Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What Makes a Hero?

by Christine Wells

I've been on a rather waterlogged holiday with the family the past couple of weeks. We've been swimming in the rain and running down to the beach to catch odd patches of sunny weather, but a lot of time has been spent indoors. Thank goodness for crayons and paper and DVDs!

Yesterday, we opted for the big screen and braved the crowds of washed out holiday makers at the local cinemas.

Of course, as a hopeless romantic, I tried to convince my two sons that TANGLED looked like a rip-roaring boys' own adventure. What could be better than a clever modernized fairytale with a kick-ass heroine, comic animal friends and a cute hero with a recalcitrant horse.

But my boys saw through my cunning ruse. I was overruled and we saw MEGAMIND instead.

I was so glad we did! This is such a clever film with lots of snappy lines, wordplay and irony to keep the adults interested. This is not your average fight between good and evil but an examination of what heroism really is. A valuable lesson for a romance writer!

I can't explain fully without spoiling the plot, but let's just say that the theme of the movie really resonated with me: a hero isn't someone who happens to be born with special powers. Being a true hero is all about the choices we make.

I think that's true of our romance heroes, too, don't you? A real hero will make hard choices and stick with them, even though they might be against his own self-interest.

Who is your favourite hero in a romance and what quality in him do you most admire?

And will someone come with me to see Tangled? Pretty please?


Cassondra said...

Any chance?

Cassondra said...



I just got here for the day. Can't believe the rooster was up for grabs.

Christine Wells said...

Hey, Cassondra! Congrats on the rooster today:)

Cassondra said...

Oh, Christine, I'll go with you to see Tangled But by the time I get to Australia, it'll be out on DVD several times over, so it'd be best to not wait on me. :0(

There's no way I could pick a favorite romance hero. If we're talking books, Suz Brockmann's SEALs always top the list. All of the Bandits write fabulous heroes of course, and no way I could pick one, but I will say that I was completely surprised as I thought about this to find that some of my favorite heroes are NOT in actual romance novels, but are in cozy mysteries. Kate Carlisle's love interest in her Bibliophile mystery series is to die for. As is Madelyn' Alt's blue-eyed bad boy, Marcus, in her Bewitching mysteries.

If it's film, of course I love Daniel Day Lewis in LOTM. I'm like a bell that just drones on and on about that movie, aren't I?

I think what makes a hero special for me is that he's strong, he's his own man, and yet he becomes so very taken with the heroine, and so completely focused on her. That's what wins my heart. Not that he's a gifted seducer, but that he falls so hard that he's just focused on her with an intensity that most of us only dream of when we're trying to get our guy's attention in the midst of everything else going on.

A powerful guy with that kind of focus--that makes a memorable hero to me.

Cassondra said...

And oh, do I ever have the cleaning to do! I know what that bird will be doing for the next 24 hours.

barb said...

make him work hard Cassondra

Hi Christine.... you should have come down to Sydney as we have not had so much rain as you up there and we have even had a few sunny days.... hope you are not affected by the floods.They are so bad
I am showing my age here but I like Pierce Brosnan in Mama Mia just so cute LOL

Jane said...

Congrats, Cassondra.

Of course I'll go see "Tangled" with you, Christine. Cindy Gerard's heroes in her Black Ops Inc. books are some of my favorite heroes. They're brave and put their lives on the line.

Laurie Faelan said...

Cassondra, congratulations on getting the bird today. He did a great job helping me clean yesterday. He's very entertaining.

Christine, great question! It's impossible to pick just one favorite hero, there are just too many. But one that I think is just about perfect (and makes me long to have him come to life) is Hardy Cates from Blue-eyed Devil. I fell madly in love with him by the end of the book. And this book is one of most satisfying romances I've ever read. Definitely sigh worthy!

I went to see Tangled with my daughter and granddaughter. All three of us loved it! I'd be up for seeing it again!

I don't think I've hear of MEGAMIND. Is that an appropriate movie for a five-year-old girl? I'm looking for more movies to see with my granddaughter.

SiNn said...

honestly I think heros are just that sometimes ppl throw that word around alot personally for me im marrien the real life hero hes smart and funny and sexy and hes an ex navy seal as well as a great father and thats what i look for in books someone i can relate to if hes real andnot overbad or overly good just real

Christine Wells said...

Hey all, I've just been to the supermarket and there's not one loaf of bread left and hardly any meat or vegetables. Everyone is stocking up for the worst floods we've had since 1974. There weren't even any shopping carts left (have no idea where they all went!)so I could only buy what I could carry. Sheesh! Wish us luck! I'm off to bottle some water and fill the bath and whatever else one is supposed to do in these circumstances. See you all later!

