Wednesday, June 11, 2014

FROM SWEET TO SWOON ... Ramping Up the Sigh Factor in our Heroes!



Q  uestion: What’s one of the most -- if not the most -- important components in a romance?

A  nswer: The Hero.

Twilight
I mean, seriously, how many women do you know that went to see Twilight because of Kristen Stewart?

So, why exactly is the hero a key element in a romance? I contend that the thoughts and actions of the hero generate more feelings/reactions from the readers than the heroine's because HIS desire translates into the desire every woman wishes she could elicit. The truth is women long to be pursued, loved, cherished for who they are and made to feel they are the most beautiful woman in the world—if not to the man they love, then to the man they hope to love someday. And let’s face it—only a hero can satisfy that longing, not a heroine, which is why to hook your readers with a romance story, you have to hook them with the hero.

Now, heroes come in all shapes, sizes and personalities, so the list is endless, but for the purpose of my blog today, I am going to focus on the following six most common types of heroes you will encounter in Christian romance. And just for fun, I’ll show an example of each from my books.

http://www.amazon.com/Gone-Wind-Margaret-Mitchell/dp/1416548947
1.) Bad Boy Hero: What is it about the Bad Boy that makes him the most popular hero? In a survey of approximately 350 women on hero types, the Bad Boy Hero tied for first with 28% of the vote out of ten heroes listed. Why is that? I contend it’s because he represents the unobtainable male whose head every woman wants to turn, but only one woman can—the heroine. Men like Rhett Butler from Gone With the Wind—dangerously handsome, in control and living life on their own terms—or the rake in regency romances.

In Christian romance, there is nothing stronger than a wayward guy gone good. It takes strength of conviction and a lot of humility for a man to bend his knee to God, but when he does, he rises as a tower of strength and manhood, not in his own power, but in God’s. It’s like epoxy—the strength of a man combined with the strength of his Savior, recreating man as he was meant to be—a warrior, a protector, and fiercely devoted to both God and the woman he loves.

To me a “bad boy” hero is a rogue who knows he’s attractive to women, cocky and sure, and not afraid to take what he wants such as this scene from A Passion Most Pure when bad-boy Collin McGuire takes advantage of the heroine Faith O’Connor after following her to a park.

She shot off the blanket and glared down at him, elbows flaring at her side. "You leave my sister alone! She's not one of your common girls at Brannigan’s. She's a good girl. Too good for the likes of you." 
“Too good for the likes of you …” The words of his mother assaulted his memory, flaming the fuse. Springing to his feet, he towered over Faith and gripped her shoulders, fingers digging in. For an instant, it appeared as if she didn’t dare breathe.
"Don't ever say that again," he whispered, his jaw hard as rock. Fury pulsed in his temple. He tightened his grip. "Too good for the likes of me, is she now? Well then, what about you, Faith O’Connor? Are you too good for the likes of me?" 
She caught her breath just before his lips found hers, and he felt the fight within her as he locked her in his arms. The taste of her mouth was so heady to his senses, a soft moan escaped his lips at the shock of it. She shivered before she went weak in his arms, and instinctively, he softened his hold. 
She lunged back and clipped the edge of his jaw with a tight-fisted punch, her breath coming in ragged gasps. “How dare you—” she sputtered, the green eyes full of heat. 
He grinned and silenced her with his mouth. She made a weak attempt to push him away, but he only drew her back with a force that made her shudder. He felt her pulse racing as his lips wandered her throat. The scent of her drove him mad. He kissed her with renewed urgency, the taste of her making him dizzy. And then, before she could catch her breath, he shoved her away, his heart thundering and his mind paralyzed.

2.) Brooding Hero:  There’s just something about a brooding hero, the still-waters-run-deep concept with just a hint of the rebel thrown in to make him mysterious, passionate and almost dangerous. Heroes like Edward Cullen from Twilight or James Dean from Rebel Without a Cause or even Mr. Darcy from Pride & Prejudice come to mind, evoking a hero that not only races the heart, but sends a shiver of warning down the spine of any woman he sets his sights on.

When it comes to a brooding hero, I personally like to contrast all that lovely male moodiness with a little heroine humor to soften the edges of the brooder such as in this clip from the current contemporary I’m writing, Isle of Hope. I actually love writing cranky, crusty heroes, so I had blast with both Mitch Dennehy in A Passion Redeemed and Nick Baronē in Dare to Love Again, which is why I made the older subordinate hero in this next book a brooder as well. Meet Dr. Ben Carmichael, otherwise known as Dr. Doom to the neighborhood kids ever since his wife ran off with his best friend and neighbor. It’s been eight years, and his ex-best friend’s wife Tess has decided that’s long enough to hold on to a grudge, so she sets out to reconnect with the brooding neighbor on the other side of the mile-high hedge.

“The UPS man delivered a package for you, so I thought I’d bring it over as well as bacon for Beau.”
The man didn’t move, didn’t speak, didn’t blink. Just stared like she’d dropped in from the next galaxy rather than merely next door.
Despite the smile on her face, her chin notched up along with the plate in her hands. “And I have monster cookies,” she said in a sing-song tone usually reserved for her children.
Silence. Except, of course, for Beau’s whimpering lament. Her smile compressed. Okay, buster, have it your way. Eyes never straying from Ben’s, she sailed the bacon far into the yard, grit girding her smile as Beau bolted away with whines of euphoria. Because when it comes to the evil eye, Doc, I can outlast a dirty eight-year-old Power Ranger who doesn’t want to get a bath, so bring it on ...
“Why.” It sounded more like a grunt than a question … and still nothing moved on the man’s body.
 Tess hiked a brow, a challenge in her smile. “Why, because they’re your favorite, silly … or at least they used to be.”
“No,” he bit out, the hard planes of his face calcifying even more. “Why are you herenow?
Tess blinked, a wee bit worried for his patients if he couldn’t figure this one out. Package snug under her arm, she tapped it with her fingers, head dipped as if talking to Davey. “Uh, your package?” She paused, expectant. “You know—it needed a signature?” She battled a full-fledge grin at stormy eyes shadowed by beetled brows. Come on, Ben, you can do this.
The fog cleared from his gaze, but the snark remained. With a grunt of thanks, he extended a muscular arm over the fence, his large palm surprisingly calloused for one of the state’s top heart surgeons.
She angled a brow, stealing a page from the Dr. Doom playbook when her body didn’t budge.
The scowl on his stone face slashed even deeper, revealing a hint of temper that didn’t phase Tess in the least. If she learned one thing from being best friends with the Carmichaels for almost a quarter of a century, it was that Ben Carmichael was all bluff. Serious, moody, yet a depth of passion and integrity she’d always admired. A bottomless well of emotion roiling beneath a mirror-lake he worked so hard to convey.
Still waters run deep.
Her smile tipped. And, turbulently, apparently.

3.)         Virtuous Hero: In Christian romance, one would certainly expect more virtuous heroes, those men who live for God and hold virtue in high esteem, which makes the wrestle with evil all the more attractive. Men like Lancelot in Camelot or Ashley Wilkes in Gone With the Wind, fiercely devoted to God but subject to the frailties of things like temptation, a secret vice, or past mistakes. To me—a die-hard romantic-tension queen—one of the most attractive things about the virtuous hero is the untapped passion/attraction he feels for the heroine, such as in this scene from A Passion Denied when virtuous hero John Brady (a Billy Graham-type character) is caught off guard by the sweet heroine he sees as a little sister who has been coached by her seductive sister as to how to turn his head.

“Beth, are we okay?” He ducked his head to search her eyes, then brushed her hair back from her face. A smile shadowed his lips. “Still friends?”
Friends. A deadly plague only a kiss could cure. Resolve stiffened her spine. “Sure, Brady … friends.”
He smiled and tucked a finger under her chin. “That’s my girl. Now what do you say we pray about some of these things?” He leaned close with another quick kiss to her brow, and in a desperate beat of her heart, she lunged, uniting her mouth with his. She felt the shock of her action in the jolt of his body, and she gripped him close to deepen the kiss. Waves of warmth shuddered through her at the taste of him, and the essence of peppermint was sweet in her mouth.
“No!” He wrenched back from her hold with disbelief in his eyes.
Too late. She had never felt like this before. Years of seeking romance from flat parchment pages had not prepared her for this. This rush, this desire … her body suddenly alive, and every nerve pulsing with need. All shyness melted away in the heat of her longing, and she pounced again, merging her mouth with his. John Brady, I love you!
A fraction of a second became eons as she awaited his rejection. His body was stiff with shock, but no resistance came. And in a sharp catch of her breath, he drew her to him with such force, she gasped, the sound silenced by the weight of his mouth against hers. He groaned and cupped the back of her head as if to delve in her soul, a man possessed. His lips broke free to wander her throat, and shivers of heat coursed through her veins. In ragged harmony, their shallow breathing billowed into the night while his arms possessed her, molding her body to his.

