This month’s topic for our feature Romance Roundtable is swoon-worthy heroes. We love a good hero to swoon over. Sexy rippling abs, darkly brooding and complicated, or just flirtatious and fun, every woman needs a fiction boyfriend, or five, to lust over. However, some authors that know just how to write a smouldering swoon-worthy hero. Here are a few that raised our pulses. Tell us what you think, would any of these make your list? (Potential spoilers ahead!).
It seems the more books/series I read the more swoon-worthy heroes get added to my growing list of sexy, gorgeous fictional boyfriends. They come from an array of different genres, from urban fantasy and paranormal romance, to gay romance, romantic contemporaries, and historical romance. But as there are so many, I’ll just choose a few to talk about today. So without further ado, let’s get started…
The first sexy hero is unconventional, but he took hold of my heart the first time I ‘met’ him. Terrible from Stacia Kane’s awesome Downside Ghosts series is not your usual leading man. In fact, the way Kane describes Terrible gives us the impression that he’s not the greatest looking guy on the planet, with a broken, crooked nose and heavy brows, but through his actions and dialogue with Chess this guy is seriously sexy, and makes me weak at the knees. It just shows the age old saying, you can’t judge a book by its cover, definitely applies here!
The chemistry between Chess and Terrible is as gut-wrenching and intense as it is sexy. Terrible is passionate, loyal and patient – he puts up with Chess when others probably couldn’t, or wouldn’t. Terrible may not be your traditional square jawed hero, but he has my heart.
I don’t read a lot of young adult fiction now. I did go through a time when I was reading a lot but came to the conclusion that most of it just wasn’t for me. Too much teenage introspection and angst. But there was one series that just blew me away. I loved it from the first book until the last. I’m talking about the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. Not only was it an awesome series with a great heroine, but it also gave me Dimitri Belikov… Powerful, sexy, complex Dimitri *sigh* Let’s just sit with that a moment…..
*Ahem* Ok, so Dimitri is in his twenties and so brought a more mature tone to the series which sat better with me with regards to YA, plus he is utterly gorgeous. He’s Rose’s Guardian and mentor who teaches her to fight. Their relationship is electric and the sexual chemistry runs high. Rose falls for him pretty quickly, and I can’t blame her. Dimitri captured my heart completely.
The next hottie I have to mention is the gorgeous Raphael from Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series. This guy is hot, sexy, intense, fiercely loyal to those he cares about, and best of all, he has wings – yep, he’s an angel, an Archangel in fact, which in the Guild Hunter world means very, very powerful. Raphael was the first angel I read about, and he is the sole reason I fell in love with reading angel paranormal romance. It also helped that his heroine is a feisty woman that can hold her own, even against him, which was one of the reasons he fell in love with her. The sexual tension between these two is sizzling, which made it pretty easy for me to fall head over heels for Raphael. Singh’s prose is lush and descriptive. If you haven’t read this series then you really are missing out, as it’s one of the best.
Switching genres, we have contemporary m/m romance series Cut & Run by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux. This is a recent obsession of mine but I have fallen hook, line and sinker. Both Ty and Zane are gorgeous guys, but I am definitely more Team Ty. There’s something so intense and sexy about him with a dash of vulnerability and slight cheekiness. Plus he’s kickass too being a Recon Marine! There’s one scene where he has to dress up in full uniform *fans self*
Ty can be a handful at times, and he’s had a past that can take him to dark places, but he can do no wrong in my eyes. This series is just so well written, especially the sex scenes, they are soooo H.O.T. The interactions between Ty and Zane are a mixture of funny banter and sexual banter which is a real pleasure to read. Ty is now on my list of favourite characters, as well as one of the most swoon-worthy!
I have two problems with this article a) where to start and b) once I start how on earth am I going to finish?! The thing is, there are just so many awesome heroes out there. Nothing captivates me more than a dark, slightly tortured and ripped (of course) hero, I’ve also found the kilts don’t hurt either 😉
I shall start with one of my favourite genres, urban fantasy. There are five heroes that immediately scream out at me as I’m writing. Firstly, there’s the elegantly ruthless Bones and the fiery Vlad from Frost’s Night Huntress series, then there’s the wild beast that is Curran in Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series, Eric is Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse books has a special place in my heart, helped largely by Akeksandr Skarsgård, and how could I not mention the darkly enigmatic Barrons from Moning’s Fever books? Five super sexy and most definitely swoon-worthy men. I’m not even sure I could choose who would get first place in my bed *hopes my husband isn’t reading this*.
