t like the hero but Sebastian is my fave.

    Kaleb from Heart of Obsidian – Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling is my go-to series when I want a good re-read. There are a few other heroes from that series I could put in my Top 5 but I’ll try to spread the love around to other authors. Kaleb was just so completely devoted to his woman. Completely.

    Colin Lord Payne from Tessa Dare’s A Week to be Wicked – He spins tales, made me laugh and was, I thought, such a great match for Minerva.

    Khalil from Oracle’s Moon (Thea Harrison) – I think it was his devotion to the children that won me over, especially when he played as the big kitty.

    Judd from Caressed by Ice (Singh, again) – Alright, I really tried to come up with another hero I love more so I wouldn’t have two from the same series, but I just couldn’t. There is something about the Psy-heroes that totally win me over. I also could’ve had some changelings on here but Judd and Kaleb are my two faves from Psy-Changeling.

    Looking over my list, I find it interesting that none are from contemporary romances. I’ve read and enjoyed plenty but for some reason none stick out as favorites. I’ll be following the comments to find some new-to-me books to try – this is such a great topic!

  6. pamelia
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 08:54:02

    @ EmDempster: I read “Slightly Dangerous” first before I went back to read the rest of the Bedwyn books and had no problems following along. It actually made reading the earlier books more fun because all the scenes with Wulfric were made more awesome by knowing what was in store for him.
    On to my list in no particular order:
    Wulfric Bedwyn — just one of the best starched-collar, prim and proper, dignified heroes who falls hard for an inappropriate woman. I especially loved how love didn’t really change him at all, it only served to expose his inner self that he kept locked away.
    Jack Travis — swoon worthy. A real MAN. I love how sweet he was and he also had a great sense of humor to go along with his alpha-male awesomeness (plus everything already said above about him.)
    Raphael from Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter books. I just really love reading about someone so powerful and so ruthless and so ancient coming to terms with love and how love is “weakening” him, but still understanding that it’s worth it. I also think there’s a good balance between him and Elena and I like that they had to work at it and that their relationship is in negotiations throughout.
    Lothaire from the IAD books. Another old, ruthless and powerful hero (guess I have a thing for that!). I loved how his book unfolded with his determination to kill Ellie coupled with his need to protect her moving into falling for her seemingly without his even realizing it till it was too late. That rug-pulled out from under him aspect of the book was delicious to me. And again this is a hero who really didn’t change all that much after falling in love — he’s still pretty much an egomaniacal a-hole at the end of the book, but oh so lovable to me!
    Hank Nightingale from Kristen Ashley’s Rock Chick books. I had a very hard time picking my favorite KA hero (Joe, Tate, Ty, Luke, Knight, Dax Lahn, Mitch and Tack were all in the running as well), but in the end it just comes down to how he’s such a GOOD guy while still being a real man and a bossy man and all that. I loved his determination to win Roxie over and his certainty that she was it.

  7. Connie
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 08:55:42

    All of Carla Kellys Heros!! Capt. Oliver Worthy of Marrying the Captain may be my favorite but love all of them!

  8. leslie
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 09:05:04

    Great list Kati! I love Wulfric Bedwyn. My other favorite patriarch is Jo Beverley’s Beowulf Malloren Marquess of Rothgar.
    Nora Roberts has written some fantastic heroes, but Cameron Quinn from Sea Swept and Rogan Sweeny from Born in Fire……they really turn me on!
    Mary Jo Putney’s Reggie Davenport is my best loved hero. Read The Rake…..it is so good.
    I’m not keen on alphaholes…….their over possesiveness irks me, but I really like Ilona Andrews’ heroes especially Curran The Beast Lord from the Kate Daniels series.

  9. Jamie Beck
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 09:18:07

    I’m excited about this list because, since we share a few common favorites, I’m now intrigued to read the other books you’ve noted that will be “new to me” *excited little claps*

    Although J. Fraser would be on my list, so would Jack Travis and Wulfric (adored that book). I also really loved Winter Makepeace (Thief of Shadows)…so earnest, true, and honorable. I note someone else wrote Derek Craven (loved him)…I’d say, generally, many of Lisa Kleypas’s historical heroes are quite something (I loved Sebastian in Devil in Winter…his wry humor totally seduced me).

