Honorary Blogger JL Merrow: The Damaged Hero + Giveaway!


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 hurt_comfortv2gagging 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.

tragic pastv2Robert 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!


About Caught!

11You 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.

Available at: Samhain & Amazon


About JL Merrow

Waterhouse_a_mermaid hiresJL 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.

Find JL Merrow online at: www.jlmerrow.com, on Twitter as @jlmerrow, and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jl.merrow.


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!

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Please be aware that the only way to enter the giveaway is to click the Rafflecopter link above. Any comments on this post will not count towards entering the giveaway, except to verify your Rafflecopter entry.

Good luck!

Categories: Book Promo, Giveaways, Honorary Blogger Post, LGBT | Tags: , , , , , , | 46 Comments

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46 thoughts on “Honorary Blogger JL Merrow: The Damaged Hero + Giveaway!

  1. Susan

    Having served in the military myself, I’m a fan of the wounded soldier.

    • Susan, it must be even more poignant if you’ve known people personally who’ve been injured in the course of duty. I have nothing but admiration and respect for those who risk themselves to protect others.

  2. Damaged heroes are my favourite! A special favourite is the sexual abuse survivor. I’ve got several of those characters. ^^;; Great post, JL!

    • Thanks! 🙂 Stories of sexual abuse survivors can be very inspirational – I’m always reluctant to tackle the area, fearing I won’t do it justice.

  3. jenf27

    I do like hurt comfort stories. I think especially those with heroes overcoming an old trauma (from childhood or young adulthood) or the Betrayed Lover or Widower. I have Caught! queued up on my Kindle to read. Thanks for the great post and contest!

    • I think hurt/comfort stories resonate with a lot of people – we’ve all been hurt, so it’s great to read about someone being supported and healed. And I hope you enjoy Caught! 🙂

  4. debby236

    I love stories of men with disabilities. My daughter is an amputee and she is gay. She is also wonderfully normal.

    • “She is also wonderfully normal” – EXACTLY!
      I would LOVE to see more people in popular media who just happen to have disabilities – writers need to stop making it a plot point!
      Some people have disabilities. Get over it. *nods*

  5. I have a weakness for The Wounded Soldier, particularly with the involvement of PTSD. There’s no particular reason, I just love this trope.

  6. Rod B

    Great post. I’d love to read about a man overcoming paralysis from some type of accident.

    • Paralysis must be such a frustrating thing – to have a part of your body that just won’t respond to instructions. I think a lot of writers shy away from it because it involves loss of sensation, but you’re right: a story about someone learning to deal with it could be very inspirational.

  7. Waxapplelover

    I have to admit I have a weakness for the The Betrayed Lover, because I love when the MC finds true love. Yes, it’s all about hearts and rainbows here, but doesn’t everyone like a happy ending?

    • “it’s all about hearts and rainbows here” – isn’t that the romance genre in a nutshell? ;D
      And you’re quite right: life deals enough blows. Let fiction, at least, deliver happy endings!

  8. Pingback: Blogging about Damaged Heroes | JL Merrow

  9. Barbra

    I think The Betrayed Lover is my favorite, but I like them all. 😉

    • Barbra, I think a lot of us (alas!) can empathise with the Betrayed Lover, and enjoy a reminder that all guys aren’t like that! 😉

  10. JenCW

    I have a weakness for the wounded soldier and the widower. I’m not super enthusiastic about the amnesiac, probably because it got used so much in the M/F books that I used to read a long time ago.

    • *nods* Any trope gets tiresome if over-used, particularly one that (if we’re honest) isn’t actually all that realistic. But… I still have a weakness for amnesiacs! I’ve never really read m/f romance, so I guess I’m coming fresh to it all.

  11. Antonia

    I actually enjoy a lot of these, but the Betrayed Lover and the Widower are two favorites. I’m not usually a huge fan of the amnesiac, but I did really enjoy Fall Hard. I loved Caught!

  12. Jbst

    I’m a fan of stories where the MC overcomes and/or survives some situation or disability etc. One that I like is the MC that has been been physically scarred in some manner. Its the Beauty & Beast trope I suppose.

  13. I love military stories…please count me in

  14. Sarina Feuerbach

    Love JL’s stories! Thanks for the giveaway!

  15. I do like hurt/comfort stories. They’re inspirational.

  16. Tammy

    I am really drawn to the betrayed lover but a widower also tugs at my heart strings.. Thanks for the giveaway!

  17. Debra E

    It’s a toss up between wounded soldier and betrayed lover,

  18. Cornelia

    I feel for the widower and betrayed.

  19. Alaina

    I love the Wounded Soldier most of all. They tend to be part of the hurt/comfort stories that I can’t get enough of!

  20. Faellie

    I’m definitely on for down and out, as long as good is made by the end of the story. It doesn’t even have to be mega-rich good (although nothing wrong with that, story-wise), just getting their life to a good place.

    Also, I’ve had a soft spot for the amnesiac since reading Random Harvest a few decades ago.

  21. Faellie

    Definitely the down and out who ends up in a good place.

    Although I’ve also had a soft spot for amnesiacs since reading Random Harvest as a teenager.

  22. Neene

    No, I don’t have a favorite MWaTP (TM) 😉 but I looved Chris in Permanently Legless – the humor, the hot-guy-who-lost-faith-in-himself and the lurrrve that kicks his ass back to life. Yeah!
    BUt whatever suits the guy as background – a REAL, LIVED background and not just ‘oh, I was abused/orphaned/badly hurt, but actually I’m fine’ – ugh.

  23. NJF78

    I like them all, but I guess my favorite would be amnesiacs.

  24. Ardent Ereader

    The betrayed lover is prob my favorite, I love it when he finally gets his HEA. Thanks for the giveaway.

  25. Hmm interesting question, I have read and enjoyed stories with all the lovers types you mentioned and maybe my favourite is the characters/character that are have a disability or less than perfect in the general public’s view, maybe have issues pre-existing, and find love regardless of public perception or even the pre-conceptions of the one that becomes their lover. For instance Muscling Through (a JL Merrow book), a personal favourite of mine, and is about issues surrounding the love between a Cambridge University professor with a gentle giant who has little education but has a natural flair for art and warm open honesty/heart that breaks through the professors pre-conceptions.

    thank you for a chance to win one of your books 🙂

  26. Jillian T

    I like to read about a hero who is a wounded soldier overcoming obstacles.

  27. I love reading about people overcoming disabilities not sure I would necessarily call that a trauma.

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