Favorite Heroes. 'Nuff said? (Penny Rader)

What are your favorite kinds of characters to write?  To read?

That's our topic this month.  It took me a while to figure out what to write about because there are so many great characters out there.  I finally decided I’d go with books which have specific scenes that pop into my head when I hear the title.

Sometimes a girl just needs a hug. 


A while back I read Widows of Wichita County by Jodi Thomas. I recently bought another copy because mine disappeared and I want to read it again . The book revolves around five women.  Four of their husbands die in an accident and the fifth is so injured he can’t be identified and can't speak.  My favorite thread of the story begins when Anna, originally from Italy and something of a misfit in Texas who is bullied by her aristocratic brother, confesses to one of the other widows during lunch that what she misses most is something she never really had but hoped might eventually happen with her husband – a hug. Not just a little bitty hug, but a huge hug.  You know, the kind of hug that warms you all the way to your toes.  

Zack, her neighbor to the north, had been at the same restaurant. He tells her he overheard her earlier conversation and that if she ever needs a hug he’d be happy to give her one.  No strings attached.  And that he’ll leave the light on for her.  She slaps him,   A few pages later, during a storm, she sees his light on and makes her way to his home, tearing her clothing on the fence she climbs over to get onto his property…but once he says her name she bolts.  He fixes the fence so if she comes back she’ll be able to do so without ripping her clothes. 

A few days later Zack still occupies Anna’s thoughts.  She still yearns for a hug and he did offer.  Maybe she could have one hug and then get him out of her head. Her brother, who has taken control of her life, hits her.  She runs.  To Zack.  And his hug.  He holds her close while she cries. No questions.  No strings. And an open-ended offer for hugs whenever she needs them.  My heart melted. Sometimes a hug, the warmth and comfort of it, is all a girl needs. Just to be held, without any further expectations.  Or is that just me?

A protector, who even when in pain, does what he knows to be right. 

Have you read Rachel Lee’s Conard County series?  The third book, Miss Emmaline and the Archangel, is my favorite, though the first one, Exile’s End, runs a close second. It could be because I read Miss Emmaline first.  I was hooked immediately and read the book pretty much in one sitting.  My copy is not on my shelf so I hope my memory doesn't goof this up.  

When the story opens Miss Emmaline Conard, a librarian, leaves work and discovers her car won’t start. Gage happens along.  I don't remember if Gage was able to get her car to run.  I do know Emmaline has a severe phobia that will not allow her to be in a car with a man.  Gage stole my heart when he walks her home.  He has many physical wounds and is nearly always in pain, yet he makes sure she arrives home safe and sound.  If memory serves, it was also freezing outside.  I’m bummed I can’t find my copy because I really want to read this story again.  I shall be doing an online search for this book after I finish this post.

A gentle giant

In Small Treasures by Maureen Child writing as Kathleen Kane, Samuel is a BIG guy who just encountered Abby in his home, a cabin in the mountains he and Abby each believe they have the right to.  Thank you, Maureen Child, for your permission to share this snippet from early in the story:

“That curl of anger was coming back, and immediately Samuel began the familiar pattern to regain control.  Slowly, calmly, he forced himself to say the alphabet.  He could still hear his mother’s warnings. ‘Samuel,’ she’d say, ‘you’re just too big to allow yourself to get angry like any man.  Why, one hit from a hand the size of yours would kill a man! You just got to keep a tight rein on that temper of yours.’ And so she taught him to say his ABCs whenever his temper started to rise.

“Usually, by the time he reached K or L, he was feeling better.  Tonight he’d had to go all the way to Z.  Twice.  And it wasn't just temper riding him tonight.  It was something else.  Something he couldn't put a name to, but it scared the hell out of him.

“Samuel shook his bushy head. He had to admit, though, that this little woman was really something.  She hadn't been afraid of him at all.

“What was wrong with her, anyway? Didn't she have the sense God gave a beaver?  Didn't she know that everyone was afraid of him?

“Why, the last time a woman was left alone with him, she’d swooned dead away. Frightened just by his size.  And he’d been dressed then.”

How unique is this hero? I’m so glad I found this book again in my stash so I can reread Sam and Abby’s sweet, funny, sexy story.

A gentle giant with a code of honor and who isn't afraid to love another man’s child.

Thank you, Robyn Carr, for allowing me to share a couple excerpts from Shelter Mountain.  This book is the second of her extraordinarily popular (and rightly so!) Virgin River series. 

A woman with a child comes into Jack’s Bar. Preacher, whose given name is John, can see her fear and suspects she’s been smacked around in spite of her insistence the marks on her face came from a car door.  He convinces Paige to stay the night in a room at the bar and she finally agrees because her child seems to be getting sick.  Here’s what happens next:

“The door was open a crack, like maybe she’d already been down to the kitchen. He could see a glass of orange juice sitting on the bureau inside the door and it pleased him to see that she’d helped herself.  Through the space of an inch, he saw her reflection in the bureau mirror.  Her back faced the mirror and she’d pulled her bulky sweatshirt up over her head and shoulders, trying to get a glimpse of her back and upper arms in the mirror.  She was covered with bruises.  Lots of bruises on her back, one on her shoulder and upper arms.

