Real Life Heroes by Lee Brazil
Pick up a romance novel. Any one. What's that hero look like? Bet you he's tall, handsome, either strikingly blond or broodingly dark. His eyes are imbued with magical qualities, his lips divine. Odds are he's disgustingly rich, sought after by women (or men) everywhere.
His character is noble, intelligent, and arrogant possibly, but always deservedly so. He's the top in his career, the bravest, the strongest, the cleverest man around.
He's hogwash. He's no hero. He's a myth, a fantasy, a veritable cartoon of a real man.
I like the trend toward real heroes in romance. You see firemen, and policemen, and even shop keepers as heroes these days. Of course, they're still perfect. They might be geeks, but by God they are handsome geeks! They might be forty-five years old, but gosh darn it, they've got all their own hair!
Women in romance have become real. They are buxom, glasses wearing kick-ass ladies who tote guns and wear martial arts garb. They are real.
Where are the real men?
The heroes who need glasses, whose hair is thinning prematurely, whose muscles aren't well defined, who stutter, or sweat, or sell insurance for a living?
When I go down to my local fire station the men there aren't model perfect beauties. They're handsome men, in their character and their appearance. Some have gap teeth, some have beards, some have more gray than color in their hair. They are thin and gangly, lanky muscled men who can pass that hose quickly and wriggle in and out of tight spaces.
There are portly gentlemen there, with bald pates and thick mustaches. They coax kittens out of trees and comfort elderly women. Their smiles might be crooked but they are sincere, and when one of them raises a hand in greeting, I know he's genuinely happy to see me.
The police men at the local station, they talk to kids every day, they issue warning when tickets might have been called for, they counsel families, and they are occasionally called upon to fight crime. Not often, it's that kind of place. They do a lot of paper work, and they keep the cars clean. None of them are perfect specimens of masculinity either. They're all nice looking fellows, some who could use a few rounds of exercise, some who could probably do with a personal shopper.
Why aren't they in your book?
Why not the farmer with his sun burnt neck and wind chapped cheeks? In his John Deere cap and his Carhartt jacket? Or the squinty eyed pharmacist who works behind the counter and fills your prescription? He explains the difference between aspirin and ibuprofen day after day with a tolerant grin.
We've accepted flawed heroes, if the flaw is in their personality, like...impatience, arrogance, etc. But can we accept as our hero a man who isn't handsome?
Is it that to be loved you must be handsome?
If we love someone,
It doesn't matter what they look like.
You agree that is true, yes?
Is it too difficult to take a beast and make him beautiful in the eyes of his lover?
My imperfect heroes, Val and Adrian,
are delighted to make your acquaintance.
Valentine Michaels has just taken a vow of celibacy. Adrian Grey intends to take full advantage of that vow to re-create his relationship with Val.
Val is at a crossroads in his life. A college dropout, he's gone as far as he can in his career as a cosmetologist, owning his own style salon. He no longer finds satisfaction in it, though he's put years into proving to his bigoted parents that a college degree and the veneer of straightness aren't the only roads to success. They'd turned their backs on him, and he proved he didn't need them to make it.
His love life is no better than his working life. His relationships always start with a bang and fizzle into boredom, or worse, anger.
Adrian has his own agenda for helping Val: he's been in love with Val since they were freshmen. The intervening years of listening to Val's gossip about his lovers and relationships have taught Adrian just what it was he did wrong all those years ago, and he thinks this time around he now knows exactly how to get—and keep—his man.