    Now I’m off to the “bookstore” to download some new reading material. Thanks!

  10. Amanda
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 11:21:03

    Its rather difficult question, its not easy to narrow down all those wonderful heroes. I would agree though with Jamie Beck’s comment that Lisa Kleypas writes some great historical heroes.

    BTW after reading this I have come to the conclusion that I really need to read Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh. Wulfric sounds to good to miss.

  11. CD
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 11:23:44

    I actually dislike the “alpha” over-possessive/bossy heroes: I understand the thrill but to me, it’s difficult to pull that type of hero without them tipping over into emo/immature territory with a “it’s all about me” complex. And bossy guys just set my teeth on edge both in real life and fiction, and not in a good way. My favourite type of heroes are the more controlled, quietly confident and competent types who think they have it all sussed out, until they meet the heroine and don’t ;-). So yes, I do get the Wulfric love. And Judd/Kaleb, despite the ultra-possessiveness and dubious sexual politics of their world… I also have a thing for unrequited love – have a guy pining for the heroine and I’m there like a shot.

    So, my list. The scary thing about it being that it was just off the top of my head…
    – Christian from Gaffney’s TO LOVE AND TO CHERISH
    – Sylvester from Heyer’s SYLVESTER
    – Ross from Putney’s SILK AND SECRETS
    – Ruck from Kinsale’s FOR MY LADY’S HEART
    – Arden from Kinsale’s THE DREAM HUNTER
    – Elliot from Brockway’s THE BRIDAL SEASON
    – Jack from Chase’s THE DEVIL’S DELILAH
    – Benedict from Chase’s LORD PERFECT
    – Hugh from Brook’s DEMON ANGEL
    – Charles from Grant’s DAUGHTER OF THE GAME
    – Caleb from O’Connell’s BEAUTIFUL BAD MAN
    – Kel Paten from Sinclair’s GAMES OF COMMAND
    – David from Thomas’ TEMPTING THE BRIDE

  12. Emma
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 12:17:09

    @CD: Yes! I came here to make an argument for beta heroes (or at least for very care-taking alphas, to use Kati’s phrase).

    Some of my favorite beta or untraditional heroes are Henry Tilney from Northanger Abbey, Alex Moore from Anyone But You, Theo Mirkwood from A Lady Awakened, Mark Turner from Unclaimed, and Peeta Mellark from The Hunger Games.

    And if I had to add alphas: William Doyle from The Forbidden Rose, Brayden Carmichael from On Dublin Street, Edward de Raaf from The Raven Prince, John Moray from The Winter Sea, and Sir Percy Blakeney from The Scarlet Pimpernel. I mean, if you insist. ; )

  13. JacquiC
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 12:19:17

    No one has mentioned my favourite Kleypas hero — Hardy Cates. I am also pretty crazy about Cam Rohan.

    I have liked a lot of Roberts’ heroes. Certainly Cameron and Ethan Quinn (haven’t read Phillip’s book yet!). Also Ignatius Burke from Northern Lights.

    I am currently listening to “For My Lady’s Heart” in audio form, and am loving Ruck.

    I also really love Meg Benjamin’s heroes, especially Cal Toleffsen. And Jack from the Virgin River series. So many good books, so many lovely heroes…

  14. Brigid
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 12:27:41

    @JacquiC:
    Which Kleypas book is Hardy Cates from? Cam Rohan is also one of my favorite heroes.

  15. jnduncan
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 12:31:34

    Roland the Gunslinger, The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King. :)

  16. Ann
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 12:32:14

    Number One is Jamie Fraser – Outlander

    Number Two is Jack Travis – Smooth Talking Stranger

    Then in no order: Reggie Davenport, Wulfric, St Vincent, oldie – Ruark from Shanna. I have many more but I can’t think right now. :)

  17. Kati
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 12:36:36

    @Brigid: Hardy Cates was the villian(-ish) in Sugar Daddy, and the hero of Blue Eyed Devil. He’s another marvelous creation.

