Personally, in the books I read, I can’t stand a bad boy. I like the Darcys, the Knightleys and the Colonel Brandons. I like to believe that the guy who’ve I’ve invested 200+ pages in will do the right thing, save the day and be more interested in his inner character than which girl he’s taking home on a Friday night.
Apparently, I’m not alone in my preferences. Over on Goodreads, in a group called Clean Romance, I met and discussed the idea of chivalrous heroes with four new friends.
These four ladies were so generous with their time and thoughtful with their answers. I’ve divided this interview into two parts. Part Two will be posted tomorrow. Hope you enjoy it.
First, let’s meet my new friends:
D.D. Chant lives in Devon, England, with her family and an assortment of unconventional pets. She is currently in the middle of writing her 5th novel. You can get to know her better on her blog: www.ddchant.blogspot.co.uk her webpage:www.buymybook.biz or her facebook page: www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10000…
Beth Carpenter is the pen name of an avid reader and writer with a book-cluttered home and a packed Kindle. She reads and writes mysteries as well as romances. Her books are available here: Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/…
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/choic…
Soph is a 17-year old student from good old England! She is an avid Janeite, hopeless romantic and not a stereotypical ‘teenager’! You never see her without a book – generally a regency romance – and she is now waiting for my own happy ending! She blogs at http://laughingwithlizzie.blogspot.com
And Zoe, who enjoys pressing the stop button on the bus, she owns a horse named Miss Muffet and she has never been kissed. She’s into Krav Maga (Israeli self defense) and find Ryan Gosling unattractive. She’s on Goodreadshttp://www.goodreads.com/user/show/14… and she is always looking for lovely new people with similar book tastes.
Now for the Questions:
Katharine: On the group thread much is said about what we like in our heroes: Consideration, bravery, vulnerability, trustworthiness, etc. What is it about these characteristics that appeals to romance readers?
D.D.: When I read a book I don’t want page long descriptions of how the hero or heroine look and I don’t want a catalogue of the hero’s muscles. I want to hear how he treats his friends, the waitress in the coffee shop, or the guy that has just accidentally hit his shiny new car. I want to find out that he’s a nice person. Because falling in love is a scary thing, you have to open yourself up to someone, without reserve and in doing that open yourself up for heartbreak. It’s the people who we love most in the world who have the greatest power to hurt us, so when you hear that the hero is kind, trustworthy and caring, you believe that he is worthy of the trust the heroine is putting in him by becoming emotionally involved.
Beth: A hero should be heroic, which doesn’t mean perfect. Perfect is boring, but a man should be worthy of a woman’s love. He needs to have a true heart, a core of goodness. A romance reader wants true love to win out, and for true love to exist, both characters need the moral fiber to commit themselves, to give of themselves.
Soph: Well, I think that all these characteristics and many others, such as gallantry, compassion, kindness and generosity, are what are expected from our literary heroes. I think that at sometime during a story, the hero needs to be put in a situation to show him to be vulnerable. This makes him all the more relatable and human; a perfect man who has a perfect life with no problems whatsoever is not exactly believable, and these characters I find, quite frankly, annoying! I find a book much more enjoyable to read if the characters are… realistic. Then finally, other characteristics such as trustworthiness and generosity are just bonuses. And all these characteristics added together make the hero a hero, and much preferable to the ‘bad boy’ of the story!
Zoe: Consideration – um, no one wants to be treated like crap. We want little gestures to gush over because what with the feminist views out there (in addition to lazy guys) the sweet details in real-life romance sometimes get lost.
Bravery – is probably the biggest strength you can give to a hero. There’s nobility in bravery – the whole knight in shining armour thing. Heroes who are brave really hit the spot for me because they are willing to make sacrifices .
Vulnerability – women like to care for people – give the hero a scar or two so we can patch it up! Personally, I like to know that the hero can allow himself to be comforted.
Trustworthiness – this encompasses a whole bunch of issues such as fidelity, loyalty and the ability to sit back and let the hero pamper you a little.
Katharine: Can you give some good examples in literature of the chivalrous hero? Why do you like them?
D.D.: I love Freddy in Cotillion by Georgette Heyer. What I love about him is that he’s not the usual hero: tall, dark, suave, Andonis’ better looking brother… you get the picture. Freddy isn’t like that, he’s averagely tall, averagely handsome… you can see where this is going right? He’s nice, cheerful and friendly. Basically he’s everyone’s friend but nobodies crush.
However Freddy is willing to do anything to see that his girl is happy, he’ll take a beating, hand her over to the man of her choice and smile at her wedding if that’s what she wants, and when she gets in to trouble he’ll move heaven and earth to save her.
Freddy is just plain awesome!
Beth: Oddly, in one of my favorites, true love doesn’t win. In “Casablanca,” our flawed hero lets her go, knowing that it is the right thing to do, even though it is breaking his heart. In a YA romance called “Smile for Me,” the hero truly likes and respects the heroine, and I love that.
Soph: Narrowing it down, the two I most admire would have to be Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice and Colonel Brandon from Sense and Sensibility. I admire both these characters for similar reasons. They are both incredibly loyal; Mr Darcy’s loyalty to his sister in particular and Colonel Brandon’s to his first love and then to the protection of her daughter. And they are both very gentlemanly; Brandon doesn’t push Marianne’s affections when he believes them engaged elsewhere and Darcy’s actions to save the Bennet’s family from ruin. There are many other reasons but I won’t go into them all! Another hero I admire is Lord Walter Percy from Louisa May Alcot’s The Inheritance. For this character in particular is would be his consideration for the heroine’s feelings; he realises she would find a declaration of love disagreeable due to certain circumstances and so, against his feelings and wishes, he doesn’t declare himself.
Zoe: Chase McCree from, well, Chasing McCree duh. He’s a wonderfully masculine character who carries his responsibilites and his dignity without a hint of goody-two-shoes-ness. I liked him because he is so considerate and protective over his girl Briar while encouraging her to be herself. He helps her become a better person but doesn’t stuff his values down her throat. That’s one kind of chivalry. But there’s also the kind that you see in Josh Bennett from The Sea of Tranquility. I love this guy. I mean, the way he helped his girl Nastya heal, the way he never pushed her for anything, the way he was always so patient, the way he never let his own blazing hurt blind him from hers, he always put her first…GAH! He’s the best.
Finally, there’s 16 year old Ryan from Skin Deep. He’s just regular old chivalry. At his age, it’s really admirable. Plus he was willing to go to jail to protect his girlfriend from something getting in trouble with her parents.
That concludes Part One of our discussion on Chivalrous Heroes. Check in tomorrow to read part two!