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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Unconventional Heroes by Darlene Gardner

Guest blogger Darlene Gardner's Return to Indigo Springs series begins this month with THE HERO'S SIN from Harlequin Superromance. Darlene is my critique partner and I can vouch for the fact that this book and this series are Not-To-Be-Missed! Darlene knows a thing or two about crafting heroes. Here's her take on Unconventional Romantic Heroes. --Diane

One of the dreamiest men I know is balding, five feet six and might weigh one hundred forty pounds if he takes the scale after a big meal. So what makes him sexy? The simple answer is his big, dark soulful eyes, but that's only part of it. Those eyes never stray from yours when he's talking to you, as though nothing is more important than your conversation and nobody more interesting than you.

I thought of my friend the other day while I was flipping channels and came across Richard Dreyfuss in The Goodbye Girl. There's a non-traditional romantic lead for you. Although he's gotten better-looking with age, Dreyfuss isn't typical Hollywood leading man material.

That got me to thinking of other actors who break the mold. Patrick Stewart, famous for his role in Star Trek: the Next Generation, immediately springs to mind. Some women swoon over him. Among younger actors, Michael Cera (who impregnated Ellen Page in Juno) played the romantic lead in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.

What other actors aren't traditionally handsome yet are sexy enough to be cast as romantic heroes? What makes them sexy?

I should confess that I often use photos of actors to help me with the description of the heroes in my books.

So which actor is Michael Donahue, the hero of my February Superromance THE HERO'S SIN, modeled after? Richard Dreyfuss? Patrick Stewart? Michael Cera?

None of the above. Try Wentworth Miller, the more handsome brother on the television show Prison Break. In my defense, he has big, dark eyes and gazes at the heroine as though nobody's more important than her.

Confession over. I'm still interested in hearing about those actors who shouldn't be sexy but somehow are.

Who are your favorites?

The Hero's Sin is on sale this month in bookstores everywhere and online. Read its 4 1/2 Star Review at Romantic Times. For more information about the other books in the Return To Indigo Springs Superromance series, visit Darlene's website.

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At 7:21 AM, Blogger Gillian Layne said...

Patrick Stewart is on my "tops" list and has been for years. His voice, his eyes, his smile--the man has no need for hair, it would be overkill. :)

At 8:02 AM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

(welcome, Darlene!)
Ciaran Hinds as Captain Wentworth in the 1995 Persuasion is my unconventional hero. He's not what we'd normally think of as a handsome leading man but his face has such character and he fills out a navy uniform very nicely!

At 8:25 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Hello Darlene and thanks for coming today! I cannot wait to read The Hero's Sin!

Although I cannot think of a television character that fits the less-than-handsome hero, for me it's definitely the actions and emotions that make a true hero. It's the insides that really count!

At 8:47 AM, Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

I'm with Gillian! Patrick Stewart is just plain old sexy. It's not the the looks. It's the voice, the intellect, the sincerity. It all comes across. I saw him do Macbeth in Stratford on Avon a hundred years ago when he and I were MUCH younger. He was AMAZING! For me pure talent is VERY SEXY!!

I love Ciaran Hinds in Persuasion, O Divine One. Definitely a nice place to hang a military uniform!

And I love Clive Owens. That face is not exactly gorgeous, but it has CHARACTER!

At 9:20 AM, Blogger MaryC said...

Hi Darlene (and Diane),

Really interesting topic. I think someone listening to you is totally sexy.

There's some actor floating just outside my memory so I'll post it later if I think of it, but your blog and Theresa's comment made me think of someone I knew in college. By no one's ideal would he have been considered handsome, but I always thought he was incredibly sexy for his mind and heart. He said something to me once that has stuck with me for 30 years.

He was in law school at the time and had stayed up all night listening to a friend who was going through a bad time. I must have commented about him finding the time to listen and he replied that you had to always make time for friends who need you. Everything else can be caught up on later.

He ended up marrying my sister's friend. She was gorgeous and everyone wondered at the incongruous match, but I wasn't surprised. I remember tearing up when I heard he brought her pearls the day their first child was born.