  18. Kati
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 12:37:11

    @jnduncan: My husband LOVES the Dark Tower. Well, really almost anything Stephen King writes. He’s a huge fan.

  19. Lil
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 13:01:58

    I get the distinct impression that my tastes are not quite in synch with everyone else’s, so I will toss in some different heroes:

    5. Gideon from Anne Gracie’s The Perfect Rake

    4. Damon from Eloisa James’ Desperate Duchesses

    3. The Duke of Tremore from Laura Lee Guhrke’s Guilty Pleasures

    2. Cate Burgoyne from Jo Beverley’s An Unlikely Countess

    And my absolute favorite of all time,
    1. Rupert Carsington from Loretta Chase’s Mr. Impossible

    I do like a man who can laugh at himself.

  20. Sarah
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 13:11:23

    I had to go out and buy Slightly Dangerous, so thanks. Unfortunately, I’m now at work and wishing I hadn’t started it before work because I just want to read more.

    Some of my favorite heroes include:
    Judd from Caressed by Ice (Nalini Singh). I absolutely love this book and each time I re-eread it I fall a bit more in love with him.

    Zachary Bronson from Lisa Kleypas’s Where Dreams Begin. He seems to be one of her forgotten heroes in the Kleypas canon but I absolutely adore how he goes to any measure to win Holly. And then to see her sick. Ah, it just gets me every time.

    Likewise, I am a big, big fan of Marcus from Lisa Kleypas’s It Happened One Autumn. Everyone seems to love The Devil in Winter but give me Marcus anytime over Sebastian.

    I like the heroes of all of Julie James’ more recent books a lot too.

  21. Kati
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 13:22:14

    @Lil: I’m actually surprised another Chase hero, Dane, hasn’t come up. Usually I hear from lots of LoS fans when they talk about favorite heroes.

    For me, Chase has never worked all that well, somewhat like Kinsale, another author whose work I admire, but I don’t connect with.

  22. Gwen Hayes
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 13:36:27

    Fun topic!

    1. Cian Mac Cionaoith from The Circle Trilogy by Nora Roberts
    2. Duke of Jervaulx from Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale
    3. Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
    4. Grayson Thane from Born in Ice by Nora Roberts
    5. Jeremy Trescott from Goddess of the Hunt by Tessa Dare

    And yes. All of these men are Byronic heroes. I have a thing.

  23. Tina
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 13:59:08

    In no particular order:

    Will from Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer. I like his quiet, vulnerable and yet determined self. It is rare to see a hero like him written any more.

    Roarke from JD Robb’s In Death series and also Richard from Lynne Connolly’s Richard & Rose series. I see these two cut from the same cloth and this type appeals to me. Smart, resourceful, loving.

    Sam Starrett. I like a man who is not ashamed to cry. Also he cusses with great verve.

    Miles Vorkosigan. Not a romantic hero per se, but his need to love big (coupled with his equally big personality) is sexy.

  24. Jess
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 14:02:55

    What a fun discussion! I had to go over a list of books before I could choose. These are my top five from books I’ve read in the last couple years. Otherwise, I would have taken forever to decide.

    5) Matthew Swift from Scandel in Spring by Lisa Kleypas
    4) Brian from Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers
    3) Hunter from Beauty and the Billionaire by Jessica Clare
    2) Carter Maguire from Vision in White by Nora Roberts
    1) Sean Owens from Flirting with Disaster by Ruthie Knox

    Clearly, I have a thing for damaged/angsty (Hunter’s scars! Sean’s stuttering!) and/or bookish (Carter’s career and tweed jacket!).

  25. Gwen Hayes
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 14:09:24

    And now I want to go re-read my favorites instead of denting the TBR pixels.

