Romance novels often get made fun of by “outsiders” because of their tropes. This makes me roll my eyes because all genre novels have tropes. The alcoholic, down-on-his-luck detective in a suspense. The final girl in a horror. You can pick out a long list of them in every category (or lose hours digging through the TV trope database.) But I don’t see the presence of tropes in novels as a bad thing.
There’s comfort in knowing that when you’re in the mood for a certain type of story, you know how to find it. So one of my favorite ways to pick out what to read next is by deciding what kind of romance hero I need in my life at that moment because sometimes I want to read about that sweet guy who’s going to make me laugh and cook me dinner. Other times I want to read about one who’s going to rip out the throats of my enemies and then show me his supernatural bedroom tricks. No? Just me? Alrighty then.
Well, in case I’m not alone in this, I’m sharing five of my favorite romance hero types and giving a few book recs from my reading list this year that fit each type.
1. The Best Friend
I am sucker for the nice guy best friend, particularly if the hero and heroine have been friends since childhood. The book I’m currently writing (book 4 in The Ones Who Got Away series) uses this trope, and it’s fun to write because there’s so much yummy backstory to dig into and so many complicated feelings with a capital F. Best friends have so much to consider. Do we risk this friendship for more? Will it be weird to cross that line? Is someone already in love with the other? Great stuff. This year my favorite friends-to-lovers book was Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren. I loved the dual timeline and the layers of their friendship. I also loved that the hero was a geek early on. That’s another type of hero I can’t get enough of. Give me the nerds!
2. The Cowboy
A romance standby if there ever was one, but cowboys still fit the bill. There’s something about the no frills, worn-out-jeans, works-with-his-hands guy. And cowboys can come in all types. I wrote a dominant, BDSM-loving cowboy in my book Fall Into You, so the cowboy isn’t limited to one image. This year my favorite cowboy read was Smooth-Talking Cowboy by Maisey Yates. When I’m craving a cowboy read, I know I can always count on Maisey to deliver a sexy story with a hot yet sweet hero.
There are many heroes in romance who have a lot of notches in their bedposts already, which can be done well but can also be a little eye-rolly. Like okay, you’re a manwhore who can’t commit, got it. However, there’s a particular brand of experienced hero that I love—the escort. I wrote one in my book By the Hour, and I think what’s most engaging about this type of hero is that there’s usually a really great story behind how they ended up in that profession. There are reasons and wounds and all that great character stuff. It usually means the book is going to have emotional weight, which is my version of reader crack. Plus, it also usually means the hero is going to be confident and sexy, and he’s going to know how to make the heroine very, very happy. My favorite escort hero this year was Michael from The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. He was such a great hero, and the whole book was just a delight.
4. The Funny Guy
Great abs are nice, sure, but give me a guy who can make me laugh, and I’m putting that hero on a keeper shelf. A hero with a quick wit and great sense of humor is downright delicious. It means he’s smart and doesn’t take himself to seriously. It means he’s going to keep up with the heroine and that they’re going to have a life filled with laughter. It means I’m going to get a book filled with fun, sexy banter. Love. It. Even when I’m writing a Broody McBroodyPants, I still write a lot of humor and banter into my books because it’s a non-negotiable for me. A great hero can make the heroine laugh. My fave romantic comedy this year was The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. This one also has the enemies-to-lovers trope, which is a bonus. If you’re craving a book that reads like a rom com movie, this one fits the bill.
5. The Vampire
Okay, so this is a new/old one for me. I went through a vampire phase with everyone else about a decade ago when vamp books surged in popularity. Then I was burnt out for a good long time. Until recently. At the behest of my reader group, I started watching ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ because I missed this series when it first aired (I blame college and grad school.) Of course, I’m totally hooked now, and it made me peek into my to-be-read list to pull out a vampire series I hadn’t tried. I landed on Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series, which had been sitting in my TBR for years. How misguided I was to let it languish! Halfway to the Grave and vampire hero Bones reignited my love for the vampire hero. Putting aside the whole having to drink blood thing, there’s something about a very confident guy with badass superpowers, especially in romance where superpowers are put to all kinds of fun uses. 😉 Plus, a bonus, Bones is hilarious, so he fits #4 too (and actually fits #3 too, in a way). So he hits all my trope-y buttons. Consider me firmly back in the pro-vampire camp.
So those are my five favorite trope-y heroes right now. I have others, but these are my standouts from 2018. What are your favorite hero types in romance?