I've been thinking about this for the past week or so…my next Blaze proposal is taking shape in my head, and I'm busy fleshing out my hero. I suspect he's going to be a professional fighter (of the martial artist / boxer persuasion) and I'm pondering the consequences of this choice. I've written fighters before, largely because they turn me on like all-get-out. It's not a job that pays well, however, so my fighters tend to have day jobs to get by. But for Harlequin…is that enough?
In mainstream romance, readers want their heroes to be providers. Not billionaire tycoons necessarily (though sometimes, yes, and of the Greek variety) but they want to feel confident that the man is willing and prepared to support the heroine once they fall for each other. This is problematic for me, as wealth turns me off. Give me a man with a five o'clock shadow in an undershirt and jeans over a styled specimen any day of the week. In fact, let's explore this visually:
|My thanks to empireonline.com for the pic.|
Well, that was the easiest choice ever. Though admittedly, Hugh Jackman seems to be pretty lousy at shaving, so finding a clean-cut picture of him was a challenge. Oh, how I suffered.
Where was I? Right, conspicuous wealth turns me off. Big slick houses turn me off as well, as do fancy cars and jobs such as "investment banker" and "millionaire entrepreneur". I like my men with tangible, physical jobs. Partly because sweaty, capable men are sexy and dependable. And partly because physical jobs handily explain a hero's standard-issue unreasonably abstastic physique.
For my alter ego and her erotica heroes, this isn't an issue. If the sex is crazy hot, a hero can live in a modest apartment and readers don't seem worried about it. But with romance there's more emphasis on the future and everything the couple is embarking on together, going forward. Whether I like it or not, a low-earning hero can be perceived as weak. No reader wants to worry what might happen if the heroine loses her job or their future child requires an expensive procedure and God forbid the hero can't step up. And if the reader finishes the story still worried about the characters, it's not a happily ever after.
So as much as I'd like to stick my scrappy, martial artist hero in a studio apartment and toss my heroine toward him, the majority of mainstream romance readers aren't going to be satisfied by that. My solution in this story's case is to give the hero money in the form of inherited wealth. He's rich—check. But in this case, the money was inherited from a father my hero resents deeply, money the hero refuses to touch because it represents everything he hates about his relationship with his absentee dad. Yes! He's loaded, yet he can live well below his actual means, relying on whatever he makes from his modest day job salary to preserve his pride. But we all know if the heroine suddenly needed a million-dollar operation, he'd pony up. So I get the working-class scrapper I love, and the reader gets the security of knowing the hero does have the financial means to provide under catastrophic circumstances. I'm very pleased by this brainwave.
Well, that's enough bloggage for now. Back to research! And yes, that means watching videos online of muscly, sweaty men beating each other senseless. God, I love this job.