Thursday, May 28, 2015

Heroes and Heroines That Aren't Perfect--by Cheryl Pierson



How do you feel about a hero or heroine who isn’t physically perfect? As a reader, are you interested in those kinds of characters? What about as a writer—are these the kinds of characters you want to introduce and develop in your storylines?

The first book I ever read with an “imperfect” hero was THE TIGER’S WOMAN, by Celeste De Blasis. The story takes place in San Francisco, 1869, and seems to be one of those that people either love or hate. For me, it was an eye-opener—I’d never read a strong, masculine, virile hero who had any kind of infirmity. Jason Drake’s is a limp.

http://www.amazon.com/Tigers-Woman-Celeste-Blasis/dp/038529042X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432778646&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Tiger%27s+Woman

Another one that comes to mind is A ROSE IN WINTER by Kathleen Woodiwiss. The heroine is “sold” by her father to pay his gaming debts to a mysterious man, Lord Saxton, who keeps himself covered to hide disfiguring scars from a terrible fire. I can’t say too much about these books without giving away spoilers, but both of them have many reviews that speak for them and their quality.

http://www.amazon.com/Rose-Winter-Kathleen-E-Woodiwiss-ebook/dp/B000FC13JU/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1432778357&sr=8-3&keywords=kathleen+woodiwiss

Mary Balogh’s book SIMPLY LOVE (one of the “Simply” quartet) is the story of an English aristocrat who has lost his arm and eye, and his face has been disfigured on one side. These are war injuries from “the Peninsula Wars”—and of course, he believes no woman will ever want him. He’s become reclusive. Enter Anne Jewell, mother of a nine-year-old son. UNWED mother, to be exact.

http://www.amazon.com/Simply-Love-Quartet-Mary-Balogh/dp/0440241979/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432778821&sr=8-1&keywords=Simply+Love

Our own Kathleen Rice Adams has a short story, THE LAST THREE MILES, in the Prairie Rose Publications anthology, WILD TEXAS CHRISTMAS (yep, another Christmas story!) “Can a lumber baron and a railroad heiress save a small Texas town?” With Kathleen writing it, you can bet they’re going to give it their best shot, even though Kathleen’s hero in this one is confined to a wheelchair!

http://www.amazon.com/Wild-Texas-Christmas-Cheryl-Pierson-ebook/dp/B00PZ9EV38/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432778910&sr=8-1&keywords=Wild+Texas+Christmas

My own foray into writing a hero with a physical impairment is more modern. It’s a Christmas short story called THE WISHING TREE. Our hero, Pete Cochran, has been to the Middle East and suffered a devastating wound—the loss of an eye—shortly before he was to come home. Now, he works at his dad’s Christmas tree lot, just trying to heal his own mind and spirit…and then, a miracle happens. Maria Sanchez and her son, Miguel, stop by the lot one day and everything changes. You all know I believe in happy endings, but I don’t want to give any spoilers!

http://www.amazon.com/Wishing-Tree-Cheryl-Pierson-ebook/dp/B00P444VIY/ref=sr_1_24?ie=UTF8&qid=1432778998&sr=8-24&keywords=The+Wishing+Tree

What about heroines? I’ve read books about heroines who have been lame—I can’t remember the titles right now. How do you feel about “imperfect” heroines? Are those more interesting than the heroes who suffer a permanent wound?

I would love to hear from everyone about this. I’m very curious as to what y’all think. So let’s hear it—and if you have read or written any books to add to this list, please DO!

I know it’s not Christmas, but I will be giving away 2 digital copies of THE WISHING TREE to two lucky commenters today! Thanks so much for coming by!

17 comments:

  1. Aren't we all imperfect? My escape from stress and reality is into a book. Because I know I'm flawed, I love reading about imperfect people that really are perfect through someone's love. Scars? Weight? Do we really see those as flaws? I don't. Character is so much more important.

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  2. Cindy, I agree. And it's become more acceptable these days to write about heroes and heroines that way--use to, it was something of a novelty to see a story about a H/h who had any kind of physical incapacitation. But to me, it makes the character more interesting, sometimes. Thanks so much for coming by today!
    Cheryl

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  3. I think making a hero or heroine "real" is what attracts readers. I have two blind heroes in my Halsey books. And a disfigured heroine in DOCTOR IN PETTICOATS. The first book I read years ago by LaVyrle Spencer, THE GAMBLE, had a heroine with a deformed leg from an accident and she limped. I belief those flaws make the characters easier for readers to relate to. Great post!

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  4. I think so, too, Paty. Making characters real can happen in so many different ways, and it seemed for years that this was just overlooked. I will have to get THE GAMBLE and give it a read. Sounds like a really good one--and how can you go wrong with LaVyrle Spencer, right? Thanks so much for stopping by today!