“Preacher was mesmerized.  For a moment his eyes were locked on those purple splotches. ‘Aw, Jesus,’ he whispered in a breath.

“He quickly backed away from the slit in the door and got up against the wall. It took him a moment to collect himself; he was stricken.  Horrified.  All he could think was, what kind of animal does something like that.  His mouth hung open because he couldn't imagine this. He was a warrior, a trained fighter and he was pretty sure he hadn't done that much damage to a man equal to him in size, in a fair fight.

“Some instinct kicked in that told him he shouldn't let on that he’d seen.  She was already afraid of everything, including him.  But there was also the reality that this wasn’t a woman who’d been smacked.  She’d been pummeled.  He didn't even know the girl yet all he wanted was to kill the son of a bitch who’d done that to her.  After five or eleven months of beatings, then death for the sorry bastard.

“She shouldn't know he was feeling that; it would scare her to death.  He took a few deep breaths, composed himself.  Then he tapped lightly on the door.”

Is Preacher awesome or what?  When I first read this I couldn't wait to see what would happen between the two of them.  I knew he’d do whatever it took to keep Paige safe and his gentleness would help her heal and discover a powerful, enduring love.

Want to see Preacher with Paige’s son a scene or two later?  Preacher’s making cookies and sharing them with Christopher, a little boy who has known great fear.

“They communed in silence for a while – Preacher, Chris, the three-legged bear.  When Preacher had all little balls rolled, he began mashing them with his fork, perfect lines left, then right.

“What’s that yer doing?” Christopher asked him.

“’Making cookies.  First you make the dough, then you roll the balls, then you smash with the fork, nice and easy.  Then they go in the oven.’  He peered at Chris from under the heavy brows. ‘I bet you could do this part. If you were careful and went nice and slow.’

“’I could.’

“’You’d have to come around here, let me lift you up.’

“’Kay,’ he said, putting his bear on the counter, getting off his stool and coming to Preacher.

“Preacher lifted him up to sit on the edge of the counter.  He helped him hold the fork and showed him how to press down. His first solo attempt was a little messy, so Preacher helped him again.  Then he did it pretty well.  Preacher let him finish the tray, then put it in the oven.

“’John?’ the boy asked.  ‘How many of them we gotta do?’

“Preacher smiled. ‘Tell you what, pardner.  We’ll do as many as you want,’ he said.

“Christopher smiled. ’Kay,’ he said.”

My insides went all warm and gooey as I read this scene.  I knew the little boy would overcome his fears, too, and I looked forward to Chris finding a place all his own in Preacher’s heart.


Do you have scenes that linger in your mind, where you knew immediately the hero was going to be something special, a true keeper?  What are your favorite kind of characters to read and/or write about?

Oh, do you mind a P.S.?

 I forgot to mention one of my all-time fave heroes: Roarke from J.D. Robb’s In Death series.  Gorgeous.  Brilliant. Oh-so-Irish. If I met him in person I’d probably hyperventilate and pass out.  Since I've taken up so much of your time I’ll share just one of his endearing qualities: He always carries a button from Eve’s coat.  He’s done so since book one, Naked in Death, and continues to do so 30+ books later.  Big sigh.  The newest book in the series, Concealed in Death, is patiently waiting for this weekend when I have an extra day off and plan to indulge myself in a serious readfest.


J C. McKenzie said...

I love to write the villains, but I adore reading the heroes. :-)

Jana Richards said...

Thanks for sharing these wonderful heroes. I've been meaning to read Robyn Carr's Virgin River series. Now I know I have to!

Z. Minor said...

My favorite female characters are one who are afraid of a challenge and meet problems head on. If they don't in the beginning of the story they do by the end. Male characters are strong and sensitive and kick butt when they need to.

Z. Minor said...

My favorite female characters are one who are afraid of a challenge and meet problems head on. If they don't in the beginning of the story they do by the end. Male characters are strong and sensitive and kick butt when they need to.

Penny Rader said...

Hi J.C.! What kind of heroes are your favorite to read about?

Penny Rader said...

Hi Jana! I'm glad you enjoyed my post. And I highly recommend Robyn's series. I wish it were a real place so I could go visit it in person. :)

Penny Rader said...

Hi Louise! I have to work to make sure my heroines don't come across as wimpy. I seem to have a soft spot for women in jeopardy and if a child is involved, I'm even more intrigued.

I think I'm so fond of heroes who not only love the heroine but any children she brings along, whether they're the hero's child(ren) or not, because when I was a young mommy I wondered if I'd find someone willing to love me and my package deal of kiddoes if someone should happen to my hubby.