Down, Boy!

Ruthie Knox recently wrote a great post about what readers expect from romance heroines. Turns out we allow them a pretty narrow range of acceptable motivations.

I spent twenty-four hours feeling irked on behalf of women, before I realized that I’m personal proof that heroes have it just as bad, if not worse.

I’ve been revising my first manuscript, ILLEGALLY YOURS. At the tweaking stage, a lot of what I’ve been doing is making the hero more, well, heroic. Alpha. Or, since there’s little-to-no chance he’ll ever be called alpha, less beta.

Here are five things I wouldn’t let him do–bits of the book I ruthlessly slashed or rewrote–even though these are all reactions, qualities, emotions, or actions I’d embrace in my husband and want to teach my little boy:

1) Feel embarrassed when someone questioned his parenting.

2) Wish the heroine were there to help him make a decision.

3) Worry about how his son would react when he meted out punishment.

4) Be afraid when confronted with a bully in a dark parking lot.

5) Cry when the heroine broke up with him.

Two things I’m still on the fence about letting him do:

1) Accept regular gifts of socks from his obsessive-compulsive mother who can’t stop herself from procuring this staple wardrobe item.

2) Let his son help him orchestrate the romantic proposal that kicks off the HEA.

If he were an alpha hero to begin with, these would be cute details. But when you’re living in sensitive-man-land, it’s a very thin line between entertaining characterization and disturbingly uber-beta mush.

Feet to the fire, would I rather have to live with the constraints given to the romance hero or the romance heroine?

Hmm. I’d make a great villain, wouldn’t I?