You Gotta Love Broken Heroes
When I first started reading romance novels, I found myself attracted to the broken, emotionally tortured heroes—characters like Sydnam Butler in Mary Balogh’s Simply Love, and Lisa Kleypas’s Lord Westcliff in It Happened in Autumn. They were strong men, outwardly self-assured. However, when alone, they held pain so deeply ingrained.
So goes the broken heroes. There are many ways for a character to end up broken, and usually that journey isn’t the focus of the story, save for flashbacks. We understand that external forces have dealt them apparent insurmountable blows, leaving them unsure, melancholy, and in some cases, on the verge of suicide. Though they might be wealthy, of noble birth, and of extraordinary masculine beauty, only they see the glaring flaws. Flaws they want fixed, but they don’t have the fortitude to tackle the problem on their own. Enter that special person who has all the proper tools and the will to get the job done.
I’ve written my share of broken heroes, but in my newest release, For Men Like Us, I wrote two. Each has their own reasons for the despair with which they live, but their lives are inextricably connected in ways that make it impossible for one to be fixed without the other.
In romance novels, broken heroes can and should be fixed. If not, the misery lives on and makes for a very unsatisfying read. I have always believed that there is one person on this earth for each of us. Someone who is meant to fix the wrongs others have done to our lives, and in turn, we must do the same. That has been my personal experience anyway. While we’d all like to think that we can live for ourselves and don’t need anyone to “fix” things, that simply isn’t my experience. If that were true, we wouldn’t need psychiatrists, would we?
Yes, romance novels are fantasy, and I love them. I suppose loving broken heroes play to my need to fix things. As a mom, I hate seeing my children in need and will do anything to help, if I can. For me, it is a basic human need—to do no harm and to fix harm that has been done.
In For Men Like Us, Benedict Wilmot wants to right the wrong he’d done to Preston and nothing will stop him from his self-appointed duty. During the Napoleonic Wars, a superior discovered Ben and a fellow soldier in the throes of passion. As a result, Ben was tormented by the superior and was forced to commit an act so heinous, he still can’t face himself years later.
Ben is unable to dismiss it as an act of war and it haunts him, throwing his own life into insufficiency. It is Ben’s decency and his human need to fix the wrong that he inflicted, that brings him face to face with Preston. Though he can’t repair that which he destroyed, he wants to make things right, to fix Preston’s life. In doing so, he finds his own pain reflected in Preston, forcing him to examine his methods, and ultimately, to allow Preston to fix him.
In real life, fixing broken souls often entails letting go of old grudges, old relationships, old ways. It’s scary, because we are such creatures of habit. Sometimes even the bad in our lives is “safer” than seeking something different. When you do it, it feels a bit like being set adrift in unfamiliar waters, but sometimes the bad old isn’t as good as the new unsure.
My two characters, Ben and Preston, are very real to me, as I’ve known men like them. No, not in their exact circumstances, but a damaged soul is a damaged soul, no matter the cause.
Ah, the broken hero. For me, it’s the idea that strong, self-assured men can succumb to weakness without it causing complete destruction. When they tear themselves wide open, bare their souls, especially to themselves, is when I love them the most. Then, when the right person comes along and works their magic at filling the empty spaces in the character’s soul, I’m hooked. That’s what makes Sydnam Butler and Lord Westcliff live on in my literary memory.
I am doing a tour for For Men Like Us, with Coffee and Porn in the Morning as one of my stops. At each stop of the tour, I’ll give away a copy of an ebook from my backlist to one randomly drawn commenter. (For Men Like Us, the newest release, isn’t eligible.) At the end of the tour, I’ll select one person from all of the commenters and that person will win a swag pack, containing *tons* of Brita Addams swag.
So leave your name and email addy in a comment here and then check out my Website/Blog for the tour schedule and other chances to win.
Brita Addams grew up in a small town in Upstate New York, but has lived in the sultry south for many years. She lives with her real life hero—her husband of many years, a fat cat named Stormee. She’s surrounded by hundreds of paperback books, and has thousands of e-books on her Kindle.
Find For Men Like Us at Dreamspinner.
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