4.)         Alpha Hero: Okay, you know who these guys are—those gruff, no-nonsense types who are natural leaders and stubborn to the core—cool, confident, steady, strong, sure and like to be in control. Men like Jethro Gibbs from NCIS or the highlander type from a Scottish romance. Utterly male and utterly determined to be in control by staking their claim on the woman they love. In this scene from The Daughters of Boston series, alpha hero Mitch Dennehy has painfully adhered to intimacy boundaries with the heroine with whom he’s falling in love … until he learns she still has feelings for another man, and then the alpha male in him becomes very territorial.

When he took her home that night, he had given her his usual gentle kiss. 
“I’ll see you Monday,” she whispered, pushing the door ajar.
Something inside had compelled him to pull her close. “No, you’ll see me tonight, in your dreams, and that’s an order. But just to make sure …” 
Never would he forget the look––eyes blinking wide as he dragged her to him, her soft lips parting in surprise when his mouth took hers with a hunger long suppressed. His hands wandered her back, urging her close while his lips roamed the curve of her neck, returning to reclaim her mouth with a fervor. For one brief, glorious moment, the terms were his, and by thunder, she would feel the heat of his kiss in her bones.
In a raspy gulp of air, she lunged back. “I can’t believe you did that!” she gasped.
“Believe it,” he quipped, his tone nonchalant.
“But, why? After what I told you tonight, why would you do that?”
“Why? Let’s just call it a bit of insurance.”
“What?”
“Insurance. If the woman I love is going to have memories of passion, it’s going to be with me, not him.”
“I don’t entertain memories of passion.” Her voice was edged with anger. 
“You will tonight,” he said. And turning on his heel, he left her—hopefully with a warmth that defied the coolness of the night.

5.)           Sweet and Easygoing Hero, the Beta Male: These are those “nice guys” who are sweet, kind and decent with best-friend potential who once you scratch the surface, you see a past or a wound he doesn’t want anyone to see. Like the hero in book 3 of my Heart of San Francisco series, Bram Hughes, who’s always been the easy-going big-brother, mentor, and best friend to the heroine who was once a shy and unattractive little girl. But when Meg returns from a year in Paris, she’s suddenly blossomed into a beauty who races his pulse, which disturbs him enough to avoid her until he manages to get their friendshipand only friendshipback on solid ground.
       
       You know, Bug, I’m totally prepared to make up for ignoring you these last few weeks.” He cocked a brow. “Say, a bag of jelly beans?”
       Meg laughed, flashing dimples Bram had never really paid much attention to before. But now no gold braces barred her teeth nor thick eyeglasses goggled her gaze, causing the muscles in his throat to duck like he’d swallowed a fistful of those blasted jelly beans she so adored. She tipped her head in a playful pose, and a wisp of titian hair caressed the softest, creamiest cheek he’d ever seen. He fought the rise of a gulp. How on earth have I never noticed before?
       The softest of smiles played at the edge of her lips. “Really counselor—bribery?” Those remarkable green eyes twinkled. “I would have thought better of the noble Bram Hughes.”
       His smile faded as he shifted to face her, her words pricking his conscience. He strove for a casual air with one arm over the back of the seat while the other absently fiddled with the leather head of the tiller. “Yes, well maybe you shouldn’t, Bug, because it wasn’t very ‘noble’ of me to avoid you for over two weeks, which is why I wanted you to come with me to get ice cream—so I could apologize and explain why.”
       She picked at a seam in her skirt as she looked away, a hint of rose stealing into her cheeks. “I already know why,” she said softly, “and the truth is it’s I who owes you an apology.”
       “No, Meg, you’re wrong—”
       “Am I?” A sweep of dark lashes lifted to reveal a gaze riddled with regret. “You’re my best friend in the whole world, Bram, and I made you uncomfortable with my—” A nervous lick of her lips told him this was not easy for her. “Brazen overtures,” she whispered.
       He tipped his head, gaze softening while a crooked grin skimmed across his lips. “Come on, Bug—brazen?” He nudged her chin up, coaxing her eyes to meet his. “There’s not a brazen bone in your body, Megan McClare, and an apology is hardly necessary.” Boosting his courage with a fortifying breath, he leaned back against the door with a fold of arms, his smile sloping off center. “Trust me—you had every reason to assume that mindset the way I gawked at you all night like a starry-eyed adolescent.” Sobriety stole into his manner, dimming his smile. “You’ve grown into a beauty, Meg, and some lucky guy will be blessed beyond his wildest dreams with a woman who is bright, gentle, and beautiful—the perfect girl, really.” His chest rose and fell with a heavy sigh. “It just can’t be me, Bug,” he said quietly.

6.)           Protector Hero:  This is the hero whose major goal—protecting those he loves—becomes who he is, be it a cop, firefighter, soldier, spy, etc. Many times these heroes have become protective because as children they suffered some great loss or hurt, which is something you always want convey if this is the case in your story.

In this scene from my novel Dare to Love Again, the hero is a grouchy police detective who’s been coerced by the heroine’s wealthy unclewhom the hero hatesto protect his adventurous and scatterbrained niece without her knowledge.

       
       Tossing the remains of the animal crackers in his mouth, he crushed the Barnum’s package and dropped it in the pocket of his sack suit, figuring he’d need the whole bloomin’ box to settle his stomach for the cable car. He checked his watch for the twentieth time and scowled. What the devil is she doing, anyway? 
       Expelling a noisy breath, he moved with the stealth of a shadow from Mrs. Peel’s lawn to that of the school, mounting the pristine white steps with the utmost care. Unease skittered his spine like rats skittered the alleys of the Coast, and hands cupped to the window, he peered through the crack in the curtains. Words he hadn’t uttered since the war ground from his lips, eyes gaping as Allison McClare wobbled on the top rung of a ladder. Nick would have sworn she was swaying as she attempted to paint scenery—the red roof of a house facade Mr. Bigley was supposed to finish—with a paintbrush taped to the end of that confounded stick.
       So help me, Allison . . . He bit back another colorful word as he quietly made his way to the front door, silence essential so he wouldn’t scare the brat half to death and risk her toppling from the ladder. Pulse hammering, he attempted to unlock the front door with the key Mrs. McClare had given him, incensed all the more to find it unlocked. “Blue blistering blazes,” he muttered under his breath, easing the door open with nary a sound before silently stealing into the gym.
       One glance at the stretch of her lithe and curvy form confirmed proximity to Allison McClare was not a good thing. At least, not anymore. Apparently too focused while she hummed quietly to herself, she never even heard his approach, and releasing a silent sigh, he slowly mounted the steps to the stage.
       The humming and painting happily continued, confirming once again that this woman lived in a world all her own. Nick’s lips went flat. A world in which he was becoming entirely too comfortable. “Alli,” he said softly, taking great pains not to startle her.
       “Oh!” Jerking straight up, she whirled around at the waist, body and ladder teetering so hard the paint bucket went flying, hitting the paint-stained sheet beneath her with a clunk and a splat.
       Pulse in a sprint, he sprang forward with instinct and speed honed to near perfection in jiu-jitsu, heart crashing into his stomach while Allison crashed into his arms. With a harsh catch of his breath, shock gave way to temper at the risks that she took. “What is it with you and chairs, anyway?” he snapped. “You trying to break your silly neck?” Rib cage heaving, he glared, waiting for the tongue-lashing that never came.
       “Oh, Nick!” she whispered, hand quivering while she gently stroked his cheek. “I’ve missed you so much.”

So … how do I like to ramp up the swoon factor in a hero to take him from ho-hum to hot?

Well, the ways are ENDLESS, but here are a few of my favorites that I employ over and over again. Since this blog is already WAY too long, I’ll cover them in more depth in Part 2 of “From Sweet to Swoon,” which will post next month.

1.    Make the Hero Decidedly Male through Speech, Body Language, and Mindset.
2.    Give Him a Noble Cause.
3.    Make the Heroine Affect Him Like No Other Woman.
4.    Give Him a Wounded Heart.
5.    Make His Attraction/Love for the Heroine Reform Him.
6.    Make Him Sacrificial.
7.    Give Him a Sense of Humor.
8.    Make Him Be Able to Walk Away From Temptation.
9.    Show His Love for Kids, Family, and Animals.
10. Make Him Dominant.
11. Give Him an Endearing Quirk.
12. Show Him Aware of the Heroine’s Interest.
13. Make Him Aloof and Unavailable.
14. Show His Humility.
15. Show His Mental Desire for the Heroine.
16. Show His Spirituality.

GIVEAWAY!!
Leave a comment for a chance to win your choice of a signed copy of any of my books, including my upcoming release in October, Surprised by Love.

Anybody who submits additional ways to ramp up the swoon factor in a hero and I use them in Part 2 next month, will be entered in a second drawing of choice of my books.

