Jul 8 2011 3:45pm

Who’s on Your Romance Hero All-Star Team?

Shooting Star image by madartists via ImageTrailBaseball is celebrating its All Stars right now, and it made me think we should do the same with romance heroes. I’ll toss out the first pitch, with a few of my favorites that deserve to be on the team.

What makes them All Stars?

These are sexy men who demonstrate exemplary heroic traits, unending devotion to the heroine, and a little something extra that other heroes might consider emulating. I have read their stories so many times I could win a Trivial Pursuit championship without studying ahead of time. These are characters I think of as real human beings—and maybe once or twice I’ve even referred to them as my boyfriends. (Ha ha, not really.) (Okay, really.)

Here are some All-Star Heroes who will always have my vote:

Gone Too Far by Suzanne Brockmann1. Sam Starrett from Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooter series—I love this Navy SEAL so much I constantly entertain thoughts of stealing him from his love, Alyssa. (I know I’m not the only one, which is why I don’t feel too guilty.) He’s flawed, but for reasons that bring out my inner nurturer. Some say he swears too much, yet somehow it sounds sexy whenever he lets loose a flurry of f-bombs. Before he and Alyssa worked out their multitude of issues, he had his heart broken, many times, partly because of his own bonehead actions. Yet every time it happened I wanted to be there to console him. I love how he wants to protect Alyssa, yet he also admires her because she’s strong and capable and doesn’t NEED him to protect her. I melt when he says to Alyssa, “You own me”. And every time he tells somebody he’s rescued, “I’m Lieutenant Sam Starrett and I’m here to take you home,” I can’t help but imagine he’s thinking of me.

2. Hardy Cates from Lisa Kleypas’s Sugar Daddy and Blue-Eyed Devil—While I’m still not convinced he ended up with the right heroine, I am positive he’s a hero who will come through in the midst of a crisis. He helped out the young Liberty Jones when she fell off her bike and scraped her knee, and he’s the one they asked to drive Liberty’s mama to the hospital in horrible weather when she was in labor. He also rescued his future bride, Haven, when she needed help escaping an abusive situation. Clearly, if you’re in trouble of any kind, this is the man you want on your team. Also, if you ever find yourself in a darkened wine cellar, in desperate need of earth-shattering kisses, this is the guy you need.

Demon from the Dark by Kresley Cole3. Malkolm from Kresley Cole’s Demon from the Dark—How can you not love a hero who brings the heads of demons he’s killed and drops them at the heroine’s feet to brag about what a good protector he is? Unfortunately Malkolm doesn’t speak the same language as Carrow, the heroine, so instead of her gazing at him with love and awe, she thinks he’s just throwing nasty stuff at her to be crude. Malkolm works really hard to figure out what she wants and needs, and I adore how he does this by intensely watching what she does and trying to extrapolate from what he’s observed. He’s also afraid of water, and doesn’t understand her love of it, but he’s willing to give it a try, because he knows it pleases her. Like a true All Star, he’s smart enough to realize his patience will be rewarded, and it is, with a huge home run.

4. Mick Brody from One Reckless Summer by Toni Blake—I fell hard for this guy from the first time he teases the heroine Jenny with the words, “Meow, pussycat." He’s a bad boy who wants more out of the crappy life he’s been given, but he’s also devoted to making sure his dying brother’s last days are lived in freedom, even though it means Mick may have to sacrifice any kind of future as a result. This is the hero you want if your air conditioner needs repairing. He’s also the reason you’ll need a working air conditioner, because his overabundance of sexiness makes even a cool summer night much too hot.

Richard Armitage in North and South5. Richard Armitage—What? You know he belongs here. There are tons of writers—and readers—who imagine him as the hero in their books, so I’m adding him to my All Star team. He can play a romance hero like nobody’s business, so we’re lucky he provides us with such a wonderful visual as we read these stories.

Okay, I’ve left a few slots for those infamous “players to be named later.” Who would you suggest is a worthy addition to this stellar team?


Donna Cummings writes lighthearted contemporary and historical romance. She can be found at, or talking incessantly about coffee on Twitter @BookEmDonna.

