Now we get down to the meat of the subject of heroes. Passion.
If your hero is not passionate about the heroine, about a friend, about his family, his sister, someone, then he is not hero material. Heroes must have passion. The three heroes I’ve been speaking of, Hawkeye, William Wallace, and Jamie Fraser, ooze passion every time they appear on-screen or on the page. Not just the sex, but the intensity with which they lives their lives, with which they fight for honor, with which they defend their loves, that is the passion that makes a hero.
Passion is a strong and barely controlled emotion, therefore, whatever emotion the hero displays he can be passionate about it. And a good hero will be passionate about many things. Passion in and of itself is appealing to women. Women want men who have a passionate side. Heroines scarcely ever feel a wet fish is swoon-worthy. And the intensity of emotions is attractive to us, because a man who can exhibit a passion for one thing, means the man has feelings that can be tapped, channeled into a passion for the woman in his life. I fell in love with my husband because of the passion with which he played the piano. I realized that if he could be that passionate over a piece of music, he very likely could turn that passion toward me.
Now, the hero who is a passionate lover is also tops on a heroine’s list. And my three examples are no exception. Hawkeye in Last of the Mohicans has the devastatingly passionate kiss (and much more presumably off camera) with Cora. The lighting, the music, Daniel Day-Lewis all conspire to make that one of the most passionate love scenes in my opinion.
William Wallace in Braveheart shows his passion for his wife in their midnight wedding and later a different passion in his liaison with the Princess. This hero seems more subdued, save when he looks at these women. Still, it tugs on the heartstrings how much and how well he loved his wife for so long.
Finally, Jamie Fraser in Outlander. The episode “The Wedding” was perhaps the most keenly anticipated in the series and did not disappoint. This series, because of its venue, is able to show much more explicit passion and sex than the other two. Still, the deep emotions come from the characters and Jamie’s depth of passion and sacrifice for his family, his clan, and ultimately for Claire, makes him one of the most memorable romance heroes in the history of the romance novel.
All in all, I have learned a lot about what women want from a hero using these three particular romance heroes. I have learned heroines/women, bottom line, want strength to be protected, intelligence to strategize them out of bad situations and keep them on their toes, compassion toward the weak and great passion toward the heroine. I only hope I can take their lessons to heart in my next manuscript.