BIO:
Award-winning author of “The Daughters of Boston” and “Winds of Change” series, Julie Lessman was American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and voted #1 Romance Author of the year in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards. She has also garnered 17 RWA and other awards and made Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction. Her book A Light in the Window is an International Digital Awards winner, a 2013 Readers' Crown Award winner, and a 2013 Book Buyers Best Award winner. You can contact Julie and read excerpts from her books at www.julielessman.com.



149 comments :

  1. Thanks, Julie for putting words in my mouth. I love all those heroes, but in a mixture...not all the same in every novel. If I win, I want your new one coming out!

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  2. Thanks, Julie for putting words in my mouth. I love all those heroes, but in a mixture...not all the same in every novel. If I win, I want your new one coming out!

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  3. Ahh Julie...your posts are pretty much my favorite! I was about to shut down my computer and go to bed but then I saw the title of this post and your name and I was sucked in! Your heroes are some of the absolute best and you definitely hit the nail on the head with this list! I especially loved the glimpses at your upcoming novels! CANNOT WAIT!!!
    I tried to pick a favorite hero type from this list but I couldn't do it, I'm kind of a fan of them all! Though I will admit that I'm normally not a big fan of the bad boy hero but Collin completely changed my opinion on that!

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  4. Hi Julie! Great post. As a reader I think my favorite hero is either the protector or the sweet and easy going. I usually don't like the bad boys - but on occasion have liked them all! Please enter me in the drawing.

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  5. Julie - reading these scenes, well all your heroes make me swoon. But I'm like loves to read. I like the protector and the sweet and easy going.

    I would LOVE to win another of your books.

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  6. Hi Julie:

    I want to recommend the rarest hero of them all: the romantic!

    He’s the hero in my “The Last Romantic”.

    An ex-Army Special Forces warrior, the hero is now a grad student in Philosophy who falls in love at first sight with his ‘soul mate’ – a Plain Jane who is truly beautiful in his eyes. He loves her for who she is. He seeks no changes just her love.

    He is romantic in all things but she sees him as a stalker and resists all his efforts. As a hunk, she thinks he is making fun of her. He’s too romantic to be true.

    He tells her he loves her often and with heartfelt sincerity. He anticipates her needs. He notices each of her efforts to look pretty. He tells her girl friends how wonderful she is. He writes her poems of genuine literary merit, sends her flowers (her favorite), shows her how to fly a kite on the beach (after he saves it from crashing into the ocean), reads her dissertation (on Pliny the Younger) hidden deep in the school library. She already has her PhD. He reads so he can communicate with her on things she finds most interesting. He gets her favorite author’s books direct from Blackwell’s in England a year before they become available in the USA. She did not even know this could be done.

    He arrangers for her to stay at a friend's house for the summer in Pompeii where she will do research (while he is in Scotland doing David Hume reseach). He flies her mother and sister down from Seattle in his plane to Santa Barbara for her surprise birthday party in the middle of the week. He flies them back that night. He makes the two feel like a queen and a princess as they fly north. They love him.

    When the student union is attacked by two shooters, he saves her life in the chaos. Then he captures the two shooters because he knew how they would try to escape.

    It is not easy being the last romantic.

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  7. Great post Julie! I just finished a book last night that pretty much had all the points you outlined for a swoon worthy hero. I'm surprised he didn't visit my dreams last night...sigh.

    I would love to be entered into your giveaway. Thank you for the opportunity.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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  8. Wait...did I just read you are writing a contemporary???????????? The notion has addled my brain so I'm afraid the rest of your post hasn't sunk in just yet. Must go read it again...

    I'm back -- all a toe-tingling from those lovely excerpts. And yep...you said contemporary. I'm gobsmacked!

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  9. Hi Julie,

    Why can't it be Bram? We're all going to be looking to buy your book now.

    Great post. I'm thinking about how the hero in my WIP fits in. Thanks!

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  10. I love your books, Julie! And all of your heroes. Great post!

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  11. I love this! This will be wonderful for future reference. I think you did a great job illustrating all these types of heroes. I'd love to be entered in your giveaway. My sister and I are fans of your books. :)

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  12. SWEET HEAVEN! What a way t start my crazy "pack up my house" day!! Yes, I think I'm ready NOW!
    Jules, your contemp?!? I LOVE IT!!!

    You do brooding SOOO well!
    You chose Colin AND Brady for the same post?!? Sigh...BEST WAKE UP CALL!

    And, as usual, you write emotions so well. I like the brooding/protector mix, and have a habit of writing 'best friend' types, but really want to master the brooder ;-)

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  13. Hey Julie,
    I really enjoyed your overview of all the types of heroes, I never realized there were so many different types. The best ones usually are a mixture of several giving them depth and dimension. I'd love to win a book, please enter me in the drawing.

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  14. Thanks, Julie! This post is a mini 'How to Book', Love it. Printing it out to include in my reference folder... to my stack of reference folders! :-)

    Lots of goof info! Drop my name in the pot, please!

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  15. GOOD MORNING, ALL, and nothing makes me hungrier than talking heroes! I swear I was stunted at the age of twelve when it comes to heroes, because ever since Rhett Butler, I've been a boy-crazy adolescent. Which ... is not a bad thing if one is a romance writer, right?

    So tell me YOUR favorite type of hero and if you have any additional suggestions, bring 'em on because when it comes to ramping up the sigh factor in heroes, the more ways (and heroes), the better!

    Oh my goodness -- fruit is in season, and my hubby brought me HUGE containers of fresh blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, so have at it with blueberry and strawberry muffins, raspberry kringles, or cinnamon oatmeal sprinkled with all three. And I'll even throw in peach cobbler because let's face it -- NO fruit-related breakfast is complete without Patti Jo's peach cobbler ... :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  16. Ah Julie, great post. You're our go-to girl for romance, and we can't have romance without the hero. The heroes I write and read about have a combination of those traits, but they all have a deep respect for women, the heroine especially.

    My heroes never force a kiss. They don't have to. She's already waiting and hoping even when she doesn't realize it.

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  17. LOL, MARIANNE ... yeah, it might be overkill to find ALL components listed in one hero ... :)

    I just sent the final galleys to my publisher yesterday, so I'm anxious to see what you think of Meg and Bram's story!

    Hugs and good luck!
    Julie

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  18. This post was incredible, Julie! Can I have the next installment??? Will definitely be coming back to read it again. And again.

    My heroes are usually the protective type. They'll do anything to keep the heroine safe. Do you think that the heroes profession factors into his 'swoon-factor'? Just asking.

    Please enter me in the giveaway! Would lobe to win any of your books!

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  19. Aw, ABS, thanks SO much, you sweet thing! You are always SO encouraging, my friend.

    LOL ... yeah, I think Collin changed a lot of people's minds about the bad-boy hero based on the male I've gotten on that boy! And the thing was, so many readers told me they didn't like him or bad-boy heroes, but Collin snagged them anyway, so he's an interesting study in why he won so many hearts.

    Good luck, Abs, and here's to a win!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  20. LOVES TO READ ... I'll be honest, after seeing the numbers on the poll I quoted about bad boys being the top pick, I'm a bit surprised at how many of my readers feel the way you do -- opting for the protector or sweet and easy-going hero.

    But I just now realized that that poll was done by a secular group, so that explains it. In the Christian market, I suspect the bad boy would finish last.

    Good luck in the contest, sweetie!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  21. Hey, TERRI ... yep, that doesn't surprise me because as I said to Loves to Read above, the poll I quoted from about the top choice of heroes was a secular poll, so that explains why the bad boy won.

    The Christian market is much more refined and mature as to their tastes in romance, attracted to the more noble attributes in a hero rather than the base. And, of course, I love ALL the types of heroes. BUT ... as a die-hard advocate of the bad boy, I have to say that nothing is more romantic to me than a willful man bending His knee to God, which, of course, ALWAYS happens in a Christian bad-boy romance. :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  22. Julie,
    I love your posts. You're so fun.

    I'd love to be entered to win your newest book - it's the only one I don't OWN!

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  23. VINCE, YES!!! Now WHY did I know that YOU would be the one to come up with a new category, my friend?

    EXCELLENT suggestion, the romantic, and something tells me that you personally would fall into that category quite neatly, which means Mrs. Mooney is one lucky lady, being married to one of the "Last Romantics"!! :)

    You're entered in the 2nd drawing, my friend, so GOOD LUCK!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  24. WHOA, CINDY ... you can't just waltz in here and drop a tantalizing comment like that and NOT tell us the book where you found this super hero, girlfriend!! I'm hero-crazy, remember? Would love to hear more about this hero -- his occupation, the basic plot, etc. because he sounds DE-VINE!!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  25. Julie, I love this! I'm trying to hone in my hero for my next book, and this post is soooo helpful! :)

    I have a question, how do you find quirks for your characters?