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  5. Great post, Cheryl. I think flaws - physical or not - make the characters more real to the readers. When a hero or heroine is so perfect that even the angels pale in front of them, well, that doesn't make it real for me. It's much more fun, so to speak, to deal with people with flaws. I remember the series Angélique - physically speaking, the hero wasn't perfect, in fact, he wasn't exactly good-looking. Besides, beauty is far from being only physical.

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  6. I don't recall many romance novels I've read starring a physically flawed hero or heroine. Mary Balogh's Simply Series, if I recall correctly, told four stories of a group of friends who had gone off to war, and each came home disfigured in some manner. I remember one came home blind.
    I, too, clearly remember LaVyrle Spencer's novel titled The Gamble, in which Agatha Downing who owned a hat shop, had a limp caused from a bad hip and leg. She also tried to design her clothing to camouflage her disability.
    If it's portrayed well, and fits into the story some way, I see nothing wrong with a disabled or disfigured hero or heroine. I truly don't think it turns off readers, but I could make a list of other things in novels that turn me off!
    Good post, Cheryl.

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  7. I particularly liked Kathleen Woodiwiss's hero in A Rose
    in Winter. What a wonderful hero. I also like Lindsay Townsend's 2 book about a knight who is missing a foot and a hand. His body is riddled with scars. Heroes that aren't handsome win their ladies' love because the beauty inside them, their loving nature, their kindness and empathy for others shines like a light. That light draws us out of the darkness and cold and into the warmth of the heroes' heart. The first story I ever read with a disfigured hero was as a kid. I read FREDDY, an orphan boy that no one cared for because he had freckles and missing a hand. He grew into a young man so full of light in his soul he rivaled the sun...and he found true love. Wish I could think of the author's name. I was only ten when I read it.
    Damaged heroes are my favorite kind of heroes.
    Great blog about a very interesting subject, Cheryl.

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  8. I do love to read about characters that are perfectly imperfect. A great post thank you.

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  9. Oh, Liette, I SO agree with you! So many heroines are like that--and truly, how many women are there in real life who are that gorgeous? I like to read about everyday people, too. HOWEVER, I think a lot of that depends on our ages--I remember when I was younger reading romance novels that let me identify with the heroine as the most beautiful woman and in that role, I was winning the most handsome hero. It gave me reason to be able to imagine and put myself in that role. But as we get older, I think realism comes into play and we understand that looks are not everything. Thanks for stopping by, my friend!
    Cheryl

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  10. Celia, that was the only one of that series that I read of Mary Balogh's. I didn't realize it was a series at the time, and then later, I had moved on to other things, but I am thinking I might go back and read another one of those. She really has a poignant way of drawing you into the story and filling you with the emotions of her H/h, no matter the circumstances. Thanks for stopping by today!
    Cheryl

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  11. Sarah, thanks for letting us know about Lindsay's book. I am going to go in search of it now--it really sounds good, and Lindsay is a wonderful writer. FREDDY made a real impact on you! To have read it that long ago and still be able to remember the name of it...must have been a wonderful story. Maybe if we Google it we can find it. So many books, so little time! I agree with you, Sarah. I love damaged heroes, be it physically or emotionally. Thanks for coming by!
    Cheryl

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  12. Mary, thanks for stopping by today. I love the damaged heroes, too--and heroines.
    Cheryl

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  13. Two of my heroes have permanent disabilities and one a temporary one. The rancher hero in HAPPY IS THE BRIDE has a limp; a bad facial scar from a bullet wound mars the otherwise handsome hero in HIGH STAKES BRIDE, and the contemporary hero in BE MY GUEST has a broken leg in a cast when he rescues the heroine from a Texas flash flood. Linda Broday had one heroine who went blind. The Paragon series features a heroine with a severe limp. Characters who overcome disabilities--physical or emotional--add dimension to a story IMO. Great post, Cheryl, and thought provoking.

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  14. Thanks, Caroline. I think the same way--overcoming a disability is something that adds another dimension. I had forgotten that story of Linda's--I read that a looonnnggg time ago, too. Thanks for mentioning your stories, too--more to add to the list. I have High Stakes Bride...just haven't had a chance to read it yet. That's going to have to change! LOL Thanks so much for stopping by today!
    Cheryl

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  15. AND my winners are....CINDY JONES AND LIETTE BOUGIE!

    Congratulations, ladies, and thanks for stopping by. Cindy, if you will contact me at fabkat_edit@yahoo.com I will make certain you receive your prize. Liette, I have your e-mail and will be sending your prize code here in a bit!

    Thanks to everyone who stopped by today. I've got more books to add to my HUGE list of books to be read!

    Cheryl

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  16. I like the defective heroes. It makes them more heroic to me when they can achieve inspite of their handicap. :) One of my favorite authors has written about a deaf hero. It is amazing how she works his disability into fantastic stories.

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