Thursday, February 12, 2009

Conjuring up hunky heroes

By CiCi Barnes

Where do your hunky heroes come from and how do you describe them? Are they born in your head, displayed in a magazine, big as life on the big screen, or sizzling on the small screen in your den? Is he blond, brunette? Usually, we add ‘or redhead’ when speaking of the female lead, but I haven’t read any books, as I recall, with a carrot-topped hero. Blue, brown, or green eyes? I’ve even read of some smoky, gray eyes. Do all your heroes tend to have similar physical characteristics, or do you mix it up? What do you lean toward in real life?

I lean toward the old clichéd tall, dark and handsome. Brunettes seem to tingle my spine more than blondes. One eye color over another hasn’t spun me out of control, but the look in them needs to smolder. I like a few muscles, but not over-the-top pecs. A warm nice smile completes the pitter-patter-of-my-heart ideal.

My first-ever written hunky hero fires up my glands when I think about him still. He was hard to get out of my head when I had to reach for my next Adonis. It took some doing to transfer my passion.

But even as I scavenge around for the perfect specimen, I have to say my real-life hunky hero is the best. And, no, ladies, I’m not describing him or putting him in a book. He’s all mine. You’ll just have to survive with my fantasies, your fantasies, or your own, real-life go-to guy.

My first hunky hero will always be special, and my first heroine, Cassie, thinks so too. Here’s how she sees him:

Her dream lover, the one she’d conjured up thirteen years ago at the early age of fifteen, drifted back into her thoughts. Her brain wouldn’t obey when she tried to push his image away.
Broad shoulders, tall frame, intoxicating crooked smile, and those eyes. Oh, the times she’d tried to describe those crystal blue pools to Andrea. The proper analogy didn’t exist. Relaxing, Cassie lowered her eyelids, gave in to her private dream world and drank in his likeness standing at the water’s edge.
She frowned when the air whispered her name.
“Cassie. Come to me.”
Opening her eyes, she clutched the wooden rail again. The words weren’t a figment of her imagination. He stood, just as he had in her mind, in the tide’s foaming bubbles with his arms outstretched.
She sank down on the lounge chair, holding on with a white-knuckled grip and refused to take a second look toward the water. Her hands shook as beads of sweat formed on her upper lip. Her desire for him battled her common sense that hearing him, seeing him while awake, just wasn’t normal. In an effort to relax, she stretched out and laid back.
“Sit here and clear your mind,” she chastised.
Cassie closed her eyes, and his image returned in the blackness, his outstretched arms ready to embrace her. In response to his tender touch, her muscles eased and she melted into his embrace. She buried her face in his chest, savoring the warmth percolating inside her as his cheek came to rest on her head.
Her hands glided from his wrists to his shoulders. His solid chest and perfectly muscled biceps combined with rugged forearms and powerful hands excited her. Yet, his gentle, loving manner comforted her.
With her arms around his waist, she breathed in his masculine scent mixed with the salty ocean breeze. His presence lifted the weight of the world off her shoulders and brought peace to her soul. Knowing he would take care of her, her lips eased into a smile.
“At last, you are mine,” he whispered.
His lips on hers, so tender, so gentle. They trailed to her neck, branding her with heat along the way. Deft fingertips joined the adventure, exploring her body, melting her skin. She moaned, tilted her head as his lips drifted downward.
A fire smoldered in her veins, the heat snaking its way through her torso, arms, legs, clear to her toes. Ashes. Soon, the fire would reduce her body to ashes.
“Cassidy Danielle Harrington! You’re doing it again.”
Cassie’s eyes popped open at the stern reprimand. The image of her lover disappeared with a ‘poof’, but not the sense of warm brandy traveling through her body. She widened her eyes and sat up. Emptiness settled into the folds of her heart.


Sally Kilpatrick said...

I really like the "Ashes. Soon the fire would reduce her body to ashes." Nicely put.

As for real-life hunky heroes, no one can have mine either. He has often served for partial inspiration, but I always keep a few details hidden just for myself.

Sandy Elzie said...


Good post! My favorite thought was about not having seen a "carrot-topped hero". Can't you just see all of our next manuscripts? A lot of them will be the sexist Irish guy you've ever seen in print. Red-headed and on fire to save the world and get his woman. (the lucky lady)

From what I've seen in earlier posts, I think most of us are very stingy with our own personal hunky heros. Mine of many decades just keeps getting gooder and gooder. He's the strong, silent type who is willing to allow me to use his "roll-over" words. (an in-family joke about men speaking an average of 5,000 words per day (wpd) and women speaking 15,000. Since he doesn't use all of his, he allows me to borrow/use some of his roll-over words)


Debbie Kaufman said...

My heroes all seem to have my husband's steel-gray eyes. And no, I don't think I've ever seen a red-headed hero either!

Cassie's moments with her hunky hero make concentrating on housework a little difficult this morning!

Marilyn Baron said...

How about Jamie Fraser in the Outlander series. Wasn't he a redhead? Or if he wasn't, he should have been.

I prefer dark hair on my heroes.

But you're right, all the heroines seem to be redheads.

