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Poll: How do you like your heros?

[poll id="199"]

I’ll admit I’m a bit shallow. I like my heroes tall, at least 6′.   I think other romance readers must as well because you rarely read about the short hero (even if the heroine is short, the hero must tower over her).   Jayne Ann Krentz is about the only author I know who gets away with writing under 6′ heroes (all of hers hover around the 6′ mark).   Wes, a hero in Suzanne Brockmann’s Tall, Dark, and Dangerous series underwent a height transformation. I believe he was around 5′ 9″ or 10″ and when he starred in his own book, he was 6′.   (And no, he wasn’t a teen when he was first introduced).   The ideal size for a special forces person is not the giant hulk but someone shorter, more wiry.

In the second story of Jasmine Haynes contribution to Twin Peaks, an anthology which included two stories of hers and one story of Susan Johnson (I don’t recommend this antho btw – the Johnson contribution was awful), the hero turned out to be short and bald. I never finished the story.   In talking about this with another reader, it occurred to me that height was more important than looks and it seemed like a good poll question.   What do you think?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

90 Comments

  1. Scarlett
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 12:47:59

    James McAvoy looks pretty adorable to me. I’m going with “short and gorgeous” all the way.

    I actually get quite tired of all the big huge bulky badass heroes who are always “the tallest guy in the room” and don’t mind an “average” height and build every so often. 5’9″ is still several inches taller than me, so I have no problem with that. Maybe if I were 6′ I would feel differently.

    Kit Butler from A Summer to Remember is one my favorite heroes and I loved that he was average height. He didn’t have any hangups about it, but he did prefer petite ladies (as the heroine was), so it worked for them.

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  2. lijakaca
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 12:49:21

    I’d much rather a hero was described as gorgeous and short than tall and ugly. I am short myself and have been attracted to lots of short guys, and personally I find the constant stream of 6’2 Regency heroes ridiculous. The tall contemporary guys are more understandable, but there are still lots of short guys in real life, it would be nice for them to get some hero-time.

    Also, gorgeous and ugly are matters of taste, so you can imagine him to your own liking. Tall and short are too strict for me, especially when 95% of heroes tower over the heroine and I can imagine from experience how awkward a simple kiss could be. I’d like a more balanced spectrum.

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  3. Lynz
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 12:55:28

    I went with tall and ugly, for two reasons: one, given that I’m 5’8″ myself, love to wear heels, and am not fond of towering over a man, I’m usually attracted to tall ones; and two, I’m not generally a big fan of gorgeous heroes. Or heroines, for that matter. Being considered ugly by conventional standards can be a fun complex for a hero/ine to have to get over.

    That being said, in the two books I’ve read by Mary Balogh, the heroes were both around my height, and I found it very refreshing. It seems like every single hero I read about is tall, and it gets hard to distinguish between them after a while.

    Also, as much as I like tall heroes, I don’t like them when they’re paired up with teensy, petite heroines. I like them paired up with tallish women, otherwise the man starts to veer into “hulking brute” territory, especially if his behaviour is very alpha, which I often find brutish.

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  4. Lisa Paitz Spindler
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 12:56:44

    If I remember correctly, Mark Jenkins in Brockmann’s INTO THE STORM isn’t particularly tall, neither is Jules Cassidy. Height is not a factor for me in a Romance hero. At 5’2″ I could wear three inch heels and still be shorter than most people.

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  5. Jody W.
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 12:58:52

    I don’t give a crap as long as I like him and he suits the heroine. In fact, when he’s NOT stereotypically gorgeous, tall and dangerously hung, it intrigues me.

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  6. Jen
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 13:04:47

    Have to agree w/ Scarlett on this one. James McAvoy settles the argument for me.

    Granted I’m 5’2″ with shoes on, so I can understand why some taller ladies might beg to differ.

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  7. MB (Leah)
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 13:05:03

    I don’t like when a specific height is mentioned. Just say tall and let the reader imagine what “tall” is. I’m a short 5’2 and men over 6′ are just too much for me and I’m not too attracted to them. I’d rather a shorter good looking guy.

    And I hate those pair ups in romance of the huge guy with the tiny woman. Please.

    In general, I don’t like when authors get very specific about looks, size, eye/hair color, body parts being huge or small and so on. Just let me know that the hero thinks the heroine is the most beautiful person evah and that the hero is the most honorable guy out there.

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  8. ldb
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 13:05:05

    Diana Palmer is the only author I have read who has often refered to her heros as ugly or something like that, and they are often considered ugly for being too tall.

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  9. Jody W.
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 13:11:01

    Oh, right, like heroines always have a mouth that’s “too wide” or “too full” for her to be beautiful. Uh-huh. We all know what that really means, and it has NOTHING with her resembling the Joker.

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  10. joanne
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 13:17:27

    Since we’re talking ‘in fiction’ only:

    Gorgeous makes me think pretty and pretty makes me think “not the hero”.

    Ugly makes me wonder by what definition he’s ugly since I sometimes like the hero to be scarred and banged up… if you’ll pardon the expression.

    Tall makes me think capable, strong.

    Short is short. Makes me think of short.

    Generally — mea culpa — I take the author’s description and toss it out the window anyway because what the hero looks like in my mind depends solely on his behavior in the story.

