Monday, May 28, 2007

A question popped into my mind the other day: Why do Harlequin Mills and Boon books only exhibit a certain type of hero? It came to me after reading an interesting post at Romancing the Blog, ‘Let’s hear it for the blonds’:

Basically, the writer of the blog, Alyssa Hurzeler, is asking why we don’t often get to read about the blond hero? It got me thinking she’s got a point. Most of the Harlequin Mills and Boon heroes I read about are tall, dark and a little arrogant, like modern day Mr. Darcys.

Currently we have titles like:

* The Greek Tycoon’s Virgin Mistress

* The Sicilian’s Hot Revenge

* Kept by the Spanish Billionaire

All Mediterranean men, all in positions of power.

We never get to hear titles such as:

* Seduced by the Swede

* Bought for the Dutchman’s Bed

* In the Arms of the Austrian

Or what about the books where the hero’s profession is prominent:

* The Italian Doctor’s Perfect Family

* The Soldier’s Seduction

* The Runaway and the Cattleman

* The Bodyguard Contract

We never get to see titles like:

* The Dane’s Dysfunctional Family

* The Prodigal Plumber

* Swept off her feet by the Dustbin man

* The Runaway and the Bricklayer

Of course, you’ve gathered by now that the alternative titles I’ve suggested are very much tongue-in-cheek!

But why do almost all the British Harlequin Mills and Boon books at the moment only appear to have Mediterranean heroes?

British author, Betty Neels, broke the mould with her Dutch heroes. [Betty was a nurse who married a Dutch doctor]. But even when Betty’s books were in print they didn’t mention anything about a Dutchman in the title. They were usually titles like:

Sister Peters in Amsterdam or Nurse in Holland, but more frequently, her books would have titles like A Christmas to Remember or The Promise of Happiness. You’d have to peek inside to discover the Dutch connection

Sadly, Betty died in 2001, and although she broke the mould herself with her writing, I think she was pretty unique. All the books I’ve read that were written by her, have only included the heroine’s point of view and yet they seem to work. Nowadays, we usually get the hero’s point of view as well. Her books are still in print today, a testament to how loved as an author she was and still is. See here:

So, what do you think? Would you like to see a different sort of hero in a Harlequin Mills and Boon book, or are you more than happy with Modern day, Mediterranean Mr. Darcys? And if you would like to read about a different sort of hero for a change, what sort would he be?


lacey kaye said...

I think about this for Regency-set historicals, which have similar trends re: dark heroes. So I wrote a blond hero. Why not? He's hot...

I like dark hair myself, though my boyfriend is blonde. Funny, I never realized he was blond until right now! hot!

Lynette said...

Personally, I love blond hair on a man and blue eyes too, Lacey. Let's hear it for the blonds, I say!

Edward Yates said...

Hey Lynette,

That is an interesting question you have posed. When writing about a blonde man, and I am one, I suspect it is far easier for the hero to seem a bit cold if he is blonde. 'Blondeness' also brings to mind Nazis or surfer bums, which probably an Australian thing, the surfer bums that is, not the Nazis.

Plus if the heroine is a blonde then I reckon romance writers want a contrasting character, a ying to the yang, so to speak.

Also if two blondes get together by the end of the novel it also conjures up mental pictures of eugenics programs and the breeding of blonde Aryan children.

Solve this by casting a 'red head' a la Tom Robbins 'Still Life with Woodpecker'. But that works better for the female heroine rather than 'the hero' in my view.


Lynette said...

You might have a point there with the contrasting characters, Ed. I hadn't considered that.

Blondes seem to get a raw deal and red heads too in general. There is a story in the papers over here at the moment about a red headed family getting hounded out of their home [bullied because they are ginger.]

Now, I don't know for certain if this is true or if they are trying to make some money from their story but others have phoned into to GMTV to say they have experienced the same sort of bullying.

Edward Yates said...

Oh my goodness! Persecuted for being a red head! That would be kind of hilarious... but sad at the same time.

Have you written a character, whose hair colour is never specified?

I mean when you imagine some characters, when you are reading, you imagine them with blonde hair or brunettes or red heads or whatever, without having it told to you...


Lynette said...

Yes, Ed, I often write secondary characters without too much description. I don't like reading books with too much detail about characters' appearances, I like to imagine characters for myself. Although, when writing a romance, I think we need a little bit of description of the hero and heroine, maybe even more than some genres.

Edward Yates said...

Hey Lynette,

after I wrote that I thought that was a bit of a silly question I asked. It seems obvious that other supporting characters might be left more to a reader's imagination. I meant in terms of description of the central characters... But you sort of answered what I meant anyway.

I hope you are okay.

best wishes