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Grace S
1. Grace S
Jamie Fraser from Diana Gabaldon's Outlander books. He's tough, he's sensitive, he'll sacrifice for those he cares about. There's nothing he won't do or go through for his Sassenach and he has a love that literally transcends time.
Grace S
2. mochabean
Hooray for number 5! Most watched scene of North and South. Really, it needs an animated gif. I second Grace on Himself Fraser. And I will throw in Sebastian from The Devil in Winter (Lisa Klepas) because I love me a good rake. And he's a great one, who keeps his sense of humor even after being reformed -- that's quite a feat!
Donna Cummings
3. Donna Cummings
@Grace S -- I think Jamie definitely qualifies as an All-Star. In fact, he is so beloved of so many romance fans, he is in his own category. :)

@mochabean -- I love that scene in North and South, and what an ingenious idea to have an animated gif. Or maybe an app. Mmm. And a reformed rake with a sense of humor? I'll definitely add him to the team!
Grace S
4. Marnee
I just read Lord of Scoundrels and I loved Sebastian. So, he'd be there too. Rhage from the Black Dagger Brotherhood too. Swoons.

Great list, Donna! :)
Donna Cummings
5. Donna Cummings
@Marnee -- Of course the Lord of Scoundrels has to be part of the team. :) And hang on a minute while I write myself a note that I have to move that re-read to the top of the pile. . . I haven't read the BDB series yet, but I know I'm going to enjoy it once I do!
Grace S
6. Barb in Maryland
I spit on your first 4 choices--but Richard! Armitage!!--OMG!!!1!!(please excuse the fan girl moment).
Add me to the list that believes that Jamie Fraser from the Outlander books belongs. What were you thinking??!?!?? in leaving him out??
I would add Rourke (who I will always believe looks like Pierce Brosnan)
Grace S
7. LindaR
Dan Stewart from Dirty by Megan Hart!
Grace S
8. rdsangel127117
Donna, I haven't read any of the books you listed, so I don't know those heroes, but I will. I'm adding their books to my TBR pile. I've got to agree with the choice of Jamie Fraser. Lord that man has stood his ground for his love through time over and over again. Gotta love him!

Acheron from Sherrilyn Kenyon's Acheron is next. The atrocities that man suffered would have broken anyone. Through it all, he never gave up. He's my hero, because he could've destroyed the world and been done with it all, but he cares about others. He has a heart and that's what makes me love him.

Next is Vane Kattalakis from Sherrilyn Kenyon's Night Play. This was the first Dark Hunter book I read. I wasn't disappointed in the story or him. He's my hero because he saw the real woman that Bride was and not her size. He loved her for that and not what society said she should look like. What a wolf!

Then there's Rhage from J.R. Ward's Lover Eternal. I fell in love with him when he was driving through the dark night and at that point all of his defenses were down. That's when I saw the real Rhage. I loved his honesty with himself about who he really was. I loved that he didn't buy into all the hype about his reputation. He hated it and what he had to do. I loved that he was always honest with Mary as well. When he went to The Scribe Virgin and took that beating to save her life, I was more in love with him than ever. I love his sense of humor too. Gets me everytime. Lover Eternal remains my favorite BDB book.

Nick Ireland from Lisa Marie Rice's Dangerous Secrets is next. Nick is a soldier and the mission always comes first with him. He'll do anything for it. He didn't count on falling in love with the heroine Charity Prewitt though. He's my hero because he thought he couldn't be redeemed or that he'd love anyone. That love he thought he'd never find wouldn't allow him to abandon the woman he'd fallen in love with. She became the mission and saving her life came first and foremost. What a man! Great book!

Rhys Hawkes from Michele Hauf's Seducing the Vampire is my next hero. Rhys falls in love with Viviane LaMourette whose the heroine of the story. He's my hero because even after he and Viviane are separated for centuries, he never stops loving her or looking for her. Any little tidbit, he has it checked out. He never gives up hope of finding her. He's on my team because I'd want someone to still love me after all that time and never stop looking for me through the ages.