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  11. Smokinhotbooks
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 13:17:39

    Gawd what a challenge! When I picture Tall and Ugly I think of Andre the Giant so I’m going to have to pick short and gorgeous. But, if were talking reading material I don’t care as long as he is written well…oh of course he has to be sexy :)

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  12. Phyllis
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 13:18:35

    There are psychological studies out there that show that the majority of women like men who are taller than they are.

    Most US presidents have been the taller of the 2 main party candidates, especially since the advent of televised debates.

    That said, I usually go for tall guys – my husband is 6’4″ – but he has a lot of qualities that have nothing to do with his height and I did date a couple of guys who were my height or shorter. I am 5’9″ and junior high and even some of high school was really painful for me, because I was bigger than almost all the boys for a long time. Junior high was painful for a lot of reasons, but hey, that’s junior high for you.

    But the authors whose heroes are always 6’6″ or 7′ tall or so confuse me. Do they realize just how tall that is? How uncomfortably, amazingly tall? Have you ever come around a corner and almost run into a pro football linebacker? Yeah, makes even me feel dainty, but I’m too opinionated to be dainty…

    And THAT said, I am writing a book with a very short, chubby heroine and her husband who is barely taller than she is and who is a skinny nerd.

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  13. Vivienne Westlake
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 13:25:59

    I chose short and gorgeous. Hey, it’s a fantasy, right? And, in the fantasy, the guy is usually good looking. I’m 5’8″ (since everyone seems to be posting stats here) and while I do generally prefer tall, lean/medium build guys, I have fallen for men who were short. Meaning men who are about my height rather than a guy who is 5’3″. They were charming and smart, so I was willing to let go of my height issues.

    I think the tall, ugly hero can work. I enjoy Gena Showalter’s Darkest Kiss, which is my favorite in the series (though Maddox is my favorite hero). The hero in the Darkest Kiss is scarred up, but the heroine finds him incredibly sexy and as a reader, I do as well because the heroine sees all of his good qualities.

    But, since I have found a few shorties highly attractive, I opted for short & gorgeous.

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  14. ReacherFan
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 13:33:22

    Ken Karmody in Bockman’s Out of Control is average height paired with a short heroine. If memory serves, Stanley Wolchonok in Over the Edge is below 6′ as well and ugly to boot but Terri doesn’t care about either. Neither do I. These are two of her best books IMHO. The Comte d’Esmond in Loretta Chase’s Captives of the Night is many things, but not overly tall.

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  15. Lynz
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 13:33:46

    I am writing a book with a very short, chubby heroine and her husband who is barely taller than she is and who is a skinny nerd.

    This, I would read.

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  16. AmyW
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 13:40:22

    I don't like when a specific height is mentioned. Just say tall and let the reader imagine what “tall” is.

    I completely agree with MB (Leah) – I don’t need to know the hero’s exact measurements (and they all seem to be 6’2 or 6’3″ anyway…just blends in). I went with “short and gorgeous” though I think short in romance would equal average in real life…

    I’m a bit wary of the very tall hero with petite heroine, too. My boyfriend is 6’4″ and I’m 5’7″ and that can be awkward enough. He once dated a 5’1″ girl — he said kissing was a challenge, haha.

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  17. Aoife
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 13:45:27

    It’s all in how the author describes the hero. Several writers have written wonderful, appealing heroes who were short and/or slight (Mary Balogh and Georgette Heyer come to mind) and their height had nothing to do with their appeal. I think height is one of those short-hand things that some authors use rather than fully fleshing out their heroes: tall=masculine, strong, sexy. Of course, IRL, just as in books, height doesn’t have much to do with those characteristics.

    That said, my husband is seven inches taller than I am, and in my pre-married life I never dated anyone who was shorter than. Not much consistency there.

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  18. HeatherK
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 13:48:01

    I confess, I loves me a tall man. However, my husband first claimed to be 6′, when in reality, he’s more like 5’10″. Do I hold it against him? Nah, though I do occasionally tease him about his lost inches. :) I will also confess to having dated the shorter guys, though none shorter than my average 5’5″, mainly because the opportunity never presented itself. It’s just how it worked out. And though my personal preference is for the taller ones, I wouldn’t have knocked a guy shorter than me off the potential list just because of his height.

    In reading and writing, however, I let my preference have free reign and it’s all the tall hotties for me. And I didn’t vote, because neither option worked for me as I don’t see how it would necessarily have to be one or the other of those two extremes. Then again, I’m more of a middle of the road type person when it comes to most things.

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  19. JenD
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 13:50:18

    I don’t care about their height, amount of hair or boxer size. I don’t read romance to escape or to replace the heroine with myself. I like reading them as if it was a good friend telling me how they met The One.

    I just want a good story with people I enjoy spending my time with.

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  20. Chris
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 13:52:28

    I have to say short and gorgeous. The hubs is 5’7″ and a knockout but I can’t say I’ve met many in my romance book reading history that fits that. (By the way, I’m only 5’1″, okay, okay 5 1/2″ and I’ve never dated a guy shorter than me. My long-term boyfriend before my husband was 6′ though.) I also love the whole ugly duckling to handsome hunk storyline. In my mind, the guy doesn’t have to know that he’s such a stud!

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  21. Christine Rimmer
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 13:52:48

    In real life, I always fall for the short, compact, powerfully built type. Harvey Keitel was my total hot movies star crush for years. I’m 5’7″ and my dh is 5’8″ with broad shoulders and muscular arms. Oh, be still my beating heart. And yep, I’m taller than he is in heels. However, in my books, the guys are tall and goodlooking. It’s a fantasy, after all. And tall and goodlooking is a more accessible fantasy for most women.