Then moving onto paranormal romance, I have always had a soft spot for tortured God (literally) Acheron in Kenyon’s Dark-hunter world, I could barely put his book down when it came out. I have recently been reading through all of J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series for our event in March and holy moly those brothers are seriously swoon-worthy! My goodness, they are packed full or tortured and sexy men galore. I don’t think I can even pick one for you, maybe John-Matthew, but then there’s Vishous….oh and what about Z?
This piece would not be complete without a man or two in a kilt. Every woman should have one in her life! I think my favourites have to be twin brothers Drustan and Daegus in Kiss of the Highlander and The Dark Highlander by Karen Marie Moning. Deadly, kilted, time-travelling, Druid hunks – yes please!
Now, while I hate to be a cliché, last year there was a domineering man that stole many women’s hearts around the globe, including mine. I am talking of course about the delicious, whip loving, millionaire Christian Grey from E.L. James’ Fifty Shades trilogy. There was just something so very mysterious and, yes I’m going to say it again – dark – about him. He wouldn’t need to say ‘laters baby’ to me!
My final entry is not technically a literary hero, although I could perhaps argue he is as there have since been books about the series written now. It has to go to the rock listening, impala loving, demon hunter that is Dean Winchester aka Jensen Ackles from the awesome TV series Supernatural. I am actually having a bit of a Supernatural fest watching through all of the box sets again, and my oh my with every episode I fall a little bit more for his sardonic one-liners and cheeky grin. If you haven’t watched them yet, you don’t know what you’re missing!
I shall stop here, as I really could go on and on and this might become a hunky hero shopping list! Or you might just think I’m a secret man eater!
So, what is a swoon-worthy hero? For me, it really does depend on the book and genre I am reading. I can go from swooning over the hero of the story, to secretly crushing over the bad boy who you know is A LOT of trouble but you just can’t help but wanting to change them. (Not too much because then they are too goodie, goodie).
So here are some of my swoon-worthy heroes.
First up has to be those tough guys from the Black Dagger Brotherhood by J. R. Ward. Though I was a huge fan of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series and they did introduce me to this genre of books, the brothers quickly overtook that place in my heart. Each character has their own distinct personality, which for me began to wane in the Dark Hunter series. Each story in the brothers books was different and I instantly grew attached to a few of the characters in a couple of books. My three favourites of the original line up has to be V (or Vishous to newbies), Butch and Zsadist.
V and Butch were the original bro-mance in the series and many a fan (me included) hoped that they would ditch their respective mates and run off together. (OK that may be me). Their friendship really does run pretty deep and through-out the series it has developed into something much more than just friendship. This culminates in Lover Unleashed, book 9 in the series. Those who have already read the books, they know what I am talking about.
Zsadist has the most tragic back-ground of the team, having been a blood-slave to a sadistic upper-class female vampire for a number of years. He is the one most deserving of his Happy Ever After, as his personal journey is harrowing to watch, especially when both he and his twin brother Phury fall for the same female.
As for the bad-boys, I know they are no good, but I have a few who I love reading about. First up is Trent from The Hollows Series by Kim Harrison. He is just such a power hungry megalomaniac at times and will manipulate Rachel, the heroine of the books, in order to further his own interests, yet there is just something about him that is irresistible.
Another bad boy I really like is Micajah Hawke, the owner of one of the most notorious pleasure dens in Karina Cooper’s St Croix Chronicles. He really is that rogue with a heart of gold. He has attempted to prevent any danger befalling Cherry St Croix a few times in the books. He does so in that wickedly dashing way that you can see why women fall for him.
The last two bad boys I am going to mention are not in the Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Romance genre. No, these two come from one of my newest favourite series, The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz. Yes, I have to mention Soren and Kingsley Edge who really do put other bad boys in the shade. True, in real life I would probably run a mile but within the confines with of my books I would submit to both of these men in a heartbeat.
I am just gonna have to wing it and say, in all honesty there are only a couple of men that have really floated my boat, despite enjoying numerous series immensely that are jam packed with men to die for.
As you would expect they come from my top ten PNR/Urban Fantasy series.
