Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Imperfect Heroes - Nalini Singh

I’m delighted to have a chance to visit with you all again. Thank you to Lee for inviting me! I wanted to choose a topic for today that would be fun, interesting, and most of all spur discussion. So I about men?!

Men are always fun to discuss (and if there are any men reading this, I mean that in the best possible way – read on to see). As romance readers, we all have a distinct liking for the male of the species. However, I think that there’s sometimes a perception that romance-novel men are all the same – perfect beings no real man could ever measure up to.

I don’t agree. Here’s my theory – in most romances, we see the hero through the heroine’s eyes. Of course her man is going to be perfect to her. And through her, we fall in love with him, too. I’m not saying we don’t have a certain fantasy element in our heroic archetypes – that would be plain disingenuous – but I think there’s a far wider variety of men in romance than is readily apparent.

Here are some examples of imperfect heroes from books on my shelves:

Kristin Hannah’s “Once in Every Life” has a hero so traumatized by war, he doesn’t even trust himself around his children. He is, in fact, so distrustful of himself, that he takes all the abuse his wife heaps on him. Some call him mad. But to our heroine, he is extraordinary, the man she loves and needs.

Elizabeth Hoyt’s “The Raven Prince” has a hero pockmarked by scars, and with a terrible temper to boot. He’s definitely imperfect in some very visible ways. And yet again, he’s the perfect hero for the heroine.

Christine Feehan’s “Dark Desire” has a hero who’s survived horrible torture, but who is more animal than human as a result. Most women would run far and fast if they ever came in contact with Jacques. But we trust in him...because the heroine trusts in him.

Pamela Morsi’s “Simple Jess” has a hero who is quite literally, simple. But again, he is the heroine’s perfect love, the one man who fits her like no one else.

I belive the most memorable heroes are the ones with flaws, whether they be emotional or physical, or even mental. No woman wants a perfect man, because no woman is perfect herself. As romance readers, I think we feel the same way about our heroes. We want a man who lives life, and if he gets a little marked up by it, so be it.

So, what do you think? Agree with me? Disagree? Have any favorite examples of imperfect heroes?

All comments go into a draw to win a signed copy of a book from my backlist, (not including Mine to Possess, cause I don’t have my author copies yet). And talking about prizes, I have this competition running on my blog where you can go into the draw to win a $50 Amazon voucher plus a cute prize pack. It closes Saturday, so enter before it’s too late.



Anonymous said...

I prefer a book when the hero is perfect (in looks or actions). It makes it more real to me. My favorite imperfect hero is Sydnam from Mary Balogh's Simply Love (I hope I'm getting the right "Simply" book... I'm at work and can't look it up easily)

Unknown said...

I am with you I think the hero should not be perfect. No one really is. I think the hero with scars stand out more in your mind and you remember them more.

robynl said...

We want a man who lives life, and if he gets a little marked up by it, so be it. I SO AGREE WITH THIS!! Scars add to the 'near perfect' image of our hero in our lives and in books. How can a man be down to earth and kind and caring if he is perfect. He wouldn't understand us.

robynl said...

I have sent an e-mail to you for my entry; sorry I have no myspace or blog.
I love talking about and discussing my fav. TV hero, David James Elliott.

Unknown said...

I like imperfect heroes because they are able to grow and change. It can make for a more interesting story.

felinewyvern said...

I love Jacques story because he is imperfect in every ones eyes except those of the heroinne. Imperfect heroes have a chance to become perfect for the one that counts - the woman he loves.
That said I don't object to perfect heroes either ;)

Maureen said...

I agree. I think there is a huge difference between the heroes in the romances I read.

Nalini Singh said...

Hi Jen, Virginia, Robynl, Georgie, Ilona & Maureen!!

Great to be here chatting with you all about imperfect heroes. I think the points you've made are all so true - he can understand the heroine better because he's imperfect himself, and his scars - emotional or physical - show a life well lived, as well as the potential for growth.

CrystalGB said...

I am drawn to a hero who is imperfect. If he is scarred physically or emotionally, he is more human to me. Rona Sharon's hero in Once A Rake has been scarred fighting in the war. Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter Zarek and J.R. Ward's Zsadist also come to mind as imperfect heroes.