    And scars don’t count to me as “ugly.” Scars are very hot. I wrote a hero once who had half his face burned off. I still get a lot of mail on that hero. Women love them some scarred up hot guy.

    And I LOVE James McAvoy. Definitely my type, especially when he’s buffed.

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  22. Jane
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 13:54:13

    @Christine Rimmer Oh that is a poll for another day! I love the scarred hero.

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  23. MaryK
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 13:55:50

    Well, I picked “tall and ugly” because height is relative and I prefer interesting/attractive rather than “gorgeous.”

    When I think of “short” heroes, I think “shorter than me” which doesn’t get written much. IMO, a heroine has to be really self-confident to have a shorter hero or the shorter hero has to be extraordinary (Miles Vorkosigan – not many of those around). Otherwise, I’m she’s going to feel like a hulking cow. As long as “tall” means “not shorter than me the heroine” I’m happy.

    [Hasn't Susan Napier written some same-height-as-the-heroine (short!?!) heroes?]

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  24. Tara Marie
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 13:55:57

    …it occurred to me that height was more important than looks…

    I hate to admit this, but height is really the only thing I pay that much attention to, looks aren’t that relevent to enjoying a book, that could be because most heros fall into the tall, dark and handsome category, even the blond ones :)

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  25. Christine Rimmer
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 13:56:29

    >Oh that is a poll for another day! I love the scarred hero.

    Ready to cast my vote on that one, Jane!

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  26. MaryK
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 13:58:01

    @Aoife:

    I think height is one of those short-hand things that some authors use rather than fully fleshing out their heroes: tall=masculine, strong, sexy.

    Yes!

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  27. Estara
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 13:59:31

    Mary Jo Putney had Robin in one of her Angels books be agile, clever and not too tall. I think the shorter heroes often come across as swifter or more clever – although that’s a stereotype in and off itself.

    I’m small myself, but since I read English romance mostly and we don’t have your feet and inches in Germany, I don’t really bogle at the huge heroes, because I don’t know how tall they are in meters and centimeters ^^.

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  28. Lizzy
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 13:59:59

    I went with tall and ugly here, probably thinking of all those historical heroes who started off gorgeous but got banged up fighting Napoleon. But, of course, all that really matters is what they look like with their pants off.

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  29. MARGARET MALLORY
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 14:08:40

    How short? How ugly?
    Hmmm. I have a weakness for a handsome face and a killer smile, so I have to go with short and handsome.

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  30. Roxanne St. Claire
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 14:09:24

    Oh, please do the scarred hero poll. I’m writing one now, the first time I’ve ever done a less-than-physically-perfect man. I admit to being completely shallow and wishing for tall and gorgeous as a poll option.

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  31. Ros
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 14:12:28

    I went for tall and ugly because I quite go for the harsh-featured not-conventionally-attractive men. But then someone mentioned James McAvoy and, well, it seems that I could go for short and gorgeous too. So long as he has a twinkle in his eye, I’m easy.

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  32. Danielle Yockman
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 14:13:32

    At 5’9″ and married to a man who is 5’10″ in reality I don’t care. I wear my 3″ heels and damn everyone to perdition if they don’t like it! But, that said I would take tall dark and ugly (as in scarred, average, not beautiful) over short any day in my novels. There is a part of me that wonders what it would be like to feel small next to her man. So I like to indulge that in my reading. All that said, I would not put down a book because the hero is short. As long as he has chemistry with the heroine that really is all that matters!

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  33. Cathy
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 14:20:55

    I went with short and gorgeous, though short and ugly would’ve been fine, too. I’m a bit tired of heroes who are well over 6 feet tall, especially when the heroine is then described as “petitie” and “dainty” or whatever. The average height of an American white male is 5’10″. If all the ultra-tall guys are showing up in romance, then there’s a bunch of super-short men stashed in a dark corner somewhere.

    Seriously, I’m 5’6″, and I usually wear heels, so call me 5’9″ at work. I worked with a guy who was 6’4″. When he walked in my office, he would literally darken my doorwary. Talking to him would be awkward, because I’d have to look up a bit further than normal and my neck would start to ache. I can’t imagine spending a good deal of time around a man who was 6’6″ or 7′. I would find it so distracting.

    For me, height doesn’t equal masculinity or anything else. When I read a book with a towering hero, I just mentally shrink them down to what I think is a more normal height.

    If height continues to be a notable physical feature, I’d like to read more books (probably contemps) with a heroine who is the taller one. My boyfriend comes from a tall family, and two of his female cousins are 6′. If Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman could make it work for 10 years, then I’m sure people in Romancelandia can, too.

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  34. GrowlyCub
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 14:32:39

    Definitely, ‘tall and ugly’ here.

    Every single short guy I’ve ever known, gorgeous or not, suffers/ed from Napoleon complex. Tall guys may have other issues but they don’t usually have to profile themselves on the back of others to compensate for their lack of inches.

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  35. Anonymousie
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 14:37:55

    For all of you who don’t like the tall hero paired with the tiny heroine, I pass along this little ditty I learned from my father when I was too young to know much about what it meant:

    When they’re nose to nose, her toes are in it;
    When they’re toes to toes, her nose is in it.

