Favorites: Heroes and Heroines

As of yesterday afternoon, I couldn't peg a single favorite hero, even though I'd said I'd blog about it today.  Oh, I have many favorites.  Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan comes to mind.  Which opens up the world of movies and takes me to Indiana Jones.  Both are reluctant heroes.

I thought my blog post would be something along the lines of having no particular favorite hero, and then this morning it hit me.  Rhett Bulter.  A rascal.  A gentleman, although Scarlett didn't think so.  And while Ashley Wilkes was also a gentleman, he lacked that rascal-liness that made Rhett unforgettable...by readers and Scarlett.  Without a doubt, one of the best heroes ever written.

Once again, Rhett was a reluctant hero. He didn't want to be involved in the War of the States, but when push came to shove, he did.  He became a pirate, smuggling supplies through the blockade.  (Which brings to mind Capt. Jack Sparrow, another reluctant hero.)  He fell in love with a woman who spurned him, and he never gave up.  I have to believe that his, "Frankly, I don't give a damn," was his way of proving to Scarlett that she loved him.  He hung in there, in spite of her constant (excuse the French) bitchiness toward him.  He was there when she needed him, pushing her to be the woman she really was and to finally admit that she loved him.

And what a woman!  Scarlett was a woman beyond her time.  No sweet, demure woman, although she could pull that off when needed.  Rhett was initially attracted by her beauty, but he fell in love with her because of her spirit, reined in, as was her intelligence, by the confines of the times.

Which brings up favorite heroines.  Scarlett ranks among those.  Thinking back through all of my reading, I find my favorite heroines are strong, take charge women.  I think that began with Madeline.  Does anyone remember the Madeline books?

“In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines
Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines
In two straight lines they broke their bread
And brushed their teeth and went to bed.
They left the house at half past nine
In two straight lines in rain or shine-
The smallest one was Madeline.”

Then came Eloise, who lived at the Plaza Hotel in NYC.  What a scamp!  And always in trouble.  One of the highlights of my life was staying at the Plaza when I was 13 and imagining Eloise around the corner of each hallway.  Granted, if I'd acted as Eloise did, even when much younger, I wouldn't have been allowed to breathe, much less have the run of a Plaza.  But her escapades always had me wishing I had more spirit.

 My next-door-neighbor introduced me to my next favorite heroine, Trixie Belden.  While others read Nancy Drew, I continued my worship of Trixie, a tomboy I admired for her daring and knack for getting herself into trouble, but always getting out of it with a lesson learned.  And I learned from the information in the books.  If you've been to our great County Zoo, you probably have seen the ghost fish in the jungle exhibit.  The fish are blind, and the moment I first saw them, I knew why.  It had been explained in The Mystery of the Bob-White Cave.  I learned about sheep, I learned about the Day of the Dead and cowboys and horses and riding.  I wanted a horse.  Oh, how I wanted a horse and to ride through the beauty of the Hudson Valley.  And the books were my first introduction to romance via Trixie and Jim.

For Every Heroine...For Every Hero...

I admit that I'm drawn to strong, independent heroines, but a story becomes better when that heroine meets her match in the hero.  For a strong woman, there must always be a strong man.  Give him a backstory to make me love him, and a woman who will stand beside him as his equal, and you've hooked me.  Add a bad boy, rascal, or as my friend author Kathie DeNosky says, a stinker (charming and incorrigible, but sworn to no woman...until the heroine) and he has me at Hello.  The harder they fall... ;)


Melissa Robbins said...

I love rascal heroes, Rox. My favorite kind of hero. Scarlett didn't deserve Rhett. My niece loves the Madeline books.