Sheree said...

"Tangled" was a lot of fun! Even boys would like this, not so much for Rapunzel but for Flynn Rider. Okay, having all that hair dragging on the forest floor really freaked me out - all those split ends she's going to get!

My boyfriend liked the movie very much and we're thinking of seeing it again.

Cath's Chatter said...

OMG you missed the best movie EVER!!!!
I have seen both of these movies and my girls 3, 8, 12 were pretty bored with Megamind but boy oh boy we ALL loved Tangled even Hubby enjoyed it!!
I wont give anything away except to say that Max the horse is a major scene stealer and my fave cartoon character right now:)
GO AND SEE IT!!!! (if I lived in the same country I'd take you myself lol!!)

PinkPeony said...

A hero is someone who worships the heroine, warts and all and sticks by his principles.

Hope you're hanging in there, Christine! I've been reading about the floods on the net.

Congrats on the GR, Cassondra!

Sheree said...

Oh, yes, Maximus the horse was great! I did feel sorry for him though - all those days without taking his tack (saddle, bridle, etc.) off or anyone to give him a proper rub-down.

The woman (Donna Murphy) who voiced Mother Gothel was awesome, too. This is a juicy villain without being too over the top (remember Ursula, anyone?).

Helen said...

Well done Cassondra enjoy you day with him


The floods up there are dreadful I have not long spoken to my sister and she lives at Springfield near Ipswich but she says that they should be OK I hope you and Ann are up on the high ground.

Firstly I will go and see Tangled with you I want to take my 3 1/2 year old granddaughter to see it with me and I know my daughters will come as well and I am sure 5 year Jayden will also like it.

As for choosing a favourite hero oh that is hard for me there are so many and they all make hard choices along the road to the HEA for their heroines. Because you authors know how to write a great hero.

Have Fun

Christine Wells said...

Cassondra, at the rate I get to see movies, we'll probably be able to watch Tangled together!

You wrote: A powerful guy with that kind of focus--that makes a memorable hero to me.

I think you really hit the nail on the head with that one, Cassondra. It's that he has all these great qualities AND he is totally focused on the heroine. Stephanie Laurens once said the same in a talk she gave and it's something I try to remember when I write, too.

DDL--you'll have to fight Fo for him! Have you seen her photo of him on facebook? A little different from his LOTM role!

Christine Wells said...

The rooster is an excellent cleaner--built in feather duster and everything:) Put him to work, I say!

Christine Wells said...

Barb, I might have to get you to post me a loaf of bread if this supply problem goes for too long!

I don't think our house will be flooded (I hope not!) but you cannot get a loaf of bread anywhere around here this afternoon.

Oh, you've reminded me of another movie I have yet to see--Mama Mia! I still love Pierce and I'm sure I'm not so very old!

Christine Wells said...

Aw, thanks for offering to see Tangled with me, Jane. I do want to see it--maybe I'll buy the DVD.

Wow, we've got Navy SEALS and Black Ops guys so far. Going for the military theme here? Thanks for commenting Jane:)

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe said...

My 3 year old granddaughter saw Tangled on Saturday. She told everyone beforehand "she had the book," which made my heart sing--she "read" it before she watched it. She'd be an ideal companion for you, but I don't think her mom or dad are ready for that much of a sleepover!

In yesterday's wonderful hero-sentences, honor kept coming up. That's why I like Dare from JoBev's To Rescue a Rogue.He's suffered so and is determined to prevail. Love a tortured hero!

Keep safe (and fed) with all the flooding!

Christine Wells said...

Hi Laurie, oh, wasn't Blue-Eyed Devil fantastic? Lisa Kleypas is such a brilliant writer. I love her books.

Glad to hear you loved Tangled! Sniff!

As for Megamind... my four year old boy loved it so the age is ok but if she's a girlie girl she might not like it so much as the female character is more of a Lois Lane than a Buffy type.

Christine Wells said...

Interesting perspective SiNn. You want a real, good man. Ex navy seal, too, huh? That's pretty impressive!!

Christine Wells said...

SHeree, I'm LOL about the split ends!!!

Yes, I thought the boys would like it but up against Megamind it just didn't quite have the edge. But they love Beauty and the Beast and that's far more romantic than Tangled appears to be.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I agree with everyone else, there are just too many to choose just one. IMO the hero has to see the heroine as a person, listen to her opinions etc. If you think me less than you in anyway you can't be my hero.

Christine Wells said...

