Aug 10 2011 9:23am

You Must Be This Tall to Enjoy This Ride: How Tall is Too Tall?

Alexander Skarsgard

All romance novels have a hero. And, usually, that hero is handsome, smart, has all his teeth, and knows what to do to get the heroine’s motor running.

And he is tall. Way tall.

If he’s in a historical, his head always sticks out above those of the other members of the ton; if he’s in a contemporary, he is taller than his fellow bad boys (who will likely magically increase in height when they get their own book), and if he’s in a paranormal, he’s just freaking huge.

The members of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, for example, are all many inches above six feet tall. One of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter books mentions that the Dark-Hunter leader, Acheron, is 6’10“. Six feet, ten inches tall. 82 inches.

That is just too tall. I mean, unless the heroine is over six feet herself, that’s going to pose some serious nookie positioning issues. And where will it end? Will Sultan Kosen (the tallest man in the world at 8’1”) be the model for our heroes? Will our heroines suddenly develop urgent needs to get the highest thing off the shelf? Which only the hero can get?

Tall men are alluring, certainly, but if a hero gets to 7’, that book should be an automatic DNF. What do you think about the trend towards taller and taller heroes?

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1. JenniferM
I think they have to be to uncommonly tall to handle their other oversized appendages. :)
2. Grace S.
Archeron's wife Tori is 6 feet tall in her socks herself so that works. :) I am 5'1 on a really good hair day. My husband is just shy of 6'3. My boyfriend in college was 6'5. While I'd get a less strenous circk in my neck with a guy who is 5'7 or 5'8 I rarely find them attractive. I like 'em BIG. Besides, while slow dancing at weddings is challenging, it all even outs when you are horizontal. Heh.
3. torifl
LOL Honestly, I've never thought about it. I'm 5'2 and 1/2. Yes, I need that 1/2. My hubby is 6ft. We have no problems in the nookie department. :)
I don't mind a tall guy if he has the build to back it up. Tall, lanky, string bean guys do not attract me but if your tall & build like a brick house then it's all good to me.
4. Mo
I think it depends. For example, neither Acheron nor any member of the Brotherhood are human. So, I am more willing to let their height be their height and let it go. If, however, the hero in a contemporary or Presents were say 7', I'd have an issue with it unless he were a basketball star. :)
romance reader
5. bookstorecat
I am not attracted to tall guys in real life---yet another reason I could never be the heroine in a Romance Novel.
Kaye Dacus
6. Kaye Dacus
I'm 5'9"---have been since I was thirteen years old. Needless to say, through most of my teens, I towered over the guys my age. So tall heroes in romance novels---yes, please! And because I've never been a "skinny" tall person, even guys only a couple of inches taller than me felt "small" to me.

As a writer now myself, I've written my share of tall heroes---but they're usually matched with tall heroines (5'11" heroine with 6'1" hero; 6' heroine with 6'3" hero) but I also have written more average height guys, including one who's barely the same height as the heroine (both are 5'9"---but she likes wearing heels, and it leads to one of their first arguments as a couple when she changes into flats in front of him).

I think the idea of the petite, delicate flower of a heroine being literally overshadowed by the hero (usually her nose barely comes to the middle of his chest, her head not even to his shoulder) is the fantasy of wanting to be swept off our feet, to be cherished and coddled in an almost childlike way, to feel that the hero is big enough to physically protect us (very important in all those medieval/highland historicals!), which an average size/height guy just isn't going to be able to do.
7. ChelseaMueller
Megan, are you saying you wouldn't like the challenge of having to climb up for a kiss from one of the BDB guys? Crazy talk. ;)

Really, I think it's part of the imagery centered around standard alpha-ness -- the visual component to protection. He needs to be massive so he can cover her completely in the event bullets start flying, animals attack, the building caves in, whatever.
Donna Cummings
8. Donna Cummings
I'm tall, and wish there were more tall men in real life, not just in romance novels. LOL It seems all the shorter women are snagging them!

I agree that height is a way to demonstrate strength and power and virility in a hero. But maybe it can be used to extremes sometimes. :)
9. Terri Osburn
I'm 5'4" on a good day. Ex-H is 6'3" and I've dated a guy 6'7". As Grace says, it all works out when things go horizontal.

I admit, 7' would seriously push it for me in a book. (Or in person, for that matter.) But the average hero in my reading seems to float between 6' and 6'4". The heroes I write seem to always fall right in there, but that's how I like my men IRL. Tried dating guys 5'10" or shorter and they just don't do it for me. *shrugs*
Candace Limb
10. candace885
Ah i love the BDB and there super tallness. I am 5'3 and prefer men that are 6'2 and dated a few that were 6'6 (i had a weird phase in college) anywho. Height is sexy for me on any man. BUt i never picture Ash as 6'10 maybe 6'8 it works because he is a god and leader of the crew so physically i expect him to be superior.
11. romance_junkie_82
It might be all about proportions. It is assumed that if the guy is tall, he'll have big feet, big hands, big EVERYTHING!! But what's the's not the size of the boat, but the motion of the ocean?!?! I haven't come across any "small boat" novels though.
12. CindyS
Funny that you put the pic of Eric up there - he is not the first tall man I've seen who looks like he's uncomfortable. Every time Eric talks to Sookie his neck is at a 90 degree angle. Ouch!