    I'm not sure I can offer any tips for upping the swoon factor. I'll think and see if anything comes to mind. :)

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  26. Wonderful post, Julie. All your posts are print worthy. Thanks for the tips for making our readers fall in love with our heroes.

    I'm reading Dare to Love Again and as I do all your story men, I'm loving Nick and his unique quirks.

    So when you're conjuring up a new story, what comes to you first? The plot, the hero or the heroine?

    Janet

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  27. LOL, KAV ... you read right, my friend, and believe it or not, I'm not writing it because contemporaries are so hot right now, although I will admit that the timing is perfect.

    You see, I started writing this book before I ever sold my first book and actually had a chapter already written. So when I decided to pull back from contracts, deadlines, social media, and most promo earlier this year to focus more on God and family, I was able to return to writing for the sheer joy of writing and felt strongly led to begin with this contemp I'd started and never finished. Imagine my surprise when I learned after the fact that the pendulum had swung to where interest in historicals is now on the wane and contemps are hot, hot, HOT!! :)

    And would you believe I'm finding the contemp harder to write than the historical? With contemps, you have to get the young people's mindset and lingo down correctly to be believable, and since I'm not "young," that's been a challenge. :)

    Good luck in the contest, you sweet thing!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  28. I love troubled heroes.... I love them burdened by something soul-searing and often beyond their control but because they're strong and think they can do anything, they take responsibility for far more than God expects them too....

    And I like funny heroes like Richard Castle, so twirked by life and bad choices that he's got a lot of ground to cover to win the fair maid!

    And I love, love, love Lt. Provenza on Major Crimes, the gruff, older detective whose wisdom shines through eyes that have seen so much.

    But the first type, the "GIBBS" type, is the one that I think lots of us fall for because we want to help....

    And be that one special person (or have our heroine be that person!) to make things better. A divine match!

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  29. Hey, JACKIE ... then my work here is done ... ;)

    Actually you don't have to buy the book to find out because it's not a secret why it can't be Bram. You see, he took Meg under his wing when she was seven after his own little sister died, and because Meg was the middle sister who was shy and always left out, Bram championed her and became her mentor and best friend. Aside from the fact that he sees her as a little sister and friend that he should NOT be attracted to, he is also committed to an arranged marriage of sorts negotiated to save his father's business. And being the noble man he is -- and carrying a deep and painful guilt no one knows about -- he is determined to follow his father's wishes. Which ... neatly pushes Meg into the arms of her school-days nemesis, Devin Caldwell. :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  30. Vince....

    This guy isn't too good to be true, is he, my friend?????

    Because if he's tooooooo romantic, we might have to toughen him up a little.

    Tell me he's got some sort of foible.... He's flawed in some way, right??????

    If not, my vote is he should be, just enough to make him human...

    Although Superman was a HUNK... but then he wasn't human... by our standards. So we cut him some slack.

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  31. Awww Jules, Here you go bringing all those heroes back into my life with such fond memories. sigh. I love your heroes. Colin is one of my favorites but the real favorite of mine is Patrick-the father of the girls. I loved him in all of the Daughters of Boston Series and of course his story is in A Light In The Window

    Great post and super list of things to remember to include when writing those heroes.

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  32. Vince you definitely are the romantic hero.

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  33. Love your list of ways to ramp up the swoon factor in our heroes--fun post, Julie!!!

    I really like varying the types of heroes in my books. I've had the beta hero, the virtuous hero, and I think a brooding hero or two. And a "bad boy" who also brooded!

    And, oh, aren't those bad boys fun to redeem!

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  34. a SWOON post if i've ever read one Julie.
    i lean towards the wounded boy next door hero - the one who has been there forever, waiting for the heroine to finally get a clue that he is what she needs.

    after that, i'd say Protector (love men in uniforms) and then the Bad Boy turned Good. I so agree there's something what occurs when the rebel bows his will the the Lord and rises a changed man.

    KEEPER POST!!!!! must go create a swoon worthy hero keeping your info in mind.

    please put my name in the hopper for a chance to read about any of your heroes.

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  35. Aw, CANDICE, thank you SO much!!

    Here's to a win in the contest, my friend. :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  36. Hey, JENN, thank you SOOO much, and thank your sweet sis for me too -- I am SO grateful for reader friends like you both.

    Here's hoping Mr. Randomizer pulls your name out of the hat!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  37. PEPPER!!! Goodness, it's been so long since we sat down for that wonderful breakfast, my friend -- I miss you!!

    I think of you often whenever I write the scenes in Isle of Hope where Spence appears, the heroine's 8-year-old mildly autistic cousin. I can't thank you enough for your input, and I may hit you up again one of these days. :)

    Hugs!!
    Julie

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  38. TRACEY SAID: "The best ones usually are a mixture of several giving them depth and dimension."

    Oh, GREAT POINT, girl, because you nailed it on that one. Which is why I SO desperately want the name of the hero and book that Cindy W. mentioned above -- that sounds like SOME hero that I would love to get to know. :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  39. Thanks, MARY, for your kind encouragement, and I laughed at loud at what I HOPE was a typo when you said, "Lots of goof info!" ;)

    Hugs and GOOD LUCK in the contest!
    Julie

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  40. Thanks, MARY, for your kind encouragement, and I laughed at loud at what I HOPE was a typo when you said, "Lots of goof info!" ;)

    Hugs and GOOD LUCK in the contest!
    Julie

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  41. I would also say that a hero's clothing could affect his swoon factor. I mean, come on, I don't think any woman is going to be impressed with a hero who wears his cargo pants with the waistband so far down that it's nearly around his knees, his t-shirt with the sleeves and most of the sides cut out, and his baseball cap on backwards. Now let's put him in a pair of Wranglers, a well fitting T-shirt (with nothing cut out), a cowboy hat- personally, I prefer black, but anything works-, boots , and spurs. He has a lot more appeal than the first example.

    Now let's add manners. He says 'yes, ma'am' and 'no, ma'am', whereas example one would say 'Yo, woman! Ya hungry?'

    Anybody else use attire to add appeal to their heroes?

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  42. Wow, Julie, I can't wait to read Ben and Tess's story. Now that's a brooder! lol

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  43. Julie, Collin is definitely my favorite of all your heroes. I'm not sure why because he wasn't the typical bad boy who actually has a heart of gold or who is just misunderstood. Maybe because we had that glimpse of him taking up for Faith years earlier & she had her heart set on him.

    I can't wait for part two!

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  44. ELAINE SAID: "The heroes I write and read about have a combination of those traits, but they all have a deep respect for women, the heroine especially."

    Ooooo, Elaine, that's a good one to add to my list -- The hero who respects the heroine and women, so THANK YOU!! Consider yourself entered into my 2nd drawing as well as the first, girlfriend.

    You also said: "My heroes never force a kiss."

    LOL ... well, you already know that as a wall-pusher from WAY back, I have quite a few heroes who push their heroines to the wall for a stolen kiss, so I'm guessing those heroes didn't win your heart like they won mine. :) But that's the beauty of romance -- it, like the hero, comes in all shapes and sizes for all types of women. As a Gone With the Wind freak from age 12, I grew up mesmerized by old Hollywood movies where the hero steals a kiss, so I've been branded ever since, I guess. :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  45. YAY, CRYSTAL ... so at least someone will come back next month to read the next installment!! :)

    You asked: "Do you think that the heroes profession factors into his 'swoon-factor'?"

    Unfortunately, YES. Not that you can't make a mortician or McDonalds drive-thru worker swoon-worthy, but it's just WAY harder to do, in my opinion. For instance, in my current contemp WIP, I could have made the cranky subordinate hero a businessman, which is certainly a respectable profession. But because he IS such a crank, I needed to bump his credibility up, so I was going to make him a cardiologist. But then I bumped it up another step to a cardiac surgeon because it enhanced the irony of a man who can heal everyone's heart but his own.

    Also, in book 2 of my Heart of San Fran series, I could have made my hero a cop, but I decided I needed a wee bit more authority, so I made him a plainclothes detective instead. To me, that helped him come across a little gruffer and no-nonsense, which was perfect for his grunting/deadpan personality since he doesn't have to deal with the general public like a police officer does.

    Hugs!!
    Julie

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  46. Aw, DAWN, thank you SO much for your sweet comment AND for reading my books! I just finished the final galleys for book 3 in The Heart of San Fran series, Surprised by Love, so I hope you enjoy it as much as I did writing it. :)

    Hugs and GOOD LUCK!!
    Julie

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  47. Oh, JEANNE T ... perfect timing, eh? Hope some of the points listed help you with your hero, my friend.

    You asked: "I have a question, how do you find quirks for your characters?"

