What’s your favorite romance hero archetype?

bigstock-Dark-stylized-portrait-of-a-yo-19487603From my observation, romance heroes fall into categories (archetypes, stereotypes)  that are defined by what women find attractive in a male. Heroes can straddle more than one category. Occupation (job) becomes a subset of each of these categories.

Here are the types of heroes I see in romance fiction:

Brainiac/Geek – He’s the guy who dazzles the girls with his brilliant mind. These days, he’s often a computer nerd.

Bad Boy – He might be born on the wrong side of the tracks, be the black sheep of his family, or be an outright criminal.

Athlete – I suppose one could argue this is an “occupation,” but I think it’s a type–a man who is admired for his physical prowess on the playing field.

Dominant or macho guy — This hero is defined more by personality and behavior than physical brawn, although it usually includes the latter.  Think Navy SEAL who saves the world and gets the girl. I think this is probably the most common archetype–and the one that makes my heart go pitter-patter. I would put cowboys in this category. The rancher who owns half the state I’d put in the following  category.

Powerful man – This is the guy who wields influence in his domain. Think company CEO, military commander, a president or other leader. Said US statesman Henry Kissinger: “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.”

Rich guy – Millionaires and billionaires are a stable of romantic fiction. He has the money to sweep a girl off her feet.

The star -Famous guy! He can be a rock star or movie star or anybody in the limelight. I don’t see type often, but occasionally.

Artist – The creative, moody type. Musician, painter, etc. Can be combined with famous guy, but the type can stand on its own.

Are there other types you would add to the list? Which is your favorite type?



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15 Responses to What’s your favorite romance hero archetype?

  1. Cygnet says:

    I think it would definitely have to be the cowboy for me. I think of it differently from the Navy Seal though. I think of the Navy Seal as more take charge and arrogant(in the stereotypical world)…less polite maybe than the cowboy (lol). He doesn’t have to own half the state, but he does need to have his own ranch and look good in a pair of jeans and a cowboy hat. He’s looking to take care of his woman, but in a less demanding way…fewer orders and more offering his coat because it suddenly got cold kind of care.

  2. I’m not into sports, so I tend to veer away from athlete stories. Bad boys are fun to play with, but I can’t take them seriously. I definitely like my heroes to be intelligent, but not necessarily a geek. Although a buff computer genius could get my libido out of neutral. If he’s rich, powerful and dominant, he definitely gets my attention, and most likely my money, too. I enjoy books that deal with the theatre and actors (obviously) so the last two would capture interest as well. Guess I can’t just pick one as a favorite.

  3. Livia LB Grant says:

    Oh Cara, just too many choices. I like your list. If well written, I’d like a book with any of these hero types, but my go-to type, the one that always gets my engine going will be the dominant guy who is in control of himself and all around him. I just love seeing him fall apart when he meets the right woman who can bring him to his knees and where he maintains that shell for everyone else, but the heroine gets to see that secret part of him that he may not have even known was there before meeting her. Gets me every time. Combine those traits with the powerful CEO and/or a famous person and it’s the trifecta! Hmmm, you just helped me explain Lukus.

  4. Viv says:

    Of course there is also the sweetheart, just a really good person who would treat a girl right and be a fantastic and non abusive father, on down the road. That’s my personal fave, in real life as well as fiction. Unfortunately he rarely “gets the girl” in books. Probably because he doesn’t consider a life partner as a commodity to be won. 🙂

    • Cara Bristol says:

      You’re right. I call him the “nice guy.” I meant to include him and then I forgot. He got overlooked–just like he does in real life.

  5. Laurel Lasky says:

    My hero archetype would be my husband. He is now 89 and I love him one as much as I did when we were younger. I was his child bride. I married him when I was 42 and and he was 60. He is a kind, sweet gentle man and a good person. He has always been thin ( to my fat) and now he only weights 115. I keep trying to fatten him up but he doesn’t have much of an appetite. He’s ordinary to look at although to me he is handsome and he is my soulmate. He’s not my fantasy man but a real nice guy.

  6. Jule Kijek says:

    The Dominant. Stable, always in control of himself and the situation. Successful but not a multi billionaire. Prefer he have dark brown or black hair and piercing blue eyes.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Physical types matter too, don’t they. I also prefer dark-hair, but I’ve written stories with blonde heroes, because they that’s who they are! 🙂

  7. Cara, I have a book on the various hero/heroine archetypes, which I love. I refer to it often for ideas and clarifications. It calls some of them different names of course but it also includes the Lost Soul and the Best Friend, as well as the Swashbuckler, which is my favorite. I think of him as a bit like the Bad Boy. But instead of brooding, he is flamboyant in his risk-taking and wild behavior.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      With the more general fiction hero, there are many archetypes — but I don’t think that all of them would make good romance heroes. The Lost Soul, which I think of as the Wounded Hero, is definitely one that I see in romance, but not as frequently as the others.

  8. angela says:

    My favorite heros are funny as well as good looking. There is a boyishness that comes out — thrill, adventure. My favorite heros are also fatherly– taking care, noticing, sure of themselves. I wish there were more Black men, or latinos around — diversity is strength.

    I’m just so glad that there are so many talented women writing– I’m a happy reader.

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