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, in a way, I’m a real live Harlequin hero. For I inspired the hero in a romance novel. Truth, I swear.
It happened a number of years ago when I was in a writer’s group with Vicki Lewis Thompson, who has written gobs of romance novels — over a hundred. Another member of the group and I were kidding around about writing contests and about me being a male romance writer, when all of a sudden Vicki went still and her expression became very intent. A light bulb appeared over her head. (Figuratively, of course.) Inspiration had sprouted in her fertile imagination.
The resulting Harlequin Temptation, Mr. Valentine, stars Jack Killigan, who submits a steamy romance to a contest–but, figuring a man would be at a disadvantage, submits it under the name of his friend, Krysta. He wins the contest, he and Krysta are thrown together on a trip to the New York publisher. After a string of mishaps, the truth comes out and he is crowned ‘Mr. Valentine.’ Oh, and he gets Krysta, too.
It’s a great book, in my (ahem) humble opinion. Vicki thought so too, as you can see at the end of this article. I love the book’s tagline: He’s the perfect lover–on paper.
And the hero is to die for. As one Amazon reviewer described me — uh, I mean Jack:
The real gem I think for this story is just with knowing that Jack ISN’T your typical romance hero who is a “He-Man” or that he’s incredibly rich and successful, as so many romance hero are. He’s just not that “dashing prince” or the “rough cowboy” or the “cut Fabio-esque historical man ” but that he’s “that guy” you know from down the street who seems like a pretty nice guy, and once he had a shave and a haircut, well, he cleaned up pretty doggone good!
That sounds sorta like me, all right. Not even a great writer like Vicki could portray me as a he-man, though I do look a tiny bit like the guy on the cover. Okay, looked, past tense. Except I wear shirts.