The Ideal Hero? MFRWauthor

For week 19, the Marketing for Romance Writers blog tour prompt is:

The Ideal Romance Hero

Well, I’m a guy, a straight guy, so by all rights I should excuse myself from this one.

Nah. Since when has being unqualified ever kept me from having an opinion?  So here are two opinions, one facetious, one serious.

1. Facetious Answer


You’ve all seen those hunky heroes on the covers of romance novels. Washboard abs. Handsome as hell. Allergic to wearing shirts.

That is not me — and yet, I’m a real live Harlequin hero. You see, I inspired the hero in a romance novel. Truth, I swear.

Twenty years ago, I inadvertently gave Vicki Lewis Thompson, who’s now published 100+ romances, the idea to write Mr. Valentine, about a guy who writes a romance. Vicki and I were critique group partners at the time, and the book went on to become a Rita Award finalist. Read how it happened..

Not even a great writer like Vicki could turn someone like me into a he-man, so her hero is a nerd … one of the first of her many nerdy heroes.  That said, I do look a tiny bit like the guy on the original cover. Okay, looked, past tense.

Except that I wear shirts.

2 Serious Answer

A decent man who is NOT a sociopath.

I’ve read way too  many books in which the author wants her hero to be an ALPHA — but goes too far and turns the guy into unfeeling narcissist or sociopath, incapable of empathy or caring about anyone or anything. Of course the love of the heroine magically turns him into husband/relationship material.

Sorry, folks. Not even ten years of therapy will change a man with such a personality disorder into a a candidate for a happily ever after. Ain’t gonna happen.

Beyond mere unbelievability, if we as writers project rose-scented myths about hyper-alphas, it’s possible we may be encouraging unsuspecting women to enter abusive relationships. How to spot sociopaths and narcissists.

Mr Valentine, by Vicki
Click here to enter your link and/or check out the other great romance writers taking part in this blog hop.



  1. Terrific amusing blog and not true. So go on your merry way thinking women don’t have the power, at least a little, to change the shmo into a swell guy.

    Wishing you and your wife a joyous Happy Mother’s Day

    1. We’ll have to agree to disagree, Charmaine! I’m not talking about normal men, whom I agree can be influenced by a good woman, but about highly functioning nut cases who unfortunately form disproportionately large segments of the political and monetary elite. See The Sociopath Next Door.

  2. I always love your posts, Ed. And I agree that if the man is, at his core, a sociopath, a woman should run! But if he’s just putting on a front because of past wounds, that’s a good setup for a romance story.

    1. Yep! That’s the ‘fine line’ I was talking about.

  3. hahaha love both your answers. My ‘hero’ in Fiendish was that sociopath alpha but he was that way by design. I wasn’t trying to have him do a complete 180 by the end of the book, because as you said just not something that happens.

    Allergic to wearing shirts! Love it.

    1. Was your hero truly a psychopath, though, or merely close to the line? As Alina said above, someone who’s close to the line can make a super great hero.

  4. That was pretty cool about the old story you influenced! Thanks for sharing, and especially about the sociopath logic. I continue to rail against it in blog posts but no one seems to be listening 😉

    1. I’m listening, Raine!

  5. That’s really cool you inspired someone, that’s a massive compliment from the writer. I agree totally with the Alpha comment, I don’t see anything appealing about an overboard asshole! Balance is the key with the male lead. I also really respect that you touched on the abusive relationships part. If women are reading stories where men are overboard, it can be hard to spot the signs of an abuser. I guess as writers, we have a lot of responsibility on the influence we give when it comes to relationships and love within our writing. Really good take on this writing prompt.

    1. One book here or there may not make a difference, but if society’s unrelenting message is that a certain type of man, or a certain body image, is the ideal, then it becomes a problem.

  6. Cathy Brockman · · Reply

    Great Post Ed! That’s cool you influenced a story. I agree about the sociopath things you said.

    1. I must admit that I really enjoy “Mr. Valentine” even though the hero isn’t that much like me.

  7. You’re so right about the narcissists and sociopaths, Ed! And, it’s awesome that you were an inspiration for a romance hero (shirtless or not). You’re a family man who obviously loves his wife, which makes you the best kind of “alpha male”, in my opinion.

    1. Why thank you, Robin. BTW, I’m wearing a shirt as I type this.

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