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Posts tagged with: romance heroes

Falling in Love Again…

I mentioned in my last blog post that I was hitting up my keeper shelf in an effort to break out of a writing slump. The writing slump is slowly easing, but reading-wise? I’m IN THE ZONE.

I’m re-reading one of my favorite series for the upteenth time, and falling in love again. The objects of my affection? Miles Naismith Vorkosigan, and his creator, Lois McMaster Bujold.

Where do I start?

The Vorkosigan Saga, currently up to 30 books, is a genre mash-up – though having won multiple Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards (including a 2017 Hugo for Best Series), I consider science fiction to be home base. The characters are amazing – more on that in a moment – but let’s start with the world. Bujold hasn’t so much built a world as she has a freaking galaxy, comprised of numerous planets as well as the ability to travel and communicate between them. Staid, aristocratic Barrayar, free-wheeling Beta Colony, dome-enclosed Komarr with its poisonous outer atmosphere, lawless Jackson’s Whole, ancient and sturdy Old Earth, and so many more… Over the series, we meet each planet’s citizens, immersing ourselves in various government and political systems, religions, histories, geologies, military battles, galactic manufacturing and trade arrangements, reproductive and sexual ethics systems, genetic manipulations, and advanced technologies (or lack thereof). It all gets a place on the page, beautifully rendered and exquisitely textured. The conflicts which inevitably arise as people from different cultures meet provide a fine opportunity for today’s reader to explore issues we face in our here and now—which I think the best science fiction does.

Bill Gates (1985-ish)

As a (former) technologist, I’m astounded by Bujold’s powers of extrapolation. Consider the state of digital technology in 1986, when Bujold’s first Vorkosiverse book, Shards of Honor, was published. Mainframes ruled; THE computer at my university took up an entire room in the Science Building. Personal computers were just entering corporate America, and network connectivity was in its infancy. (Modems, baby!) Yet Bujold, child of an engineer, imagined where these technologies could go. Many of the devices and technologies she references in her world – secured com-consoles, hand readers, miniature digital trackers—didn’t exist at the time she wrote Shards, yet they’re ubiquitous today. I hope Bujold’s prescience extends to synthetic bones, uterine replicators, sleeptimers, and wormhole jumps, too. 🙂   

To the characters…  The Vorkosigan Saga is multi-generational; Miles’s parents, Aral and Cordelia, are the main characters in the first few books, and they kick ass in their own right. Two people from very different worlds, they meet in wartime, fall in love, and start a life together. As the series goes on, we see the horrific, politically-motivated chemical attack that damages their fetus’s bones in utero. We’re there the day Miles is born, adored by his parents, but whose grandfather would rather see die than survive and pollute the family’s aristocratic bloodlines. Over several books and a number of years, we cheer for this hyperactive, hyper-intelligent little boy as he strains to overcome his body’s limitations. 

Not QUITE the Miles of my imagination…

In later books, we see Miles grow to adulthood. “Grow” is a relative term; due to the soltoxin attack, adult Miles tops out at 4’9” tall, his entire body scarred by injuries and surgical procedures, with an “oversized head exaggerated by a short neck set on a twisted spine” (Brothers In Arms, p.77). (As you might imagine, it’s impossible to capture Miles’s essence via cover art. No model or illustration quite does him justice.) Despite his physical limitations and distinctive frame, he crafts a career as the most successful undercover operative in Barrayar Imperial Security’s Covert Ops division, solving crimes and enjoying exotic lovers from across the galaxy, until a tragic mistake changes his life forever. However, he finds the resilience to start anew, meeting Barrayaran-born widow Ekaterin Nile Vorsoisson and her son Nikki, who completely capture his heart.

With a deft display of craft, Bujold conveys Ekaterin’s sensual curiosity about Miles’s physiology without fetishizing him, and vice-versa – which is some feat, being Miles’s eyes are level with her cleavage. 🙂  Their HEA does not come easily, but these two make my heart go pitty-pat. The proposal scene from A Civil Campaign is one for the ages. 

For me, brains, humor and kindness outweigh brawn any day of the week – and if pressed, I would select Miles Vorkosigan as #1 on my “Top Ten To Do” list – yes, edging out J.D. Robb’s Roarke for the top spot. Series-wise, I think The Vorkosigan Saga stands among the greats. Such is Bujold’s gift.

So, thank you, Lois McMaster Bujold, for creating a world, and characters, I can fall in love with over and over again. I’m not quite out of my writing slump yet, but reading your work helps me think it might be possible sooner rather than later – a gift beyond price.

