Heroes Who Cross the Line

So this week I got a big ol stack of romance novels full of potential mancandy. I was looking for other books that I had put on my TBR list and couldn’t figure out why this library didn’t have them. Its website said they did. I could understand one being missing but all of them?

Turns out I was looking at a library by the same name that is located in Indiana.

In any case, the question is why am I not posting a man review? Well most of the heroes turned out to be…duds. Which is no excuse since I have plenty of men waiting to be objectified. But it prompted me to discuss something.

When do heroes cross the line?

I think this is a larger problem in romance novels than other genres because the driving force of a romance genre is that relationship between the two leads. (Since I have only read heterosexual romance novels, we’ll say a male lead and a female lead for the sake of this rant).

There’s a line between flawed heroes and heroes that just cross the line. Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre is pretty flawed with his insane wife in the attic and attempted bigamy. Women still swoon for him though and he does get the girl in the end (after he loses his sight and turns to God but in those days you had to earn the hell out of your happy ending). And of course, there’s Edward. He’s not terribly flawed. In fact, he’s barely flawed. (In the eyes of his fans anyway. I won’t get in to how Edward could be considered an abusive boyfriend.) But he still wants to eat Bella.

In several romance novels, the guys are such complete buttholes that its hard to buy their sudden “oh I realize now that I love you” at the end. You wonder why these women even fell for these men. That was my problem with a few of the books I got from the library this time around. By the time I got to the last one which looked promising (“Captured” by Beverly Jenkins) I needed a break so I went out and read some fairy tales.

I think this was more of a problem with the old school romances. You know, the ones your grandmother has with the painting on the cover of Fabio clutching a woman with her clothes falling off. My Meme had a few of those that I wasn’t allowed to read because…well because they were romance novels. And when I did read them(secretly), they didn’t make me want to read anymore romance, probably because the heroes were just complete buttholes.

This was one of the books I snuck. I didn’t read all of it, I was mostly interested in the good part (the sex part). I was a good kid, I didn’t drink or smoke or swear so I had to have some dark, deep secret. In any case, the one major sex scene I could find and would sneak the book away to read went basically like this

Hero:You are a slut. You probably killed my father and slept with him so therefore I will have my way with you.

*sex scene, involving the phrase “golden mound” or something to that effect*

Hero: Oh, turns out you were a virgin. Sorry, my bad.

If you’re really interested, here’s the Amazon link so you can read the summary and giggle. When the hero takes advantage of the heroine, even if at the end she ends up liking it, it’s still not cool. If I had read this book today, I would have probably stopped reading at this point.

It doesn’t have to be a rape scene that crosses the line. One of the books I read this week was Dogs and Goddesses which was a really neat format. Three authors wrote it and each had their own heroine with her own storyline and they integrated it all into one novel. I liked two of the storylines fairly well but the third one…I mostly like the heroine in that storyline. But her hero/love interest was mean to her for most of the novel. The author explained a few of them as misunderstandings and excused his buttheadness with the fact that he had been a child prodigy so he didn’t have social skills.

This didn’t make me anymore sympathetic to him. Having been around a great deal of socially awkward guys should probably have given me more compassion but I was just annoyed. It wasn’t as bad as the rapist hero that pops up in those old-fashioned historicals but I think without the other two storylines I wouldn’t have kept reading.

Heroes need to have some sort of redemption. Or at the very least, acknowledge that there are flaws. Often the hero is always right, even if he assaults the heroine or treats her like crap. I don’t mind if the hero starts out badly but it can’t be so awful that I don’t want to stick around long enough for him to change. But I’d rather read someone who’s unashamedly bad than someone who’s nasty the whole way through and then has a sudden turnaround at the end where’s he’s sweet and tender to the heroine and they live happily ever after.

So how about you? Are there any books you had to stop reading because the heroes just became jerks? Heroines can be discussed as well.


2 Responses to “Heroes Who Cross the Line”

  1. 1 Candyland April 8, 2010 at 12:37 am

    I don’t get the Mr. Darcy thing….I always thought he was an annoying, double minded, neurotic ass. Now Edward, he may appear abusive on the surface, but perhaps he is trying to keep Bella from doing anything stupid. Now Carlisle, he is a smart, sexy piece of mancandy. Which reminds me, I totally need to get the lifesize standup of him. Emmett….how can you not love him, he’s a big teddy bear with muscles that dont’ stop (and yes, I know I overuse the …… Jess tells me all the time).

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