    Oh, honey, do I have a blog for you! ;) I actually wrote a blog on quirks entitled "The Queen of Quirks" in which I give examples and a listing at the end, so check it out by copying and pasting this link in your browser, and I hope it helps:

    http://seekerville.blogspot.com/2012/07/queen-of-quirk-and-giveaway.html

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  48. Aw, JANET, thanks, sweetie, both for your sweet comment AND for reading Dare to Love Again! I have a feeling this book will be one of your faves of all my books because it's the sweetest book I've ever written with almost no kisses, but LOTS of romantic tension, so let me know, okay?

    You asked: "So when you're conjuring up a new story, what comes to you first? The plot, the hero or the heroine?"

    Oooo, great question, and I would have to say for me, it's the heroine, which is in direct conflict with what I think is the most important component in a romance, the hero. But I guess my motivation is like every other girls' -- relating from my own perspective as a heroine first, to what I believe most heroines (including myself) are looking for most -- a wonderful man to love them.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  49. Amen, RUTHY, and believe it or not, I actually thought of YOU when I included Gibbs! :)

    Oooo ... troubled heroes and wise ones ... I may have to add them to my list ... :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  50. What an amazing breakdown of hero types, Julie. You really know your stuff! Thank you for your efforts with this post.

    In Christian fiction, I love the bad boy because he comes out good in the end, and I can feel fairly certain he stays that way. In real life, not so much. :-)

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  51. Hey, RUTHY, you actually brought up a very good point with Vince.

    When I think of a real romantic hero who's always doing nice things for a heroine, I tend to think of -- and this is going too far back for most of our readers -- but I think of Phil Donohue, who I didn't particularly like because all of that politically correct and almost too-perfect romanticism simply doesn't appeal to me. But maybe it was because Phil was liberal that I felt that way. So, YES, foibles and flaws are definitely a necessity to bring some balance.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  52. Aw, SANDRA, thanks SO much, my friend, for your ongoing encouragement. And, yeah, I 'm not sure why Collin was such a fave of so many of my readers, but I can't help but believe the picture on the cover didn't hurt. :)

    And, YES! THANK YOU for loving Patrick because truly, he is the #1 hero in all these books in my opinion, but then that's because he's loosely based on my own real-life hero. :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  53. Ooooo, MYRA ... "A "bad boy" who also brooded!"

    I LOVE IT!!! And I know just who you are referring to -- one of my faves of your heroes, good ole Gil from "Whisper Goodbye," right?

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  54. DEB H SAID: "I lean towards the wounded boy next door hero - the one who has been there forever, waiting for the heroine to finally get a clue that he is what she needs."

    OH, GOOD ONE, my friend, so I'm adding you to the 2nd drawing along with the 1st because that's a great addition to my list.

    Don't know if you have ever seen the Hallmark movie, "Follow the Stars Home," but if you haven't, RENT IT!! It is on my list of top fave movies of all times because of the very type of hero you mention above. POWERFUL movie and POWERFUL hero!! :)

    Oh, and I have a bone to pick with you, you little brat -- needing to connect with your "inner Julie Lessman" in order to add more words to your novel!! :) Are you saying I'm verbose? Because if you are, you're right, as this blog will attest to. :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  55. LOL, CRYSTAL ... you're dead on, my friend, at least for contemporaries.

    The best example of this is from one of my favorite movies, Hitch, where Will Smith is a love doctor who helps men get the woman of their dreams. Sloppy and messy Kevin James is the hero that Will takes on and WHOA, baby, not only does Will amend Kevin's clothing, but his manners AND his dancing. :)

    I'll add your suggestion of "good clothes, manner, and speech" to my list and YOU to the 2nd drawing. :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  56. Thanks, PAMMY, good ole Ben is definitely that, not to mention he wants NOTHING to do with anyone who reminds him of his ex wife's (and best friend's) infidelity, including the neighbor who was also wounded when her pastor hubby ran away with Ben's wife.

    Think Peyton Place cleaned up considerably. :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  57. Julie
    LOL. if only i could tap into my inner you for that word count. i err on the side of brevity and would love to get a little verbose.

    right now i'm just happy I can be a brat with a complete MS in to the LIS editors - and i have you and ALL the ladies of Seekerville to thank. y'all are a HUGE blessing to the writing community.

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  58. DONNA SAID: "Collin is definitely my favorite of all your heroes. I'm not sure why because he wasn't the typical bad boy who actually has a heart of gold or who is just misunderstood. Maybe because we had that glimpse of him taking up for Faith years earlier & she had her heart set on him."

    I agree, Donna -- he was a charismatic Robinhood who looked out for the underdog, winning Faith's heart and ours UNTIL he BECAME the underdog/bad boy when his father died and his mother berated him on a daily basis.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  59. Thanks, MEGHAN! Not sure I know my stuff, but I do know what I like in a hero, so that's bound to come in handy when creating them, eh?

    YOU SAID: "In Christian fiction, I love the bad boy because he comes out good in the end, and I can feel fairly certain he stays that way. In real life, not so much. :-)"

    LOL ... no, not so much is right when it comes to real life, although when it happens, it is pretty special, eh?

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  60. LOL, DEB H ... ahhhh, but your fewer words probably say WAY more in their given space then mine, my friend. A judge in a contest once told me that the best writers are the ones who can say the most in the fewest amount of words. Mmmm ... guess that leaves me out ... ;)

    And, YES, YES, YES!! SUPER CONGRATS, girl, on that ms. under consideration!! Saying one RIGHT NOW for supernatural favor and success!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  61. Julie,
    This is interesting. Keeper file.
    My latest two heroes are one of each of your examples. Michael, the Irish Cowboy in "Trail," is a bad boy who used his silver tongue and blarney stone charm on women of all shapes and sizes until he met Caroline, who is the Only Woman for Him. Pace Williams, the hero in the sequel and my current WIP, is a crusty and cynical loner who breaks open like an egg when he meets the right woman. Two completely different men. Both unsaved at the beginning, so I think in my next book I'll work toward a Christian man.
    Kathy Bailey
    Mulling men in New Hampshire

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  62. I need to read these books. most romance books have so much sex in them I am not sure the difference

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  63. I like the Beta Hero usually, but for once am writing a Protector hero. And I love it!!!

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  64. Vince's hero scares me. Just want to state that for the record.

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  65. I'm like taking notes over here! Thanks, Julie! :)

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  66. Thanks Julie for a good post to ponder. I enjoy the bad guy who turns good and shows his sweet side as he falls in love with rh we heroine.

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  67. Hello, Julie! Ooh, I felt like swooning right here at my desk reading about all those heroes! I'm personally a fan of the virtuous and Beta males. I am not really a romance writer, but I've added some romance in, and my guys definitely meet those hero characteristics. I also LOVE giving them a sense of humor!

    Can I add something that I find swoonworthy? Make him dorky! Or nerdy. "Geek culture" is really in right now (I know, my husband has a comic book collection that is close to 5,000), and its really sweet.

    To that end, how about giving the hero a passion for something the heroine knows nothing about but learns to enjoy? When my husband and I first met, I knew NOTHING about comic books, but when I watched the way he got so animated and excited talking about them made ME interested! Through our seven years of marriage, he's turned me on to so many comic book heroes and story lines that I never knew about. I also saw how these stories and characters shaped my husband, as he admired many of them (Superman, Captain America). They helped influence his choices as a teenager, and helped him become the man he is today, and I had NO IDEA about any of this when we met. This idea could be used for anything: white water rafting, football, horseback riding, woodworking, Clint Eastwood movies, etc.

    Love to win ANY of your books, Julie! Have a wonderful day!

    (For the record, I have still never read an actual comic book, but I probably know more about them than any person who never has should know. Vice versa for my husband who listens to me talk on and on about figure skating but never watches it with me!)

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  68. KATHY B!!! LOVE your sign-off line: Mulling men in New Hampshire!!!

    Sign me "Hot for Heroes in St. Loo" ... ;)

    Ooooo ... both your Irish cowboy and your crusty, cynical loner sound good to me, girlfriend, so you go, girl!!

    And LOL about your next hero being a Christian man ... that's exactly what I did with my first series. A bad boy for book 1, a crusty, cynical type for book 2, then a Billy Graham type for book 3, so great minds, I guess. :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  69. TCARLE SAID: "I need to read these books. most romance books have so much sex in them I am not sure the difference."

    YES, YES, YES, my friend, you DO need to read these books because 1.) Book 1, A Passion Most Pure, is available EVERYWHERE for FREE DOWNLOAD right now, so here's the link:

    A PASSION MOST PURE

    2.) I love a LOT of romantic tension and passion in my books, both romantically and spiritually, so secular books are no-go for me since I have to have God in the middle. Unfortunately, most of the Christian romance I was reading before I started writing didn't have much passion, so I decided to write my own. As a result, with my books you have a lot of swooning going on and kisses, but ALL according to God's precepts AND promoting God's precepts, so I hope you give my books a try. If you do, let me know what you think, okay?

    Good luck in the contest, sweetie, and thanks for coming by!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  70. TINA SAID: "I like the Beta Hero usually, but for once am writing a Protector hero. And I love it!!!"