Ah, the keeper shelf – where you can fall in love over and over again, with no guilt whatsoever! Which series do you compulsively re-read, and why? Which heroes and heroines appear at the top of your personal “Top Ten To Do” list? 🙂 

-tammy

They say that opposites attract, but this is ridiculous!

Tamara Hogan’s latest book, ENTHRALL ME (Underbelly Chronicles Book Four), is available for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, and in paperback.

Visit her on the web at www.tamarahogan.com!

 

 

 

Who Wants to be a Hero?

Okay, I admit it; I am a Science Fiction geek, and I loved Farscape.  The whole premise excited my imagination —which is normal, considering I write futuristic Sci-Fi Romance when not dealing with lords and ladies.  However, as much as I enjoyed the show, it’s the beginning—available in the music video above—that really spoke to me.

“Look, I can’t be your kind of hero.”

“No, you can’t be. But each man gets the chance to be his own kind of hero. Your time’ll come, and when it does, watch out. Chances are, it’ll be the last thing you ever expected.”

Nobody wakes up one morning and says, “I’m going to be a hero today.” Heroism tends to be the product of unforeseen events, unplanned incursions of circumstance, or simple happenstance (being in the right place at the right time).  When any of those things occur, ready or not, the truth of a person’s character is revealed. There is no time for prevarication, dissembling, or projecting the desired image. There is only now. And a hero does what the now demands without regard for anything—or anyone—else.

In the now, a true hero has but one goal:  Save the maiden.  Rescue the colonists.  Protect those within the fort.  Brave the fire.  Face the bullet.  Find the threat and eliminate it—or die trying.

Heroism is about risk.  Whether that risk is physical, psychological, or emotional is irrelevant.  Whatever the root, the perception must be one of threat or danger.

Heroes put themselves in harm’s way for others.  Were there a handbook for heroes, that would be Chapter One.

As writers, we write all kinds of heroes, and in doing so, must escalate the risk, elevate an ordinary man to heroic heights.  How much is our hero willing to give?  What is he willing to lose?  His life?  His heart?  His beliefs?  To be a hero, he must be willing to disregard something he believes necessary to his existence.  The numismatist who has dedicated everything to procuring a unique coin only to sacrifice it to ransom a kidnapped child, or the accountant who, despite fears of professional suicide, ferrets out the truth about his crooked boss so the innocent bookkeeper won’t go to jail is just as much hero as the brawny Scot swinging his bloodied claymore to defend the lady he is sworn to protect.

It’s how we write him that gives him his chance to be his own type of hero.

Of course, most of us would prefer the brawny Scot—at least between the covers (that’s book covers, ladies).  Still, the most unassuming person, given the right circumstances, can be a hero, while those to whom our perception ascribes innate heroism can turn tail and run.

Along those lines, the first movie that comes to mind is The Incredible Mr. Limpet—which could easily be subtitled Casper Milquetoast Saves the World.  No, I’m not kidding, and here’s the original movie trailer so you can see for yourself.

Among types of heroes, one can’t forget the unwilling hero, thrust into a situation better avoided but doing what’s necessary because there’s no alternative.  Atticus Finch is a good example of an unwilling hero.  A quiet man, he goes about his life without raising much dust until he’s forced to choose between his preferences and his principles.  Principles win, and as a result, he, his daughter, and his entire community discover his innate strength, courage, and conviction.

Then there’s the anti-hero, cynical and self-serving, forced by circumstance to do the right thing.  Rhett Butler anyone?

There are other types of heroes, of course, but I’ll let you fill in the blanks while I give you one more video.  (You really didn’t think you’d get away without something historical did you?)

Now it’s your turn.  What’s your favorite type of hero?  Alphas?  Betas?  Gammas?  What do you think makes a good hero?  Have you ever read a book with an unexpected type of hero?  Is there any one thing that makes you fall in love with a fictional hero?  Do you have a favorite hero?   Anything you want to share about heroes, feel free.  Let’s celebrate heroes!

Favorite Romantic Heroes

Today, I’d like to gush a little bit about my favorite romantic heroes.

I read my first romance novel when I was ten years old. (There was no such thing as YA back in the day!)  I was a very precocious reader, blasting through everything of interest in my library’s children’s section in record time. After finishing Little House, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys and Trixie Belden series, I took a 90’ turn into the adult stacks, and never looked back.

Over six thousand books later, over half of them romance novels, there are some romantic heroes that have a permanent place in my mind and heart. Though I won’t even TRY to select a favorite Argeneau, Troubleshooter, Carpathian, Bridgerton, Rohan, or Black Dagger Brother, following are some of my all-time favorite romance heroes. In no particular order (until we reach the Top 3):

Morgan Trayhern (Return of a Hero by Lindsay McKenna) – McKenna excels at writing military heroes, and in this, the final book of her late ‘80’s Silhouette Special Edition “Love and Glory” series, self-sacrificing Marine captain Morgan Trayhern is one of her most riveting.