I've noticed that tall men who are not in their 40, 50s actually slouch to look more normal. Gene Simmons' son is massive tall but he almost never stands to his true height and makes sheepish his middle name. It's cute but a part of me feels bad that he's so obviously uncomfortable with his height.

My uncle is probably 6'6 or a little taller but he's a gentle giant so again, cute. Also, he ducks to get into rooms and I think over time you just have a natural 'duck' look which again, comes off sheepish.

Anything over 6'2 and the author is pushing the limits for me. Sure, there are taller men but they are much fewer and farther between than those under this height.

On a different topic - men's thighs that are the size of tree trunks in a description is not sexy to me - I wonder how they are capable of walking.

13. John Cardwell
Well if this carries over to real life I am monumentally screwed. Being 6'11" is hard enough without having to live the rest of my life alone.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
14. tnh
John, if no woman here has said she's looking for a nice 6'11" guy, it's because they weren't optimistic enough to hope you existed.
15. BrooklynShoeBabe
Tall men are alluring, certainly, but if a hero gets to 7’, that book should be an automatic DNF. What do you think about the trend towards taller and taller heroes?

My husband is 6'3". My fantasy-celebrity hubby (Hugh Jackman) is also 6'3". I'm 5'4" so I have no problems with heros being nearly a whole foot taller thant heroine. Many people want to have a good suspension of disbelief to in order to submerge themselves into their books so yes, there can be a too tall hero. Unless it is a story about a basketball player or football player, the hero probably shouldn't be taller than 6'4 or more than 6" taller than the heroine.
16. Musing Bookworm
As a lady at the taller end of the scale (just under 6') I love a nice tall man. Like some of the other decerning ladies, I like em built to match (rugby player? yes please). Hubby is 6'4" and his Bro is 6'6", so I actually look like a normal person in family pics - LOL.

I agree that height and build are intrinsically linked to alpha statis. Height bring with it the ability to take up more space then your opponent (and generally adds to the reach capabilities too) and so gives a more intimidating and powerful persona to a character.

Its lovely to feel small/petite with your man when your statis quo is to be the one people call to get the high stuff. And he LOVES it when I wear heels *wink*
Traci Parrott
17. reject
Ok, it is fiction after all, but I'll bite. Tall is objective. If I'm around women, I feel tall, when I go to work (male dominated career field), then I'm usually teased for being a midget at 5'5". The 6 1/2' mark isn't weirdly tall. I'm going to jump on the bandwagon with it being a trend with painting the optimum alpha male, a dude shorter than me might be my budy, but it's highly doubtful he's going to make me puddle. As for the motion of the ocean, that's what those with small man's disease say, gimme a big guy, I want my alpha males hung. Small man's disease is not on the laundry list of what it takes to qualify as an alpha male.
Again, it's fiction, so if the author's imaginary hero is too weirdly tall for you just imagine him shorter if you must. For me, not a fan of the long hair on a guy, so few of them pull it off well. So, I just give them a mental hair cut. Keep building 'em big, says I.
Wendy Sachs
18. Isis Nocturne
Uh, you gave Ash 2 extra inches in height. He's only 6'8".
Megan Frampton
19. MFrampton
@Isis_Nocturne: I was just reading another Dark-Hunter book (Night Play), and it mentioned his being 6'8", but I swear there was a mention of him being 6'10" in one of the D-H books I was reading--and I haven't read very many of them yet, and that stuck out at me, so it musta been a continuity error in just that one book.
20. Wrayth
I think it was mentioned he was wearing big boots in that book? Or it was a continuity discrepancy.

I have to weigh in with not too tall (close to 7' is way way too tall),
Janis Clark
21. maliamartin
I have to say anything over 6'2" is a turn off for me. Six feet is plenty tall for the characters I create but I'm 5'4". I like to idea of my female characters wearing 5" wedges and still being able to look up into his eyes but not having to make an appointment with a chiropractor after a necking session. And as far as the proportion thing goes - I think there can be too much of a good thing. The idea is to achieve pleasure, not pain. I'm a romantic, but a realist too.
22. Sandy VDH
Hey as a 6'0" women, in bare feet. I'd appreciate a tall guy. Trust me there aren't any in my real life, so now you want to ban them from any literary possibility. Not every book and every story is for everyone, but there is someone out there for which the story speaks to. Why the limit, just don't read it if it doesn't appeal to you. Honestly 6'3" are short if I am wearing heels.
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