Grace A. Johnson
Guest Post: Historical Romance Heroes Have Become Boring by Kellyn Roth
Y'all, Kellyn Roth is quickly becoming one of my favorite historical authors! Not only is she super sweet, she's also an amazing author! I'm currently reading The Dressmaker's Secret, and my review will be coming soon! In the meantime, I hope you'll check out my interview with her!
Kell also has some fantastic opinions! I really enjoyed reading her post on mistakes indie authors make (and I wish I had read that one much sooner!), and I LOVED her posts on historical heroines and feminism in historical fiction. So, when I was presented with the opportunity to have her do a guest post on my blog, I was torn! Since I adored her historical fiction posts, I knew I wanted to hear more of her opinions--and I knew I wanted to share them with y'all! Needless to say, this girl is a genius, and I have no doubt that she will revolutionize the historical romance genre!
After this post, I hope to share some more guest posts by historical romance authors so that you--both writers and readers--can learn more about the nuances of the genre.
Kell will be kicking us off with her examination of historical romance heroes (one of my favorite things!)! Y'all be sure to add your thoughts to the discussion in the comments! As writers, both Kell and I value our readers' opinions (that, and I want to make sure my heroes aren't boring too)!
Hello folks! I’m Kellyn Roth, author of The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy. Your dearest blogger allowed me to pop on here (thank you!) and share some opinions.
I was given a little freedom to talk about what I wanted to talk about, and if you know me, well, you know I like to rant about historical romance because, let’s be honest—though I love the genre, sometimes it can be a bit silly.
In the past, I’ve talked about how ridiculous historical romance heroines are, and how feminism in modern historical romances can get way out of hand …
Okay, why not talk about the menfolk?
Let’s start with a simple hypothesis:
Historical romance heroes have become boring.
Now let’s rip said statement apart, shall we?
First, let me say this: I have a lot more beef with historical heroes than historical heroines. Historical heroines have a thousand issues, but historical heroes tend to have one big one:
They are nothing but wishful thinking on the author’s part for the reader’s sake.
Frustrating as that is, it’s not their fault. Historical romance authors don’t seem to know any better—most of them are women, after all—and historical romance readers go as far as to encourage such sloppiness.
However, more so than even their personality-ridden, perfection-driven identity, they have become boring. Scripted. There to do the right thing at the right time, predictably, and to only make mistakes that drive the plot forward.
And I’m sick of it because men deserve better!
Look, folks. Even if historical romance heroines have gotten increasingly irritating over the years with the rise of false feminism, historical inaccuracies, and Offended Woman Trope, at least they have (obnoxious) personalities.
But the men are just there. They exist for the sake of giving the woman someone to play off of. Often they do the same predictable things, are not allowed to be anything more than repentant (without punishment) when the woman is unreasonable, and do the right thing at the end.
Now, don’t get me wrong: there have been a lot of terrible romance hero tropes!
This one is probably not the worst, in fact. After all, we had that Knight in Shining Armor faze—and then we had several different eras where slightly but not entirely abusive men were romantic (from Jane Eyre to Twilight—although one of those is an enduring classic while the other is sparkly, melodramatic boredom).
There was also bizarre era at the end of the 1800s-the early 1900s where men existed to worship women. (Helllloooo, romanticism! Welcome to the gang.) When I talk about this, I’m referring to just about anything by Gene Stratton Porter and novels like Anne of Green Gables (and its resulting series) and Pollyanna (more specifically its sequel).
At any rate, suffice to say, there have been tropes. There have been some horrible heroes in said tropes … and some sub-parr ones … and some great ones!
But now we’re being boring?
In my opinion, most heroes in historical romance have entered a stage of boringness that seems to have been popping up more and more in today’s romances, or at the very least, today’s historical romances.
This is not to say all—I know dozens of amazing books in this genre, after all, and most of the books I count as “amazing” have complex heroes!
Why is this? Usually there’s a cause for the stages of romance tropes, whether it be late Victorian romanticism or the suffragette movement.
My thought is that just now, historical romance authors aren’t wanting to step on any toes.
They want to move away from some of the aggressive bad boys with borderline abusive tendencies—but neither do they want to write characters that are perceived as underwhelming.
So they go for a middle ground and right the same supportive stock character who defies history with his near-pushover supportiveness and basically is The Perfect Man but sterilized, stripped of any true personality.
And therefore, in my opinion at least, not at all the perfect man.
Now, a part of it may also be laziness. Not all authors are going to spend a ton of time working on developing characters when readers don’t really care. However, I think part of it is a trend, too.
We punish men in our historical fiction a lot quicker than we do women. This used to be somewhat of the opposite—but now I think it’s come full circle and the female heroines get a lot less critique than the male ones.
Therefore, authors are playing it safe … and their safe-playing heroes, who lack much into terms of uniqueness, are boring.
Now, this is just my opinion as a female author who believes firmly in writing complex characters of both genders. However, I’m interested to hear your thoughts—do you think men are becoming boring in historical romances?