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Tuesday, April 14, 2015
A Different Kind of Hero - Guest Post
By: Jennifer Carole Lewis (author)
I have been reading romance novels since I was a teenager. I quickly learned to find the hidden troves at my friends’ houses and over and over I fell in love with the dark, brooding romantic heroes. I imagined countless scenarios of being swept away by some lovely lethal man. A guy who knew what to do if being attacked by terrorists and could single-handedly scale castle walls, that was my kind of guy. If he could also have a tortured soul where he constantly strove to overcome his perceived sins, even better.
Between comic books, action movies and romance novels, I had my fill of dark heroes to pick from. But then there began to be a shift. More and more kick-ass women began appearing as the heroes, not needing any man to show them how to handle a roundhouse kick or firearm. I shifted from wanting to date the heroes to wanting to be the heroes. Buffy, Xena, Karen McCoy from The Real McCoy, Huntress from the Batman universe (and I realize I am revealing more than I want about how old I am), all of them were strong, capable women with quick wits and faster feet.
But there was something a little unsatisfying in my new-found revelry. I have always been a romantic at heart and the romantic entanglements of my favorite heroines bothered me. Either they stayed solo (any guy who loved them died before the closing credits) or they were paired with alpha males who regulated them to the sidelines in an effort to keep them safe. If they did find a supportive male, the relationship was often doomed to fail. Sometimes it was even explicitly stated that their boyfriends couldn’t handle being less than them in a relationship.
It got me thinking. Could there be a romantic hero who was strong and capable but able to accept a woman who might be stronger and more competent than him? Otherwise, weren’t these stories still reinforcing the old worn-out advice that women have to be less in order to get a man?
I got at least part of my wish with the television series, Castle. The hero, Richard Castle, is a writer who brings his ability to make wild leaps of faith and unseen connections to help Kate Beckett, an NYPD detective. Beckett is stronger than Castle in almost every way. She’s better with a gun and she doesn’t get tripped up dealing with dangerous suspects. Part of Beckett’s appeal to Castle is that she strong. I loved it.
But I still wasn’t completely satisfied. Finally, I created my own hero, Michael, a child therapist with martial arts training, an enthusiasm for comic books and the ability to pick up emotions and information through touching the people and objects around him. He’s no weakling or comedy sidekick, but his strength is in his heart and faith. He sees all the darkness in the world, all the terrible secrets we hide from each other, but still manages to be idealistic and optimistic. He’s the perfect counterpart (if I dare say so myself) for my dark, brooding heroine, Dani, who tortures herself for her past mistakes.
One of the things I love about romance novels is how they are continually evolving. Forty years ago, it would have been unthinkable to have a heroine who wasn’t a virgin, let alone one in her forties and fifties. The heroes used to be criminally violent and now they range from sweet boys next door to the powerful alpha males. The stories they tell plumb every aspect of human existence. They’ve branched into fantasy and science fiction sub-genres (and many others, but those were the ones I got particularly excited about). They offer every level of sensuality, from sweet to scorching. I’m proud to have added my own variation to the classic tale of boy-meets-girl.
Jennifer Carole Lewis is also the author of Revelations. Check out the first chapter of her novel here.
About the Author:
Jennifer Carole Lewis is a full-time mom, a full-time administrator and a full-time writer, which means she is very much interested in speaking to anyone who comes up with any form of functional time-travel devices or practical cloning methods. Meanwhile, she spends her most of her time alternating between organizing and typing.
She is a devoted comic book geek and Marvel movie enthusiast. She spends far too much of her precious free time watching TV, especially police procedural dramas. Her enthusiasm outstrips her talent in karaoke, cross-stitch and jigsaw puzzles. She is a voracious reader of a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction and always enjoys seeking out new suggestions.