FF: Recipe for a Hero

One of the most important parts of a romance for me is The Hero.

Sure, I want a great heroine as his counterpart, but if the Hero doesn’t cause my heart to race or produce audible sighs of satisfaction, I feel like I’ve been gypped.

I found myself thinking about romance novel Heroes the other day and what makes one worthy of the title. I decided there are two main ingredients: physical attributes and character traits. A pleasing blend of the two can be a most delectable concoction.

So, what am I looking for in a Hero? Perhaps some of the same things you are. Here are some qualities, although these lists are by no means complete . . .


Channing Tatum


Physical Attributes


Eyes ~ I’m not particular about the color. Warm brown works as does brilliant blue or glittering green. What is essential is that a Hero’s eyes be expressive. They are, as many have said, windows to the soul. Since I wanna know what’s happening deep inside him, he can’t be one of those stoic types who keeps the curtains closed. He may not show emotion with the rest of his features, but I want the heroine to be able to get a glimpse of the real man when she gazes into his eyes.

Hair ~ Thick and lots of it. Color is optional, but my real-life preference is brown. I like wavy, but I’m not into curly. (Um, after checking out Ioan below, curly is looking mighty good. :-))

Height ~ Tall. Since I was the shortest girl in my eighth grade graduating class (an “honor” that meant I got to walk in first, since they put us in order by height) and ended up a whopping 5’ 1¾”, I’ve gotten used to looking up to men. (OK, I look up to many people. There was even a girl in my daughter’s second grade class who was taller than I am—and I’m not kidding.) My hubby is a whole foot taller than I am. I’m not saying a Hero has to be quite that tall, but he does have to be taller than his heroine.

Jaw ~ I don’t know about you, but I’m partial to strong jaws. Angular, chiseled, firm . . . They all work for me. Even well rounded does the trick. But weak chins? Nope.

Shoulders ~ Broad. ’Nuff said.


Ioan Gruffudd


Character Traits


Consideration ~ I want the Hero to be thoughtful and show sensitivity when dealing with the heroine. Now, I realize this may not be the case initially, but I certainly want to see this aspect of his personality come into play as the story progresses.

Integrity ~ I want a Hero to be a man of honor. Even if he begins the story as a scoundrel in need of reformation, I want to see him possess a code of conduct that guides him. I want his word to mean something.

Self-restraint ~ I like a Hero to have control of himself and be willing to put his desires aside for the sake of others on occasion, especially the heroine.

Strength ~ Of course, I want a Hero to be physically strong, but that’s not as important to me as strength of character. He has to be able to face foes, fears, and his own feelings without wimping out. He needs to have backbone, courage, and a fair amount of protectiveness. When the heroine is in danger of losing it, her Hero has to be her rock.

Voice ~ Deep, rich, resonant. No squeaky or high-pitched voices, please.


Bill Pullman


These are just some of the traits I like to see in a Hero. And lest you think I’m shallow, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t apply all these “requirements” to real men. The Heroes in romances are, after all, pure fiction. I realize they’re bigger than life. Let’s face it. How many men look as hunky as the actors we watch on screen? Why, even they don’t look that good without their makeup, right? 🙂


Richard Gere


I wanna know . . .

What traits do you like to see in a hero?

Do you look for some of the things I do, or is your list entirely different?

Do you think there are certain attributes and traits that have universal appeal?



Harrison Ford


This is Frabjous Friday, a day to have some fun and celebrate our successes. If you have good news, be sure to share it in a comment so I can join in your happy dance. ~ Keli



Colin Firth


A Drawing!

I have two classic DVDs featuring two of my favorite heroes, Bill Pullman in While You Were Sleeping and Harrison Ford in Sabrina.

To enter the drawing, just leave a comment by midnight October 23rd (Pacific time) and enter your email address when prompted during the comment process. (You don’t have to leave it in the body of your comment this way.)

On October 24th I will hold the drawing and post the two winners’ names here as well as in a comment and will contact them via email to get a mailing address. (I don’t share your information with anyone, and I don’t add your name to any mailing lists.)

Congratulations to Carol Ann Hoel, winner of Sabrina.

Congratulations to Melissa Murphy, winner of While You Were Sleeping.

Note: Offer void where prohibited.
Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.

About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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14 Responses to FF: Recipe for a Hero

  1. Virginia C says:

    Hi, Keli! This is one of my favorite posts ever about heroes–it’s being saved in my “keeper file” : ) You have made a wonderful summation of heroic qualities and included some very appropriate heroic gentleman.

    The fellow who captured my romantic imagination a very long time ago still holds my heart. I was raised in home in which the whole family sat together and watched the great western dramas on TV. My grandfather loved the classic western writers Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey. My favorite genre is historical western romance, and I often refer to myself as a “prairie woman”. Sam Elliott is a western star without peer. Old-fashioned, courtly, with a twinkle in his eye and a voice to die for, Sam is my man. Of course, I know the loves of his life are his wife, Katharine Ross, and their daughter, Cleo. He’s a family man who loves to garden, tend his horses and pets and enjoy life on his Malibu ranch. He comes by his western ethics quite honestly. One of his grandfathers was a real-life Texas Ranger. If you ever see photos of Sam with his wife and daughter, he always has his arms around them. He’s a true protector : )

  2. That is a stunning group of hero-hunks. I’d only add one man … Paul Newman as a young man … Paul Newman as an older man.