    I like tall heroes, but then I also like large men in real life. And not necessarily hugely muscular, but tall with some bulk to them. I’m not little and I like the sense of…security? that’s the wrong word, but there it is…of a guy who’s more solid than I am.

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  36. RStewie
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 14:49:43

    In fact, when he's NOT stereotypically gorgeous, tall and dangerously hung, it intrigues me.

    This is classic. Someone needs to write a story out of this one liner by Jody W.

    Generally -’ mea culpa -’ I take the author's description and toss it out the window anyway because what the hero looks like in my mind depends solely on his behavior in the story.

    Joanne, I completely agree. This is what I do, too.

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  37. may
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 14:50:15

    I prefer average/little bit tall heros. Scars & imperfections are goooood. When heros aren’t described in exact height I assume average 5’10″ or so. OR if they’re “around six feet tall” that works good for me too.

    The main thing? That it’s not so over the top that I get pulled out of the story. I remember a 6 1/2 foot high hero who was huge with bulging muscles… but who was somehow rather freakishly slim in the waist/hips… but had big muscled thighs… and only weighed 200lbs. My mental picture was a photoshop distorted freak!

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  38. Becca
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 15:10:26

    One of the sexiest heros I can think of is under 5′ tall (4’9? something like that) -Miles Vorkosigan, by Lois McMaster Bujold. As his lady Ekaterine said, he’s not short, he’s *concentrated*.

    that aside, however, I tend to ignore the height of a hero unless it’s important to the story (Miles’ height is) – I tend to think of them all as my-height-or-a-bit-taller.

    I prefer a man’s face to be … lived in, I suppose… rather than gorgeous.

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  39. LauraJ
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 15:20:26

    I went with short and gorgeous even though I’d prefer it if the author didn’t go into a lot of detail.

    I like tall men, too. And I like when a hero is described as somewhat unattractive but his actions and body are sexy and strong. But if an author goes into a lot of detail about how ugly a tall man is or how short a gorgeous man is, I’m sure to be turned off. Anything extreme might take me out of story. I actually think the actor Peter Dinklage is kind of cute, but I’m not sure I’d be into reading a love story about him. At the same time Vincent Schiavelli (he played the subway ghost in the movie Ghost) is tall and, I think, the kind of ugly that would make it impossible for me to read a story about him.

    I often find short guys really attractive. The only ones that come to mind now, unfortunately, are that guy Eric from the HBO show Entourage, Michael J. Fox and I’m pretty sure there are a couple country music singers who are cute and short – I’m not a country music fan and can’t think of their names.

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  40. Nonny
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 15:36:17

    I actually dislike the constant trend of uber-tall heroes. I’m 4’11 and guys too much over 6″ are intimidating and not sexy to me… particularly when the heroine is described as being petite/short. I find it pretty disturbing that 5’8 is considered “short” and at the “low end” of acceptability for a hero.

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  41. Maili
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 15:43:23

    It depends on the body frames of tall and short.

    I like them tall and lean, but judging by most US romance book covers, ‘tall’ translates to ‘tall and very bulky’, which isn’t my favourite type. I mean, a typical American football player’s body build? No thanks.

    If the hero is short, handsome and lean, I’ll have him.
    If the hero is tall, ugly and lean, will have him, too.
    If the hero is tall, ugly and bulky, no thank you.
    If the hero is short, handsome and stocky, no thanks.

    Either way, long legs and well-defined lean arms always get my vote.

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  42. joanne
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 15:53:05

    by Roxanne St. Claire August 28th, 2009 at 2:09 pm
    Oh, please do the scarred hero poll. I'm writing one now, the first time I've ever done a less-than-physically-perfect man. I admit to being completely shallow and wishing for tall and gorgeous as a poll option.

    Over HERE!
    We’re over HERE waving and shouting and jumping up and down like ten year-olds. The scarred hero fan-girls cheering section! YES. Love them! But if you don’t love him while you’re writing him than be careful or we’ll know………

    um yeah, no pressure, LOL!

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  43. DS
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 16:07:22

    Not voting because I like heroes both ways. Neither height nor looks (or the lack thereof) would be a deal killer as long as they have character and intelligence.

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  44. Midknyt
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 16:20:25

    As his lady Ekaterine said, he's not short, he's *concentrated*.

    I’ll have to use that one – I’m 4’10″ and usually say I’m travel sized, but I like that much better. (Especially since I’m not one of those tiny, I could break you if I blew on you too hard, short people).

    Generally speaking, I don’t care if the guy is tall, because let’s face it, at my height everyone is tall – 5’4″ is half a foot taller than me.

    However, I hate when they have the ridiculously tall hero. Like Johanna Lindsey’s non-Mallory family ones tend to have guys who are 6’5″. Not only is that way too tall for me (that’s a foot and seven inches taller!), but that’s tall for 2009, and beyond freaky for 981. It’s bad enough the guy has violet eyes, you want him to be a giant as well? It kind of takes away from the story a little for me.

    Viva la shorties!

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  45. Lori
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 16:28:34

    I’m another who pays little attention to the physical descriptions the author tags the characters with. If the hero appeals to me then I fill in the blanks with what appeals to me and if he’s an ass, then I have a wider selection of choices :-)

    And these tall, tall bad-ass heroes hulking around in leather and sunglasses and glowers always make me laugh. Personally I’ve never been attracted to bad boys so my imagination scales them back.

    (And I don’t like scars. But that’s for another poll.)