  26. Lorenda Christensen
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 14:47:22

    The Caregiver Alpha – I’d never heard this term before, but it makes perfect sense. And also does a good job of explaining why, out of all of Meredith Duran’s novels, I love Alex from Wicked Becomes You the most. Because his major internal conflict is dealing with his need to care for his family.

    Great list, BTW.

  27. Marianne McA
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 15:10:06

    Miles Vorkosigan, definitely , but also Ivan a little. And, also not-from-romance, Lord Peter Wimsey. (Sam Vimes, come to that.)
    I’m not really an alpha girl – I’d say I was most attracted to the faithful type, but all romance heroes have fidelity as a bolt-on. I like those I believe would be faithful, even if the genre didn’t require it of them. And I like heroes who like women as people. And bonus points if they’re intelligent and/or funny as well. So, just at random:
    Etienne from Anna and the French Kiss
    Jack Staple from Heyer’s The Toll-Gate
    Conner Calhoun from Judith Duncan’s If Wishes Were Horses
    Rob from Kearsley’s The Firebird
    (These are all the versions of the same character really, aren’t they? Completely dependable blokes who are massively in love with their heroine. They’d all be good dads.)

  28. Jessie Clever
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 15:47:39

    Great list! I’ve added so many books to my to be read pile from the list and the comments!

    Although I’ve been reading romance for years and years and years (that’s a lot of books), my number 1 is still Mr. Colin Bridgerton. (Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn). I don’t know what it is, but he’s definitely number 1.

    But, of course, Jamie Fraser from Outlander will always hold a special place in my heart.

  29. Jamie Beck
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 15:49:09

    @CD: @Brigid:

    Hardy first appears in Sugar Daddy…but he’s turns out NOT to be the hero in that book…he’s the hero in Blue-Eyed Devil. But I think you really need to meet him in Sugar Daddy in order to truly appreciate/love him fully in his own book. If I’d only met the older Hardy…I don’t know if I’d like him as much as I did having met him as a teen in Liberty’s life.

  30. Connie
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 15:53:42

    I forgot to mention Wolf MacKenzie from Linda Howard’s series and his sons, Joe, Chance and Zane! This is fun :-) So many men, too little time.

  31. Christina
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 16:10:27

    I have a weakness for the care-giving hero, but thinking about my favorites I just realized I don’t need him to be particularly alpha. Don’t get me wrong, I like alpha heroes just fine (Jack Travis is definitely a favorite too), but I have the following beta heroes to add:

    1. Freddy from Cotillion by Georgette Heyer
    2. Ivan in Captain Vorpatril’s alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold

    In so many romances the hero is held up to be the best. They are the smartest or the strongest or … just in some way or another held by society to be superior. And these two just aren’t. They are only the best in that they are the best possible match for their partners.

    On the more alpha, but not really romance side I also have to include every single hero written by Dick Francis.

  32. Kelly
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 16:23:48

    I just added at least 12 more books to my wishlist. I hate you people.

    I’m all about the enigmatic brooding betas. Mostly.

    – Hal Waterman in Julia Justiss’s A MOST UNCONVENTIONAL MATCH

    – Tom Geiger in Ruthie Knox’s RIDE WITH ME

    – Nicholas Brisbane in Deanna Raybourn’s LADY JULIA GREY mystery series

    – Hugo “I’ve come to horrify you” Marshall in Courtney Milan’s A GOVERNESS AFFAIR

    – Marcus, Earl of Westcliff in Kleypas’ IT HAPPENED ONE AUTUMN

    My list of fave m/m heroes is too long to choose, but I need to get the gloriously smartass Simon Murray in Sean Kennedy’s TIGERS & DEVILS in here somewhere.

    I am currently loving Mick Tremore in Judith Ivory’s THE PROPOSITION. Talk about swooning. Guh.

