There’s nothing sexier than a hero who can craft objects with his bare hands. In historical times, constructing even the most basic everyday item required skills of imagination, geometry, attention to detail, and strength, among others. Artisans who created shoes, vases, wagon wheels, and tools were both intrepid laborers and talented artists. Makes one wonder what kinds of feats they’re capable of performing in the bedroom!
Recently, I began to wonder why artisan heroes seem scarce in the romance genre. To me, their allure is clear, but am I in the minority? On the other hand, maybe they’re not scarce, but rather discussions about them are in short supply.
What led me on this path? First, some background information and a disclosure: I have an erotic steampunk romance novella coming out with Red Sage called The Blacksmith’s Lover (July 2012). The hero is a blacksmith in 1840, New England. Once I finished that project, I went Googling for other romance titles featuring a blacksmith hero so I could read them.
Unfortunately, I only was able to uncover five books (four of them from a forum at All About Romance:
- Mattie and the Blacksmith by Linda Lea Castle
- Homeward Hearts by Alexis Harrington
- Sunrise by Miranda Jarrett
- Vows by LaVyrle Spencer
- To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer
My initial response? That number simply can’t be right. With romance titles numbering in the thousands, many of them historicals, are there really only a handful featuring a blacksmith hero? What about other artisan heroes? Where are the shoemakers, tailors, potters, carpenters, metalsmiths, wainwrights, chefs, farriers, coopers, and watchmakers?
Or is the number accurate because readers simply love their dukes and other titled heroes that much?
In The Hero’s Agency, Jane of Dear Author speculated that “the most important trait” of a romance hero is “agency”:
…the hero of a romance story can only provide safety, security and certainty if he has agency. Agency means the hero has the freedom to make decisions and affect the outcome of his life regardless of those who might have power above him.
When readers think of “agency,” duke heroes often come to mind. However, they’re not the only game in town. Frankly, since historically many artisan heroes successfully ran their own businesses and/or were visionary entrepreneurs, I think their fictionalized counterparts have plenty of agency. Not to mention a nice set of muscles from all of that physically demanding work!
Given the seeming draught of blacksmiths in the romance genre, I saw a need to crowdsource a list of artisan romance heroes. Dukes are great, but readers can always use a resource for other types of heroes with agency when the mood strikes them.
Therefore, if you know of any romances featuring an artisan hero, hit me up!
Heather Massey is a lifelong fan of science fiction romance. She searches for sci-fi romance adventures aboard her blog, The Galaxy Express.
She’s also an author: Her forthcoming erotic steampunk romance is The Blacksmith’s Lover (Clockpunk Trilogy #2), coming July 2012 from Red Sage Publishing. To learn more about her published work, visit www.heathermassey.com.