I recently finished the final book in my WILD Trilogy (Yay!) and I’m hunkering down to finish the third in my BRIDE series (deadline countdown: three weeks; three days–aaah!!). I’ve spent the past few days trying to rewire the hardware in my brain for the new book as I put the other rest. Lucky for me, my upcoming hero has been calling to me ever since I brought him to life in THE GUNSLINGER’S UNTAMED BRIDE. The moment Kyle Darby struck a match in the dark, the orange glow lighting the chiseled features of his face, I knew he’d be next. I’m thinking he’s my favorite kind of hero, reserved on the outside, high strung on the inside, a nice hard shell around his heart for the heroine to break through. In the past few years I have learned, as a writer, that I also prefer a talkative hero. Chance Morgan in MAVERICK WILD was my hardest hero to write, mostly because he’s the strong, silent type and I’m a writer who thrives on dialogue. I spent much of the book wanting to beat words out of him. His brother, on the other hand, was a sheer joy from page one to the end. I had a hard time keeping up with Tucker and his banter *g*. While pondering my array of heroes and trying to decide on which characteristics make them easiest for me to write (as if my characters would let me decide!), I started to focus on what I like most as a reader.
As a reader there are certain heroes who stand out as all-time favorites. I was actually surprised to discover the strong silent types rank among my faves. I started to ask myself why? What was it about these guys that really snagged my heartstrings? Here’s a few of my all-time favorite western romance heroes:
Luke Shardlow of ONE WISH by Linda Lael Miller is hands-down my all-time favorite hero — it was love on page one, and he was only eleven years old! *g* Even at eleven, bruised and beaten by his father, Luke was cocky, wounded, yet undeniably self-assured. His consternation at having to fetch a dumb girl from a river won me over, him knowing he’d get whooped again for ruining his wool trousers, yet he dives for her anyways. As an adult he’s still cocky, wounded and self-assured–amplified a hundred times. He’s also bruised and beaten by his half-brother’s gang of outlaws when his heroine finds him and when he warns her to leave before they come back to finish him off and she asks “Who?” his flat reply is “The Ladies’ Aid Society.” I love his wit, his loyalty, his sarcasm and his hidden vulnerability of believing he’s too rotten to love.
Jesse DuFrayne in LaVyrle Spencer’s HUMMINGBIRD radiates confidence–even when he’s unconscious *lol*. He’s a rugged, worldly man with no give what-so-ever who’s up against a rigid Miss Abigail who’s not about to bend to his demands or desires. I absolutely love how her brash treatment toward him and her unwillingness to bend becomes what he admires most about her. And while he eventually wears her down, he’s the one who falls the hardest. I suppose the harder they fall the bigger the imprint on my heart 😉
Another long-time fave is Luke McClain in Dallas Schulze’s SHORT STRAW BRIDE. He and his brother are sitting around the kitchen in the opening, noticing how their late-mother’s house has been neglected and are bothered by the displeasure she’d surely feel at seeing her home in such a state–which of course spurs their need for one of them to find a wife. What better way to decide which should marry than to draw straws? Men, gotta love ’em. Having drawn the short straw, Luke sets about finding a wife the way some would choose a horse. One of my favorite scenes is when he asks his Bride-To-Be to marry him–or rather, he thinks he asked, but when she believes he’s offered her a job as a housekeeper he silently recounts all he said in his mind and realizes he’d detailed all his reasons for needing a wife, but hadn’t actually asked her to marry him. His understanding of women is slow-coming, his words remain minimal and misspoken, but his heart grows by leaps and bounds as he sets out to win his wife’s affection.
A new favorite is Jenna Kernan’s Ford Slayter in FALLEN ANGEL, part of the A WESTERN WINTER WONDERLAND Anthology (also features hunky heroes by Pam and Cheryl!). My instant appeal was his reaction to accidently shooting the heroine, utter horror followed by a sharp sense of duty to this woman and her young son. This hardened bounty hunter is a man who’s life has been shattered by the loss of his wife and young daughter. His conviction to care for this duo until he sees his angel back on her feet causes him no small amount of emotional pain. He sucks it up, holds it in, and melts my heart as his growing affection seeps out while he strives to not receive their affection in return. *sigh*
How about you? Care to share some of your most endearing western romance heroes? What is it about them that really tugs at your heartstrings?