Today we're delighted to welcome author Sarah M. Anderson back to Heroes and Heartbreakers. Sarah's latest release, What a Rancher Wants, has one of our favorite tropes, where the hero falls for the best friend's little sister (plus there's scandal, and betrayal, and sheltered upbringings). Sarah is here to talk about men and their manscaping. Thanks, Sarah!
A few months ago, I wrote about my personal bias toward/against women waxing their pubic areas and asked readers what they thought about heroines in romance novels who do/do not shave, wax, laser, or otherwise tame their “ladygardens,” as one commenter so delicately put it.
I was in the ‘can’t be bothered/too cheap/don’t like pain or regrowth (itchy!)’ camp. But there were a surprising number of people, both readers and authors, who are all for paying gardeners to manicure the greenery, so to speak.
Pros for trimming the hedge included how it felt for the heroine during sex, how the heroine felt during sex and, let me see, how the heroine felt during sex. And, frankly, that’s a pretty darn good list of reasons. If it works for you, go for it!
This leads us to the inevitable question (you saw this coming, right?): How do you feel about heroes who wax?
Let’s get my personal bias out of the way first: I watch Magnum, P.I. in the evenings when I’ve made my word count. Tom Selleck is pretty much the poster boy for a man who embraces his hairiness with an open . . . mustache. I have been known to live-tweet his body hair on twitter. (Long Live the 'Stache!)
So I was perturbed when the trend swung the other way not so long ago. Suddenly, ripped, hot men were not only shaving their faces, they were waxing their backs. And their chests. And . . .
And their—um—how to delicately phrase this—their…undercarriages.
Yes, men are waxing—and, given the pictures I am most certainly NOT looking at on the internets or tumblrs, they’re waxing everything.
But is this what we want our heroes to do? Do we want hairy dudes or smooth dudes? Or something somewhere in the middle?
Why don’t we look at some shirtless abs on romance covers and come to a consensus? (As an aside, I find that looking at shirtless abs on romance covers solves a LOT of my problems.)
So I did what I always do when I need to research a topic—I asked Twitter for their favorite hot shirtless abs on covers and called it a ‘sample.’ To the results!
First, let’s look at the nearly hairless:
Rescued by a Stranger by Lizbeth Selvig features a very attractive man who has no body hair to speak of. Clearly an example of hair today, gone tomorrow!
Jaci Burton’s sports guys got MANY nominations for hottest set of male abs—specifically Melting the Ice and Playing to Win. Chest-hairless dudes, both of them—but good LORD the muscles on the football player! Frankly, his shoulders distract me from the whole hair issue.
And I would be remiss not to include my own shirtless, hairless dude, Mystic Cowboy. But what he lacks in chest hair, he makes up for in long hair. I may be biased (okay, I am) but I love Rebel.
Then I started to get suggestions that featured hairless chests paired with scruffy cheeks. I love a good five-to-ten-day-old beard on a hero—yum.
First, we have Shadow’s Stand by Sarah McCarty. Note the five-day-old stubble he’s rocking—and the complete lack of hair on his arms or face. And the belt. Wowzers.
The Arrangement by Mary Balogh was nominated by Tiffany Reisz. I can’t tell for sure because he is technically still wearing that shirt, but I think he’s chest-hairless and I don’t think he’s shaved in a couple of days. It gives him a debauched look, which works for me.
But lo! What’s this? Abs with chest hair? Do my eyes deceive me?
It is! CHEST HAIR! Thank Tom Selleck!
Keri Ford’s book Satisfying Her Tastes just barely squeaks into this category. He definitely has arm hair and what could be the faintest downy little layer of chest hair there.
Then someone turned me onto Cara McKenna’s Unbound. Cara told me, “I love that they let Rob keep his chest hair! I'm also glad it's not so glaring that you can't notice anything else.” I’m also very glad they let Rob keep his chest hair. Very, very glad.
But hands down, the hairiest heroes around were Lori Foster's. Several delightful readers pointed me in the directions of When You Dare and Trace of Fever.
When You Dare features that is-it-or-isn’t-it chest hair which is just fine, because dude, those pecs!
But Trace of Fever, hands down, takes the chest-hair cake. Not only does that guy have chest hair, but he’s angled so all that glorious hair actually catches the light. That’s right—they’re highlighting the chest hair. Praise be!
So, what do you think? Are you in the Tom Selleck camp, where his chest hair is practically a character in its own right? Or do you like your cover models so very, very smooth—all the better to appreciate those muscles with?
Learn more or order a copy of What a Rancher Wants by Sarah M. Anderson, out now:
Award-winning author Sarah M. Anderson may live east of the Mississippi River, but her heart lies out west on the Great Plains. With a lifelong love of horses and two history teachers for parents, it wasn’t long before her characters found themselves out in South Dakota among the Lakota Sioux. She loves to put people from two different worlds into new situations and to see how their backgrounds and cultures take them someplace they never thought they’d go.
When not helping out at school or walking her rescue dogs, Sarah spends her days having conversations with imaginary cowboys and American Indians, all of which is surprisingly well-tolerated by her wonderful husband and son. You can learn more about Sarah at www.sarahmanderson.com.