Sep 23, 2013

Posted by in Question | 8 Comments

Question – Do Romance Heroes Always Have To Be SO Broken?

Question Visual Again

Am I the only one noticing this latest trend?  Before, romance heroes often grew up on the streets or were in the foster care system or sold as a sex slave or lost a parent when they were young and were raised by a sibling etc…  But now, not only do they deal with those sad issues, but they were also severely and often beaten, responsible for someone’s death, were wrongly put in jail for a violent rape or have parents who are so selfish and SO should not have had children that the now-men do ridiculous things just to please their unpleasable parents.

What?!  Whoa…

I don’t mind a little drama in my hero’s life.  Afterall, it adds dimension to his character and shows how loyal/resilient/cunning/full of heart the hero is.  But there IS a limit to what I think the hero needs to go through to get that message across.  I like damaged, but they also have to be deserving of the heroine and my affection.  Zsadist, Acheron, heck even Curran all have had a bad childhood but not to the point where I want to roll my eyes.  And unfortunately that is what happens sometimes.  Instead of feeling for the character, I find myself thinking “oh please…”

Many of the newest batch of mostly contemporary authors who have come to light since Fifty Shades exploded seem to think you need to make your hero extra broken to make him interesting.  I hope and believe that the reason they do that is that they are trying to be original.  They are trying to not do the ‘same old same old’ that we’ve seen in books previously.  But instead of taking one ‘damage’ for the hero, they take MANY and mash them all together!  So instead of getting an original feeling readers are getting a super dose of ‘been there done that’.  Also, I believe it also takes away from the believability of the characters.  How many men who grew up so horribly end up being multi-billionaires?  And how many real women out there would be willing to go out with someone so off?

Is it so impossible to read and fall in love with a man who grew up in a happy environment?

I don’t understand why so many heroes of late are riddled with so much baggage.  There really is such a thing as too much and more and more writers are reaching that limit for me.

What about you?  Do you dig damaged heroes?  Or do you have a limit too?  Do romance heroes always have to be SO broken?


  1. Yes, I think this, as well as the every guy in a romance having to be a billionaire, is over done. There are ordinary guys who do well enough and deserve to be loved, too!

  2. What bothers me is that often this oh-so-tragic past is the only thing that makes and drives the hero. Take out the past and the character is nothing.
    When a dark past is an aspect of the character and adds elements to understand his personality, I’m totally on with it. It only becomes problematic when the author thinks it’s enough to make a character.

    That was a great question Julie! Glad to see I’m not the only one annoyed by that. 🙂

  3. Northwoman – I had been thinking about this topic for a while but it was our conversation last week that prompted me to ask it as a Question on the blog 🙂

    Desme – OMG YOU ARE BRILLIANT! I couldn’t quite put my finger on why the tragic past bothered me and didn’t work while other times it didn’t but you said it perfectly! The new batch of heroes, that is all there is to them! That’s why they don’t work! Thank you 🙂

  4. Thank you Julie! 🙂 I’m always happy to help!!

  5. Well it does make them interesting but not ALL has to be broken.

  6. Actually, I think it’s a functional trope. The hidden pain aspect of many romantic heroes seems to be a device that makes these otherwise unattainable men accessible to less than perfect heroines (and us, their alter-ego readers). Isn’t there a transference that happens when we read about these guys—we identify with the female leads, but we want to believe that the heroes will overlook our shortcomings because we (in the heroines’ names) understand/forgive/restore whatever was broken about them before?

    The alternative is out there, too. Where the heroines are themselves perfect, so we readers get to slide into their flawless skins for the duration of the plot. But the wounded hero offers us a fantasy wherein we can be more like ourselves.

    It goes without saying that the wounded heroine, who thinks herself unworthy of the perfect hero, is also somewhat shopworn.

    Needless to say, anything gets old when it’s repeated too often. Maybe we can hope that by calling attention to it, you’ll help launch some fresh approaches.

  7. I really dislike those tortured heroes, which is one reason why I stopped reading Sherrilyn Kenyon. The one was tortured even more than the other, and it all felt the same.
    Of course he can have a bad childhood, take care of his siblings, whatever, but not too much please.

  8. No, they don’t always have to be broken. There’s plenty of real life romance out there now, that’s interesting and with more realistic men involved. Fifty Shades started this new trend and it doesn’t work for me.

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