The first one I can think of who grabbed me right from the start, is Vishous from J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood. There is just something about him that I could quite easily sink my teeth into. He has layers does this man, and not in the way that Shrek does. There is his ass stomping side, where he just loves to beat up lessers. There is his sensitive side, where he cares for Butch (and strangely, in no way do I find this icky) and then there is his DARK side, which I have to admit is the side that pulls me strongly. I think that probably says more about me than anything else but there you go.
Acheron, from Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series I think is my other hunk. This chap has had to put up with so much garbage throughout his very long life, but he has managed to remain sane, (surprisingly!) he has a fabulous sense of humour, and makes a wonderful Dad to a very demanding child who just wants bbq sauce on everyone. He has learnt how to keep his mouth shut about things that don’t need repeating, and he has the most wonderful of quotes that I try to remember, applying it where I can. For those of you that don’t know it, here it is. ‘Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should’. Definitely words to live by.
There are plenty of other hunks out there that I could mention, but there are two of the chaps from the genre that have really stuck in my mind over the past few years of reading.
As soon as I saw the title Swoon-Worthy Heroes I was surprised that my mind jumped straight to Jace Wayland, I was expecting Edward Cullen. Yes I know Edward is obvious and I do love getting inside his head in Midnight Sun (come on Meyer and finish it) and he was my first book crush, so he does have a place in my top 10 but after spending so much time with Edward, it’s time to move on.
So what is it about these men for me that make me want them? I think that women writers especially, give you the perfect man, tight abs, stunning good looks, a great sense of humour, a little rough around the edges and a tiny bit of vulnerability, yet fiercely protective.
So which three of the many fictional men would I take home and why?
Firstly, as I’ve already mentioned Jace Wayland from the Mortal Instrument series by Cassandra Clare. Jace is a kick-ass, egotistical Shadowhunter or demon slayer for those of you who have not read the Mortal Instrument series, but underneath the arrogant façade is a kind, considerate, witty, protective individual, oh and I have a soft spot for blondes, especially hot, fit ones.
Secondly, Dimitri Belikov from the Vampire Acadamy series by Richelle Mead. Dimitri is a tall, dark, sexy, strong Dhampir, who can be a little bit naughty as he allows himself to fall for his student. Maybe it’s because I had a thing for my practical Student Chemistry Tutor in University and he kissed me once, Dimitri brings back some of those fun/fond memories, plus he’s seriously sexy.
Thirdly, it’s a toss-up between two characters from the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost. I’m wondering if you can guess which ones? For me it’s either Bones or Vlad and if I’m lucky both. 😉 Bones as he’s sexy and great in bed, taking his time with you to blow your mind. Vlad as he’s the best known vampire of all time and I do love my vampires, he also comes with lots of power and in the vampire world to survive you need the best. Plus Frost’s writing really brings these men to life and I would love to spend one night with either of these, I don’t think I would be left disappointed.
Okay, *deep breath* I’ll get all of my old YA heroes out of the way first, beginning with Ash Redfern from L. J. Smith’s Night World series. Ash is a lovable rogue who is a recurring character throughout the series, finding his soulmate in book two, Daughters of Darkness. I remember loving everything about Ash when I read this book, as he has some witty one-liners and is ruggedly handsome.
Next up on my YA list is Shane Collins of the Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine. Having read this ongoing series from the beginning, Shane captured my imagination way back in book one of the series, Glass Houses. He’s strong, kick-ass and just about knows his way around the kitchen! I think he’s the most realistic hero I’ve ever read in a series, as I can imagine his habits and ways to the letter and have reread his first description many times to fix a mental image in my head (but don’t tell anyone!).
Moving on to more adult titles, my list wouldn’t be complete without my recent discovery of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. These men are sexy, powerful and strong, and will protect their women to the ends of the earth (what more could a girl want?). My particular favourites are Zsadist (I know, I know, he’s an acquired taste) and policeman Butch (will do anything for his girl), and I’m only halfway through the series, but I have a feeling J. R. Ward has a whole lot more men for me to swoon over!
My last swoon-worthy hero that I’ll mention is Luke Brandon from Sophie Kinsella’s contemporary romance series, The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic (confessions of a Shopaholic). I love Luke because he’s realistic, the type of man we’d all love to exist despite his little quirks. Tall, dark and handsome, he’s attractive, rich and willing to treat his lady to whatever she likes (within reason of course). I swoon over Luke every time I read the series, and he’s definitely one of my favourite all-time heroes.
So, who are your swoon-worthy heroes?