One thing I've noticed as I've watched this genre come into its own, though--there is a plethora of tattooed bad boys, rock stars, bikers, boxers, wealthy playboys, etc. These are the alpha males. Physically powerful and intimidating, tending to keep emotions (with the exception of anger) close to the vest. Often ragingly possessive, often prone to jealousy. And in all these books, that possessiveness and jealousy are portrayed as romantic, because he just feels so much for the heroine. But I don't know, guys ... I really struggle with books that appear to glorify what feels to me like a borderline abusive kind of dynamic (abuse, after all, isn't just about hitting. It's about possession and control).
I would classify myself as a strong, empowered woman. And when I read books where the guy loses his shit when he thinks the girl is looking at someone else, or where he physically intimidates her, controls her, makes decisions for her ... I don't swoon. Instead, I want to knee that dude in the balls. As a writer, I don't want to write guys like that. I'm well aware they're popular, and some women LOVE them--and that's fine, because we're all different, and this is a matter of taste. Plenty of strong, empowered women like the bad boys.
But I have to believe there are other readers out there who are craving a non-jerky, non-controlling sort of romance hero.
It doesn't mean he can't be tough. Or have a tattoo. It doesn't mean he's weak. In fact, often, this kind of romance hero has more control over himself and his emotions than the dude who punches walls. This kind of hero can enjoy when a strong heroine is strong. He won't treat her like a child. Sometimes he'll be in charge, and sometimes she will. And when she is, he'll cheer her on and trust her and respect her. I want to read this kind of romance. I also write this kind of romance.
And I want to celebrate books that feature this kind of hero. A guy who's respectful. Whose first instinct isn't to be snarky or jerky or mean. Who can deal with himself when his heroine has a life and makes her own choices, and who stands strong behind her while she fights her own battles.
I'm on a mission to read and discuss books with these heroes in them. I've started a page on this blog where I'll feature them. I'd appreciate recommendations, with one stipulation--don't recommend your own book. Let someone else do that for you. Recommend one you've read where you fell in love with the hero, and tell us why!
To start, let me offer two examples from popular NA books (that I happen to ADORE):
Garrick from Losing It by Cora Carmack
Lucas from Easy by Tammara Webber
Now--tell me what I should read, and tell me whether you gravitate to these characters or not!