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  46. Jill Sorenson
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 16:47:39

    I’ll go with tall and ugly. In romance and real life. Take me away, Beast!
    But I admit to loving the handsome ones on the big screen. James McAvoy is adorable.

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  47. Marianne McA
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 16:59:26

    One of the sexiest heros I can think of is under 5′ tall (4′9? something like that) -Miles Vorkosigan, by Lois McMaster Bujold.

    So true. He’s completely fabulous.

    And I’ve just been rereading Buchan’s ‘Castle Gay’ and ‘wee’ Jaikie is 5’6”. Slight and athletic, what’s not to love? And Heyer’s got a couple of shorter heroes – Gilly from ‘The Foundling’ is under medium height, and I always imagined that Freddy from ‘Cotillion’ wasn’t that tall either.

    I’m not fussed, really, about what the character looks like – but I do like it when the person has a distinct appearance. I can and will read the cliche – tall, ripped and handsome with a scar or broken nose to signify they have lived – but I’ll fall for a Peter Wimsey with his ‘parrot profile’ and beautiful hands.

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  48. Angelia Sparrow
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 17:05:02

    I’m 6′ tall. In real life, I like my men secure enough to be seen with me, whether tall or short. I will gravitate to the tall one, because I’ve had bad experiences with insecure short men.

    In fiction, it really doesn’t matter. I have males that are 5’5″. I have them that are 6’4″. (Sometimes, I have them both in the same bed. That’s a challenge. But David, at 5’5″ likes his men big and dumb) The height is seldom given so bluntly. I don’t go much for measurements.

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  49. Melissa
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 17:22:59

    Gosh, I can’t possibly vote on this one. I love ‘em in all shapes and sizes. What does it for me is what they do for the heroine, yaknowwhadImean?

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  50. hapax
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 17:33:23

    Exactly average height meself, and I loves loves loves short heros.

    Lean and gorgeous, chubby and shy, I don’t care. I always find the six-foot-six ripped hulks to be mildly repulsive, obnoxious and domineering. (Alpha is fine, asshole is not, yes I’m looking at you J.R.) I always mentally scale them down to human size when I read them.

    Short heros tend to be underestimated by their antagonists, which I also love. Sometimes (as in Heyer’s FOUNDLING), they underestimate themselves. Sometimes (as in Lee / Miller’s Liaden books, or Turner’s Thief books) they use this lack of estimation to increase their sneakiness. Either way, it usually sets up a lovely dynamic.

    And yes, Miles Vorkosigan is The Sexiest Man Who Ought To Be Alive.

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  51. Vivienne Westlake
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 17:43:53

    Roxanne is right. A scarred hero poll would be really fun! I also have a story idea in mind with a scarred hero–though he only has a small scar on the face, most of his scars are on his torso. I do think scarred heroes can be sexy. (I used to really like the original scarred Todd on One Life to Live, for example).

    I’m a sucker for redeemable bad boys redeemable rakes.

    As for James McAvoy, though I know a lot of women who find him very attractive, I find it hard to think of him as a sexy romantic hero. I think it’s because I saw Wimbledon before ever noticing him in anything else and he’s really pervy in that movie.

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  52. Vivian
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 17:44:06

    Is it weird that I’m reading the comments and it boggles my mind to have 5’10″ described as short?

    When I first read the poll I thought short meant like…just over 5′ or something.

    I’m probably 5’1″ on my lucky days so even with heels I’m a great deal shorter than most guys. 5’10″ is probably as tall as I’ll go haha. It’s very tiring to have to crane your head up ALL the time. And at the college I’m at, there are so many short guys (and short as in 5’4″) that even 5’10″ is scarce, let alone up to the 6′s, so 5’10″ is very very welcome :)

    I’d definitely take this so-called “short” and gorgeous guy. As Scarlett says! James McAvoy all the way! Though I believe he’s no taller than 5’8″? I’m also with the blogger who mentioned lean guys. Yep, I love lean men!

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  53. Jennie
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 18:04:52

    I went with tall and ugly, though it really would depend on a more detailed description of each. “Compact” men are sometimes very attractive – I think I’d want at least 5’8″, which is probably on the outside edge of “short” by the general definition.

    I also like really tall men, though I’m not into huge muscles (think more basketball player physiques, rather than football players). But whereas ugly=scarred or harsh looking is fine, ugly=buck teeth, weak chin/jaw, tiny eyes is not. He’d have to have a pretty fine body to make up for any of those deficiencies (which is not to say he couldn’t – an appealing personality goes a long way).

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  54. catie james
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 18:21:46

    I wish you’d given us a third option ’cause really, I’d take either hero. Height & looks don’t amount to a hill of beans if I’m not attracted to the hero’s less tangible qualities such as integrity and character. Okay ladies, commence with throwing rotten vegetables my way. *ducks*

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  55. Christine M.
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 18:34:16

    I read the first few Kenyon books and the heroes were all towering over 6’6″…. WTH?!? One of my friends is 6’7″ and honestly, just giving him a hug is awkward as hell. And I’m 5’4″. On the other hand, mum’s 5′ and dad’s 6′ and they “fit”. But then, at 6′, I don’t consider my dad as extremely tall (my bf’s the same height). I might have to ask my mum, though. *g*

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  56. Tammy
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 18:46:09

    While I like tall heroes – I’m 5’4″ and my SO is 6’5″ (though beta/lanky, not alpha/steroidy) I’m with catie james – a hero’s height or looks don’t mean jack shit if I loathe him as a human being.

