by Amber Lea Easton
Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Mountain Moxie Publishing
Release Date: April 13, 2013
Heat Level: Steamy
Word Count: 93,400
Thanks for hosting me during my virtual book tour for ‘Reckless Endangerment’, Ali. When thinking about a guest post for you, I thought it would be fun to explore the elements that go into making the perfect leading man…in romance, that is. Although I wouldn’t kick any of “my men” from my novels out of bed if they were to manifest in front of me…uh-hem. Anyway, I welcome any other suggestions in the comments below! Let’s get started.
Creating the perfect leading man
Oh, the leading men we all lust after, the guys who get us all steamy just thinking about them, and the characters we wish would manifest in front of our eyes with the snap of our fingers. I salivate just thinking about some of “my men” who’ve graced my imagination and the pages of my novels. What are the ingredients that go into creating that perfect leading man in a romance novel? (And why do I feel like I’m a witch creating the perfect spell? Ha!)
Romance heroes are usually far from perfect, regardless of their physical description. Despite the idea of Fabio ripping his shirt off–which isn’t a bad image–the ideal man needs to be somewhat flawed to be approachable. What do I mean by this? Well, let me tell you.
* Internal conflict. Broken-hearted? Jaded? You bet. We all love the tortured hero, the guy who looks like he has it all but is lonely behind closed doors, the man who’s heart is as big as his pectoral muscles, the bad boy who isn’t quite as naughty as the world makes him out to be.
* A gentleman. Even in this world of independent women who get it done with sass and class, we all like a man who would lay it on the line for us and who knows how to make a woman feel like a lady.
* Sexy. A man can be beautiful on the outside, but not be sexy. So what is this elusive quality called sex appeal? When writing a leading man, it’s the subtle nuances that say “power” that equal sexy. Yeah, that’s right. Power. Whether it’s his self-control, his ability to stare you down, his confidence or the non-verbal cues that scream “good in bed”, sexy is a characteristic that is essential to our leading men.
* Secrets. We all have a few skeletons in our closet, but our leading men have mummies entombed in their basements. These secrets are usually tied into the aforementioned heartbreak, which makes them that much more appealing.
* Smart. Who wants an idiot no matter how gorgeous he is? Smart is sexy, I always say, and that applies to both the hero and heroine. It’s imperative that the hero be a smart man, a leader (even if he’s in a vulnerable position in the story), a guy the reader can see in the role of “hero”.
* A good friend. I’ve always said you can judge a man by the company he keeps and that goes for leading men, too. Having secondary characters who reflect who the man is to them, how they feel about him, his loyalty to them, etcetera goes a long way in determining if he’s actually a good guy or not. Even if the relationships are edgy, his reaction to them in the story will reveal his true nature to the readers.
All of these elements need to be in place for a leading man to take center stage in our hearts and imaginations. Physical description pales in comparison to the character development that truly pulls at a reader’s heartstrings. After all, when writing romance, it’s important to have the readers fall in love with your man…and no one falls in love with an empty shell.
Heroes come in many forms–soldiers who fall and rise, ordinary people doing extraordinary things, women who battle for their marriage, reporters who fight for truth and justice, and men who put it all on the line for the women they love.
Sometimes heroes fall.
Colonel Michael Cedars is a decorated war hero returning home from Afghanistan. Wounded, unsure if he’ll walk again, he’s not sure how he fits in civilian life, and he definitely questions if he wants to remain married to the feisty redhead he married a world away.
Hope Shane’s never been one to play it safe. She met the Colonel while working as a war correspondent, fell in love with the man in uniform, watched him get blown up, and isn’t willing to give up on him now.
Back in Denver, Colorado, she’s working as an investigative reporter who becomes entangled in a human trafficking story. As the danger of her story intensifies, Michael is tested more than he ever imagined. Will he be able to see beyond what he’s lost to embrace what remains? Is he still the man she married or has he become a liability that could get her killed? Is he still the hero she claims him to be? Will her reckless pursuit of justice endanger the life they’ve pieced together?
Warning: This title is intended for readers over the age of 18 as it contains adult sexual situations and/or adult language, and may be considered offensive to some readers.
Warning: Contains strong language – intended for adults 18 yrs of age & older
“I can’t do this on my own,” she said so quietly he wondered if she’d actually spoken. She sat on the edge of the bed, her face pale and eyes full of unshed tears. “I’m faking it every day. Please, Michael, I don’t know whether I should smack you, scream at you, or kiss you to bring you back.”
“Don’t cry for me.” Seeing her like this threw him off. He preferred the irreverent spitfire who would go toe-to-toe with him any day. He’d wanted to spare her pain, but it was obvious he had inflicted more.
“It was never hard for us, not even in a war zone. We met and-wham-that was that. We made it work.”
He leaned back in his chair and stared at her. She wore a black dress that rose upon her thigh when she crossed her legs. Black leather boots went to her knees. Hair cascaded around her shoulders, lush lips frowned and eyes glistened.
“You’re not okay, are you?” he asked. “Despite your badass looks, you haven’t healed, have you? Have you talked to anyone or just stayed in perpetual motion?”
“What do you think?” Her lips grinned despite the circumstances.
“I wouldn’t presume to feel the same as you do.” She dragged the back of her hand across her cheek without meeting his gaze. “Things happened that you don’t know about…and now isn’t the right time…but you’re right that I understand you.”
He nodded slowly, not taking his gaze from her face. Anger long gone, heartache remained. All words sounded inadequate in his brain. He wondered what had happened that she hadn’t written about, wondered if he would ever know. Sorrow clung to her. He had not only failed as a husband, but also as a friend.
They had once been the best of friends.
“What do we know about being married?” she asked, her gaze focused on a distant spot on the tiled floor. “Maybe you’re right. I’m a mess. You’re a disaster. Neither one of us is being honest.” She met his gaze. “We’re just a couple of liars who enjoyed the danger of sneaking around in a war zone. We’re the good story without a happy ending that we’ll think about when we’re old and alone.”
He winced. He deserved that. Hell, he’d been singing the same song. It felt like a boulder crushed his chest as he waited for the final blow.
About the Author
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published cross genre author of romantic suspense, action adventure, mystery thrillers and new adult (coming in summer 2013). Her current releases cross all boundaries and appeal to a wide audience. If you love a clever plot, action that will leave you breathless, riveting characters and sexy love scenes, her books will appeal to you. “Smart is sexy,” Easton says, which is why she focuses on smart heroines who always have a lot to lose yet find the courage to face their fears to overcome adversity. She’s an avid reader of all genres or “whatever turns her on in the moment”.
Easton grew up in Hartford, South Dakota, where she spent her time daydreaming of big adventures over the horizon under a giant blue South Dakota sky. Now living in Colorado, she’s an avid traveler who incorporates her real life travels into her novels as much as possible (minus the illegal activities her characters become immersed in–she swears). To her, setting is another character in the novel and often serves as an inspiration. Love is her motivation for all things–whether it be writing, traveling, playing with her dogs or hanging with her two teenagers–if it’s not done with love, then what’s the point?
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