At a critique group meeting last night one of the guys questioned the bit where my werewolf hero gets a little fangy at the scent of his (potential future) mate. This got me thinking about romance heroes in general. We don't always want the same things in our fiction that we want in real life, do we? Pirates, for instance, are popular in fiction. In reality? They probably weren't exactly nice guys. They'd be away from home most of the time. And honestly how often did they bathe? Ick. Same goes for cowboys. They might be perfect gentlemen, but notice how in fiction none of them ever chew tobacco or smell like horse poo? And then there's the idea of the "big bad alpha hero." In real life, would you want to live with someone who had to be right every single time? Who made every decision? I don't think so.
And you know what? I think that's all right. Even the most realistic of contemporary romances is, in a sense, a fantasy. Throwing in werewolves and vampires and more Regency noblemen than would actually fit in London only makes it a little more obvious. All fiction is essentially fantasy, in that some hardworking author sat down and made it up. And she made it up to entertain readers, by taking them away from their own problems for a few hours. That's why I write, anyway.
So give me nice alpha heroes and non-smelly pirates. It's all right by me. Yes, a touch of reality can be funny or poignant, so add them in when it works, but don't try too hard. It's okay to enjoy the fantasy.
What do you think? Is there a romance hero you love? Can't stand? Something you'd like to see more of, or less? I'd love to know what you think.