Or, I Invariably Choose Brains
One of the first threads I read over at the HeroesandHeartbreakers blog was one on favorite heroes. It’s a topic that comes up at lot in romance circles, because, duh, these men are our collective fantasies. But while I enjoyed reading the picks of the commenters (not to mention the enlightenment to me as an author!), I noticed that the qualities being lauded tended to be different than those I gravitate toward…things like loyalty, devotion, strength directed for her and not against her, and the more sexual side of things. These are all wonderful qualities, of course, but they are not the primary requirements for me. All my favorite heroes tend to have intelligence as their main source of identity, or one of them. Often they are also lonely and isolated–outlier intelligence tends to do that–and they also tend to direct their strength at maintaining that isolation because it is more comfortable for them.
So let’s take a look at my five favorite romance heroes.
Lucien Knight from Lord of Fire by Gaelen Foley unequivocally tops my list. He’s just…got everything. He’s sensitive and had a lonely childhood within his family, he was an army officer who turned spy to try and end the war sooner because he saw the stupid excess of the conflict, he has a tortured soul and a bit of an inferiority complex, he’s incredibly intelligent, he desperately needs somone to love and to love him. Something Foley said that always struck me was how annoying it was to be writing a hero smarter than she was. Aren’t smart heroes the best? (I think so!)
Lucien de Vaux from An Unwilling Bride by Jo Beverley is another favorite. He is handsome, athletic, socially adept, and extremely well-educated. Except he’s also lonely because he doesn’t have anyone he can connect with on all levels, especially the intellectual. One of the strongest connections he forms with the heroine is a mutual love of scholarship, to the point where they bore their friends debating the finer points of philosophy at the dinner table. He also has the unhypocritical attitude that if a woman wants to be treated like an equal intellectually, she also must accept it socially (i.e., not be shocked at curse words and crassness). It’s a bit contentious for the heroine but a point of view I happen to agree with.
Lucien de Malheur, AKA The Scorpion, from Reckless by Anne Stuart. The de Rohan series is one of my favorite series going right now, and he’s my favorite of the heroes from it–also, ironically, the only hero who is not a Rohan–so this one has yet to stand the same test of time as the first two, but I think he will. This Lucien is truly walking the line between good and evil that Lucien Knight only thinks he is. He is intelligent, arrogant, and calculating, but also educated, unconventional, and so hungry for a real friend that he can’t even recognize it.
Hm. Apparently I’m like that Moldy Peaches song from Juno, “I’ve never met a Toby that I didn’t like”–except for me it’s Lucien, not Toby. Therefore, Bonus List Mention: Luscious Lucius Malfoy as played in the Harry Potter movies!. He’s awful in the books, but when you see him on screen you kind of understand how he got away with being who he is, because, damn.
Luc(ifer) St Aubyn in A Dangerous Beauty by Sophia Nash is simply wonderful. He’s sarcastic and witty and in the process of writing a fictional version of Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary, and it’s hilarious. He is a man who doesn’t want to self-identify as hyper-intelligent but cannot help it, because he is.
Tristan, Duke of Castleford in Madeline Hunter’s Rarest Blooms series (and the hero of Dangerous in Diamond) is probably the most unique of these heroes because he alone is not embittered or angry about anything; the biggest problem in his life is ennui. He’s extremely intelligent and extremely dedicated to his life of self-indulgent debauchery. He’s sober only on Tuesdays and manages to accomplish a week’s worth of ducal empire decision-making in that one day, but he also cannot help himself but to solve all his friend’s mysteries for them because he’s so often bored by the world that anything truly curious obsesses him. I am not sure I’d put him on this list without his appearances in the first three books of the series, but the aggregate of his character is irresistible.
So there it is, the heroes I have found most memorable and most appealing out of my romance reading. Did I pick up one of yours? Do you have a hero who fits my niche that I didn’t mention? Did I just get it all wrong? You tell me!