Cath, where do you live? I will come over there and let you take me to see Tangled!*G* Now you're really making me want to see it and I need to get this darn book written while also keeping my family alive until there's food in the shops again... Maybe Tangled will have to wait a while. SIgh!

Christine Wells said...

Jen, thanks for your comment. Love the 'worship' part! Always interesting when the principles are in conflict with the worshiping, don't you think?

Have you finished that book yet, btw??

Thanks, we are hanging in there but the worst hasn't come yet so keep your fingers crossed for us! I just spoke to Foanna this afternoon and she's doing fine. Quite chirpy in fact!

Christine Wells said...

Sheree... it's a cartoon. You do know that, right? Split ends, horse care. You really cared about the characters in that movie, didn't you?

Love female villains! I really want to see this now!

Christine Wells said...

Hi Helen, I'll keep your sister in my thoughts. We are on high ground as well as a high-set house so we should be OK. Anna doesn't anticipate problems, either, I don't think. I'm praying we're both right.

Thanks for seeing Tangled with me! I'm sure your grandies will love it.

Christine Wells said...

Hi Maggie, yes I think your granddaughter might be a bit disconcerted to chaperone an older lady she's never met to the movies! But isn't that lovely that she enjoyed the book first. That does my heart good to hear.

Oh, yes, a tortured hero is always fun. Thanks so much for dropping by and thank you for the good wishes!

Christine Wells said...

Dianna, that's an excellent point! A hero needs to treat the heroine as an equal. I love the way Loretta Chase does that with her couples. She can write an absolute lout of a hero and still he can treat the heroine as an equal.

barb said...

Hi Christine

I think the bread might be mouldy by the time it reaches you .... I sent my brother a card on Friday and it still hasn't arrived in Coffs Harbour yet so I don't know how long a loaf would take to reach you LOL

Deb Marlowe said...

Hello My Sister!

I saw Megamind with my boys and just adored it. So much wit and verbal sparring. Great movie. My youngest has agreed to see Tangled with me, we are just waiting for the free time!

I've been watching the flood situation and hoping that you and our Aussie friends are okay! Keep safe and dry! We are currently iced in--no school or work today! And no warm up in sight.

Heroes--My favorite is always the one I am currently writing! But I agree--Loretta Chase does some of the best. I also think that Liz Carlyle does some of the best angsty heroes, and Mary Jo Putney does superb stand-up guys and Shana Abe does amazing alpha paranormals and . . . whoops--I could go on and on!

jo robertson said...

Great post, Christine, and welcome back from your water-logged vacation. Nothing worse than planning a va-cay with kiddies and having them house-bound!

I'm so there with you sister! I'd love to see TANGLED, even though the reviews for it are luke warm. I love that story!

Whooohoooo, Cassondra! Can't believe a Bandita snagged the rooster; it's been a while, hasn't it? Our Aussie friends must've been sleeping, tee hee.

jo robertson said...

Oh, the question, duh!

Wasn't it Hemingway that said "guts is grace under pressure"?

I think H. meant "guts" as "courage," so I'd have to say I think courage is a fundamental trait for a hero. Not necessarily the in-your-face fighting fellow, but one who doesn't shrink from duty or ethics, even though it may appear that he's done both.

Janga said...

Stay safe, Christine. Prayers and good thoughts for all those Australians endangered by floods.

I sympathize with your bread problem. This week's winter storm here left bread and dairy sections of all the local grocery chains empty. We finally found bread at a little mom-and-pop store off the main roads.

Count me among those whose fictional favorite heroes are far too numerous to list. I have two nephews who are medical firefighters. They and their peers are real life heroes whose work I'm grateful for every day.

BJ said...

I want too!!!!!
But I think the with my luck they'll most likely show as the inflight movie...LOL

I kinda of like my heroes that think they know what they are doing but then what it get down to the actual event "change of plans", they realize they cant go through with it. It makes them more.."To Die For"

Beth Andrews said...

Christine, I would love to see Megamind! Looks like so much fun *g* We watched Despicable Me (which had snappy lines etc *g*) over the holidays and are still quoting it. Have even started calling the penalty box in hockey the Box of Shame :-)

One of my favorite heroes is Ethan in Nora Roberts' Rising Tides. He was so tortured but managed to get past a truly horrible childhood to become a strong, honorable man. Just thinking about him makes me want to read the story again!!

Danielle Gorman said...

I still haven't seen Tangled and I want to so badly. I think I'm just going to wait for the DVD now.
My favorite romance hero is Zsadist from Lover Awakened by JR Ward. I'm a big fan of fierce warrior lover. I like it when they are rough but turn out to be a big softy with the ones they love.

Slush said...