Last is Conrad Wroth from Kresley Cole's Dark Needs at Night's Edge. To be honest, I didn't like Conrad in the beginning of the story. I thought he was mad and getting madder as the story progressed, but them Neomi appeared and changed everything. He's my hero because with her help he fought his way back. He wanted to love and be loved. He learned to control his demons and found peace and love.
Cassy Pickard
9. cassypickard
Fun post, Donna! It looks like I'm going to have to add a lot to my reading list. What a great way to discover books that are new to me. Thanks!
Donna Cummings
10. Donna Cummings
@Barb -- I didn't leave Jamie out. LOL I actually haven't read that book yet. :) I feel I know him well, though, because he has so many fans. I'm glad you liked the inclusion of Richard Armitage! @LindaR -- Thanks for the recommendation. I have heard wonderful things about Megan Hart's books, so I will add that to the reading list. :) @rdsangel127117 -- I just recently read Conrad and Neomi's story (I managed to read the entire series out of order. LOL) -- and I LOVED that one. It's definitely one I'll be re-reading. :) The Michele Hauf book sounds familiar. . .but if I haven't read it, I definitely want to after reading your description. In fact, every single synopsis you gave makes me want to read the ones I haven't read! Thanks for those. :) @cassypickard -- This is a dangerous place when it comes to adding to the reading list! LOL I think I've added enough books to keep me going through about 2021. . .if I read fast!
Grace S
11. Janga
Donna, I agree that Hardy and Mick belong on an all-star hero list. My problem with such lists is always narrowing the list. I could list a top 100. :) Since that's impractical, I'll just name two from keepers that I've reread recently:

Blue Reynard from Ruth Wind's In the Midnight Rain. I can't resist a hero who is a handsome, intelligent, wealthy blues aficionado, who raises orchids. Plus he reminds the heroine of Jimi Hendrix music!

Derek Craven from Lisa Kleypas's Dreaming of You. Self-made, dangerous, capable of heart-capturing romanticism--he truly is unforgettable. There have been many derivations, including some by Kleypas herself, but none ever reach the appeal of this original IMO.
Renee Howell
12. reneehowell
I love the cowboys in the Linda Lael Miller's books. Also, the male characters in Susan Mallery's, Carly Phillips, Susan Elizabeth Phillips,
and my latest find has been the golfers in Rachel Gibson's books. If you haven't read Rachel Gibson's books you are really missing out! Need some steamy action read the new series by Lori Foster!! Love my romance novels and the men in them!!
Renee Howell
13. reneehowell
I loved Mick Brody in Toni Blake's-One Reckless Summer. Mike Romo the tough cop in Sugar Creek, Lucky Romo the motorcycle artist in Whisper Falls, and looking forward to Holly Lane this fall. Toni Blake
has scored a homerun with this "Destiny" series!!!
Grace S
14. Grace S
Donna, stop whatever you are doing and get yourself a copy of Outlander NOW. I am on my 4th copy because in 20 years since the saga started, I have worn mine out several times over. I own the entire series in hardcover and buy paperback duplicates because I *need* them.

You will fall head over heels, madly in love with James Alexander Malcom Mackenzie Fraser and compare all other heroes to him for the rest of your life. You can't help it, he's human and flawed but quite possibly the best written male character ever.
Donna Cummings
15. Donna Cummings
@Janga -- You are absolutely right about narrowing the list! It's an impossible task. I have Dreaming of You waiting for me. I bought it a few months ago, but it has been mentioned here several times, so I know I need to scootch it closer to the top of the TBR pile. And Blue Reynard sounds fascinating! I need to read him. :) @reneehowell -- I adore Rachel Gibson's books, and I really enjoyed Lori Foster's series involving the mixed martial arts fighters. And I will be reading her new series soon because I just won those books. I'm excited to get my hands on them! I have really enjoyed Toni Blake's Destiny series too (Mike Romo is in another post soon), and Whisper Falls is waiting patiently for me. LOL @Grace -- LOL -- I promise I will get Outlander soon, very soon. I'm a little afraid about him becoming the benchmark for future heroes, especially when I'm writing my own. :) I like that you buy duplicate paperback copies of it based on *need*. :) I'm the same way with my beloved Beauvallet, as if I'm afraid they'll quit printing it one of these days (it could happen!)
Grace S
16. Lily White LeFevre
I think Ruark from Kathleen Woodiwiss's Shanna is probably the most all-star hero I've ever read...he escapes the hangman's noose by luck to reunite with her, but then willingly becomes an indentured servant when all he has to do is write home to his family not to be, totally revamps her father's plantation, goes undercover as a pirate to save her when she's kidnapped, and sails a ship basically single-handed WHILE injured to escape?
Grace S
17. Ifeoma
I was about to click off the story because I really have no idea who the first four guys mentioned are (I normally don't read traditional romance novels) when I saw that iconic picture from North and South. After I had gasped, fainted and blushed, I just wanted to thank you for including the delightful, gorgeous, criminally handsome Richard Armitage. He is also an excellent actor.

