Fave Five: Historical Heroes

I have recently discovered the TV show Whitechapel, a blend of historical and modern crime. Whitechapel Joe ChandlerHow I’ve missed this show for the past couple of years I don’t know, because I love it!
Yes, I majored in history in college, and yes, I like detective shows. Those are the qualities that drew me to it in the first place, but
I continue to watch for Detective Inspector Joseph Chandler, the lead character. He’s handsome, of course, but he’s also a little alone in the world, a little different from his colleagues, and a little bit wounded.

One of my favorite kinds of hero.

Here are some others, numbered only because I’m a math teacher and I like lists :-)

1. I swoon for heroes who are willing to work for the affection of the heroine. Barbara Samuel’s Tynan Spenser does just that in The Black Angel. His betrothed is a stranger to him, and a necessary one—her father can help him win the seat in Parliament he covets. But that doesn’t mean they can’t share affection, and he sets out to win hers with a kiss each day. He carefully picks his moments (and body parts), and I love his creativity and the thought that goes into his courtship. What woman wouldn’t?

2. I adore heroes who are/were soldiers. Whatever reason a man decides to join the Army (to serve his country, to feed his family, because he was the second son of a nobleman), I am drawn to a hero who accepts the responsibility of command (however large or small), who does what he thinks is right. These are men who endure hardships both of body and mind, and who suffer damage to both in the process. The Regency period is rife with these heroes (lucky for me!), returning from the Peninsular Wars or the wars in America. My favorite? Grace Burrowes’s Devlin St. Just from The Soldier.

3. I relish heroes who are repentant. That’s right, repentant. They’ve committed a wrong in the past, and mature enough BalzacBeatrix02somewhere along the way to regret their actions. Case in point: Courtney Milan’s Evan Carlton from Unlocked. He teased and tormented a girl who was different to win popularity among the other young men and women of the ton. Classic bully, right? Absolutely. Then he leaves London, sees the world, and discovers there is more to life than the opinions of society…realizing what a Class A jackass he’s been. But he doesn’t stop there—he attempts to right his wrong, or at least repair some of the damage he caused. It takes a real man to fess up and apologize, and I applaud Evan for recognizing how badly he screwed up, and forging ahead to fix it.

4. I am utterly devoted to heroes who are the underdog. Maybe I’ve watched too many Disney movies (Cool Runnings is still one of my favorites), or maybe I’ve been the underdog once too often myself. Whatever the cause, I love a man who shouldn’t win the heroine’s love but does anyway. And the award for the most creative plot goes to Reginald Mason in Mary Balogh’s Matter of Class. I won’t ruin the book for you if you haven’t read it, but it was masterful. And risky. Where most men would have given up the situation as hopeless, Reggie (and his accomplice) used society’s own rules to win a woman far above his station. Take that, Beau Monde!

5. I sigh over the nobleman who presents an aloof, cold exterior to society, but melts (however reluctantly) for the heroine. Mary Balogh’s Wulfric Bedwyn, Duke of Bewcastle epitomizes this category. He inherited his title and vast responsibilities (including the welfare of his brothers and sisters) at the tender age of seventeen. Duke of Wellington 1814If you’ve read the Slightly series, you know about the glimpses of His Grace in each book. You’ve seen him employ his quizzing glass to
chilly perfection on the impertinent, watched him coerce his siblings into doing what he thinks is best. And in the last book, Wulf’s own story, you saw him melt little by little in the presence of Christine. He’s still the daunting duke on the outside, but his inner self gets to shine. He gets to be caring, sweet, and even a little silly. How can you resist a man like that?

So those are my favorites. What are yours? Are there different types of heroes in contemporary vs. historical romances? Or paranormals?

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10 thoughts on “Fave Five: Historical Heroes

  1. Great lists of heroes. I like these heroes because they are often more like the men is real life, often dismissed as the ‘good guy. I love Whitechapel too! The actor who plays, DI Joseph Chandler, Rupert Penry-Jones is the son of the actress who played Audrey’s friend in another of my favorites, to the Manor Born. He also played a very conflicted MI5 Agent in MI5.

