Saturday, July 28, 2018

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

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!

15 comments:

  1. I think it's great to have everyone in society reflected in books. Let's face it, we may picture a character in our mind's eye, but it's the way the personality is written which makes us fall in love with them. Being less than perfect myself I'm all for it.

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    1. I agree, Christine. I love that facet to a character, too. It's different, and we know in real life there are people who are not "perfect" who find love to last forever!

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  2. I've never had a problem with characters who have what are perceived as disabilities. One of my favorite Western stories has the hero loosing a eye and he believes the woman he cares for will not want him anymore. I can't remember the title, but it was either by L.P. Holmes of Alan LeMay. One of my favorites. (Of course I just love stories in general. LOL).

    To me if the story is well-told then the reader will connect with the characters and feel what they feel, no matter what their physical condition. Doris

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    1. I agree, Doris. I like the fact that we go on the "journey" with the character of knowing how they would feel (or at least empathizing with them to the point we are able) and feeling those same doubts and fears and then--LOVE CONQUERS ALL! LOL

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  3. I think this is where the smaller press is opening the way to richer stories. My friend Dawn Thompson wrote a book called Prisoner of the Flames -- the hero was scared from a fire, and the heroine was blind. She had the hardest time getting it published because the editors loved the book but didn't think the audience would like a hero with a scared face or a heroine who couldn't see. She finally saw it published, but only after she had over a dozen successful books in print.

    You used to see flawed heroes and heroines. I recall one book I really loved and the hero wore an eye patch and one arm was injured. Another had a heroine who's leg had been broken when she was young and it didn't heal right so she limped. Both authors made the characters and their problems so real.

    Sales department tends to force authors to be round pegs, instead of letting them be that square peg that refuses to be trimmed to fit the mold. Smaller presses give authors to wings to soar.

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    1. Yes, I believe that, too, Deborah, because I think most of the books I mentioned above were written and published by the authors after they were already successful with many other stories published and "out there"--and so they all pretty much had made a name for themselves before they were "allowed" to write these stories and see them in print. I loved every single one of these books. It's amazing the influence the marketing and industry people have over what the public is allowed to read, isn't it?

      Thanks for stopping by today!

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  4. I really relate to your post, Cheryl. I think the book Deborah is thinking of with a heroine who limps is The Gamble by LaVyrle Spencer. I read it years ago and loved it, particularly because I walk with a limp myself. My disability inspired me to make the heroine of Rescuing Lara, book one in my Romancing the Guardians series, disabled due to a terrible car wreck. She also has a scar on her face, but the ruggedly handsome hero still finds her beautiful. As you say, we all have our imperfections.

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    1. Lyn, I'm so glad you thought of the name of that book--I am going to get it and read it. I have liked everything I've read by LaVyrle Spencer--can't go wrong there! I've always thought -- there is no greater love story than Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett. Mom always used to say beauty is only skin deep and that is so true.

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  5. I do wish I could remember titles of stories, but sadly right now I can't. There are many out there with scarred heroes who feel they are less of a man than they were before. Heroines have any number of flaws, some social and some physical. Linda Broday's recent The Cowboy Who Came Calling is a good example. I think having an imperfect, damaged character adds so much to the story. We are all far from perfect and it gives us a character we can relate to and learn to love. It is probably why the Beauty and the Beast is my favorite trope.

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    1. I loved The Cowboy Who Came Calling. That is such a good book--you can't go wrong with Linda Broday's stories either. There are so many good books out there--so little time! LOL Thanks for stopping by Patricia!

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  6. My winners for a digital copy of THE WISHING TREE are LYN HORNER and DORIS MCGRAW! Ladies, if you will message me at fabkat_edit@yahoo.com I will make sure you get your copy of the story! Thanks to everyone for stopping by!

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  7. Cheryl, I love flawed heroes. The first book I sold, BE MY GUEST, had a hero with a broken leg in a cast. I also wrote SNARE HIS HEART in which the hero was badly scarred from a fire in which he unsuccessfully tried to save his wife's life. Another was HIGH STAKES BRIDE in which the handsome hero has a disfiguring scar on one side of his face. Then, I wrote DANIEL McCLINTOCK, in which the hero was injured when his horse was killed while he was on the horse and when they fell, the hero landed on a rock that broke his back. The heroine is one of the first physical therapists--although it was called something else at the time.

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    1. That is great, Caroline! I see I've got some reading to do! LOL These all sound great and I love your stories so much. I wish I had about twice as many hours in the day to just READ.

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  8. Cheryl,

    "Erik" aka Phantom of the Opera is my favorite disfigured character. There was a male character in the a comic strip, "Brenda Starr", who had an eye patch. I don't recall his name, but I was captivated by his appearance when I was a kid.

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  9. I do like books with imperfect heroes. I haven't read any that have an imperfect heroine. Brenda Novak wrote a book with the hero born with a bad arm. It's called "Of Noble Birth" and I've read it more than once. Kris Tualla writes about a deaf hero who becomes a detective written in Norway as a historical. A discreet Gentleman of Discovery is one of many. So good.

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