Macho all the way…13 occupations for romantic heroes

I have nothing against Navy SEALS. Or cops. Or rogue agents involved in covert ops. They’re tough. They’re macho. They make for great alpha heroes.

Which is precisely why they’re a dime a dozen in romance novels.

These occupations are traditionally masculine, involve physical activity, carry risk and danger, and allow the men to act as leaders or loners. Macho all the way.

The impressions readers have of certain occupations—whether accurate or inaccurate—help to create character because readers will assign their perceptions of the occupation to the hero himself. A Navy SEAL automatically will be perceived as masculine. An author would have to work very hard to convince readers that the male hairdresser, fashion designer or even corporate paper-pusher is really a tough guy.

However, that doesn’t mean authors can’t break out of the military/law enforcement occupation mold.

I did some brainstorming with my fireman hubby (fire fighter another increasingly popular romance hero occupation) and came up with a list of less common, but still manly jobs:

  1. Helicopter pilot
  2. Wilderness guide
  3. High-rise steel worker
  4. Commercial fisherman
  5. Hollywood stuntman
  6. Boat captain
  7. Demolitions expert
  8. Foreign correspondent/photojournalist
  9. Astronaut
  10. Off shore oil rig worker
  11. Ultimate fighter
  12. Treasure hunter
  13. Forest ranger

What do you think? Do you have any to add to the list? What are your favorite romance hero jobs?

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5 Responses to Macho all the way…13 occupations for romantic heroes

  1. GREAT POST!

    Lets see…um

    Frontline War Journalist
    Oil Rig Scuba Diving Technician
    Bodyguard
    Professional Sports Figure

    Love this post!!

  2. Can I be serious for a minute? I have two problems with heroes from dedicated professions.

    1) If your hero does not work in a profession you are intimately concerned with, you are going to have trouble. Why? Because you are only going to be able to write (without a lot of research) about that part of his life which does not concern his profession. Very difficult if he lives his job – and many dedicated professionals have very little time when they are not either working or asleep.

    2) If your chosen profession is outside the common knowledge of your readership – like Rebecca’s oil rig diving technician (they haven’t done the SCUBA bit for decades) – understanding what the man actually does will bore the pants off non-techno junkies. Men generally enjoy techno stuff more than women, so it’s OK to set your story on an aircraft carrier if you readership is definitely male.

    I wrote a novel whose hero was an oil field technician in a country like Libya and some of my friends just could not skip the techno stuff in and get on with the story – but I could not write about a 24-hr professional without it. Big mistake on my part? Maybe, but the story deserved to be written (that’s what I say, and I’m sticking to it!)

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Jacqueline, you make an interesting point…just how much detail should one put into creating an occupation for one’s romantic hero? I think it depends on the genre and the particular story. Obviously, anyone who has been employed within a particular profession would have an insider’s knowledge. However, I think a non insider could fill in the gaps convincingly with good research in a romance novel. Being a Navy SEAL, for instance, is probably as demanding as say an oil rig worker. I doubt that most of the romance writers who have created SEAL heroes have been one. I’m going out on a limb by saying I think most romance readers don’t seem to mind the author’s lack of personal experience or don’t notice. I daresay a SEAL would, but that issue affects almost all professions.

      On a personal note, my heroes (and heroines) either have jobs that I am personally familiar with OR have had at least a passing association with. I’m just more comfortable writing that way. But I admire anyone who would tackle the task of creating a hero who was demolitions expert or a treasure hunter or something similiar.

      By the way, NEXT Thursday, I plan to blog about occupations for heroines.

  3. I would find a treasure hunter interesting to pen about. The rest of the occupations I have little knowledge about. Of course, I would much rather pen the heroes I already do in my paranormal, fantasy, futuristic romances. Hey, I can create cultures that make sense to me, and allow for the kind of passion/erotic/love interactions I most want to write.

  4. That’s a great way out of the dilemma, Savannah. Invent a world and characters of your own. Like the modern vampire (who sets my teeth on edge, by the way). He has a full time job just being a vampire, so you don’t have to worry about anything else. Or you write about your super hero (navy SEAL etc) on his days off in St Moritz.

    I do have experience of the oil patch in several countries and, believe me, those men are so absorbed with their work, if you asked them what they’d done all day you probably wouldn’t understand a word. Once place we lived, especially busy, the men would frequently fall asleep at parties, beer in hand. It was polite to just let them get on with it, and hope they would wake up again and join in the conversation. Writing a romantic story about them in the place they lived and worked without anything technical – now that would be a challenge.

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