    Thanks again for a great post 🙂

  3. Char Chaffin says:

    Ohhh, my….. ::fans self furiously::

    Keli, I think you’ve nicely summed up what I look for when I create a hero. And the choice of men featured here… ::more copious fanning:: Gere and Pullman are particular favorites of mine.

    The only thing I’d add is that I often enjoy a hero with some emotional vulnerability. Not wimpy, but at times very slightly damaged. He’ll be as strong as he needs to be, but inside he may be hurting. The whole hurt/comfort idea can be irresistible in a story.

    Great topic and great characteristics for our hero, Keli!


  4. If those pictures won’t get a woman’s attention, I don’t know what will. I must say I’m rather partial to the Richard Gere pic. *sigh*

    Okay, on to the topic at hand…I love your list, Keli! Like you said, even if a hero doesn’t possess all the character traits at the beginning of the book, I like to see that he has the capacity to *be* those things and then moves forward to *become* those things.

    I think a Richard Gere film is in order for “date night” with my hubby this weekend (I put date night in quotes because it usually means we rent a movie and watch it at home while the kids sleep upstairs). 🙂

  5. I like the good guy who is strong but considerate, mighty but humble, handsome yet not self-absorbed. The two-toned hero that is sometimes good but often bad is not my pick. Thanks for asking…

  6. I’ve been following your blog for some time, but rarely comment on the ones I do. There’s just not enough time in the day. Today, I just couldn’t stay away. I was discussing, recently, with a male friend of mine the larger-than-life characters in romance novels. His thoughts were that he liked to read about less beautiful, more flawed people–not perfection. I disagreed. I want fictional heros and heroines to shine in every way. Like you said, at least by the end of the story.
    Great post and scrumptious pictures. 🙂

  7. T. Anne says:

    I have to tell you I think I write solely for the purpose of creating my perfect man! Of course my husband is my real life perfect man but in books I like the control I have over him!

  8. That last picture pretty much sums it up!! Swoon! I want me a Mr. Darcy, Colin-Firth-style. 🙂

    I like handsome, tall, and of strong character. Confidence is a must and chivalry!! I like my men chivalrous.

    But the best thing? I like my heros to fall hopelessly in love with my heroines. I think one of the things that makes so many women fall in love wit Edward Cullen is the depth in which he loves his woman Bella. Don’t we all want to be loved like that?

  9. Ooooh, Keli. Such a yummy post 😀 I love your words, a “delectable concoction”. Perfect!

    One thing I love is a hero that’s strong enough to be vulnerable. To love, to try, to live with his whole heart. To be willing to lay it all out there and be open with who he really is, faults and all.

    Such a great post for Friday!

  10. Pepper says:

    Ooo, Keli
    I love the idea of self- restraint in a hero. Definitely noteworthy.
    And I love it when a guy has that vulnerability about the heroine – it makes me want to root for him. He’s strong in every other way except for her-she breaks down his defenses 🙂

    One quality I LOVE in a hero because I think it’s a beautiful quality in ANY person, is a spirit of grace. I think that might go along with your word ‘consideration’.

    And…deep voice? Oh yea! Chocolate-coated sweet 🙂

  11. Susan Mason says:


    I think you summed it up perfectly. Funny about the height issue. I, too, am vertically challenged, as is my daughter. My husband and son on the other hand are 6 ft. Both my daughter and I can’t stand to see a couple where the girl is taller than the guy. {Aside: Why does pip squeak Tom Cruise always choose ladies that tower over him? EWW.) So definitely the hero has to be tall and broad shouldered. I think it’s because those traits embody the idea of a ‘protector’ which is a theme I love. Strong heroines are fine, but I still love a protective guy!

    Great post!

  12. CJ says:

    I’m currently plotting a book with a former Navy captain hero (of the Napoleonic era). I’m feeling a need to go watch the Hornblower movies again. For, er, research purposes, you understand.

    I would add to your cast of characters the dishy British actor Richard Armitage who did such a great job as John Thornton in the BBC production of Gaskell’s North and South. Mr. Thornton has a bit of endearing vulnerability that the snobby Mr. Darcy lacks to me.

  13. Keli Gwyn says:

    Thanks to everyone who stopped by. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the comments.

    Like several of you, I want a hero who is vulnerable. I love it when the heroine discovers his softer side and they form a bond because he’s opened himself to her in a way he hasn’t to any other woman.

    I held the drawing. The winner of Sabrina is Carol Ann Hoel, and the winner of While You were sleeping is Melissa Murphy.

    Congrats Carol and Melissa! I’ll be in touch.

  14. Thank you very much! Blessings…

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