Dmitri (Archangel’s Blade by Nalini Singh) – In this, the fifth book of Singh’s stunning Guild Hunters series, we see the heat and protectiveness hidden under Dmitri’s lethal surface. Archangel Raphael’s chilly vampire enforcer finds love, fighting  every step of the way.

Sebastian Wroth (No Rest for the Wicked by Kresley Cole) – In this delightful and quirky entry in Cole’s Immortals After Dark series, self-loathing vampire Sebastian enters the Talisman’s Hie, a brutal Amazing Race-type competition for immortals, to win Kaderin the Cold- Hearted’s love.

Jericho Beaumont (Heart Throb by Suzanne Brockmann) – Jericho, a talented actor and former “Sexiest Man Alive” until addiction caused his very public downfall, is now in recovery and ready to make a comeback. His leery producer, Kate O’Laughlin, has to decide whether she can trust him with her movie, and her love.

Hawke (Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh) – In this, the latest book in Singh’s Psy-Changeling series, Snow Dancer wolf pack alpha Hawke, having lost his fated mate in his youth, has to come to terms with his uncomfortable and inconvenient feelings for the young, beautiful and fragile Sienna Lauren…who isn’t so fragile after all.

Dean Robillard (Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips) – when professional quarterback Dean has to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting a beaver-costume-clad woman walking alongside the road, he never dreams he’s meeting the love of his life—even if she thinks the Dolce & Gabbana boots he’s so proud of are ‘the gayest things she’s ever seen.’

Finn Rorkken (Moonstruck by Susan Grant) – The kickoff book in Grant’s Tales of the Borderlands series introduces us to Finn, commander of the fearsome Drakken Horde, who looks to me—and to several of the book’s Earth-born characters—like Pirates of the Caribbean’s Captain Jack Sparrow. (Drool.) Under the terms of an intergalactic peace treaty, Finn agrees to work as second-in-command to his former enemy, war hero Brit Bandar—who he wants to both kiss and kill.

Raphael (Angels’ Blood by Nalini Singh) – in this first book of her edgy and lush Guild Hunters series, Singh introduces us to the fearsome and sensual Raphael, the powerful Archangel of New York, and his lover, the vampire hunter Elena Deveraux, who, though human, is more than his match.

Miles Vorkosigan (The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold) – 4’9”, pale, his body covered in surgical scars and with severe physical impairments causing him frequent pain, Miles intoxicates with his brilliance, confidence, humor and grace, working as a soldier and peacekeeper, taking extraordinary lovers across the galaxy—until the day he meets his Ekaterin. Sigh…  

And…drumroll please!

Roarke (…In Death series by J.D. Robb) – What can you say about the incomparable Roarke? Brainy, hot, powerful, lethal. A blue-eyed, Irish-accented billionaire who’s equally adept in the boardroom, the bedroom or in a back alley brawl, and who gives police lieutenant Eve Dallas an invigorating run for her money. It was like Nora read my mind when she wrote him, right down to the long black hair that he lashes back into a ponytail as he sits down to use his illegal, unregistered computers.

Who are your favorite romance heroes, and why? Which of your favorites have I left off the list?  Let ‘er rip!

 

Tamara Hogan loathes cold and snow, but nonetheless lives near Minneapolis with her partner Mark and two naughty cats.  When she’s not telecommuting to Silicon Valley, she enjoys writing edgy urban fantasy romance with a sci-fi twist. Her debut, Taste Me, won a Daphne award, and was named a WisRWA, Prism and Golden Heart Finalist.  For more information, please visit http://www.tamarahogan.com/

“Gabe. Where can I get me one of him? Sexy and smart? That is a diabolical combination that left me wanting to hunt down this man and make him my own.”  – Redheads Review It Better

“It’s sweet. It’s fun. It’s downright naughty. I can’t wait to see what pairing gets their book next.”  – Pure Textuality

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The Latest Comments

  • Tamara Hogan: Kate, I haven’t read the Novik series – sounds intriguing! In some ways, the Vorkosigan...
  • Kay Hudson: I too adore the Vorkosigan series. It’s the first SF universe I would recommend to people who...
  • Tamara Hogan: Ooh, two of my favorites! Both are well-represented on my keeper shelf, and LaVyrle, last I heard, is...
  • Laurie Kellogg: Anything by LaVyrle Spencer or Susan Elizabeth Phillips.
  • Tamara Hogan: Addison, it occurs to me that we don’t have to deprive ourselves. I’d be down for a...

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