We are thrilled to welcome paranormal author Annette McCleave back to The Romance Dish! It wasn't until after she tried her hand at banking, financial advising, and high tech marketing that Annette realized how important writing was to her. In 2005, one of her manuscripts finaled in the RWA Golden Heart contest and in 2008, not only was she a Golden Heart finalist, but she won for Best Paranormal Romance! Please welcome Annette as she asks....
How Do You Define Sexy?
Yes, it’s true. When it comes to romance heroes, I hop between the covers with far more enthusiasm and far fewer protests than a good girl ought to. And I have no shame when it comes to different sorts of heroes either. Some women are rigorously faithful to alpha heroes, some will only tuck an enlightened beta under their arms. Me? I love ‘em all.
Which made me stop for a moment and ponder. Do I have any standards at all? Are there specific qualities I look for in a delicious hero? I must have—not every romance hero I’ve read is a keeper. So, I considered the usual list of attributes:
-- Physical attractiveness. Who doesn’t admire a nice body? He doesn’t have to be perfect, but some level of male beauty goes with the romance hero image.
-- Great aftershave or cologne. Mmmm. I suppose those with scent allergies wouldn’t include this one, but I love a man who smells good.
-- A rakish smile. I’ll admit that none of my fantasies include bad teeth or bad breath.
-- Confidence. I like a man who has lots of confidence. It can even border on arrogance.
-- Competence. It’s one thing to be confident, quite another to have nothing to back it up. The best romance heroes are wickedly good at something.
-- Power. Sometimes this attribute shows up as wealth, sometimes it shows up as title or position. Even the beta hero has power over his world—perhaps through his intellect or charm.
All of the above attributes work for me, but the one quality that truly defines hero for me, no matter what the guy looks like or smells like, is honor. If the hero acts in an honourable way—does the right thing even when it hurts, defends someone weaker than him, sacrifices something important for a greater good—I’m sold. After that, it’s all sighs.
That’s probably why the hero in my latest Soul Gatherer novel, Bound by Darkness, does this in the first chapter:
Brian’s eyes adjusted instantly to the dim interior of the church.
The last afternoon Mass was over, but a few map-carrying tourists lingered in the pews and in the gift shop. Spotting his fugitive was easy. A bone-thin blond girl, no more than twenty, dragged a stiff leg up the nave toward the altar, one arm hanging by her side, the other clutched to her chest. It was a testament to the awe-inspiring beauty of the cathedral’s arches that no one noticed the blood trail she left behind on the marble floor.
Brian leapt over two rows of pews and sprinted.
He reached his target just as the demon hit the church with a masonry-crushing blast. The girl was on the verge of collapse. Deep cuts laced her arms and neck. The front of her threadbare Old Navy T-shirt was soaked with blood, and her lips were chalky white.
Each passing minute was killing her.
Behind him, the heavy bronze doors exploded inward, sailing twenty feet before landing on pews that buckled under the weight. The tourists ran blindly for the main entrance, far less interested in what had caused the explosion than in escaping the mayhem. Not bothering with introductions, Brian scooped the girl up in one arm and dashed for the Forty-ninth Street door.
Think back to the last hero you savoured in a book. What was it about him that reeled you in? What was the first quality that got your heart beating a little faster? How did the author convince of his sexiness?
To celebrate the release of Bound by Darkness, I’m giving away a signed copy to one random commenter on today’s post. I’m also running a release contest on my website until the end of May, so stop by for more chances to win. Good luck!