Monday, August 27, 2012


Whether you go for a contemporary or historical, when you pick up a romance, what do you expect from the hero? Let’s talk about the two main components of a hero, shall we?

First, let’s get his appearance out of the way. Do you require a thick head of hair and perfect physique before a man can be a hero in your eyes?  Does he have to be a certain height, have a particular color of eyes, and wear his hair a certain way? I have to admit that my husband Hero is also my hero in books I write.

If he’s bald, are all bets off? I think some bald men are appealing, but I once knew a woman who wouldn't marry this really nice guy because he was going bald. She later married a handsome man who beat her. What if he’s a geek who wears glasses and isn’t that fit?

What each of us means by “perfect” hero physically probably differs from one reader to the next. Not that I’m turned off by a handsome man, mind you, but I don’t care as much about his physical aspects as about his character. And handsome is in the eye of the beholder. Hero is handsome from my point of view. Another woman might talk about how nice she thinks HER husband is and I might think, "What?"

I’m reminded about once when my youngest daughter and I were headed into a department store. This handsome young man in jeans, western shirt, boots, and Stetson held the door open for us. When we thanked him, he smiled politely (as opposed to leering), gave a slight bow, and said in the most adorable Southern drawl, “It was my pleasure.” What a great hero he would have made for a romance novel—if the rest of his actions matched his first impression.

As a rule, I find cowboys, that is western men, to be polite to women. Oh, they might infuriate women by calling then "little lady" with a pat on the head, but they are usually protective of women. At least, those I know are, and I live in a cowboy area of North Central Texas. Not to say there aren't abusive men in the Southwest, because they're everywhere. But I think we have fewer who are cowboys-types.

Here are some qualities that are necessary for a hero, at least IMO. I think you'll find them in all our cowboy heroes. The qualities might not exist at the first of the book, but they’d better be there by the end or I want my money back.

[1] He has to be trustworthy. In our part of the country, you hear “His word is his bond.” That means if he says it, he’ll do it and you don’t need a contract to hold him to his word. No man with that reputation would risk losing it.

[2]  Loyalty. If he’s you’re friend, you don’t have to worry about him stabbing you in the back, figuratively or literally. He will defend you to others and, as the saying goes, have your back. Another saying from the Southwest along this line is “ride for the brand,” and it doesn’t just mean cowboys who work on a ranch.  If he takes a man’s money for a job, he won’t cheat his employer.

[3] Not afraid of commitment. Not just in romance, but I’m reminded of a man I once worked with who rented his apartment, rented his office, leased a car, and had the same girlfriend for five years, yet wondered why no one took him seriously as an adult. His lifestyle was still grad student. Talk about arrested development.

[4] Takes a stand. This may be a part of commitment, but I list it separately. It means he won’t be a “yes” man to anyone. He is not afraid to state his opinion about a course of action, and not afraid to follow up on that opinion.

Dallas McClintock, the hero of THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE, fulfills each of the qualities listed above. I adore Dallas. He's sort of a mix of alpha and beta hero. He's the kind of man I would like to marry. Actually, he is like the man I married, except my husband Hero is not a rancher and hates riding horses. ☺ Hero would rather tinker with electronics or grow tomatoes and peppers.

Dallas McClintock, a hero
courtesy iStock Photos

I’m sure you can think of more qualities you look for in your heroes. Tell us what they are, and which you think are most important. In the meantime, here's a blurb of THE TEXAN'S IRISH BRIDE, along with the new cover. The rights for this book reverted to me, so my Hero made the new cover for me. This story is set in the Central Texas Hill Country near Bandera. I love Texas history and Irish history, and this book combines them. Mostly, it’s about people who struggle for acceptance and for a home. There’s skullduggery in it, of course. I love writing villains readers can hate. The photo of Dallas is on the back cover along with this blurb:

Cenora Rose O’Neill knows her father somehow arranged the trap for Dallas, but she agrees to wed the handsome stranger. She’d do anything to protect her family, and she wants to save herself from the bully Tom Williams. A fine settled man like Dallas will rid himself of her soon enough, but at least she and her family will be safely away from Tom Williams.  

Texas rancher Dallas McClintock has no plans to wed for several years. Right now, he’s trying to establish himself as a successful horse breeder. Severely wounded rescuing Cenora from kidnappers, Dallas is taken to her family’s wagon to be tended.  He is trapped into marrying Cenora, but he is not a man who goes back on his word. His wife has a silly superstition for everything, but passion-filled nights with her make up for everything—even when her wild, eccentric family drives crazy.

The following excerpt is from the wedding feast after Dallas's forced wedding with Cenora. He is still too injured to stand without assistance, and watches the celebration while sitting on the ground propped against a wagon wheel.

Dallas raised his gaze where Aoife directed. 
Four girls danced, but only one drew his attention. Shoulders straight and feet flying, Cenora met his glance, then broke away from the other dancers to perform only a few yards from him. 
Catcalls sounded nearby. She ignored them but gave a toss of her head. Her hair had come unbound, and her act sent her fiery hair awhirl. Light from the blazing campfire cast an aura-like radiance around her. Lantern glow overhead reflected her eyes sparked with merriment, challenge, and something mysterious he couldn’t name. 
No longer the delicate china doll, her wild beauty called to him, mesmerized him. He visualized her brilliant tresses spread across a pillow, her milky skin bared only for him. His body responded, and savage desire shot through him. Surprised at the depth of his reaction, he wondered if her performance in bed would parallel the unbridled nature of her dance.
Good Lord, could this glorious woman truly be his wife? And if so, heaven help him, what on earth was he to do with her?
Warning: Even thought the couple are married, THE TEXAN'S IRISH BRIDE is a sensual book. Here are the buy links for print and e-book download:

Caroline Clemmons writes romance, mystery, and adventure. Check her website at and her personal blog at  Sign up at either for her newsletter to receive new releases, giveaways, and fun contests.


mesadallas said...

My husband of 32 years is also my hero. He was born on a 300 acre ranch in Utah, is an outstanding horseman and believe it or not his name is Dallas.

Jacquie Rogers said...

Mr R is short and bald, and also prefers electronics to horses, but is hero material nevertheless. Fiction is fantasy, though, so my heroes all pretty much look like Clint Walker.

On a similar note, I'm currently reading Hondo by Louis L'Amour and the heroine never describes the hero physically. She notices the way he moves, his general demeanor, and his attractiveness through the sound of his voice and masculine smell. But I'm through the first third of the book and not once has she mentioned his broad shoulders, etc. Very interesting. And yet, I've never needed to know what Hondo looks like because he's quite clear in my own mind's eye.

Meg said...

My guy may be tall, dark and handsome (when we first met, since the "dark" has gone silver now!) but he's a geek. I think these heroes we put in our books have *some* qualities of our loved ones, though. And yes, commitment is important. And loyalty.

What a gorgeous cover, Caroline!