Most people don’t enjoy blemishes. We throw away moldy bread, agonize over pimples, and rub those little smears on the mirror. Why then, do we prefer our heroes with a few defects?
This isn’t a new idea. Jane Austen created one of the most memorable and complicated heroes in 1813 when she penned Pride and Prejudice. Our first few encounters with Fitzwilliam Darcy do not fare well in the opening pages. How could anyone fall for such a rude snob? But in a matter of chapters and exchanges of the heart, it isn’t just Elizabeth Bennet who falls for the gentleman. Readers do, too.
Most of us started out with Prince Charming, while toddling around in our mother’s heels, but by the time reality sank its teeth into our virgin hearts, things were changing. Suddenly there was the “bad boy.” He was the cute but always-in-trouble boy on the playground with the cool tee-shirt and sweaty hair. You know the one; he yanked your ponytail hard enough to make you cry and lured you under the monkey bars for a sloppy first kiss. We all ran from boys like that. But it was kind of fun.
Nobody wants to reach for something they don’t believe they can ever have and let’s face it--none of us are the perfect size with perfect features. Our scars from reality’s bite marks make it hard for us to buy that some perfect hero is going to sweep us off our feet and love us for eternity. And if it can’t happen for us, we have a hard time buying it can happen for a heroine, even one that we love. We need a hero with a few flaws. Whether they are physical, emotional, or just a personality quirk, flaws make our heroes more human. They give us something to forgive (So we can forgive ourselves?). And don’t forget, there’s also the flattering idea that a woman can make a man love hard enough to change!
The perfect hero is imperfect. We love him despite his flaws. He loves us back and he changes for the better. I believe this principle gives us hope, not just for our heroine’s Happily Ever After, but for our own. A good romance story can be so much more than a Cinderella story. It can make us believe that despite all our blemishes we can be loved; and despite his, he’s still the next best thing to Mr. Darcy!
Find out a little more about my flawed hero in TURTLE SOUP! It’s coming this month from Awe-struck Publishing:
Sea turtles may be endangered but after an encounter with marine biologist, Jack Brandon, nothing will stop Sara Hart from naming her deli, Turtle Soup. When Jack takes a job at the nearby Georgia Aquarium, Sara finds the environmental poster boy at her door, hungry and carrying a chip on his shoulder. Neither thinks the other has what it takes, until a scuba class reveals what lies beneath the surface. It will take food, friends, and a little help from Mother Nature, to help them see that making a difference isn’t all numbers and glory. It must begin with love.
Here’s to heroes!