    That doesn't surprise me, Tina, since your hubby strikes me as a Beta Hero, right?

    Oh, those "protector heros" ... especially the ones with an attitude ... YUM!!

    HUGS,
    Julie

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  71. Hey, RACHELLE ... you are more than welcome, my friend. We hero-crazy types have to stick together, right? ;)

    Good luck!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  72. K.L. BRIDGEWATER SAID: "I enjoy the bad guy who turns good and shows his sweet side as he falls in love with rh we heroine."

    OH, I'm with you, girlfriend, so bring 'em on! ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  73. STEPHANIE SAID: "Can I add something that I find swoonworthy? Make him dorky! Or nerdy. "Geek culture" is really in right now (I know, my husband has a comic book collection that is close to 5,000), and its really sweet."

    Oh, WOW, Steph -- we are on the same wavelength this morning, girl, because I JUST penciled in "nerdy" on my list not 30 minutes ago, but I'm giving YOU an entry in the 2nd drawing for coming up with it too! And your comments about your hubby are GREAT because they help me visualize how to make a nerdy hero swoon-worthy, so THANK YOU!

    UH, and just for the record ... I think you need to read at least ONE comic book ... ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  74. Give him an injury. Even better if it's one sustained defending/protecting the heroine.

    Great post, Julie!

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  75. Thanks, Julie! That post is fabulous! :) In fact, I hope you don't mind, I cut and pasted it.

    You do heroes well, and emotions well! I need to read another of your books and study them. :)

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  76. CAROLYN SAID: "Give him an injury. Even better if it's one sustained defending/protecting the heroine."

    Ooooo, good one, my friend, so you are now entered in both drawings, so you go, girl!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  77. Hey, JEANNE, I am SO glad that quirk blog is helpful!!

    And, YES, you DO need to read another of my books (wink, wink). I'm assuming you already read A Passion Most Pure, possibly through the FREE DOWNLOAD? If not, I hope you'll consider downloading it because Collin is a great example of a hero a lot of readers have loved against their wills. :)

    Also, don't know if you've checked out my Romance-ology 101 workbook on romantic tension, but if not, the ebook is free on Amazon Prime and only $2.99 on Kindle. It's a short book, but packed to the gills with tips I've learned. Which isn't much, I guess, given how short the book is ... ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  78. Today has been declared Julie Lessman day in honor of her ceaseless efforts to fill the world with swoon-worthy heroes. Congratulations, Julie! (Great article!)

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  79. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  80. I love your list of heroes, Julie. I'm cutting and pasting it into a document.
    I'm going to try and run down the whole list.

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  81. I like a hero who is clueless about women.

    So much humor in that.

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  82. I like Mary's clueless heroes, too! I wonder if they are inspired by anyone? :)

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  83. REGINA!!! Soooo fun to see you here, darlin', and talk about "swoon-worthy" heroes, my friend -- you got 'em in spades! :)

    Thanks for coming by and HOLY COW, girlfriend -- LOVE the cover for A Most Inconvenient Marriage!!! VERY clever of Bethany to give you a Dee Gist lookalike cover -- it should fly off the shelves. I know I've already ordered it. ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  84. Thanks, MARE, and thank YOU for giving me another -- the clueless hero!! You've got that one down in spades, my friend. :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  85. Julie, I loved this and look forward to part 2. I will be printing this off and seeing how I can apply these points to my wip.

    I hope you are having a good summer so far.

    I definitely would love to win one of your books.

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  86. Hey, LANI, I am having a wonderful summer, as a matter of fact, and staying off emails, FB, and other social media has really helped. But I'll be getting back on the hamster wheel come October when my next book comes out. Should be nice and rested by then, I hope. :)

    Miss you!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  87. Love this post and it is a keeper! TY, Julie--you are the best! What great advice. I don't know that I could add anything to that list. I'm not sure how this fits on the list--which I re-read--but I like the "surprising" hero. He's a lot like a couple of these hero types but he's a pretty normal guy but there is something about him that makes the heroine think it could never ever work out and vice versa but then BOOM they have that aha moment when it's not so surprising after all. Maybe you can explain how that kind of hero fits in--he's probably pretty close to Beta but not really because he could have elements of all the others. And don't put me in for the contest because I have just pre-ordered (and if you know me I will pre-order by accident a gain a couple of times lol!) Hugs!!!

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  88. I love how individually unique you make your characters- their personalities just jump right off the page (or screen), and that's only from reading one paragraph! Please enter me in your giveaway!

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  89. This post would be greatly helpful if I was a romance writer. As a reader, I find it very entertaining! I enjoy your use of snippets from your books; they take me back to "old favorites" and give me glimpses of the books I haven't yet read.
    I'd love to win one of your books to enhance my Julie Lessman collection.

    pmk56[at]sbcglobal[dot]net

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  90. An interesting post, Julie. Has me considering what I like about the heroes in books I enjoyed ... and why I don't have any patience with the bad boy in secular or inspirational books/movies.

    I'm also in awe, yet again, of how you create such emotionally-charged scenes :-)

    Nancy C

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  91. Hi Julie:

    I’m delighted to be in the second drawing! I just sent off the last of my 200,000 word edits. I want to start on my Rewards book next. (Before the redoes come back : ()

    I think of the seven books plus that I’ve read of yours that your most romantic hero is Steven O’Connor. I also think that the hero in “The Price of Victory” is also very romantic. Both heroes are a lot older than the heroines. I wonder if being older makes a hero more romantic when dealing with a heroine who is just coming out in the adult world. These heroes may want to try some romantic ‘shock and awe before the heroines can get their bearings.

    Also I think there used to be romantic heroes, mostly in European movies, like Marcello Mastroianni , Roger Moore, David Niven, Caesar Romero, Yves Montand, Rudolph Valentino, and others.

    It may be that at some point women just did not want to be romanced any longer.

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  92. Excellent post, as usual, Julie!

    Great points to consider as I flesh out my newest hero!

    Oh, and btw, I LOVE, LOVE the sound of your new contemporary! Can't wait!

    Cheers,
    Sue

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  93. YAY...so good to see and hear from Julie.....makes my day!
    I am anxiously waiting for your October release....please count me in the drawing for it! Thanks!!
    Much love!

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  94. Julie, all your thoughts are great! I kept thinking of my real life hero and my WIP hero. You do know how to write romantic tension! Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge. I'm looking forward to the continuation next month.

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  95. Hi Ruth:

    You asked:

    “Because if he's tooooooo romantic, we might have to toughen him up a little.”

    He’s already very tough. He knew which way the two shooters would run to escape and he got there first, without his weapons, and waited for them around a cliff overlooking the ocean. When they turned the corner he popped out of hiding and pushed them both off the narrow path killing both of them from the fall. The campus went crazy saying he was a killer and they held a vigil for the shooters. (The shooters blasted all the widows out of the student union building from two hundred yards away but no one was killed.) The hero has to take a leave of absence from the PhD program because of all the publicity.

    One the other hand, this heroine is going to need a lot of romancing. She was molested for years as a child by her father with her mother looking on. The heroine has a great fear of men and lives with a famous campus lesbian painter. The heroine is not gay but she’s happy if men think she is.

    The hero’s weakness? He can’t resist a wounded woman who also has ‘the look’ he finds most attractive in a woman. The hero has been looking for his own Anais Nin ever since he read Nin’s diaries and fell in love with her. The heroine looks just like Anais Nin and she is just as smart. He has to have her! This is indeed a romance from start to finish.

    In a way he is a romance whisperer. Sub plot, lots of beautiful women want to be the heroine’s friend just to be seen by the hero. She’s terribly jealous of those women but she is even more angry at herself for feeling that way.

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  96. .

    With a title like
    “Clueless Cowboy”*,
    do you think?



    *Truly Yours Digital Editions

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  97. Hi Tina:

    Scary is right!

    His first dates often call their friends, no matter how late it is, and say, “You know those heroes in romance novels that really don’t exit? I found one!”

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  98. LOL, CARRIE ... gotta love those accidental preorders, girl, especially when they're for my books!! ;) You are TOO CUTE!!

    Mmmm ... a surprising hero ... Of course the only thing that comes to mind for THIS kissing queen is a hero who surprises a heroine with a kiss, as in the stolen variety! ;)

    I actually think that each and every one of these heroes can surprise his heroine by just doing something she's not expecting. The bad boy -- stealing a kiss. The Beta hero, by being bold and maybe dominant, etc.

    But anyway you look at it, surprise is ALWAYS a good thing in a novel, in my opinion. :)

    Hugs!!
    Julie

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  99. WOW, HEIDI, what an absolutely LOVELY thing to say to an author -- THANK YOU!!

    And you bet I'll enter you into the drawing, so here's to a win, my friend!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  100. PAM!!! Hey, girl, long time, no see, but I guess that's because the only blogs I've been doing are my monthly Seeker blog.