Wolfy said...

I think that the imperfect hero is good, because he is usually more sensitive to the heroine, and tries harder to protect her and in the process comes to realize that he is not so imperfect after all and just the perfect one for the heroine. These stories usualy have the "sigh" ending that I like.

Jane said...

Many books feature heroes who scarred not physically but emotionally. Lisa Kleypas' Nick from "Worth Any Price" and Sebastian from "Devil in Winter" are great examples of emotionally scarred heroes.

Estella said...

I agree with you. The hero should not be perfect. I don't think anyone is ever perfect.

Wendy said...

I like heroes who are flawed. If a character seems perfect, it's boring and a bit creepy too.

Like Estella said, nobody is ever perfect; life sure isn't.

Cherie J said...

I love a wounded hero. There is just something about a guy who has suffered in the past and yet has managed to maintain a code of ethics. He believes in protecting the weak and will do all in his power to fight evil.

Nathalie said...

I like flawed heroes... they are more realistic and it is easier to relate to them.

Lily said...

Flawed and scarred heroes... some of my favorite. I have a soft spot for those war wounded characters or that had a troubled past.

Nalini Singh said...

Crystal - I also loved Zarek. So wounded and yet he's so gentle with the heroine.

Cryna - that's so true about the "sigh" ending :)

Jane - thanks for those recommendations. I'll have to check them out.

Estella / Wendy / Nathalie - It just makes them more real, doesn't it?

Cherie - I like that description, about them having a solid code of honor despite everything.

Lily - me, too!

Pamk said...

flawed heroes make great heroes.

Ellory said...

Hm... you are right about perfection. I was told to say "Nobody's perfect, ya'know" when I was very young. :)

I was thinking about one of my favorite heroes... would be Sam from Suzanne Brockmann's Troubleshooters series. He was definitely not perfect and had his problems to handle before he could have his HEA with Alyssa.

All’sReads said...

Reading is an escape, sure, but I think it also need to connect with reality - and reality is that we each have strengths and flaws. Give me a realistic character any day. It makes the interaction, well the whole story so much better! Great post Nalini. Thanks!

Michele L. said...

It is so important not to judge anyone by their looks so a man that is not perfect in appearance is all right by me! I love my husband for who he is on the inside. So any imperfections give a man more character and depth. There are more layers to discover to the real person underneath.

Interesting topic Nalini! Great to have you here!

Michele L.

limecello said...

I agree with CrystalGB, and Jane on their books and characters, and Wendy on her point. If the hero is all around perfect, he's just annoying. He needs to have flaws to be relate-able.
Also, with flawed characters there's usually some obstacle the hero has to overcome, so we as the reader can struggle along with him, and cheer for him at the end.

Margaret McDonagh said...

Great post, Nalini.

No one is perfect, so to have a hero who is in some way 'damaged' and who we see overcoming whatever has happened to him physically or emotionally makes for an incredibly satisfying read. Sharing the journey as he opens to the heroine and learns to love and trust, finding that special person who sees all of him, accepts all of him, flaws and all, is a great reading experience. And applies vice versa, too, when it is the heroine who has a difficult journey to make and finds the support of the right man.

I love reading about those kind of characters - and writing them, too. I've had several 'damaged' characters, both hero and heroine, and it's a joy bringing them their happy ending ... or happy beginning of the new part of their lives together.


ChristyJan said...

I like when the hero isn't perfect.
I always tell my husband "you may not be perfect, but you are perfect FOR me."

Nalini Singh said...

Hi Pam!

Ann - I agree - Sam was definitely not perfect, and yet so compelling as a hero.

Allison / Michele - glad you enjoyed it :)

Limecello - that's so true about perfection being annoying. Don't you just want to poke them and see if they're real? LOL

Mags - absolutely!

ChristyJan - that's so sweet :)

Nalini Singh said...

Thank you all so much for chatting with me! I've drawn the random winner and it's: RobynL

Robyn, can you please email me at with your choice of one of my backlist books (not including Mine to Possess). You can find my booklist at

I hope you all find some wonderful heroes to read this year! :)

Nalini Singh said...

p.s. Don't forget my heroes - Clay's one luscious man :)