Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Non-Hero Strikes Again

I spent last night glued to a book. You might think that's a good thing, but I wasn't reading it because I loved the characters or because the writing was especially moving.

I couldn't put the book down because I was desperately hoping the heroine would kick the hero in the gonads and send him packing.

SIGH. This was a book I had heard about and have been waiting with bated breath to read because it sounded really interesting. I suppose on some level it was because I read it in two sittings - [would have been one but I had to make dinner and it was an ebook so I couldn't read while I was cooking.]

I knew going in that the hero was one of those 'arrogant bastard types' but I've read books where that type of hero redeems himself, so I kept an open mind. Alas, I was disappointed in him. He sunk to quite low depths in his quest to dominate and 'claim' the heroine and it was her humiliation at his hands that seemed to spark his falling in love with her. No time was spent on him actually discovering her as a person or becoming enamored with who she was - his feelings seemed to spring from his own remorse at being an arrogant bastard.

I kept hoping she would really hand him his head, either literally or figuratively each time she suffered for his actions, but of course, she fell in love with him instead.

I've heard men like this called Anti-heroes - the bad boys who take no prisoners in the game of love and who require a skillful and special woman to tame them, but this characters was not that. To me, he was nothing more than a non-hero. A man who fit the iconic definition of 'romance hero' - the brooding gaze and dark eyes, the impressive physical attributes, the money, the power, the self-confidence to do and say anything that pleased him. He starts out seeing the heroine as a prize to be won and he wins her by leaving her so emotionally unbalanced that she clings to him for safety when she should be kicking him in the nuts.

I just don't get the appeal.

How about you? Do you see the anti-hero and the non-hero as two different entities? Do you enjoy the redemption of the arrogant bastard and how much or how little does he need to redeem himself to become a true hero in the classic sense?


Kristen Painter said...

Oh man, I read one of those a while back. It felt like 500 pages of torture. Ugh! I hate that kind of hero!

Jen said...

So you're giving it 5 stars?

I like when a hero is redeemed, but then again, I like when a heroine is redeemed too.

Too often it feels like the hero is the "bad" one who must learn from his mistakes and the heroine is "good" -- too freakin' good to be interesting imho

Kate Willoughby said...

Well, crap. I realize as I read your post that I WROTE a hero like that. LOL In fact, it really could be my book you read. What's more, I'm somewhat embarrassed to tell you it's been my number one seller.

I didn't write 500 pages, though, so I'm off the hook as far as Kristen is concerned at least!

In my own defense, it was the first novella I ever finished. ;)

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

Oh no, Kate! Not you too! LOL. This one wasn't yours, but I will say, it's not a rare thing. I remember back when I first started reading romance, most of the Harlequen heroes were written this way. I can recall being angry after reading a lot of the books because I wanted the heroine to get her revenge on the hero rather than waltz off into blissful matrimony.