My guest today is my release buddy and fellow Destiny Romance author, Mary Costello. Mary is one of those people that when you meet her you can’t help but like her. She is warm and funny and passionate and this is reflected in her writing. Her new novel, Irresistible Enemy, was released alongside Dark Moon last week and is a fun, contemporary romance set in farmland Victoria.
But Mary isn’t just here today to talk about her new book (although, there is room for that too!), she is here to share with us her Top 10 Turn-Ons for the romantic Hero. Take it away, Mary.
Top 10 Turn-Ons – The Stuff of Romantic Heroes
The best thing about being a Romance writer is that you get to conjure up your own idea of a hero. By the time I was a couple of chapters into Irresistible Enemy, I was besotted with my hero, Hart Huntingdon, and that made the rest of the story great fun to write.
When it comes to heroes, readers want characters who know how to attract, and also how to connect. As women, we’re increasingly demanding about what we want from both the men we encounter in real life and the fictional heroes we dream and drool about. We can afford to be. We’re now more independent, more highly educated and more financially secure than any previous generation. We have a lot to offer, we expect a lot in return.
Our high expectations may rarely be met in our everyday reality, and that’s why we turn to our Romantic heroes who can fulfil all our fantasies, at least in the imagination.
Romance novels abound with all sorts of fascinating and desirable men, but there are some characteristics common to most swoonable heroes.
1) He must look good.
Looks aren’t everything, and first impressions aren’t the last word, but who’s going to fall for a daggy character? A hero doesn’t have to be Beau Brummell, and he needn’t be conventionally handsome, but he must be physically attractive, and he must take care with his appearance. It’s not just about aesthetics; good grooming means he cares about the heroine’s feelings, and he’s prepared to go to some trouble to show that.
2) He must have something to say.
The strong, silent type is fine, but only up to point – there’s nothing appealing about a man with no conversation. Don’t expect dazzling wit and pithy pronouncements unless you’re reading a Regency Romance, but if our hero can talk about his ideas and opinions, and ultimately reveal the truth about his feelings, it’ll be worth hanging on his every word.
3) He must be prepared to listen.
Women, like all human beings, want attention and want to be heard; and we demand the same for our heroines. The odd bunch of flowers might make a woman feel special, but a man who listens with interest makes her feel real, and lets her know he takes us seriously.
4) He mustn’t be obsessed with money.
Sure, it makes the world go round, but a money-grubbing hero is unlikely to put many women in a spin. These days, women are financially savvy. We’ve got our own mortgages, income-protection insurance, super plans and investment portfolios. We just don’t want to talk about them all the time. There’s an old saying, a woman knows the value of love, but a man knows its cost. Our heroine is there to help teach our hero what really counts.
5) He mustn’t talk about sport all the time.
We get enough of that in real life! A hero who’s obsessed with nothing but footy/rugby/car racing will have us yawning by page 3. Okay, maybe some of us don’t mind ogling big thighs in shorts, but that doesn’t mean we want to hear details of league tables, test scores, and endless stats on everything from horsey handicaps to free-kick counts. Our hero’s got to be more obsessed with our heroine than with David Beckham.
6) He mustn’t drink too much.
It’s been claimed that beer is a contraceptive – it’s certainly no aphrodisiac; and beer breath is an instant turn-off, even on the written page. Our hero wants to spend his time and money on our heroine, not on pints and chasers.
7) He mustn’t love himself too much.
Vanity is a passion killer. No heroine wants a man who thinks he’s more attractive than any of the females in the room. As for those who flash serious muscle – a good body is great, so long as he spends more time with our heroine than in the gym.
8) He mustn’t put himself down.
A misery guts will never make a hero. If he thinks he’s a loser, he probably is. Readers crave a man who is positive, who has goals, and the belief in himself to achieve them. Self confidence in a man is more of a turn-on than a chin dimple.
9) He mustn’t patronise our heroine.
If he calls her ‘Babe’ or ‘kitten’, or refers to women collectively as ‘chicks’, then our heroine needs to kick him in the teeth. He needs to understand that women aren’t small, helpless animals; au contraire. Respect is a minimal requirement.
10) He mustn’t be scared of commitment.
Most heroines won’t be satisfied with a one-night stand. They may not necessarily want to have the hero’s baby in Chapter 1, but a heroine wants to know that the man she’s sleeping with sees her as something other than a temporary recreational option. As readers, we want to know that their relationship has a future – that they’ll become friends and partners as well as lovers.
Thanks Mary, that was fun and pretty well spot on! Now it’s time to tell us about your book and it’s top 10 winning hero, Hart Huntington.
Cassie Bowtell is a plain, no-nonsense girl, and Hart Huntingdon is a man surrounded by glamorous women, but Cassie attracts Hart with her courage, honesty and her dedication to the injured animals in her care. Hart stands for everything Cassie despises, and having been badly hurt in love, she’s determined to repress any emotional impulses that go against her better judgement.
Mary Costello is an Irish-Australian freelance writer, and despite living most of her life in Australia, she hasn’t lost her accent, or the sense of being somewhere exotic. She lives in Melbourne’s bushburbs with her husband of many years, who, oddly, bears no resemblance whatsoever to a romantic hero. They live with a flock of recovering battery hens and their two daughters, for whom Mary aspires to arrange advantageous matches to men of large property.
Mary’s first book, Titanic Town, Memoirs of a Belfast Girlhood, was published twenty years ago, but she only recently turned her pen to Romance, inspired by the heroics of the men of Aussie Rules football. The result was The Reluctant Wag.
Her new release, Irresistible Enemy, is a very different book. Set in the bushy fringes of Melbourne, it brings into collision a dedicated wildlife warrior and a high-powered property developer for whom ‘habitat’ means luxury houses.