I met my first multicultural romance hero when I was eleven and filched my mother’s copy of The Kadin by Bertrice Small. Selim was a prince of a guy, literally. A prince of the Ottoman Empire, inheriting the crown on his father’s death, he was warrior, scholar, lover, and the chance to slip into his world, so different from my own, set a pattern that continues I’m not going to tell you how many years later. Along with British and American heroes, I’ve fallen in love with Ottoman sheikhs, Spanish grandees, Roman centurions, sailors from all over the globe, and even a Basque shepherd once.
Part of my love of the romance genre is the chance to explore different cultures, past, present and future. Give me a hero who knows where he comes from, and show me how that affects where he’s going. There’s a whole world of wonderful heroes out there from all sorts of places. Here are a few of my favorites:
Normally, I’m not a contemporary kind of gal, but Hamid from Let’s Get it On by Dyanne Davis, needs a spot on this list. This Pakistani hero, a doctor, won my heart in his very first appearance. “That’s going to kill you” is certainly a line that will catch any woman’s attention, but when Heaven, a nurse, realizes he’s talking about her selections as they stand in a hospital cafeteria line and issues his challenge, that’s when Hamid really shines. He won’t turn away from a promise to give back to his homeland, but he’s not willing to take Heaven’s dream away from her or give up on what they have together. Hamid learns the value of compromise and how his and Heaven’s differences can make them stronger rather than push them apart. This is one hero who does the work to earn his happily ever after.
From the first time I saw the cover for Stranger by Zoe Archer, I knew I had to meet Catullus Graves. A genius inventor and international man of mystery who is descended from slaves, Catullus knows what it’s like to be judged by the color of his skin. It should come as no surprise, then, that he also knows things aren’t always what they seem to be on the outside. Which is a very useful skill, as his job description includes traversing the globe to protect the world’s magic during the Victorian era. Add an extra dash of sartorial splendor as this is one intellectual who’s also impeccably dressed—his collection of waistcoats is the stuff of legend. Catullus’s mystique builds through the first three Blades of the Rose novels, dropping tantalizing hints as to how he’ll handle the spotlight when it’s his turn at last.
In the novella “The Taming of Mei Lin,” Jeannie Lin seduces readers into Tang Dynasty China, via Shen Leung, a swordsman on a mission, with eyes that remind heroine Mei Lin of “the golden wash of sun over the mountains.” Oh yeah, she’s got it bad right there, and readers will, too. Shen Leung has mad skills with his blades, and specifically sought out a woman who had skills equal to a man’s. He’s intrigued by her skill and strength, and treats their initial combat as something sacred and special. Now imagine how that same man is going to treat the woman he loves. Yeah. Let’s spend a moment on that. Got a mental image? Good. Now go buy the rest of Jeannie Lin’s books, because there’s more where he came from.
What multicultural heroes do you want the whole world to love as much as you do?
Anna C. Bowling considers writing historical romance the best way to travel through time and make the voices in her head pay rent. She welcomes visitors to her blog, Typing with Wet Nails and to follow her at Twitter.