Hard-Bodied Heroes…And Not

If romance novels are to be believed, almost all men, at least, those worthy of attention, are hard-bodies. They all run and lift weights and work with their hands, even if they don’t. Because they all look like the models on the covers, right?

I know that romance is all about the woman’s fantasy and who doesn’t like the idea of a super hot guy who is super into his girl? But just like women take all sorts of different shapes, women’s fantasies are likewise probably more diverse than romances give them credit for. I think we’ve started to see a trend toward slight differences. After all, years ago, I doubt a hero regarded as super duper sexy would have a tattoo or a beard. Now both seem pretty common.

I do rather wonder where the heroes are who don’t have slammin’ bodies though. It’s rare that I’m given license to picture a guy who is any less than cut. There is nerdy Ed from Delphine Dryden’s The Principle of Desire and a couple others that turned up on Twitter when I asked, but the selection of slightly chubby heroes is definitely, ahem, slim.

Not that it necessarily stops me from picturing them that way. I must admit that when I picture Jeffe Kennedy’s hero Bobby Prejean from Ruby, I don’t picture him as tall guy with perfect abs. I picture him as just a little taller than Dani and with a hint of a belly. In my head, I wanted him to be a little squishier than your average romance hero is typically described. And here’s the thing, he’s one of my all-time favorite heroes. The belly he has in my head doesn’t make him any less sexy. For me, since I like to cook, it might even make him a little more sexy.

In recent years, we seem to have given romance writers space to feature heroines who are more average in their proportions than your typical Victoria’s Secret model. They find romance and sex and love just as readily as any lissome blonde. But that same diversity doesn’t seem to extend to heroes. Do all of us seriously only fantasize about guys with perfectly honed muscles? For that matter, there are few heroes who are short, balding, graying or limited to not-quite-movie-star worthy looks.

So tell me, have you found a book where the hero isn’t perfectly proportioned with huge arms and washboard abs? What about other physical “imperfections”? If not, would you read such a book?

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