It seems so easy to get into a rant about men. How dumb they can be. How confusing they are, etc. But I think I need to take a moment and let everyone know that I adore them. All men -- not just the cover-model gorgeous ones or the movie stars I sigh over.
Okay, let me qualify that a tiny bit ... I adore good men. Those with a sense of honor and integrity. Those who do what they have to do without complaining about it day in and day out. The ones who are tough, yet tear up when his child does something special or the family pet is laid to rest.
Those are the ones I truly appreciate.
Of course, I have my own special man. He's honest, hardworking, has a quirky sense of humor and is very intelligent. He loves and supports me though he doesn't always understand just what it is I do... especially how I manage to do it. He's the first to brag and often the last to get any attention himself. He's a loyal husband and friend; a wonderful father; a good man; and I teasingly call him my oldest child. (Not going for browny points here, he doesn't read my blog. LOL!)
I was recently asked why the heroes in romance novels are always young, tall, well-muscled, with lots of hair and great looks. I hesitate to reply because the reply sounds sexist. It really does. But in general, that is a woman's fantasy and I'm writing for them. Just as the totally hot, thin babe in every James Bond film is the fantasy of most men.
But I think if you look beyond the physical, you'll see a lot of 'real' men in my heroes. They have flaws, weaknesses. They often say exactly the wrong thing as well as the right one. The latter is because they have me writing the dialogue. ;)
They are men with pasts -- with things they wished they had done differently. They are often brave and completely fearless to the untrained eye. Yet, the heroine scares them to death. They make mistakes. And yes, they always wind up with the girl. Like I said, this a fantasy -- a woman's fantasy. A romance.
Just because I idealize men in my books, it doesn't mean I look down on all the real, slightly overweight and balding men out there. Quite the contrary! And if I could get away with using such heroes ... or without describing them at all, then I would. But I just don't know if it would work. Correction -- if I could make it work.
Women tend to internalize words and images. Romance novels feed the imagination, the heart with the sensual image of a man and woman together. It makes us long for love and all that comes with it. It makes us hope, if even for a moment, for that happy ending in our own lives.
So I feed the fantasy as I offer up heroes with six-pack abs and thick, dark hair. Maybe I'll become a better writer someday, and offer those same visions with merely the color of his eyes and hair, leaving the rest to the imagination alone.
Until then, I'll write the fantasies. I'll let my heroine conquer her bad-boy, rough-edged hero. I'll help the reader remember what that blush of first love felt like...and maybe inspire them to re-light the spark with their own knight in burnished armor.
But I couldn't accomplish any of this without men -- real men for me to base the most important characteristics upon: honesty... integrity... humor... compassion.
So while I might roll my eyes and implore the heavens: "What on earth was he thinking?" ... Always know that this woman does appreciate the good guys out there. My good guy, in particular. Obviously so, because I chose to live most of my adult life with him. :)