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  57. Fionn J
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 20:09:31

    When I’m reading romance novel and the hero is described as tall, I’m thinking “taller than me” and I’m only 5’1 – 5’2, sooo…height is not really an issue with me. My SO is 5’7, and very fit, so I’m a happy cat.

    That being said, I think James McAvoy is more awesome than sliced bread. :D

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  58. medumb
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 20:30:32

    I am not actually that fussed, I actually liked the short and bald dude in Jasmine Hayne’s story.
    I picked tall and ugly, more for the ugly than the tall. Not necessarily a fan of pretty boys.

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  59. willaful
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 20:40:27

    I didn’t vote, neither choice makes sense to me. I read so much romance, I love anything different in a hero (and heroine, plot, setting etc.) I love the occasional short hero because they’re so rare, the occasional balding hero even more so. Would love to see the non-existent chubby hero.

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  60. Shiloh Walker
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 20:42:04

    It doesn’t much matter to me, in books or real life.

    When I read, I honestly pay more attention to how he acts, how he treats others than his looks-a lot of the descriptions used in some books actually turn me off. I like the long, lean look more than the bulked-up, superman wrestler on steroids type so it’s not usual for me to skim descriptions and just come up with my own image in my head.

    In real life, don’t care. My husband’s the same height as me and I wouldn’t change a thing about him.

    On a minor tangent~I’m no where near on par with Brockmann or Krentz but I’ve had more than a few heroes who were under 6′. I’ve got heroes that are over or @ 6′ but I’ve also had some that are 5’9, 5’10. Bigger tangent-I can’t even see JAK’s name anymore without grinning. I got to meet her at Nationals and she’s actually reads my books. I think that was the highlight of my summer.

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  61. Castiron
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 20:57:24

    In fiction, it depends on how it’s handled. If I believe that the heroine would find this hero attractive, then I don’t care whether he’s short, tall, broad-shouldered, skin-and-bones, blue-eyed, brown-eyed, etc.

    In real life, 5’5 and gorgeous works out very well for me.

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  62. Kaetrin
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 21:51:25

    I didn’t vote. (I like ‘em tall and handsome!)

    But – I have enjoyed quite a few novels where the hero was short – Lynsday and Jenk from Suz Brockmann comes to mind, as does Robin from Mary Jo Putney’s book (can’t remember the title but it was about an Angel). Both of those heroes had petite heroines – so the hero was taller and bigger than the girl but not overpoweringly so. It felt right.

    Plus, my favourite Mary Balogh book is Heartless. The hero, Luke, is described as average height and of slight build (but muscular). The heroine, Anna, is average height and loves the fact that Luke is only a little taller than her – she feels overpowered by tall beefy guys and feels safer and more comfortable with Luke. Notwithstanding his height and leanness, he is nevertheless a powerful man, physically strong and handy with a sword and pistol.

    I personally like taller, broader guys – more of the Gerard Butler type than the James McAvoy type. In a romance novel I think the heroes get a bit taller in my mind if they’re a little on the short side and they tend to beef up a little if they’re slight.

    But, like in real life, an “average” (or even unattractive) person becomes good looking when you get to know them and they turn out to be beautiful people on the inside. I think the same holds true for heroes. If I like them, by the end of the book they are good looking, no matter what their physical description.

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  63. Sherry Thomas
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 22:06:13

    What the–

    Isn’t this fiction? :-) Why do we have to choose b/t these two? And how short is short anyway?

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  64. Mezza
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 22:25:38

    I went with tall & ugly because I am not into gorgeous which to me implies smooth or polished and in meeting some shared definition of gorgeous risks being generic. Ugly seems such an individual thing and that individuality is attractive. Although, all those 6’5″ heroes have had me really looking when I see such a tall man on the street because they are not common and I see them not fitting the environment around them. My personal objection is to overly petite paranormal heroines who can bash up anything in their path, that is fantastical.

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  65. Ann Bruce
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 22:27:53

    Tall. He needs to be able to block the wind, provide shade, and carry me if required. I’m demanding that way.

    ETA: Since a number of short women aren’t into tall guys, maybe this post will change your minds.

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  66. Ann Bruce
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 22:28:42

    And I’m not really into pretty boys.

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  67. Grace Draven
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 22:38:55

    I chose tall and ugly. Partly because my personal preference is for tall men. My spouse is 6’2″. I’m 5’2″ and really like the height difference. Of course, at 5′ 2″, I’m short, and even a “short” guy is taller than I am, but I can’t get past imagining a short hero as being something like 5′ 3″. Obviously, I’m basing that mental image on my own reality.

    Ugly is subjective, and I’ve been accused of finding “ugly” men very attractive. To me, it isn’t ugly; it’s facial character.

    What I don’t like is the pairing of tall with hulking and muscular. There’s something brutish about that description that can turn me off. Not in all cases, but it’s probably my least favorite physical description of a hero.

    My latest hero is described as tall, lean, scarred and too austere. Like others, I’m very fond of the scarred hero, so I’ll be interested in seeing that poll and its results.

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  68. Ros
    Aug 29, 2009 @ 00:32:18

    Oh, this just reminded me of something. In my own private cast for Heyer’s The Masqueraders, James McAvoy gets to play Robin. Seriously gorgeous, short, powerful and sexy. Mmmm.