    Here's hoping I can add to your collection, my friend -- GOOD LUCK!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  101. NANCY C SAID: "Has me considering what I like about the heroes in books I enjoyed ... and why I don't have any patience with the bad boy in secular or inspirational books/movies."

    Hey, Nance, that's cool that I could trigger some mental exploration on this very important subject for a romance writer!

    And no patience with bad boys??? Uh-oh, I'm betting there are a few of my books you've thrown against the wall a time or too, eh? ;) Because if there's one kind of hero I love, it's that bad boy gone good! :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  102. VINCE!!! Super congrats on finishing edits, my man -- that's a good feeling, isn't it? Oh, and I think your Rewards book is going to be HUGE, seriously, so get crackin'!

    YOU SAID: "I think of the seven books plus that I’ve read of yours that your most romantic hero is Steven O’Connor."

    Mmmm ... that's interesting. Why do you say that? Because he tried to protect Annie from guys like himself, including himself? My favorite heroes of all of mine, besides Patrick, of course, are Mitch and Luke because they're both strong men who don't let the women ride roughshod over them ... which is exactly what I needed in a guy, and God gave it to me in a Beta wrapper. ;)

    You said: "It may be that at some point women just did not want to be romanced any longer."

    You know, I think it depends on the woman's perception of romance. Some equate it with candy and flowers and kindness, but I suspect women have gotten tougher and more independent over the years, which in some cases has translated into the appeal of a tougher guy who draws a line in the sand. Or at least I know it has for me. :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  103. Aw, thanks, SUSIE-Q ... I'm actually having a lot of fun with this book, partially because there are no contracts or deadlines and partially because I really like the whole concept of Isle of Hope being a real place on which to set a story about hope restored. At any rate, I'm loving the characters so far, and it's fun to have a 2nd-tier love story that's so different from Marcy and Patrick's and Cait and Logan's.

    Cannot WAIT to read your book, my friend!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  104. JACKIE!!!!! Gosh, it's like old home week here with both you and Pam, girlfriend!! I only do one giveaway a month now, on the Seeker blog, but that will change come October when Surprised by Love releases, so get ready!!

    Hugs and GOOD LUCK!

    Julie

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  105. SHERIDA SAID: "I kept thinking of my real life hero and my WIP hero."

    OH,man,those real life heroes are GREAT for inspiration, aren't they, though? My guy inspired Patrick O'Connor for me, so I say use all the experience you can from the real thing, eh?

    YOU ALSO SAID: "You do know how to write romantic tension!"

    LOL ... thanks, sweetie, but that's only because I'm a HMCDQ (High-maintenance caffeinated drama queen) who HAS to put all that romantic tension, drama, and angst into her fictional relationships so she doesn't drive her hubby over the edge by putting it in her marriage. ;)

    Hugs and good luck!
    Julie

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  106. VINCE SAID: "In a way he is a romance whisperer."

    ROTFLOL!!! Well said, my friend, well said!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  107. Hi Julie:

    In “A Love Surrendered” the heroine, Annie Kennedy, is very young and Stephen loves her at once (at least he’s highly attracted to her). She does not have to do anything to win his love. Stephen’s love is almost unconditional. He walks her home, he checks on her, he risks his job to save her reputation, he knocks out a guy who he felt was a threat to her, (like a knight of old fighting for his damsel) his life became centered on her and her needs. He could not do enough for her even if she was not that much into him at first.

    Of course, Sean might have been even more romantic towards Emma if she had not been married. A heroine being married really cuts down on a guy’s overt displays of romance.

    Vince

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  108. VINCE SAID: "A heroine being married really cuts down on a guy’s overt displays of romance."

    LOL ... boy, you are on a roll today, Vince, making me chuckle all over the place! ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  109. Welcome back Jules ! I was gone today to Dentist with the kids for cleanings so didn't get a chance to come post this morning. I love this post for sure ! Will print for the binder for sure.
    I guess I would have to say to give the hero a disability that may have made him weaker in some way or made him stronger in some way, I think this makes him more desirable and in many ways more realistic. Could be mental, physical. I know that mental disability in a good looking man can make him more desirable. Do us girls not swoon for the man who is unable to do everything for himself !!!!! It may make us long to help him. Bible says not to forget those who are feeble minded, that they are needed in the body of Christ.
    Hugs
    Linda Marie Finn
    Faithful Acres Books
    http://www.faithfulacres.net
    faithfulacresbooks@gmail.com

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  110. LINDA!!! Hey, girl, how the heck are you doing? It's been a long time since I've browsed FB for anything but a quick plug for others here and there, so I'm out of the loop on all my good friends there, like you!

    Ready for your debut in October? Guess what? I didn't make you a lady of the night after all, but you're still a bad girl, so all those sexy dresses you were hoping for are still good to go ... ;)

    Mmm ... a hero with a disability. Very interesting, and although I haven't seen too much of that, I did love Jamie Carie's The Guardian Duke, in which the hero had a hearing disability due to a fever, and that actually did provoke some sympathy out of me and strengthen him in my opinion, so maybe you have a point here.

    Either way, you are now entered in both drawings, my friend, so GOOD LUCK!!

    HUGS,
    Julie

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  111. Wow, Julie. Excellent examples that got me studying my heroes and trying to figure out their categories. I'm late and haven't read comments yet, so forgive me if you've already answered this question, but I find that sometimes my heroes are part of two different categories. For instance, my current guy is former bad boy turned protector. Does that sort of thing work or do we need to stick within a certain sphere?

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  112. Oh, Julie - I SO enjoy your blog posts and their reconnection for me with those wonderful O'Connor and McClare characters, even the comments bring a smile to my face!!

    I feel that I am more inclined to enjoy virtuous or sweet and easygoing heroes, yet I've fallen in love with each and every one of your heroes by book's end. That's probably because no matter their personality when the book begins, they have become virtuous by book's end. Your heroes are always perfection in the swoon department, I'm wondering about the possibility of making a seriously disabled man who overcomes his disabilities - a hero??

    I'm a reader, not a writer - yet am awed by the wealth of info Seekerville continually presents as a help and encouragement to writers/authors - and for free (what could be better??)!! I, too, find it interesting - knowledge of all the hard work involved in bringing those wonderfully inspiring books to readers serves to make me even more appreciative of the books I read and their authors!!

    You will never know just how much the heroes (and heroines) in your books have inspired and touched my heart!! Thank you, Julie, love you!!

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  113. P.S. After posting my comments, I read Linda's suggestion of a hero with a disability!! "Great minds think alike", Linda (LOL)!!

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  114. Crystal Ridgeway can dress my heroes anytime!!!!!

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  115. Vince, you went double deep for that scenario, and it sounds absolutely marvelous now that I know more...

    Why do they think he's the bad guy, though, if there were shooters? That part is confusing me, but he does sound totally swoon-worthy now... larger than life with the kind of heart women (eventually!!!!) love.

    Wonderful job!!!!!

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  116. LYNDEE ASKED: "I find that sometimes my heroes are part of two different categories. For instance, my current guy is former bad boy turned protector. Does that sort of thing work or do we need to stick within a certain sphere?"

    ABSOLUTELY, my friend!! In fact, I think it was Cindy W who said she just finished a book where the hero hit almost every one of the points I listed, which sounds realllllly good to me! Just like most foods taste better when paired with certain foods, heroes do too, when they exhibit any or many of the points I mentioned, so you go, girl!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  117. BONNIE!!! Oh what a joy to see your sweet face pop up, my friend!! I pray for you every day, so it's like icing on the cake to connect with you here too. :)

    You said: "I feel that I am more inclined to enjoy virtuous or sweet and easygoing heroes."

    VERY INTERESTING!! I don't think you and I have discussed which your favorite book or hero is of all my books, but I'm guessing it might be Emma & Sean's story. Maybe you mentioned that to me or maybe not, but if you are inclined to sweet and easygoing heroes, that sounds like Sean to me. :)

    We are SO much alike in SO many ways, girlfriend, but I have a suspicion that our favorite heroes would not be. Mitch and Luke are mine (and Patrick) because I like more dominant heroes, and I'm guessing you would be Brady and Sean, am I right?

    Hugs and more hugs!!
    Julie

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  118. LOL, BONNIE ... I thought the same thing, so I'm entering both of you in the 2nd drawing as well.

    Hugs!!
    Julie

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  119. LOL, RUTHY ... mine, too, especially with my contemp since I have NO clothes sense for myself, much less a man. :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  120. Julie Lessman said...
    And no patience with bad boys??? Uh-oh, I'm betting there are a few of my books you've thrown against the wall a time or too, eh? ;) Because if there's one kind of hero I love, it's that bad boy gone good! :)


    Julie! It's understood that present company is always excepted :-)

    Nancy C

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  121. NANCY SAID: " Julie! It's understood that present company is always excepted :-)"

    Oh, Nance, I'm sorry -- when I made that comment, I was really just joking with you, sweetie, so I should have made that more clear. Your original comment made me smile because we are all so different about what we like in heroes, as it should be, right?

