The Damaged Hero
by JL Merrow
Hi, I’m JL Merrow, and I’m delighted to be here with the Blogger Girls today, where I’ll be taking a tongue-in-cheek look at that much-loved character in romance: the damaged hero.
Who can resist a Man With a Tragic Past™? Battered and bruised by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, he’s just gagging to have his boo-boos kissed better. And we all know where that leads! 😉
Of course, there are many different types of damaged hero. Here are a few I’ve written about, and I’m sure you can think of plenty more:
1. The Wounded Soldier
Ah, here’s a bullet-proof trope if ever there was one. (Sorry. I have poor impulse control!) He’s a soldier, so he’s a strong, manly man who’s been injured in the course of protecting the weak. He may be stoic, or he may be bitter—at the start of the book—but we all know that by the end, love will have helped him come to terms with his altered life. And there can be something very seductive about a guy who refuses to let physical damage affect his spirit.
In Permanently Legless, I had poor Chris lose both legs in Afghanistan—but he didn’t lose his strength of character—or his sense of humour. Chris’s character was inspired by real-life British soldiers I read about who’d lost limbs while serving yet still displayed incredible courage and humour.
2. The Betrayed Lover
Poor love. Up to his armpits in trust issues, and who can blame him? He laid his heart at some undeserving cad’s feet some time before the book started, only to have the rotter stomp all over it. No wonder he’s dragging his feet over getting together with Hero #2, even though, as the reader knows, this guy is a thoroughly nice chap who’ll never let him down.
Robert in Caught! starts the book by swearing off men for the next thirty years, although *spoilers!* once he meets Sean, it doesn’t take long for his resolve to waver! 😉
3. The Widower
He doesn’t have to have actually been married to the guy, of course. Particularly in historical fiction, where it would be more than a little tricky. And illegal. But a man in mourning—especially if it’s long after most people would think it’s time to start moving on—has certain attractions, and it’s not just all the soulful looks. First, he’s shown himself capable of deep love and commitment—and second, who wouldn’t like the challenge of getting the guy out of his widower’s weeds? 😉
Philip in Poacher’s Fall has been a virtual recluse since the death of the man he loved in the Great War, but Danny soon coaxes him out of his shell. And Ted in Trick of Time is not only in mourning for his lover, he also has elements of #1, as he’s yet to make a full recovery from his injuries in the car crash that bereaved him. (I feel like I should apologise to him…)
4. Down and Out
Not so much damaged as disadvantaged—although the two often go hand in hand—he may not actually be homeless, but he still hasn’t got two brass farthings to rub together, poor lamb. He’s been down on his uppers so long, his feet would make a podiatrist weep. In extreme cases, he’s been forced to survive by trading the only commodity left to him: his body.
This, of course, is the basis of the classic Cinderella story—although our updated version is likely to come with a healthy dose of cynicism, so prepare for Prince Charming to be put through the wringer in proving his devotion. We find Jem in Trick of Time in such a situation—although curiously, this impoverished Victorian rent boy still isn’t as damaged as his lover, Ted (I’m so sorry, Ted!)
5. The Amnesiac
What on earth happened to this guy? Nobody knows, least of all the man himself. In extreme cases, the poor love hasn’t even got a name to call his own. Maybe it was a bump on the head. Maybe something so traumatic he’s blocked out all memories to protect himself. Maybe something even more sinister, if this is sci-fi and there happens to be a mind-wipe machine handy.
Everyone loves a romantic hero with a touch of mystery about him, and mystery is something this guy’s got in spades. Feel his pain as he struggles to find out what happened to him—and whether he’s one of the good guys or not. I have to confess, this is a personal favourite, although I didn’t get around to writing it until Paul in Fall Hard took a tumble down a rather scenic waterfall in Iceland.
Of course, there are many more types of damaged hero, for example the abuse survivor, or the man forced by circumstances to deny his sexuality. Serious issues, but stories about them can be intensely moving and uplifting—and isn’t that what we read romance for?
Question: Do you have a favourite trauma (if you’ll forgive the phrase!) you like to see your hero overcoming? I’d love to hear from you!
You can run from the past…but the past runs faster
Shamwell Tales, Book 1
Behind Robert’s cheerfully eccentric exterior lies a young heart battered and bruised by his past. He’s taken a job teaching in a village primary school to make a fresh start, and love isn’t part of his plans. But he’s knocked for six—literally—by a chance encounter with the uncle of two of his pupils.
Sean works in pest control, rides a motorbike, and lives on a council estate. On the face of it, he shouldn’t have anything in common with Robert’s bow-tie, classic-car style and posh family background. Yet Robert is helpless to resist Sean’s roguish grin, and a rocky, excruciatingly embarrassing start doesn’t keep the sparks between them from flaring.
Despite Robert’s increasingly ludicrous attempts to keep his past where it belongs, his past hasn’t read the memo. And soon his secrets could be the very things that drive Sean away for good…
Warning: contains the alarming misadventures of a pest control technician, a stepsister with a truly unfortunate name, and a young man who may have more bow ties than sense.
About JL Merrow
JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea. She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy.
She is a member of the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.
JL has kindly offered up a chance for THREE WINNERS to pick an eBook of their choice from her backlist!! The giveaway starts now and ends September 27, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. To enter, just click the link below!
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