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  69. Mina Kelly
    Aug 29, 2009 @ 01:42:26

    Short ang gorgeous, definitely. I’m average height for a woman, but I don’t wear heels and I find most men of 6 foot painfully tall. My ex used to let me stand on his shoes for long kisses goodbye!

    Short can be compact, and short can be very sexy. I like tall guys skinny, but short guys can be more muscular.

    In fiction, if I’m completely honest, the vaguer the description the better. Pick out the details where appropriate, but anything more exact than “he was tall enough that she worried about her neck” or “she could look him in the eye, which made her comfortable” in terms of height is a bit of a literary turn-off for me. There’s a lot of heroines with surprisingly good eyes for a guy’s height in feet and inches and his weight in pounds. It tends to pull me out of the PoV a lot.

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  70. rigmarole
    Aug 29, 2009 @ 05:13:16

    If a book’s good, the height of the hero isn’t going to get me to stop reading. I just finished a book where the guy was 5’9″ and it’s going to be one of my top three books of the year, without a doubt.

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  71. Marianne McA
    Aug 29, 2009 @ 06:16:01

    In my own private cast for Heyer's The Masqueraders, James McAvoy gets to play Robin.

    Think I just wrenched my brain trying to imagine him as a girl…

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  72. Jane
    Aug 29, 2009 @ 07:38:22

    @Sherry ThomasHa ha ha. Even in fiction we have our fantasy preferences.

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  73. Aoife
    Aug 29, 2009 @ 08:20:51

    In my own private cast for Heyer's The Masqueraders, James McAvoy gets to play Robin.

    Think I just wrenched my brain trying to imagine him as a girl…

    I’m with Marianne McA. I like James MacAvoy, but seriously: ick. Since a crucial point of the masquerade was that Robin could pass not only as a woman, but a very pretty woman, this makes no sense at all.

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  74. Tracy S
    Aug 29, 2009 @ 10:01:07

    Wes (from Suzanne Brockmann’s book) did seem to grow taller, but he was actually only 5’8″ in his book (he mentions his height specifically in the book) but in the earlier books you got the impression he was around 5’4″ or so.

    I know this b/c Wes’ story is one of my favorites and my hubby is 5’8″ and I remember saying to him “heh. There is a hero in a book as short as you are” LOL

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  75. Heidi
    Aug 29, 2009 @ 10:14:12

    I’m with Ann. I love a tall man. I like tall and lean but muscular. Sculpted…. (I’m drooling). However, what is tall? I consider 6’1″ tall, which is what my husband is. At 5’5″ inches, he is just the right “tall” for me. But when I”m reading, I like them to be at least 6’1″ or 6’2″ inches, and I adjust them to that height in my head if they are shorter, and I think I might cut them down if they are taller. Maybe we just make them be the height we want them to be?

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  76. Jessica Kennedy
    Aug 29, 2009 @ 12:51:53

    What odd choices! I like them tall. They’re usually hard around the edges but always tall, dark and handsome! :)

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  77. Amy
    Aug 29, 2009 @ 13:36:45

    I agree entirely with Lynz. Her comment was just like how I feel. I too enjoy heroes and heroines getting over ‘ugly’ complexes and feeling unattractive and then having their inner beauty shine out. It’s a more fluid thing that doesn’t matter to me, whereas height, it’s like my one sore point.

    To be honest, it’s easy for a woman who’s, say, 5’3″, to claim that height doesn’t matter. If you’re a tall woman hovering around 6″, you simply don’t have that luxury. And yes, we all know celebrity couples where the woman is taller, and that’s great if that works for them, but I’m just not okay with it. I’m tall, so my man just HAS to be tall.

    I do agree though, that strapping 6″2 heroes with tiny petite ladies does irk me a bit, firstly because it seems like they’re mismatched and he could knock her around a bit, and secondly the selfish part of me thinks she’s taking a guy that a tall girl could have! There does seem to be more tall women than tall men around. :(

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  78. Amy
    Aug 29, 2009 @ 13:47:48

    It wouldn’t let me edit for some reason. I just wanted to delete my ‘knock her around’ comment because that was pretty out there. I just meant….oh, I can’t explain it. But I know what I mean. It wouldn’t let me edit because the text kept moving around.

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  79. ShellBell
    Aug 29, 2009 @ 15:22:57

    I’m 5’10″ and my Dad and brother are taller than me. Having grown up around mainly tall people I tend to visualise the hero as being taller than me even if they aren’t described that way. I once dated a guy who was shorter than me and it was an experience I never want to repeat, so for me I always visualise the hero as being a minimum if 6′.

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  80. Sami
    Aug 29, 2009 @ 16:49:21

    [Hasn't Susan Napier written some same-height-as-the-heroine (short!?!) heroes?]

    I definitely remember reading one where the heroine was taller than the hero when she wore heels. I used to have it on my keeper shelf just because it was such a novelty.

    I’m another shortie who would like to see more ‘average’ height or short heroes in romance, but I can certainly understand the problem for taller women. My hubby is actually short at only 5’3″ and in fact also bald. No problem here. You should see how attractive that is when he’s changing the baby’s nappy.
    (Also no Nepolean complex btw :). I like ‘em short and funny, like David Spade or Michael J Fox. That’s just me??)

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  81. Kathleen MacIver
    Aug 29, 2009 @ 16:55:57

    Hahaha!!! I cracked up when I saw what the poll actually was.