  33. Kelly
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 16:32:14

    @Jess:

    5) Matthew Swift from Scandel in Spring by Lisa Kleypas

    The scene where he pulls all the crap out of his pockets and Daisy finds the button, right??? *~*happysigh*~*

  34. library addict
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 16:33:57

    My faves (not ranked as any could be number one on any given day):
    Roarke (JD Robb’s In Death series) – Yes he owns half the universe, etc etc. But he’s on my list because of how devoted he is to Eve. He does have a bit of an unfair advantage though as the series has so many books.

    Gabriel Jones (Cindy Gerard’s BOI series) – I was so looking forward to Dallas and Amy’s story in the last of the Bodyguard series. Then Gabriel “The Archangel” Jones appeared and his bantering with Jenna stole the whole book.

    Ryland Miller and Ken Norton (Christine Feehan’s GhostWalker series) – both strong alpha guys. Rye is very much in command of the first group of GhostWalkers we met. And while the series can be hit-or-miss for me, I love getting the small glimpses of his HEA with Lily. And I like Ken because despite his tortured past he fell for a woman who is as alpha as he is.

    Mike Kowalski, Evan Porter, Drew Miller, Sean Kowalski (Shannon Stacey’s Kowalski series) – As much as I enjoyed the main romance in Exclusively Yours, it was the secondary couples who make the book a favorite. These guys are all my fave list because of their humor and sense of realness. I have very high hopes for Drew’s upcoming book as he’s been a fave since he first appeared.

    Lucas Hunter, Judd Lauren, Max Shannon, Walker Lauren, Kaleb Krycheck (Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling series) – for the many reasons listed by others better than I could say.

    Okay that’s more than 5, but I was good and limited myself to 5 authors so that counts ;) Plus I only listed Roarke and not the numerous other NR heroes I love rereading. Or any of Jayne Ann Krentz’ numerous heroes. Or any of the other dozen heroes by other authors I could list off the top of my head…

  35. Annamal
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 19:11:53

    I seem to go for profoundly damaged heroes (who manage to be heroic nonetheless).

    5) Derek from Darkest Powers by Kelley Armstrong
    4) Gaviriel from the Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
    3)Sicarius from the Emperor’s Edge (ok this one squicks me out a bit)
    2) Mark Vorkosigan ( Miles is a little too intense in the wrong way)
    1) Sorensen Carlisle (Sorry )from The Changeover by Margaret Mahy (“I’d carry you up the stairs but you’re too bloody heavy”). I think this one pretty much shaped all the others.

  36. Jan
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 19:45:27

    Argh this is hard, and I’m definitely not sure about the order.

    Branden Kel-Paten from Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair
    Where do I even begin? It’s partly the whole part cyborg thing I think, the fact that he’s not supposed to feel, but feels so strongly and deeply anyway. He’s just so absolutely, heads over heels in love. The moment where Sass reads the letters he’s written her over the years, just always completely breaks my heart in such a good way. I think I love him so much because he’s not an Alpha hero, nor a Beta hero, but somewhere inbetween? Coupled with his insecurities, I just, I love him so very very much.
    Rupert Carsington from Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase
    Seconding this soooo hard. It’s not only that he’s able to laugh with himself, it’s also how openly he admires the heroine’s intelligence, how attractive he finds her because of that, and his direct assumption that he’s her support in everything she wants to do in life. Again, I love him so much.
    Hugh Philippe Junot from Marrying the Royal Marine by Carla Kelly
    It’s a close call between the heroes of this trilogy, but I think Hugh is my favorite. He’s just so very lovable, so sure of himself and yet so aware of his fault. There’s the lovely detail of his checkered shirt, and how he finds himself attracted to Polly somewhat despite himself. But mostly it’s because he sees her for who she is, and once he realizes he’s in love, I love the way he goes about it. Argh, I totally want to reread now.
    Gabriel from Warrior by Zoe Archer
    I loved Gabriel from the moment where he scares a teenaged girl that tries to flirt with him by talking about shooting mosquito’s of off a buffalo’s back. He’s such a soldier, he’ so gruff and awkward, and yet once he meets the heroine he’s so amazingly supportive and awesome and there for her. He just completely throws himself with her fate, throws herself in her adventure, while it stays her adventure. I love him so much, and if this list would have been called Awesomest Heroes, he’d been definitely my number one.
    Andrew Kincaid from Play by Passion by Nalini Singh
    Argh, where do I start. I love Drew with a burning passion. He’s kind and creative and funny and awesome and supportive. He knows who he wants and why he wants her, and I just absolutely love the way he pursues her, without ever falling into asshole territory. He’s willing to step down when Indigo needs him to, and he simply does.
    To be fair though, if you ask me this question tomorrow I’ll probably answer this with the other Kincaid, because Riley Kincaid is made of fantastic as well. They couldn’t be any more different I think in personality I think, and I think Riley is the only one of my choices who would fall under the Caregiver Alpha mentioned above. But he does it so excellently, even more so because his heroine doesn’t need a Caregiver, so he tunes that down, which is one of best character evolutions in Romance heroes I’ve encountered. The Kincaids, including Brenna, are by far the best part of the whole Psy-Changeling series for me.

