If I have any type beyond the physical, it is that the guy be smart. As in smarter than me, smarter than everyone in the room, but not a jerk about it. I want someone who knows things, who craves knowledge, who is delighted to share his arcane bits of ephemera floating around in his brain with me.
Of course, since many of us are working out our issues through our writing, and I am no exception, I will say that my dad was one of those guys. But he needed to know, and have everyone else know, that he was the smartest guy in the room (he usually was, too, but he could also be the jerkiest about proving it). In my fictional scenario, the smart guy in question is so confident in his smarts that he just needs to show he’s worthy of me.
And that, in its essence, is what good romance does—proves that each of the two protagonists are worthy of one another, even if they are not necessarily worthy at large to the world. The romantic world is a microcosm between two people (I am excluding ménage et al, since I don’t write that, and I wouldn’t feel confident I could speak with authority on what it wants to do). Those two people, by the end of the book, believe that only through being with the other one that they are complete, or stronger, or whatever their ultimate life-goal is.
Now, this makes it sound as though I’m writing super-weighty stuff, and I will be the first to admit that I do not. I write mistoricals, books that are set in history but are not always true to the period. But my characters (at least according to me) are universal for any time period, so they can act and react and generally behave as people would now, because love is love and being anxious about another person might feel the same two hundred years ago as it does today. That’s what I responded to when I read my first historical romances, especially Anya Seton’s Katherine and, somewhat less proudly to admit, Kathleen Winsor’s Forever Amber. I got so much interesting history as I was inhaling the romantic elements of those books, and the Barbara Cartlands I glommed that it was a natural thing for me to write historicals when I decided to try my hand at writing.
And my characters—because I had to return to my original point sometime—are hopefully smart in some ways, even if they’re not smart in all the ways. For example, Marcus in The Duke’s Guide to Correct Behavior is very aware of his own limitations, and how he has been altered by his upbringing. I don’t think many characters, much less heroes, are as sensitive to what made them be the way they are as Marcus is. Lily is more traditionally book-smart (she’s a faux governess, after all, but pretty good being that she’s faux and all), but she is also savvy about the world, and is smart enough to take charge when the situation demands it.
And my point? Well, I don’t have much of a specific point, but that’s kind of like my books—they ramble around for awhile, and things happen, and you (hopefully) meet interesting people, and then you get that sigh of satisfaction at the end (again, hopefully).
Megan Frampton is the author of five historical romances. She is a member and President of the Beau Monde (2004-2005), the Regency chapter of the Romance Writers of America, and a member of the NYC chapter of the RWA as well.