To me, actions that show deep caring are way more sexy than good looks.

At 9:52 AM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

MaryC, what a wonderful man! A true hero. Who cares what he looks like?

At 10:17 AM, Blogger Darlene Gardner said...

Thanks so much for the warm welcome. Thanks especially to the lovely and gracious Diane, who invited me to blog. I loved your story about your college friend, MaryC. I also liked hearing reasons why women find Patrick Stewart sexy. I wasn't a Star Trek fan so I'm not sure I've ever seen him in anything.

At 11:00 AM, Blogger Ladyhawk said...

Welcome Darlene, and great topic!

Patrick Stewart's voice is simply meltingly delicious. A friend, CB, told me I had to listen to the soundtrack of The Nightmare Before Christmas. After the first words, I was hooked. I told CB I could listen to Patrick all day. CB argued the narrator wasn't Stewart. I ask you, how could anyone mistake THAT voice for anyone else?

James Earl Jones isn't exactly leading man material, but his is another voice I could listen to for ever. And listening to him talk about his son's delight at him playing Darth Vader simply melts my heart.

I knew a guy who was reasonably good looking but what really caught my attention was when he met my niece, my very shy niece. He hunkered down so he was eye to eye with her. It stole my heart. Too bad he wasn't into me! LOL!

Some of my favorite romance covers are those with a man cuddling a baby. How a man interacts with your pet says a lot about him. There are so many things more important than looks.

At 11:05 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Oooh, the bald man I used to LOVE watching was Yul Brynner in the King and I. Loved that guy! Yeah, when my husband starts losing his hair I'm going to make him shave it all off! :)

At 11:13 AM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Well if we are talking about voices, add William Gaminara, who reads the Chivers Audiobook versions of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series. He, not Sean Bean, made me fall in love with Sharpe!

At 11:18 AM, Blogger Terry Odell said...

All my leading men have aged along with me, so the current 'hunks' aren't all that realistic. When I wrote Finding Sarah, I was still into Highlander, but I'd say Randy was modeled more after the "Methos" character, who definitely didn't measure up to Duncan in the traditional good looks department. (Blake, in What's in a Name? is my Duncan look-alike.

I agree there's something about Patrick Stewart. I'm still hooked on Tom Selleck and Sean Connery (more now than in his early Bond days), and I followed Richard Dean Anderson as well.

At 11:22 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Yes, Mary, thanks for sharing that story. That man sounds wonderfully romantic!

At 11:31 AM, Blogger Darlene Gardner said...

Theresa, I had a thing for Yul Brynner too! I'm trying to think of less-than-handsome TV stars cast as romantic leads and can't come up with one. It seems like the stars who aren't good looking (like Peter Falk as Columbo, although that's going back a ways) don't get girlfriends!

At 6:53 PM, Blogger Ladyhawk said...

Definitely Richard Dean Anderson! And Yul Brynner, though I almost cried when I saw him with his gorgeous dark hair before he shaved it all off to have a unique look. Tom Hanks is another one that wasn't considered an obvious leading man, until they cast him and it took. :-)

At 7:55 PM, Blogger Nadele said...

The original sexy bald guy was Yul Brynner, who crashed Hollywood with his gasp-causing performance in The King and I. Patrick Stewart, yes. But Brynner was the one who tore that curtain down.

Omar Sharif was also way over the top for his time, with his incredible eyes and mind-destroying smile. Today I think he doesn't seem so unusual.

And I never thought Peter O'Toole was cast from the Hollywood mold. He's been downright ugly in some of his roles, yet devastatingly riveting in his performances, even as he grows old.

At 9:32 PM, Blogger MJFredrick said...

Mary C, what a great story!

Darlene, thanks for a terrific post!

My unconventional hero is Jeff Goldblum. LOVE him.

At 11:18 AM, Blogger Darlene Gardner said...

I hadn't even thought of Jeff Goldblum. He's a terrific one. I would have said Nicolas Cage, except I've heard other women say they find him handsome. Just goes to show you, not everyone's perception of physical attractiveness is the same.


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