    My favorite hero is something I’ve also been thinking of this week, I labelled him a WTF! man http://wp.me/p32DPW-m His life makes him an underdog but he always does the right thing and is drop dead gorgeous. He is the hero but usually loses the woman to the bad boy, fate or she was using him, because he is the ‘nice’ guy. Tom Selleck in Magnum, PI and Jesse Stone usually come to mind. My novel has two men both in love with my heroine and both worthy of her but I wasn’t sure what to do with the one who doesn’t get her because he is in the next story and maybe gets her eventually. Then, I realized I needed to make him the good guy gentleman, who graciously steps aside.

    • A kindred spirit! I had discovered that Rupert Penry-Jones was in MI-5, but I only saw a couple of episodes of that when it first came out before I lost track of it. I may have to invest in the season 1 DVDs :-)

      I hope your character who steps aside finds his match in your next story! I love books like that!

      • I really should not share this with you… but kindred spirits and all… the MI-5 shows can be streamed on Netflix, cheaper than the DVDs ;-) but you risk turning into St Lucy with eyeballs in your plate after watching too many episodes in a row! :D

        The character who steps aside is just biding his time, he has a dark side that trips him up, even though he tries to be good! Oddly, my husband thinks it’s based on him -no no no! My husband is the ultimate good guy -no dark side, he’s just too lazy for a dark side!

    • Wounded Warriors, eh Jennelle? Me too. I haven’t read The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie yet, but I’ve heard wonderful things about it. It’s on my list. And one of my future heroes is whispering in my ear that he might be OCD. My day job (teaching psychology) once again collides with my writing!

  2. . I ordered the first season of White Chapel from Amazon UK just because it starred Rupert Penry-Jones long before it was shown on BBCAmerica. I also own seasons two and three and am anxiously awaiting season four (so glad they are making another season because the end of season three was such a downer!). RPJ also very good in the ITV version of Persuasion. I know this version often gets a bum rap for the liberties it took with the letter scene, but it’s one of my fave’s if I need a quick Austen fix.

    I don’t think hero’s are that different in historicals vs. contemporaries vs. paranormal. As a reader, I want a hero with honor and integrity who genuinely falls in love with the heroine and treats her as an equal.

    Some of my favorite historical heroes are Jared Chillhurst in Deception, Gideon Westbrook in Ravished, both by Amanda Quick; Gabriel St. Aubyn in Seduced by a Stranger by Eve Silver; John Blackwood in Julia Quinn’s Dancing at Midnight, and Alexander Durmant in Alissa Johnson’s As Luck Would Have It.

    • John Blackwood! I’d almost forgotten about him, but he was a great hero, too :-) And I agree with your assessment: honor, integrity, and genuine love for the heroine are tops on my list, too.

  3. Cora, you’ve got a fine list mentioned here. Brava! My favorite heroes are the Alpha heroes, willing to do anything to protect the ones they love. Wounded heroes are fantastic, The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie is a definite great! One of my favorite heroes is Hal Waterman from A Most Unconventional Match by Julia Justiss. Imagine a hero with a stutter. I was amazed at how Ms. Justiss tackled this subject and created a hero I’ll never forget. Perfect!!

    Now, I haven’t seen Whitechapel. Guess I must away to locate the handsome Rupert Penry-Jones!!! (Hint: He’s a hero in my 7 book series!!)

    • Hal Waterman! Another one I forgot! I remember reading that book a while back, wondering how Julia Justiss was going to pull off the stutter. She did it, though. Hal came across as a strong, intelligent man :-)

      Have fun with RPJ!

      • Wasn’t he magnificent? I’ve actually talked to Julia about this book too. She’s amazing!!! I believe it was a sequel to an earlier HQN book. Can’t remember the name of the other one. And you should see her decked out in Regency garb at conference. Wow!

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