All is right in the world once again.
Camella Hunte
18. Sultryvoice940
I love all the hot male characters from the Breed Series, the Blackdagger Brotherhood, Elite Ops, Dark-Hunter/Were-Hunter/Acheron and too numerous to mention. However, Kilraven and his brother John, Cash and Garon Grier, Alexander Cobb, Phillip Hunter, Jason Penddleton from Diana Palmer's stories are some of the heroes that should be on the all star.
Donna Cummings
19. Donna Cummings
@Lily -- Now that IS an all-star hero. Heck, he's a whole team all by himself!

@Ifeoma -- LOL -- I'm glad Richard Armitage and I have set the world to rights. Whenever I think my crush on him is waning, I just have to see another pic of him and I come to my senses. :)

@Sultryvoice940 -- I will have to investigate these Diana Palmer heroes you've listed. I always like when there are a varied assortment from which to choose. Thanks for the recommendations!
Grace S
20. kreads4fun
When my own true love is snoring beside me and I can't sleep, I count my favorite heroes instead of sheep. James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser will always be one and Rourke will alwyas be two. Jack Reacher (Lee Child) and Will Trent (Karin Slaughter) come in at three and four. None of these come from romance novels.

My strictly romance team will always feature a Linda Howard hero; John Medina from All the Queen's Men and Wolf Mackenzie and his sons top that list. Also, Suzanne Enoch's Robert Carroway from England's Perfect Hero, Liz Carlyle's Bentley Ruttledge, any Elizabeth Lowell character, including Archer Donovan from Pearl Cove, Roane from Deborah Smith's A Place to Call Home, Eloisa's James' Dukes: Villiers and Beaumont, Rhage from the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Bobby Tom Denton from Susan Elizabeth Phillips' Heaven, Texas, the list can go on all night. And then there is Laurell K. Hamilton's Merry and Anita. Those women can field their own teams...
Grace S
21. Teri Anne Stanley
Well, I am also a Sam Starrett fangirl...sigh. And while Rhage is cute, Zsadist is my favorite Black Dagger Brother. A little insecurity in an alpha male is very hot.
Donna Cummings
22. Donna Cummings
@kreads4fun -- I have big love for Bobby Tom Denton, and I felt like I couldn't include him here because I had him in a previous post. *lowers voice* But just between you and me, he's definitely on this list. :) Thanks for the other recommendations too.