    Wulfric scores very high as well, for all that has been mentioned above, and I saw someone mention Mr Tilney, and YES, because my favorite Jane Austen hero, and he always seems to be forgotten.

    When I look at my list I think I see a definite theme of Heroes seeing Heroines for who they are, who are willing to let them shine and let them be themselves, and who are willing to take care of them by supporting them in their endeavors.

  37. Kaetrin
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 20:09:53

    I have quite a few favourite heroes and there is something in me which clutches a little at coming up with a list – what if I have a temporary brain meltdown and forget one who should be there?? How can I choose??

    But, I’ll have a go, for fun. In no particular order:

    Luke Kendrick, Duke of Harndon from Heartless by Mary Balogh
    Beowulf (“Bey”) Malloren, Marquis of Rothgar from Jo Beverley’s Malloren series
    Jamie Fraser – from Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
    Roarke – In Death (JD Robb)
    Cole Nicholas Fenton Davenport from Marie Sexton’s Coda series (esp. Strawberries for Dessert)
    Adam Hauptmann from Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series (also Charles Cornick and Sam Cornick – Alpha & Omega/Mercy Thompson)
    Curran from Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews
    Lord Edmund Waite from The Notorious Rake by Mary Balogh
    Hardy Cates from Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas
    Dr. Jae Sun Kim from No Souvenirs by KA Mitchell
    Ilvin from Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold
    Devil Cynster from Devil’s Bride by Stephanie Laurens…

    No, sorry, there are too many I just can’t do it. I could keep going for another 20 or 30 without breaking a sweat.

  38. Jess
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 20:17:54

    @Kelly:

    Yes! Any man who will wrestle a goose while secretly pining away for years is wonderful.

  39. Shelly
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 22:21:14

    I’m partial to Crusie heroes and don’t think I saw any so far. They are not perfect, but they hit the spot for me (pardon my misspellings):
    1. Nick from Crazy for You
    2. Phin from Welcome to Temptation
    3. Davey from Faking It

  40. Clo
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 22:21:18

    So many good heroes mentioned by all. Love Roarke, Curran, Wulfric, and Derek Craven. Also Ian MacKenzie, The Madness of Lord Ian (I heart him so hard), Flynn from Cara McKenna’s Willing Victim (not typical romance, but loved his confidence and unabashed self awareness) and Stuart from Judith Ivory’s Untie My Heart.

  41. PeggyL
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 22:32:26

    Wulfric is definitely on my Hero list. Others are:
    Royce Westmoreland in A KINGDOM OF DREAMS (though I haven’t reread this for a very long time, the guy’s patience has stayed with me);
    Leo Marsden of NOT QUITE A HUSBAND (his putting up with some of Bryony’s nonsense deserves a medal);
    James Stoker of SLEEPING BEAUTY (I simply admire James’s devotion to Coco); and
    Harry Pye in THE LEOPARD PRINCE (I also remember I don’t actively dislike the heroine in this story).