    I chose tall and ugly because I DO like tall, and because if a hero is ugly, then the author had to do more with his character…and THAT’S what makes a guy attractive.

    But that said…I’m okay with shorter heroes too. The thing that gets me is when an author clearly DOESN’T have a tall husband, and they screw up and make things happen in ways that… don’t. My hubby is 8″ taller than me, so our height difference is pretty stereotypical. I notice all the time when a woman who’s supposed to be much shorter looks over her husband’s shoulder, or lays her head ON his shoulder instead of against, or feels his you-know-what against her lower hips, instead of her stomach. Or when they use positions that just don’t work when there’s such a difference in how long your legs are. Stuff like that.

    And when they write heroes that are a foot taller than their wives, I think of my brother-in-law and his wife and I laugh at what authors think is possible. He’s 6’4″ and built, and she’s 5’4″ and a size 1…and it’s not easy. She has trouble having huge babies, three of their kids got his height, and one got hers so two of them look like twins…and there is lots of practical humor in everyday life because of the height and size issue that some authors are oblivious to. You should hear her complain about how much space he takes up in bed, and how she’s always sleeping on a hill ’cause he weighs twice what she does. And then he likes the big 100+ lb. dogs ’cause he’s more comfortable with them than tiny dogs, while she’s trying to prove to the huge brute that it DOES have to listen to a woman smaller than it is.

    heeheehee… I’d love a romance that included all of that!

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  82. Angelia Sparrow
    Aug 29, 2009 @ 18:57:29

    The average man is 5’9″. The average woman is 5’4.” At least last I heard.

    @Amy, the “knock her around” bit actually works for me. I was watching Gone with the Wind and Empire Strikes Back (not as odd a combination as one might think since all of Empire’s romance dialogue was pure Rhett & Scarlett.)

    Clark Gable is 6’2″. Harrison Ford is 6’1″. Vivian Leigh is 5’3″. Carrie Fisher is 5′.
    The thing that struck me most is how the men LOOM over the women, intimidating them by sheer size and getting their way. The physical threat is always present.

    One thing I’d like to see more of proportions. I may be 2 inches shorter than my husband, but my legs are longer. I can’t curl around him because my torso is too short. But you seldom see any mention of things like that.

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  83. daisy
    Aug 29, 2009 @ 19:25:50

    I will admit to be partial to a larger guy – but then I come from a family of big men. My Dad is over 6″, both of my brothers are over 6’3″ and all of my son’s are as well. I often find shorter men attractive in a vague “he’s cute, but kinda short” way. I think it all becomes what we are used too.

    The thing that bothers me is that authors seem to think tall = huge. My tall boys all top out at about 195 pounds – which translates into a healthy, muscular size 32 waist and a large shirt. Not XXL.

    For a man to be 6’3″ and wear a XXL he would have to clear about 250 pounds – and that is either too fat or too muscular to be really attractive. I like regular guy muscles, not bodybuilder, steroid muscles.

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  84. Sarah
    Aug 29, 2009 @ 21:59:46

    I think it is more important to like the character of the hero than the physicality of him. I can fall for a hero that looks like a monster, as long as he doesn’t act like one.

    I think romance novels are way too hung up on the height issue. As a tall girl, 5’9″, I got over the issue of dating short men a long time ago. My husband is 5’6″ and just to let you know, height really isn’t an issue when you are horizontal. These things work themselves out just fine. Go for quality not quantity!!

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  85. Ann Bruce
    Aug 30, 2009 @ 20:56:36

    @Kathleen MacIver: Your BIL and his wife should consider a foam mattress–and there are manufacturers who can custom mattresses and beds. My 6′ 4″ ex used to sleep diagonally across his bed until I got him the custom bed for his birthday.

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  86. Karla
    Aug 31, 2009 @ 10:29:01

    I think I like the idea of tall guys, but then when I think about who I actually have crushed on, past and present, they’re all pretty short. David Mitchell, Edwin Booth, Lawrence Barrett, James Cagney, a co-worker of mine I was mad over, Buster Keaton…. I don’t think any of them top 5’8″, and most were around 5’6″ and shorter than me.

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  87. Suki
    Sep 01, 2009 @ 16:53:51

    I had to vote for tall and ugly. I love the beaty/beast storylines.

    The only preference I have when it comes to men is that their butt has to be bigger than mine.

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  88. DS
    Sep 02, 2009 @ 19:10:26

    Height doesn’t matter. I prefer depth.

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  89. M—
    Sep 03, 2009 @ 13:22:17

    So, basically, you are asking us to choose between Wolverine and Mr. Rochester. I cannot decide!

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  90. Sarah
    Sep 08, 2009 @ 07:51:56

    @M - Hahaha, I love it!

    Since earlier people were playing the stat game – I’m 5’3 or 4 on a tall day, and I can’t help but love tall guys. I do however have my limits – I had a thing for a guy that was 6’4″ but he was lean. Tall and hulking freaks me out. @Amy, I totally understood your comment. I had a coworker who was about 6′ and a bit hulking and when he got creepy, I got scared. I’m hardly a wilting flower but he could have done serious damage.

    Although Loretta Chase made the hulking thing work in Lord of Scoundrel’s with Dane being so self conscious of his height and strength.

    I wouldn’t mind shorter at all though. James McAvoy keeps getting thrown around and I LOVE him. He’s still 4 or so inches taller than me!

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