Thursday, May 13, 2010

Guest Author -- Annette McCleave

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?

I’m easy.

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!


  1. This book sounds very good.

    Heros aren't they wonderful I love an honourable hero with a sense of humour to go with that honour and of course they have to be great to look at LOL.

    Congrats on the release Annette

    Have Fun

  2. Hi, Annette! Congratulations on "Bound by Darkness"! Love your list--would just add a "core of compassion".

    The "Alpha" male is the dominant leader of the pack. They have qualities and strengths which make them "number one"! Along with all that greatness can come arrogance, a "my way is the only way" attitude, and a sometimes ornery personality. However, their fierce devotion to their loved ones, their loyalty and their innate honor all go together quite nicely with a core of compassion to smooth the rough edges. Not too smooth, though...leave some of that masculine allure...a little beard stubble to tickle your skin : )

    gcwhiskas at aol dot com

  3. Helen--I agree. A sense of humor is essential. I particularly like heroes who can laugh at themselves every once in a while.

    Virginia C--Love that! A core of compassion. Mmmm, your description has me hungering for a stubbly alpha hero. :-)

  4. Hi Annette! Welcome to The Romance Dish! I'm looking forward to reading Bound by Darkness. It sounds like a terrific story and, I must say, I do love that cover. Verrrrry nice! :)

    Like Virginia, I adore an alpha hero but he does have to have that core of compassion (even though it may be hidden for part of his story) and a sense of honor. A sense of humor is also very appealing to me. Also, if he loves animals I'll love him! :)

    I'm looking forward to meeting your heroes!

  5. Helen, I love heroes with a sense of humor, whether in fiction or real life.

  6. Virginia, I love your "core of compassion." What a perfect way of describing what all of my heroes must have. Also, the "fierce devotion to their loved ones." I just finished an ARC of a summer release where the hero has that fierce devotion to the ragtag members of his family and it was when that was revealed that I first started falling for him.

  7. Hi PJ! Yeah, the cover for Bound is hot. In more ways than one. ;-)

  8. Hi, Annette & PJ! The "love of my life" was a rough, gruff, fiercely protective, witty guy with that "core of compassion". We were born and raised in a beautiful, rural area of the mountains of Southwestern Virginia. He was a life long hunter, as are most of the men in our home area. However, he told that he once found a deer trapped in a barbed-wire fence, and he set it free. The deer was not badly injured enough to be put down, and my guy let him go. He couldn't stand to see him trapped and watched him run back into the woods. Unfortunately, my hero could not overcome his own low self-esteem and other issues, and we did not stay together. No one has ever really taken his place in my heart or in my life.

    gcwhiskas at aol dot com

  9. Virginia C--What a terrific story. Thanks for sharing.

    Karyn--Empathy, patience, and grit are a scrumptious combination. Is he the strong silent type, always ready to do what's necessary? Yum.

  10. Hi and welcome back, Annette! We're so happy you're here to dish with us. Congrats on another release!

    I will second your attribute of confidence. I find that verra sexy. Along with a sense of humor and a compassionate nature. My husband has all three and more! :)

  11. Hey, Helen! I totally agree, a sense of humor is a MUST!

    Virginia, isn't a little bit of scruff on the face incredibly sexy?!

    Karyn, drop-dead handsome is a great plus!! ;-)

  12. Thanks for allowing me to share my excitement, Andrea!

  13. Hey Annette! And welcome to The Romance Dish!

    Girl, that is one HAWT cover. Dang, just looking at that guy makes me want to read your book . . . and then reading your excerpt . . . now I really need to read it :-)

    I agree with everyone thus far. All those qualities are wonderful in a hero. In the book I am reading now, the hero exudes sexual confidence. Not in a cocky way, just in the basic fact that he knows what the heroine likes and he delivers!

  14. Buffie--Who can resist a man who delivers the promises in his smile?

  15. Hi Annette,
    The book sounds wonderful ^^. Congrats on the release!

    It's easy for me to think of the last hero i read since i just finished a book last night. That book was "A Lady's Guide to Improper Behavior" by Suzanne Enoch and the hero was Tolly. The very first thing about Tolly that reeled me in was that he was a tragic/wounded hero. There is something about these types of hero's that make me go "squee". Then when he decided to risk his leg in an operation so he could dance with Theresa, i was his completely. For me Suzanne said nothing really about his sexiness, but it was just there. I found his personality incredibly sexy and then add to the fact he was supposed to have a deep voice with an english accent *fans self*.


  16. Welcome, Annette! I must chime in with everyone else and say how completely HOT that cover is!!!

    I just finished a book where the hero is alpha with a capital 'A', but where the heroine is concerned he is incredibly loving. Oh, and did I mention that he is smoking hot?? *g*

    I also love a hero with a sense of humor. A man that can make you laugh is priceless.

  17. jedisakora--Yum. I love accents. Australian, English, Scottish, Irish...oh, heck, bring 'em all on. ;-)

    Gannon--Alphas can totally steal my breath away. Especially when they're smokin' hot.

  18. Hi Annette, I agree that the hero's honor, moral code of some sort is crucial to his appeal. I like the guy to be smart and confident in his own style, whether alpha, beta, even a sexy nerdy type, and able to show some humor, even a dry wit.

  19. Loved your first book.

    I always go back to the very first romances I read - Julie Garwood's historical romances. Her heroes are definitely my kind of alphas. They are honorable and strong. They are supremely self assured, do what they feel is right, and never question they are right. It is a type of arrogance, but not in an obnoxious way. There is a kindness and gentleness about them, but don't tell them that. When they find the woman for them, nothing will get in the way of their having her.

    Congratulations on the release of BOUND BY DARKNESS. I hope it does really well. I can't wait to read it.

    librarypat AT comcast DOT net

  20. PamP--I forgot about the sexy nerd. Yup, love them, too.

    librarypat--Glad you enjoyed Drawn into Darkness! Like you, I find obnoxious heroes unbearable. And cruel heroes just aren't heroic. I know there's sometimes a fine line to walk with an alpha hero, but if I don't admire him, I put the book down.

  21. Annette, what makes a hero for me is his willingness to put aside his own interests for the greater good--something bigger than himself. Or for others, like the heroine or someone in need. He can't be a martyr about it, of course, but I guess what I'm thinking about is a mix of honor, which you mentioned, and compassion, a sense that of course he'll do this particular thing because it's right that he should.

  22. Hi Annette! You are a new author I just discovered thanks to your recent promotion.

    Hehe, what a fun interview! You made me chucklée several time, I'm curious to see whether the same humour that you dispalyed in the interview is present in your novels :-)

    Oh yeah, a great aftershave and cologne are such powerful aphrodisiacs, I find a great scent quasi irresistible on a guy! ;-)

    Congrats on your release Annette and also on winning the RWA Golden Heart contest in Best Paranormal Romance!!

    stella.exlibris (at) gmail (dot) com