Haven't seen Tangled or Megamind yet! :( But I want to. Christine, I would gladly go with you in a heartbeat.

My favorite hero of all time is Mr. Darcy. At first he seems such a pompous man, and then turns into a wonderful hero. Swooping down from his high horse to help Elizabeth and her family just to win her love and approval. Mr. Darcy reminds me that true love knows no boundaries.

Christine Wells said...

Barb, hope your brother is OK. Not sure if Coffs Harbour was one of the places hit.

OK, you don't have to send me bread. :)

Christine Wells said...

Hi Deb! Lovely to see you. Glad you liked Megamind too. Hope you get to see Tangled, although free time is so rare, isn't it?

Thanks so much for your good wishes. I hope it's not as bad as predicted but Thursday is going to be the big day, apparently. The sun is shining today, at least. I don't know how long that will last but you can't help feeling cheered up a bit.

Oh, yes, I love Liz Carlyle's heroes, as you know! And the others you mentioned are amond my favourites, too. Thanks for those!

Christine Wells said...

Jo thanks for the welcome back--I love that these days Disney takes the rather passive princesses from fairy tales and gives them spines!

Love the guts and grace under pressure one! That's a great analysis Jo, thank you!

Christine Wells said...

Thank you Janga. It really has been the first time in my life when such a terrible flood has occurred and I hope very much it will be the last.

Sorry to hear you're having similar problems. I wouldn't worry so much for myself but bread is one of the very few things my 7yo will actually eat. If we run out, I don't know what we'll do! Hope that won't happen.

Wow, medical firefighters--they sound like awe-inspiring men. You must be very proud.

Christine Wells said...

Hi BJ! I hope you get to see Tangled. Where are you flying to?

You sound like you enjoy those 'bent on revenge' heroes. Yes, I think that's a powerful statement of character growth when the hero realizes he's changed so much that he can't carry out something he's planned all his adult life.

Christine Wells said...

Beth, I think you'd enjoy Megamind! It has lots of snappy dialogue and twists and turns I didn't see coming. I must look out for Despicable Me.

Oh, yes, loved Ethan, too! That was a fantastic series!

Christine Wells said...

Danielle, I think the DVD is in my future also!

Oh, wow, Zsadist! Now he is no pussy cat. Ahh, the big bad man gone to mush is one of my favourites, too! As long as love doesn't emasculate him completely. :)

Christine Wells said...

Hi Slush! Thanks for saying you'll see Tangled with me:)

Ahh, Mr. Darcy is an icnonic hero isn't he? The wonderful thing about that story is that Darcy has to change quite as much as Lizzie does to deserve his happy ending. Love really does transform him.

Anna Campbell said...

Christine, I hadn't heard of Megamind but I know we tend to enjoy similar films so I'll have to check it out! I love the look of Tangled too!

Hey, Cassondra, when's the last time the rooster visited? Must be ages!

TerriOsburn said...

I'd go to Tangled with you, I adore that movie. But like others, we have this logistical issue.

I love the sexy, smart heroes who make a woman feel special even while everyone else is making her feel anything but. Mayne in Eloisa's Pleasure for Pleasure comes to mind. So does the hero of Miranda Neville's The Wild Marquis. Cain is too good to be true.

TerriOsburn said...

Which, of course, he isn't true. Really, I know this. I do.

Anna Campbell said...

Christine, chirpy? Moi???!!! NEVAH!!! I might be cheep but I'm never chirpy!

Seriously, though, guys, thanks for all the concern about the floods. I'm actually OK (house is nice and high) although people have been evacuated around me. Awful to see the footage on the news.

There's a charity appeal: www.qld.gov.au/floods

Pat Cochran said...

Cassondra, Congratulations on
grabbing that golden rooster

Christine, my favorite romance
hero comes from the Brockmann
Troubleshooters series. He is
the one and only Izzy Zanella.
Intelligent, trustworthy, loyal,
devoted, passionate, & faithful!
I am anxiously awaiting his
story, due out in March 2011!

Christine, will be praying for
you, Anna Campbell, & any other
Banditas & BBs caught up in this
maelstrom. Also will keep all of
your countrymen in prayer. We've
been there, Houston and Tropical
Storm Allison were not a good

PJ said...

Christine, I'll go to Tangled with you! I love movies like that!

One of my favorite heroes from last year was Tristan from Paula Quinn's Seduced by a Highlander. His honor, his humor and his dedication to making life better for his heroine won my heart.

Christine Wells said...

Hi Anna, yes definitely chirpy! But NEVER cheep:))

Hope you like Megamind if you do check it out!

Christine Wells said...

