RANDOM MUSINGS: Of Romance & Damaged Men.

“I promise to save you from the world… but I can’t promise to save you from myself.”
That’s not some fancy quote from some similarly fancy book by an ostentatious author with a respectable standing in the world of publishing. Nope. I just happened to be thinking about the next story I would write and that quote sounded like just the kind of thing my male romantic lead would say to our heroine.

Doesn’t sound particularly romantic, does it? An anti venom that will protect you from all poisons but eventually turn on you, perhaps. And yet… this seems to be the exact kind of romantic hero who turns female readers on these days. Oh, I know, the female readership of romantic stories has never really taken a cottoning to the perfect gentleman. They (or we) always seem to gravitate towards the Duke who’s a rake; the robber who then steals the heroine’s heart; the sexy tycoon hellbent on revenge for some wrong the heroine’s family did him; the mysterious kidnapper who makes Stockholm’s syndrome suddenly seem extremely appealing… Always tall, dark and handsome, mind you. Always.

Now, however? It seems that the slightly wicked tall, dark and handsome rake is no longer enough. Women want to read about more dangerous men. They want that titillating darkness; the mystery; the damage… And so, a crop of authors who excel at writing about the extremely sexy, extremely rich and extremely damaged hero who will do anything for his woman but also hurt her … possibly causing more harm than the troubles from which he saved her could have, has arisen from thin air like Kampala’s rains. He’s always sexually experienced, and a little on the kinky side of things (it’s not just Fifty shades I’m talking about. I’ve stumbled across tens of books with a similar storyline). Vanilla sex has lost its appeal to readers. I mean, how much of the kiss, the suck, the thrust, rise and collapse can a reader take, right? Now, women want the ropes and the cuffs and the paddles.

Of course, no romance story (I don’t know why they still masquerade as that. It’s clearly literary pornography with a few romantic phrases to make it sound a little classier. ) is fully successful unless it’s able to make the reader place herself in the heroine’s shoes. And so, today’s “romance” authors have created a “strong” heroine who is able to melt the Ice King’s heart (Adventure Time, anyone?) and tame his wild heart. She usually has issues of her own, is either an innocent or a tigress in bed and always fits perfectly with the hero. The authors often try, and fail, to portray a lead female who is strong and independent. Instead, she comes off as dependent, clingy, whiny, weak and incapable of surviving a life sans the poisonous hero.

Do I like it? This sudden uprising of damaged men who need fixing? Nah. I don’t think so. I like the gentlemanly type better. There are enough assholes in reality; I pick up a book to escape them. So yeah. The next story I write shall feature a perfect gentleman as the lead. There will be no obscene riches, no childhood rape, no murder attempts. Just plain old romance with a little smut.

PS: The heroine is often made to view herself as inadequate and not attractive enough, only for the hero to come through and make her see herself for “the perfection she really is”. Little wonder that the hero and heroine always end up together. A fucked up match made in sadomasochist heaven.

Guest writer from innocentawolfe@wordpress.com



  1. I totally understand and respect your argument regarding “Romance” novels and all their cliches and this is coming from a Huge *Fifty shades of grey* fan…but let me try and explain to you from a woman’s point of view why we are drawn to such characters or such “heroes” and well story lines…I think its because of the whole idea of “escape”…fiction is used as a tool to escape reality and what’s considered “normal” or “realistic” for women and well at least for me.
    When I’m reading a novel or writing a story and telling stories I want to get taken away to a place that’s so far from who I am. I want to get lost in someone else’s thought process understand the many facets of romance in all its areas, the passion, the desire, the chemistry, the wild, the beauty and the “broken-ness”. I know it doesn’t make sense but in a way it, these novels give us the chance to be the dominant male, even if its just in the novel, it allows us as women to understand the true extent of the thought process of a man’s deepest, darkest desires. Unfortunately, this is what women want to read, compelling novels with powerful broken male leads or “heroes” that learn to break all because of a woman. These novels allow us to be free to satisfy our deepest twisted darkest desires, that the world teaches us to believe we have no right to wish for…simply because we are women.

    • Fiction is not only used as a tool to escape reality but also as a form to create reality… some of these things are double edged, it’s us that choose which side to use or abide by. One thing I have learnt in the short time I have lived so far is that, ‘women’ dont like males to be like other guys, they want their man to be different, even if it means making him carry her bag or check on her every after an hour. Women break us, they probably think we are stone and have no feelings, to which I say, they are very wrong.

      • Interesting what you are saying and also very true…when I say “break” I mean, a man who will allow a woman to see that there is more to him than just like dominant male persona that he puts on. A man who allows a woman to see the real human inside of him.
        And my main point is that, in reality as women, we spend our whole lives proving that we are “women”, we spend our whole lives proving that we are “real” women by how big our breasts are, how shapely our bodies are, how beautiful we are, how well we can cook, if u black, how light skinned you are etc…whereas the same principles don’t apply to men. When we read novels, we like the idea of a man who can want a woman as simple as she is, or as unsure about herself as she is, a man who can want a woman so badly that something inside of him breaks and he has no choice but to show her who he is, the good and the bad and within that sphere he allows her to also learn how to be ok with who she is, the good and the bad. She doesn’t have to do anything to prove to him that she is “woman enough”. It has nothing to do with how sexy she is, or how beautiful she is, he just wants her as simple as she is, he just finds her desirable…which is intriguing. I admit that yes, it is wrong, that he is always portrayed in the book to be tall, dark and handsome because any man who wants a woman badly enough has it in him to make her feel good about herself. Any man who wants a woman badly enough has it in him to make a woman come out of her shell and be free to be who she wants to be. I think that sort of justifies my argument lol
        Oh and by the way…this is a great piece of writing, it really had me thinking.

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