It’s the eternal question, right? What do women want? I sure as hell don’t know. In fact, I doubt there’s a consensus from females writ large on much of anything. I only know what I want and, as a romance reader, it is not another bad boy.
I’ve been falling out of love with the bad boy hero for a while now. What was sexy in Anne Stuart’s Cold as Ice is beyond dull in much of modern machismo-filled erotic romances. In too many a New Adult romance, the bad boy trope means little more than “I’ve slept with so many women that, hey babe, I’m a god in bed.” (If I were Abby, I’d have given Travis the number of a good therapist–the guy IS a disaster.)
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for a god in bed. And I find an alpha male exceedingly appealing. But there’s no reason the alpha male who knows how to rock a woman’s world can’t be the good guy. That’s the guy I want.
Luckily for me, there are lots of these great guys around. Here are some of my recent favorites.
Sam Brody from Jill Shalvis’s It’s in his Kiss is, like all of his Lucky Harbor brethren, an utter hottie determined to make the world a better place one unselfish act at a time. When he realizes the heroine, Becca, is recovering from a violent act in her past, the ways in which he both accommodates her fears and enables her to move past them is just lovely. He’s a strong man, stoic and self-reliant, but he hasn’t a bad bone in his body and is all the sexier for it.
David Rivera of Nalini Singh’s Rock Courtship is a more interesting guy than many rock star heroes. He loves his family, is a one woman kind of man, and treats the love of his life, Thea, like a queen. He courts Thea, using words rather than sex (although he’s hot and their love scenes are compelling) to win her heart and her mind. I’d take him over Fox, the bad boy hero of the first book in the series, Rock Addiction, any day.
Erik Gulbrandr, the cooly supernatural hero of Meljean Brook’s Frozen, is a noble guy. He sees himself as a monster and denies himself any chance of happiness in an effort to control a curse that dooms him to destroy the woman he deeply desires. He’s an ethical employee, cares for the environment, and, no matter how much it literally pains him, he always does the right thing. His love story with the clever and confident Olivia is sweet and sexy and I loved seeing them find their HEA.
Perhaps my favorite nice guy hero is Mack Kennedy in Amy Andrew’s No More Mr. Nice Guy. When Josie Butler (she’s his little sister’s best friend) decides, after breaking up with her very dull boyfriend, she wants to live a little, Mack is horrified at the risks she seems willing to take. He decides that if Josie is determined to work through her Sexy To Do List, she can do so safely… with him.
He raked a hand through his hair. “You’re telling me you’d rather be with some unknown bad-boy than some unknown nice guy who’s solid and safe?”
“Jesus, Mack, since when did you become the fun police? I want to have pretzel sex with him, not design the latest Volvo.”
“Pretzel sex would be safer in a Volvo,” he said through gritted teeth. That demonic note crept back into his voice, and an eerie kind of hush surrounded them, locking them into a little tense bubble.
“You’re just angry because I called you nice.” Obviously, it was a sore spot for him, and she’d gone and given it a good hard prod.
Josie frowned. “You’re not angry? Or you’re not nice?” He couldn’t deny the latter, surely? The last time she’d seen him, he’d been petting a bunny for crying out loud.
“Oh, I’m nice,” he said. “I’m just not that nice.”
His voice dropped an octave or two, and he raked his eyes up and down her body. Goose bumps bloomed across her arms, beading her nipples, and his gaze lingered for long moments on her breasts. She blushed beneath his exceedingly thorough examination, heat in her cheeks, a hitch in her breath. His eyes returned to her face, and he looked wild and dangerous.
Mack is wild but not at all dangerous. He’s a generous, superb lover, a kind big brother, and one of the greatest veterinarians I’ve encountered. He’s a dreamboat of a guy. And he does a hell of a job helping Josie live out her down and dirty fantasies. When I think of my ideal romance hero, it’s someone like Mack.
What do you look for? Do bad boys do it for you? Or is it the good guys that make you swoon?