Saturday, April 25, 2015

What makes a romantic hero?

I've read hundreds of romances, have written a dozen or so, and have come to some conclusions about what makes a romantic hero. Typically he has bedroom eyes, washboard abs, and a face "too rugged to be considered handsome." He's Prince Charming in an executive suite, Cowboy Jake on a white charger, or The Beast in his princely form. He's everything you always wanted, but probably couldn't live with -- unless you were the impossibly wonderful and perfect heroine who nabs him.

Hmmm... maybe not. Here are some of my qualifications for what makes a real-life romantic hero:

1.  He helps you in the kitchen. I don't mean he tastes the sauce, says "needs more salt" and goes on about his important tasks while you do the work. I mean he gets in there and chops vegetables, makes the salad, sees you're preparing pasta sauce and asks if he can cook the pasta, and then does it, perfectly, without troubling you for every direction. In a pinch, he also bakes.

2.  He willingly tends the baby. He doesn't think diaper changing is "a woman's job." He knows it 's the job of anyone who loves and cares for that child, and he adores that child. He will get up in the night to walk with a crying baby, letting mama get some rest for a change, or he will come back to bed with the baby sleeping on his chest, carefully cradling the child while everyone gets some rest.

3.  He advocates for you when you're ill. Not intimidated by doctors, hospital protocols, or officious nurses, he sees that you get the care you need when you are too sick to speak for yourself, and he will do the same for anyone else among your extended loved ones who may need the advocacy.

4.  He acknowledges your skills when you're better than he is. It may be more appropriate to the romance genre to have a war-of-the-sexes I-can-do-anything-better-than-you-can showdown, but in real life, everyone gets along better when you recognize he is better at repairing faulty light sockets and he knows you do a better job of paying the bills. Traditional gender roles play little part in deciding these tasks. Please note, though: Real Life Hero will kick in and help wherever the help is needed when the world is in chaos.

5.  He knows when to fix and when to just listen. It may have taken him a while, but he has learned that he can't jump in and solve everything. Sometimes all you really need is a chance to vent your frustrations and someone to hear you do it.

That's just a start, really, but it's an important start. As you think about the Romantic Hero in your life, what other qualities would you add?

Susan Aylworth is the author of 13 published novels and has a part in three boxed sets, all 16 titles available now. Mother to seven, she is "gramma" to 24. She lives in northern California with her husband of 44 years and the two spoiled cats they serve, and she loves hearing from readers @SusanAylworth, at, or You can also follow her on Pinterest and Instagram.


  1. Agreed
    To your list I'd add - is your "rock". Someone you can count on to stand by you without judgment and with support to help get you out of the hole you have dug when a decision you have made falls flat

  2. I love your list, Susan, and agree with it. I also agree with Kathye; we all need a rock. (By the way, my husband's name is Peter and it fits.) One more essential ingredient for me would be a sense of humor. For the long haul, you'll need it.

  3. You have pretty much described my husband too, sans the diaper duty, but my three sons are right up there, they even iron their own shirts. The romantic 'heroes' in many Romance novels are more fantasy and 'not my type'!