Our Who's Your Favorite Bearded Hero? post erupted into a comments frenzy, with many commenters (including two H&Hers!) posting pix of hirsute hotties.
The post originated with a citation from a ScienceDirect article saying women believe men with beards to be better parents. And yet, if you look at the bearded heroes in romance novels, in most cases their beards render them more dangerous to the heroine (dangerous in a good way, of course). Beards, in most cases, were a tell that the hero moved outside of normal society.
And, of course, the romance heroes' beards are ridiculously sexy:
In slow motion Vishous's dark head dropped down and there was a silken brush as his goatee moved against Butch's throat. With delicious precision, V's fangs pressed against the vein that ran up from Butch's heart, then slowly, inexorably, punched through skin. Their chests merged.—J.R. Ward's Lover Revealed
These beards aren't just the result of someone forgetting to shave, either; there are plenty of stubbled heroes, particularly amongst the romantic suspense and new adult crowd, but it takes more to grow a full beard. In Kit Rocha's Beyond Shame, Jasper has a beard—and knows how to use it.
She registered a stern face, dark, flat eyes and a full beard…his lips, his tongue, the scrape of his beard, the promise of everything he’d give her.
His beard tickling as he dropped openmouthed kisses to her skin. Slow, hot, the heat of his tongue and the scratch of his beard.
Jasper's beard is definitely indicative of his being outside of society, as is Hop's beard in Kristen Ashley's Fire Inside. The contrast of the initially buttoned-up Lanie and Hop, the bearded biker, makes their encounters even more delicious.
Beards can also be a literal mask to hide the hero from people he doesn't wish to know him, as in Sabrina Jeffries's To Pleasure a Prince:
Curiosity glinted in her eyes, but something in his face must have warned her not to ask, for she merely changed the direction of her exploration, slipping her fingers down to caress his jaw. “Your beard is soft. I expected it to be prickly.”
Her tenderness unsettled him. “It’s no different from other hair,” he said gruffly. “It’s only prickly after it’s shaved off. But I’m surprised an elegant female like you would even touch a man’s beard.”
A coy look crossed her face. “Believe it or not, sometimes elegant females try things they’re not supposed to.
And then, of course, there's what our heroes can do with a beard, ably demonstrated by David in Kylie Scott's Lick :
“I might just spend a few days with my head between your legs, alright?”
Oh god. He rubbed his beard against my inner thigh, making my skin prickle with awareness. I couldn’t speak if I tried…The sweet, firm feel of his mouth and the ticklish sensation of his beard.
Our Twitter friends responded with more suggestions for bearded heroes:
Reddix from Evangeline Anderson’s Brides of the Kindred
Captain Fletcher Adams from Zoe Archer's Skies of Gold
Jack Pallas from Julie James’s Something About You
Marcus Anderson from Penny Watson’s Lumberjack in Love
Bearded fan—and author—Lauren Dane says, “They’re pretty much all bearded—Brody, Adrian, Ben and Todd from [the] Brown Family [series], Joe from Lost in You, Levi from Sway.”
Walker from Victoria Dahl's forthcoming So Tough to Tame
Mr. Murdoch from Delilah Dawson's Mysterious Madame Morpho
James Robert Bradley from Sarah Anderson’s A Real Cowboy
Megan Frampton is the Community Manager for the HeroesandHeartbreakers site. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her stubbled husband and son. What Not to Bare, a historical romance, will be released in October 2014.