@Teri Anne -- We can time-share Sam, how's that? LOL And I agree about the little bit of insecurity in an alpha male being hot. We can give them the reassurance they need. LOL
Grace S
23. KFracassi
I have read many of the books that these sexy romance guys rule the stage and go far and beyond normal romance (who can really resist a hot and sexy hero?). I do believe that Roarke (from the In Death Series written by J.D Robb) deserves to be on the list. I always think Alexander O'Laughlin when I read her books. Acheron, from Sherrylin Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series defiantly deserves to be added to the list. I only began reading the series because Asheron was a character who fascinated and wanted me to read his story. Rhage is also a good choice to add to the list, since he had to overcome some very major problems in order to get his girl. And he is – in my eyes – the sexiest of the BDB guys. Malkolm is also a loudly agreed YES from me – my favorite book from her Immortals After Dark series. But I would like to comment on some of the others people have suggested, if that is okay? I do agree that a lot of Diana Palmer's heroes have a right to make some part of this all-star list. Cash Grier being my favorite among them all followed by Garon Grier and Cy Parks. I always wish I was the dashing heroine that got to them at the end and won their guarded hearts. Very sexy guys even though they have had their share of mistakes. And Diana Palmer made a lot of intriguing heroes. Some of them are brooding and woman-free and are allergic to women, but eventually they fall down hard. And I am always a sucker for cowboys and soldier-military types. I would also like to add to the list of top heroes is someone else I have grown very fond of. I have read the vampire series by Lynsay Sands and from them, Armand has stood out against them all. I loved his story and all the little things I was able to learn about him. Sure he is a vampire, brooding like most character’s are, but in all honesty he had such poor luck in love. It made me think that instead of the usual lost one wife types, he had lost three he had really cared about. Takes a lot to trust in love when you keep loosing your loved ones. And the story she used to help him find love was down right good. I would also like to nominate some of the demon possessed heroes of Gena Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld series. They all have to overcome the demons and my personal favorites have been Amun, Aeron, Sabin and Maddox, though the short back stories with Paris has always made me feel horrible that he lost his chance at love. They are just down right heroic when they try to fight for their loved ones. And if we are going to have a list that includes Romance, we can not forget some of the greatest romantic heroes of all time from the Queen of Romance herself, Nora Roberts, now can we? I have always loved Nora Roberts books and I devour them like greedy little children who go through bags and bags of chocolate. I personally believe Ford Sawyer from Tribute deserves to be on the list as well as the leading man from Chasing Fire, Gulliver Curry. Devin MacKade from her MacKade Brothers series is also one I think should make the list. Many, many other men from her I think could make the list…but it would take years to list them all and why. From Lori Foster, I give you Dare Macintosh from her book When You Dare. I read this book when it first came out and I just couldn’t tear myself away. Dare has a soft gooey center but a hard mercenary/soldier type to just make all the women swoon. God, I felt like saying he was my boyfriend, but my friends thought that was a little creepy. I thought his personality and sexy just literally bounced off the pages. And from the newcomer of Romance, Julie James produced a hero that popped into my head when I read this list. In her book Something About You, she produced Jack Pallas – FBI agent, former military man and someone who just came at me and said “Look, I am just like any other hero, except I have to deal with a pink book cover.” And my finaly nominations, I would like to add in Christine Feehan’s Carpathians, Lora Leigh’s Breeds and Elite Ops, Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breeds, Kerrelyn Sparks’ vampires and heros from Linda Howard’s books (such as Wolf and his sons, John Medina and others.)
Donna Cummings
24. Donna Cummings
@KFracassi -- Yes, comment away! That's what makes this so much fun, hearing everyone else's comments and suggestions. :) I also like hearing everyone's specific reasons for loving their particular all-star heroes. It makes me more inclined to seek out certain books as a result.

Which reminds me. . .I just picked up my first Black Dagger Brotherhood book, so I've got to dash. You're the second person today that raved about Rhage, so I need to hurry and finish this book so I can move on to the next. :)
devynn fisher
25. acetrainer
Oh my! I have got to read all of these books now! I already have two ceiling to floor bookshelves in my room, one is completely filled and the other is one shelf away from being full!

One that I love is Kresley Cole's If You Dare, MacCarrick. Oh my, gorgeous brawny highlander men! What's not to love?

And oh my, yes! Jamie Fraser! Oh goodness I love him! I have read the series over fifteen times and adore it!

Sherrilyn Kenyon's men from her BAD series, her Were-Hunter, Dark Hunter, and Dream Hunter novels! Love! Also her The League novels!

Kate Brady's.. One Scream Away, and ohmigawd I cannot remember the mans name for the life of me!

Lora Leigh's Breeds are amazing!

BDB is a must read! I love all the boys there!

Janet Evanovich's Ranger and Joe Morelli. Ooh boy.

*sigh* only bad thing about being on vacation is that I cannot look at my precious bookshelves..

I will have to post more at a later date!
Donna Cummings
26. Donna Cummings
@acetrainer -- I love the description of your bookshelves. (Okay, I also felt a pang of envy so strong I thought it was chest pains. LOL)

I love Kresley Cole's Highlanders too. I came across one of those the other day while looking for something else and HAD to sit and enjoy it for a while. :) And I finally read (consumed) the first of the BDB books last week. I will be adding more of those to the TBR pile this week.