    I’d love to meet with these people in real life, whereas the heroes in my current reading tend to be overly alpha/domineering. I suppose this has something to do with me reading more paranormals/contemporaries these days.

    Thank you for the opportunity (excuse) for me to go over the oldies, and some warrant a reread.

  42. CD
    Oct 30, 2013 @ 05:27:25

    @Jan:

    “When I look at my list I think I see a definite theme of Heroes seeing Heroines for who they are, who are willing to let them shine and let them be themselves, and who are willing to take care of them by supporting them in their endeavors.”

    Jan – I’m book-stalking you from now on ;-)!

    I also second Will from Spencer’s MORNING GLORY and Mick from Ivory’s THE PROPOSITION.

  43. cleo
    Oct 30, 2013 @ 08:09:37

    @CD @Jan – hah CD! I was going to post that same quote. I so agree – that’s what I look for in a hero.

    I usually read for the heroine, so I didn’t think I’d participate in this thread, but it turns out I do have some favorite heroes. Interestingly, sometimes my fave heroes are not in my fave books. Frex – Archimedes Fix is my fave Meljean Brook hero, even though Riveted is my fave book by her.

    In no particular order – Ren in Breathing Room by SEP, Cal in Bet Me (and pretty much every Crusie hero), Captain Phelan in Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Klepyas, and Cam and Ethan in the Chesapeake Bay series. I’m also a fan of the heroes written by Carla Kelly, Shannon Stacey and JAK. And Loretta Chase. And Marie Sexton. And probably others.

  44. Kate L
    Oct 30, 2013 @ 08:11:11

    Kati! This post and all the great comments couldn’t have come a better time as I’ve been losing my reading steam and not feeling jazzed about any of the latest releases (excepting Nalini Singh’s new Archangel installment). Since others–including you!–have listed my favorites, I only have one Caregiving hero to add to the list

    Jack Pallas the FBI agent from Julie James’s Something About You:

    “The cousins’ mouths dropped open as each of them caught their first glimpse of Jack. He wore jeans and a dark blazer with an open-necked shirt. Objectively, Cameron knew what they saw: the tall, dark, whatever-ness; the gorgeous face, blah, blah; the sexy, lean, body that was tailor-made for all kinds of sin—who cared? Certainly she wasn’t paying any attention to those things.” (pp. 155-156). Berkley. Kindle Edition.

  45. Tamara Hogan
    Oct 30, 2013 @ 08:42:11

    Awesome post, and I’m scribbling titles as I read comments. (Enablers!!) Here are a few of my favorite all-time romantic heroes:

    Morgan Trayhern – Return of a Hero by Lindsay McKenna
    Dmitri – Archangel’s Blade by Nalini Singh (yeah, I like ‘em hard and twisted) <- that's what she said
    Sebastian Wroth – No Rest for the Wicked by Kresley Cole
    Jericho Beaumont – Heart Throb by Suzanne Brockmann
    Wrath – Dark Lover by J.R. Ward
    Dean Robillard – Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
    Finn Rorkken – Moonstruck by Susan Grant
    Raphael – Angels’ Blood by Nalini Singh
    Miles Vorkosigan – The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold
    Roarke – In Death series by J.D. Robb

  46. PeggyL
    Oct 30, 2013 @ 09:39:37

    @Tamara Hogan: Yes, Sebastian Wroth…he’s probably an anomaly in the paranormal realm. Gentle and patient (an important quality in a hero, I think). An all-round *nice* guy too. How come I didn’t include him earlier? But perhaps Kaderin is too cool a heroine to have overshadowed him?

  47. Anon2013
    Oct 30, 2013 @ 10:47:34

    A few from Fantasy series:

    Joscelin from Carey’s Kushiel series
    Eugenides from Megan Whalen Turner’s Thief series

  48. Brigid
    Oct 31, 2013 @ 13:37:28

    @Anon2013:
    Yes! I just found Carey’s books last year, and Joscelin has become one of my absolute favorite heroes.

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