    We're good, darlin', I promise. :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  122. I know. I'm always late to the party, but I made it!!

    There was no way I could read your post at work, Julie. When I read a Julie Lessman post, I need uninterrupted quiet to concentrate on all your wisdom.

    And after reading your take on heros, this post is a prime example of why I must suffer no distractions, LOL.

    Wow, girlfriend! You've nailed the hero persona in every way, shape and form. And I love the snippets from your books. Three dimensional and hi-def doesn't begin to describe the passion that runs through all of your stories.

    Excerpts from other books could NOT have showcased the details of each hero-type as well. OMG, I still swoon over Collin McGuire!!

    Someday...someday, I want to write like Julie Lessman...

    Printing out and posting this on my wall right now!!!

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  123. Oh, AUDS, you are SO good for my confidence, girlfriend, you know that??

    LOL about reading it at work, and honey bun, your writing is pure wonderful, my friend, so you've already "grown up" into top-author status with me, GOD'S TRUTH!!

    Love you, kiddo, and can't wait to hang out at ACFW!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  124. Hi Ruth:

    The hero is a combat veteran whom the students consider a hired killer. The shooters were radial students trying to call attention to the need for social justice. Since no one was killed or badly injured the shooters are far my sympathetic on campus than the hero. The students are also mad that the hero killed the shooters. He did not have to push them off the cliff. They call him a vigilante. BTW: this is very likely to actually happen under the same circumstances.

    Just a month ago a professor assaulted a high school student who was in the free speech area with her pro life signs. She was hit by the teacher and then the teacher stole her protest signs. Over 3,000 students signed the petition siding with the teacher. Don’t forget this is where the students burnt the Bank of America down and where the National Guard had to be called out for days to keep the peace. I am sure that the above would happen in the circumstances I have mentioned.

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  125. Julie, I'm late. But what a great post! Thanks so much for your tips!! These are really helpful.

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  126. A swoon worthy hero is worth his weight in gold.

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  127. VINCE ... I have NO DOUBT that this is completely plausible in today's violent society, so I buy it.

    What's this one called,Vince?

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  128. Hi Julie,
    Always great to "see" you on Seekerville! I'm late too - I don't get the Seekerville posts until the next day. Anyway, loved your post. I'm an easy woman - I like all the hero types! I think one way to take a hero from ho-hum to hot is to have his defense shields up high and wide at the beginning of the story and by the end, due to God's love demonstrated through the heroine and her love, he still remains a strong man, but with a softened heart. (It's a good thing there is not a word limit on our responses.) Put my name in the hat for the drawing!

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  129. Hey, MISSY, NO WORRIES, my friend -- I've been more than a day late and dollar short all month on Seeker posts. :|

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  130. MARY PRESTON SAID: "A swoon worthy hero is worth his weight in gold."

    OH AMEN AND AMEN, SISTER!!

    Hugs and GOOD LUCK!!
    Julie

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  131. EDWINA!!! Hey, girl, better late than ever, I always say (and live, unfortunately!), so no worries, girlfriend.


    YOU SAID: "I'm an easy woman - I like all the hero types!"

    LOL ... ME TOO!! I knew I liked you, girl!

    Your suggestion of a hero with "defense shields up high and wide" is a good one, so I am entering you in the 2nd drawing as well. I'm thinking I would narrow it down to "the reluctant hero" or "the confirmed bachelor hero."

    Thanks for coming by, and GOOD LUCK!!

    HUGS,
    Julie

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  132. Hi, Julie!!! :)

    Awesome post!

    I'd love to be entered in the giveaway!

    Let's see, for taking the hero from Ho-hum to Hot...
    I love to see a hero blush. :)

    You, know, put him in an uncomfortable situation--maybe someone brags on him, or maybe he gets a glimpse of ladies' undergarments, or someone teases him about the heroine. All guys have something that embarrasses them, usually something unique to them. And a blush is such a knee-jerk reaction--you certainly can't fake one--it gives a glimpse into the hero's psyche we may not have had before. :)

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  133. Hi Julie - what a great post! Thanks for the wonderful advice! I've enjoyed reading all the excerpts from your books - love to relive me some O'Conners! I have to say in real life - no bad boys for this girl but in fiction - give me Patrick and Colin any day of the week and twice on Sunday! Please don't enter me in the drawing - I was blessed to win last time!

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  134. Julie...I am so in love with your books! Anyone I know who reads romance your the first name I refer them to.
    Brooding, hurt, aloof, spiritual...those are the best...a hero who shows he is attracted subtly... unintentionally...he tries so hard not to give in...to love or let her into his heart. I started reading a book that was anything but that and it felt empty and shallow. I stopped reading it actually. Your books satisfy my romance reading cravings.

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  135. I loved reading about all these stories. I personally believe it is honesty. I love reading all types of Christian romances. Would so love to win this contest! thanks! Mary Lou K
    flowersmarylou85@gmail.com

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  136. Hey, NATALIE, that is a GREAT one, girl!! I actually used that in my latest book, so you are now entered in the 2nd drawing.

    SUPER CONGRATS and GOOD LUCK!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  137. KELLY!!! Love seeing your sweet face, my friend, and Patrick and Collin won you over, did they? Well, score two for the bad boys!! ;)

    You are such a sweetie, my friend, for coming by and taking yourself out of the contest -- BLESS YOU!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  138. Oh, AIMEE, your sweet comment made my day, my friend, so THANK YOU!!

    Here's hoping it nets you a win, so GOOD LUCK!!

    HUGS,
    JULIE

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  139. Hey, MARYLOU ... thanks so much for coming by to leave a comment, and here's hoping it earns you a win, my friend -- GOOD LUCK!!

    And Mary Lou, if you have never read my books before, I hope you will consider downloading my first book, A Passion Most Pure, for FREE right now. It won American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Book of the Year, so go for it, okay?

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  140. Mary Lou,

    All I can say is SWOON... Great ideas. I'd love to get any of your novels. They sound terrific.

    Carolyn

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  141. Hey, CAROLYN, thanks for coming by to enter, and guess what? My first book, A Passion Most Pure, is now available for FREE DOWNLOAD, so I hope you download it on Amazon or B&N or CBD. It won American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Book of the Year and has 464 five-star reviews on Amazon, so it's not a dog, I promise. That way, you can see for free whether you like my style of writing or not. My tagline is "Passion With a Purpose" because my books are more passionate, both romantically and spiritually than most Christian novels, but always according to God's precepts AND promoting His precepts.

    Good luck in the contest, and if you read and like APMP, let me know, okay?

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  142. Hi Julie, I have to say that I loved your blog. You are a new author to me and I have downloaded your book A Passion Most Pure when it was first offered for free on nook. I have not read it as yet but after reading your blog I can not wait to read it. Thank you for sharing and a chance to win a copy of one of your books. ~ Blessings to you ~ lisastifler(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  143. LISA, YAY!!! I am SO thrilled you downloaded APMP, my friend, and even MORE thrilled you plan to read it!! If you like it, let me know. And if not ... uh, well ... never mind ... ;)

    Seriously, thank you SO much for taking the time to come by and read the blog AND leave a comment -- GOOD LUCK!! :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  144. Oooooo! The examples from your books for bad boy hero and virtuous hero are great! I really, really need to start one of your series.

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  145. Hey, RINA, do I have good news for you! It just so happens that the very first book in this Irish family saga -- A Passion Most Pure -- is available for FREE DOWNLOAD everywhere, so I hope you check it out. That's the one that has the "bad-boy" excerpt above and it won American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Book of the Year and has 464 five-star reviews on Amazon, so it's not a dog, I promise. That way, you can see for free whether you like my style of writing or not. My tagline is "Passion With a Purpose" because my books are more passionate, both romantically and spiritually than most Christian novels, but always according to God's precepts AND promoting His precepts.

    If you read and like APMP, let me know, okay?

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  146. AHHHHHHHHH!!!! The clip from Surprised by Love looks really good!! I CANNOT wait to read it!!!!!
    One you didn't mention was Sean. I'm trying to decide which group he'd fit it.
    All your ideas for making the hero more lovable were so good I can't think of any more. Ohhh I just thought of something. Make him nervous and disoriented around the heroine when he's fallen in love with her. Like Brady in A Passion Denied!! I especially LOVE it when a hero who is cocky gets thrown into confusion.

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  147. Oh, JACINTA, I forgot about that fishing scene with Brady and Lizzie after he figured out he loved her and was sooooooo nervous!! Good memory and good suggestion, my friend!!

    I just finished my final galleys for Surprised by Love, so only 3-1/2 months to go ... ;)

    Hugs!!
    Julie

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