Hi Terri:) Great, it's a date for Tangled! Love Eloisa's and Miranda's heroes. Great choice!

Christine Wells said...

Hi Pat, Suzanne B's series have come up a couple of times in this discussion. She does them so well, doesn't she?

Thanks so much for your prayers. A lot of people need them right now.

Christine Wells said...

Hi PJ, I would love to see Tangled with you, sweetie:) We'd have a great time. I must try Seduced by a Highlander. Love those Scottish heroes!

Louisa Cornell said...

Wow, Cassondra, nice catch! You two had better behave!

I would LOVE to come to Oz and see Tangled with you, Christine! Haven't seen it yet and it will probably be DVD for me.

I have to agree with everyone. A hero is the guy who makes the tough decisions and tough choices without worrying about the consequences to himself. He has this innate ability to see the honorable path and to walk it because it is the only thing he can do to be the sort of man the heroine loves.

Cassondra said...

aka Dianna said:

If you think me less than you in anyway you can't be my hero.

What an insightful comment, Dianna! That's something that I think we really recognize as we grow older--that so many men do tend to think we are somehow less because we are female--and although they might WANT us, they don't particularly like us. I mean, I knew this with my head when I was a very young woman, but as I've matured, I've seen it played out, and seen how the powerful relationships--the ones we dream of and want for ourselves--are the ones where both partners consider one another complete equals. Not the same, but equal.

A hero has to be someone who likes me as a person, not just my body parts and what I can do for him. That comes through so clearly, and I think lots of men don't know we can't see right through the acts to what they really are. The real heroes--in real life as well as in books--don't have such attitudes.

Cassondra said...

Christine, I somehow missed that you were getting in the worst of the flooding.

Please stay safe! Will be sending prayers to you and your family, as well as those around you.

Christine Wells said...

Sorry to have been away from the blog for so long. Louisa, I think your beautiful long hair would make you identify with Rapunzel!

Love your description of a perfect hero. Thanks for commenting!

Christine Wells said...

Cassondra, I know exactly what you mean--I think women seem to need to respect their partners but not all men do. And equal but not the same is another one I totally agree with. Each plays to his or her strengths.

Thanks for the good wishes on the flooding. I've been around the neighbourhood and saw a lot of the flooding first hand. I don't think it will get this far, though, so we are very lucky.

Anna Sugden said...

Sorry I'm late to the mix - been decorating the kitchen!

I'd love to see Tangled with you, Christine! I'm a big fan of Disney movies and this looks like such fun!

Glad to hear you're safe from the flooding and that Anna C is too - hope our other Aussie pals are okay. Our thoughts go out to you to keep you safe and dry!

Keira Soleore said...

Christine, thank you for letting me know that you and Fo (Anna Campbell) are doing OK. I was so worried as I kept hearing worse and worser news.

"Integrity" is what makes a hero for me. It jives with what you wrote: "A real hero will make hard choices and stick with them, even though they might be against his own self-interest."

MsHellion said...

So the theme of Megamind is the same as the theme as Harry Potter--it is our choices who make us who we are. And what you said.

I haven't seen Megamind--but I have seen Tangled. And I have to say whoever wrote it was brilliant. The horse and the lizard without a SINGLE LINE OF DIALOGUE stole every scene they were in. The scene where she leaves the tower and he says, "You seem conflicted" made me laugh so hard I thought I would asphyxiate before I got a grip. (That writer knew women with that scene. *LOL* OMG.)

I'm not sure I could pick a favorite hero. It changes since I fall in love with a new hero every other book. *LOL* But there are a handful that stick with me. The Earl of Mayne. Gideon from The Perfect Rake. Billy Bob Walker from Billy Bob Walker Got Married. Hardy Cates.

I think what does it for a hero for me--is that he's always got eyes for the heroine. He always sees the beauty in her and helps her see the beauty in herself. He's got a warm hold, a tender kiss, and a shoulder to cry on if you need it. But he hates to see you cry--so he makes you angry instead so you forget all about it. *LOL* Then he plays some kiss and make up so you can really take your mind off it.

Outside he's confident and arrogant bluster, optimistic and sure of himself. Inside he can be a bit of a mess, some tortured hero who is so afraid to lose you he'll keep you far away from him so he never has to know what it feels like.

And lastly he's smart enough to realize he can't live without you even if you do have the power to break his heart and he's smart enough to win you. :) Even if he doesn't really deserve you completely.

Tivi Jones said...

Couldn't convince my nephew to see Tangled either.

I also tried that with the Princess and the Frog on Netflix. His response "Umm. No thank you."

Always the gentleman.