Thanks for adding your wonderful recommendations. :)
devynn fisher
27. acetrainer
Haha, Donna. Yes, I'm currently bugging my parents to find me another bookshelf or two, that way I can fit all my books in there! I realized that I have a pile of close to twenty unread books sitting in front of said bookshelves.. and LOL, stabs of envy.. heh. I get those when I see a book I can't get. Ooh. Another.

Patricia Brigg's Mercedes Thompson series, Adam Hauptman. (Heh, they are precious bookshelves. Plus, if I've failed to mention, I have all of Sherrilyn Kenyons books, and am working on getting all of Kresley Coles books. LOL.)

Richelle Meads Dimitri from The Vampire Academy series.

And dang it.. I only have my Kindle with me.. so I have some books.. but not all of them. LOL.

I can't begin to explain how handy this is when I go to Borders or Amazon to book shop! So glad I found this site!
Grace S
28. Tena
I love most of the stories/series mentioned so far, but no one has yet mentioned Nalini Singh's Dark River/Snow Dancer/Psy world. She has given us almost too many candidates to choose from, with their fierce protectiveness mixed with their openness about frequent PDA's. Cherry Adair also has some of the hottest heroes. I have to say that I was also taken with Lord Langley. If I weren't already a dedicated Elizabeth Boyle fan, that excerpt on the inside definitely would have had me buying that book and the rest of her backlist.
Donna Cummings
29. Donna Cummings
@acetrainer -- Yes, this site is a bookshelf builder's dream come true! I have come across so many wonderful books as a result. Now I just need to learn to read faster! Especially since I also *need* to re-read some of my faves. LOL

@Tena -- Thanks for adding to the list! I love when people add their favorites, since I would miss out on some good ones otherwise. :) I have read Nalini Singh's Archangel books, and loved them, and I'm starting on the Psy ones. And you've gotten me intrigued to find that excerpt now!
Grace S
30. Antoinettemm
I love Suzanne Brockmann But I want to nominate Max Bahget. I tolally agree that Kenyon's Ash needs to be high on the list. And JR Ward is great Butch is my personal favorite (even though his was not the best book). I like Lisa Kleypas's but I am not a fan of Sebatian (Just say no to kidnapping, what can I say I hold a grudge). I do like Craven but it hurts to reread so I stick to Marcus and the hathaway husbands (Love Merrripen but Harry is better written).
Donna Cummings
31. Donna Cummings
@Antoinettemm -- I think Max is an excellent choice. I love Suzanne Brockmann's characters, and I could have an All-Star team just with them. LOL I've just started reading the JR Ward books, and I liked Butch, and I have his book, but thought I should read them in order, so he may have to wait a bit. And I'm definitely behind on reading the Kleypas books. :)
Grace S
32. Sunshine4ever
Barb in Maryland, who are you referring to when you mentioned Rourke? Only because I've heard of this character so many times and now I'm just curious as to whether I read the book or need to seek it out. Thanks so much.
Grace S
33. shaheen
not hardy cates but in contemporary
1) Mike Valenzula(Robyn Carr,Whispering Rock)
2) Jack Travis & Alex Nolan (Kleypas,Smooth talking stranger & Dream lake)
3)Delaney(Del) Brown (Nora Roberts,Savor the moment)
4)Nick McCall,J.D&Jack Pallas(Julie James,Something about you,Practice makes perfect a lot like love )
5)Travis Sawyer, Ethan Truax, Colby Savagar ( Jayne anne krentz, Lady's choice , whispering spring novels , dreams ).

1)The Bedwyns(1 - 6, Wulfric, Aidan, Rannulf, Alleyne, Joshua & Gervase , Mary Balogh)
2)Rochford/Sinclaire and Domnique , Reed ( Candace Camp, The courtship dance, The marriage wager , Winterset )
3) Robert Blaisdell ( Courtney Milan , The Duchess War )
4) Cord Bennett ( Eyes of silver eyes of gold , Ellen o connell)
5) John Fitzhugh ( Wicked Wickerly )
6) Ty Sanders ( Maggie Osbourne , The promise of Jenny Jones )

All the heroes of Jayne Anne Krentz Arcane society both regency and contemporary.
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