That reminds me of a story a girl in my bookclub told us last night about meeting Robert Redford. This girl has beautiful, thick red hair which she just got cut. But years ago when she met Robert Redford at the home of a friend after a funeral, she followed him to his limousine just to make sure it was him. He was helping an elderly woman, probably a relative, struggling to walk with a cane into his car.

When he saw my friend gawking at him he looked at her, smiled, and said, "Hi, Red."

Then she asked if he was really Robert Redford and he nodded and gave her a salute, got back in his limo and was driven away.

Talk about six degrees of separation!

And for more on heroes,leading men and movie myths, a friend e-mailed me a link to a piece about "Why Women Should Stop Watching Romantic Movies." It's pretty funny.

Marilyn Baron

Linsey Lanier said...

I once had a reddish-blonde hero in a Maggie entry and the judge wrote "can't he have dark hair?" Guess dark hair is sexier, but maybe it's all in how you describe it. :)

Little expressions and habits of my own hunky hero often creep into my novels, too.

Great post. I enjoyed reading your excerpt. Hubba-hubba!


Santa said...

I'm sorry. I just needed a moment.
What was the question? Ah, yes, heroes.

I find my heroes in the everday world around me. They pop in almost everyday but are not fully formed. I tend to take an accent here, a color of eyes from someone else, the same with hair color, etc..

I've never associated my heroes with any movie stars but I know quite a few writers do and post their pictures on their computers. I don't think I could concentrate with Richard Armitage right there next to me, I mean, my computer.

Nicki Salcedo said...

I agree with Sally. "Ashes" line is the best!

As for fictional heroes, hmmm? I did read a viking novel once and every time they mentioned his blond hair, I told myself it was really dark hair!

Elizabeth Hoyt writes non-traditional heroes (scarred, short, missing a finger) and I really enjoy her books, so it obviously doesn't really matter. As readers we fall in love with what they do, not what they look like. I will try to forgive blond heroes in the future!

Thanks CiCi, for this great post.

Anna Steffl said...

Hoo, that was some nice, sexy writing! Thanks for sharing. Have to agree that the ashes line is just killer. In my best Homer Simpson voice, "Why can't I write like that?"

I am utterly indiscriminate in heroes I like to read about. If they turn on the heroine, I am there. As for the ones I write, they are blond with sky blue eyes. Sign me up for that vacation to Sweden, y'all.

Michelle said...

What's that line? I like my men like I like my coffee - dark, strong, hot and bitter.

Susan May said...

I'll always lean toward the BoNd type. Not necessarily husband material, at least not like mine. Romance heroes should be bigger than life so that's where I go. Real life I want something a little more suttle.

Tami Brothers said...

Hey Everyone.

Cici sent me a note letting me know that her mother is having some health issues and she is dealing with that at the moment, so she apologizes for not being able to respond to your comments. I know she will love the response she’s received for this blurb. As one of her CP’s, trust me when I tell you this is an AWESOME story!!! I can only hope that one day an agent or editor will love it as much as I do and you all will get to read how Cassie and her Dream Lover end up…

I have to admit that I have a terrible time picturing the hero unless there is a picture of him on the cover. No matter how much detail I’m given, I usually have to have something visual to jump from. With that said, when I don’t have that picture, I usually end up picking a hero from the big screen. Which is usually Matthew McConaughey (bet you can’t guess who I voted for…), Orlando Bloom, or Johnny Depp. Don’t know why, but those three usually end up filling the role. So, there you have it. I’m so very unoriginal in choosing my heroes, but my imagination does get carried away with me once I have him “pictured.”

Tami Brothers

Cinthia Hamer said...

I've never had a carrot-topped or towheaded hero push their way to the front of the mob that inhabits my brain, but if one were to appear, I certainly wouldn't turn my nose up at him.

For the most part, my imaginary guys are three-dimensional. I know if their big brothers tortured them, how much they despise peas and the name of their dog (or horse). But you'd be surprised at how often I think I've got them pegged and they do something completely out of character and then say "gotcha"!

Great post, CiCi!

eaflagg said...

Nice writing -- leaves me wanting more. (Can a reader ever get enough?)

The imperfect or unusual heroes always intrigue me and I like them the more for their imperfection. It's the depth of character that that makes me melt. And height. My heroes, in real life, share the same trait -- 6'3" is very, very nice. One was a Finn with reddish blond hair, a wiry, strong body, and a wonderful sense of adventure and humor. My main man is tall -- no hair if he can help it! LOL (He works in a prison and is a soldier...) Thanks for making me reflect on my personal heroes. :)

I hope the writer's mom is doing better.

Cyrano said...

Hi Cici,
I'm late in commenting. I've been so busy this past week, hopefully you'll see this.
Jamie Fraser, in my opinion, one of the hottest hero's ever written, was indeed red-haired. Diana Gabaldon did a brilliant job bringing him to life. Ummmmmm. Completely sexy!
I loved your excerpt too. It was so evocative, so well written! And I'm glad you included smell in the details. To me, smell is so important. "She breathed in his masculine scent mixed with the salty ocean breeze." I could actually imagine what he smelled like!
Great post.
Have a nice weekend,