Now that I'm approaching my middle years...okay, now that I'm firmly ensconced in the tail end of my middle years, I look back and realize we women of a certain age share an interesting little quirk: Many of us spent years finding a husband, having children, and getting a house. And now that we have all that, all we want to do is flee from all of them.
I'm not talking about walking out, of course not. But be honest here ladies. Don't we all sort of fantasize about a weekend where no one creates dirty laundry, no one leaves empty soda cans and water bottles on the counter and no one leaves dirty dishes all over the house? That can't possibly be just me!
And yes, we love our husbands. We adore our husbands. And there are times we want our husbands to just go fishing/hunting/hiking/out of the country for a short period of time because, and I'm not alone here, we just want to sleep in the bed by ourselves.
Studies have shown that romance novels continue to sell at a ridiculous pace compared to every other kind of novel or book. Some might think it's a conflict that the women who want their families to just LEAVE THEM ALONE for a couple days are the same people who buy and devour romance novels where the enjoy of the story is always a happily ever after.
I have zero issue accepting this as fact because I love to escape into a book where the hero saves the day and love conquers all. And I'd like to read that book and have that escape alone, in my perfectly clean house. I want to watch a romantic comedy and not be teased when I cry at the end. I want to watch a huge war epic like Pearl Harbor or Titanic and get swept up in the love story without someone yelling, "OH COME ON! HE'S SHOOTING AT THE GUY WHILE THE SHIP IS SINKING?" (Yeah, I'm talking to you, Bob and Brian at 1029TheHog. Love your morning show, but I also love those movies.)
But mostly, and I know most of my female readers are going to agree with me on this one, don't we want to read a story where the hero is a work in progress and the woman gets to fix him? Isn't THAT why we really watch romantic comedies and read romance novels? We want some super hot wreck of a guy to realize that the only way he's ever going to be human is if he falls in love with some Ordinary Girl? (Love it when I can use a Rick Springfield song title.)
It's no surprise, then, that the heroes in my four romance novels are all works in progress. Take Jesse, the retired rock star, in Dream In Color. He's a hot mess when it comes to his reputation with women, and even with his music career. And then he meets Ramona, a full figured girl from Wisconsin.
Or Bryan, from Lies in Chance. Bryan is definitely messed up, thanks to his ex wife, but he might be my most heroic hero. He's a lost soul, but he covers pretty well, although he's given up on himself and any self worth he may have. Enter the very unlikely heiress-murderess-nanny Shara. There's a girl who needs a hero, and she knows, on a certain level, that it's going to have to be Bryan, no matter how hard he fights the idea.
Then there's Quinn, from Fresh Ice.. Quinn is possibly the most messed up of my heroes. I was not kind to Quinn when I wrote this former NHL bad boy. He's definitely a project any women would want to try and fix, but that's one of his problems" Quinn is way too attractive for his own good. He's clearly damned, especially in his own mind, although he does his darndest to redeem himself in a thousand ways, no of it holds any meaning for him, until he meets figure skater turned waitress, Izzy. I had a hard time writing Izzy because I needed someone whose soul was clear enough to save Quinn, but who didn't come off as some sort of weird perfect angel. I needed Helen Hunt from "As Good as it Gets."
Finally, there's Collier from A Hero's Spark,, and he's interesting for a romance reader for a couple reasons. First of all, he's blond. He's my only blond. And fun fact, Collier wasn't broken when I started writing him, unlike Jesse, Bryan, and Quinn. When you first meet
Collier, in Fresh Ice, he's got a good life. He's a musician, he's doing well, he's happy. Oh, but he's in love with someone destined to be forever bonded to someone else. BAM! Poor Collier...I broke him. I broke him on purpose because maybe I was in a bad mood. We writers get that way sometimes. We do horrible things to our characters just because we can. I broke Collier so bad people told me I HAD to give him a book. So I did. But first I broke him a bit more, made him more of a mess. Then I introduced him to Mira, who was a hot mess all her own. (I was pretty proud of myself with this book. I was an equal opportunity mess maker!)
As writers, we do glean a certain perverted pleasure out of breaking our heroes and having the heroines build them back up. As women, we read that sort of story because in our whole lives we always had a thing for the bad boys we just KNEW we could fix. And as readers, well, hey, who doesn't want to just escape with someone tall, dark, handsome, and wildly messed up? Even if it is for an afternoon while the husband and kids are out of the house?