Dec 12 2011 4:30pm

Perfect Is Overrated: The Sexually Perfect Hero

David image by McPig via FlickrI love romance. I’ve been reading romance since I was 12 years old (don’t tell my mom!). And as an avid romance reader, there’s one thing I’ve noticed time and time again—despite having emotional flaws and a sordid past, which makes the hero in any romance “tortured and desirable,” the hero never suffers when it comes to his skills in the bedroom.

Maybe I was in a mood or I was reading too many contemporary romances back-to-back but I started noticing a trend that I could no longer ignore.

Why isn’t the hero ever an average guy in the sack? He can be an emotionally stunted commitment-phobic douchebag, but he is always amazing in bed.

Here is what I found to be the standard trope for the hero in a romance novel that sometimes makes my eyes roll.

1. Perfect Body—Yes, I am a cover whore, and base most of my purchases on the man-titty covers. Not every man is toned, muscled and in shape. If the heroines can come in all shapes and sizes, why not the men? Let’s have a skinny guy with zero muscle tone be the hero for once. Skinny men need love too! Even the geeky/nerdy heroes have rock-hard abs!

2. Above average-size penis—We know that not all men are created equally, but not every man has a dill pickle for a penis. In most romance novels, the men are thick and long and the heroine doesn’t ever think that it will “fit.” Oh, really? For me, being gutted out by a large peen is not sexy. Let’s tone it down with the size. There’s nothing wrong with average as long as he knows how to work it right. About 20 years ago, I read a Silhouette novel where the hero was a virgin and in his late 30s. That book was one of the sexiest books I read because the guy had no moves. He had to learn everything! There’s nothing wrong with that.

3. Loves to eat dessert first—That is every woman’s dream, but not their reality. Most men don’t like going downstairs, so to find a man who’s eager and willing is a gem! I know romance is about fantasy, but can we throw a little tiny bit of reality in the mix? A lot of men don’t like kissing those second set of lips. How about we have a hero who wants to, but doesn’t know how?

4. Loves giving oral, but is a gentleman when it comes to receiving—Picture it: the woman has just had the best orgasm thanks to her partner’s oral skills. She decides to return the favor. The hero is excited and the woman works her magic. The guy is getting aroused and is reaching his peak. Right before he climaxes, he pulls away and tells the woman “I don’t want to come like this. I want to be inside you.” *rolls eyes* Seriously? I think a lot of men would be happy if a woman was willingly giving him a BJ. Again, I know we’re dealing with fantasy, but it irks me. Just go skeet-skeet and get it over with!

5. Knows all the right moves in bed—The hero and heroine are having sex for the very first time and yet he manages to hit all the right spots to make her orgasm to the point of blacking out. I’ve been with my husband for 20 years, so my memory is fuzzy about the first time we had sex but I don’t recall it being all that great. He didn’t know my hot spots, I didn’t know his. A guy has to be a real skillful lover or a gigolo to be able to give a woman perfect sex the first time around.

6. Considerate in bed—Not only does he know how to hit the spots that make her eyes roll to the back of her head but he also makes sure she gets off first. He’ll be damned if he orgasms before she does! *shakes fist* that’s all nice and dandy, but how many women can orgasm on command and how many men have the skill to bring a woman to orgasm? I’d think there’d be chafing after awhile.

7. Mucho stamina—See #6. Since he won’t be orgasming until the woman does, the guy can go all night. Once both reach their peak and orgasm in sync (with him urging her to “come with me”), not 10 minutes later, the hero and his little big HERO is ready for round two. Personally, I’m ready for a snack and a nap.

I love my romance, but sometimes the things that make them great kinda gets on my nerves. I am now campaigning for the “average size, no muscle tone having, needs to be taught some moves in the bedroom” hero. If you find one, let me know. And send him my way.

David image (minus the heart) courtesy of McPig via Flickr


Marquetta: Reader, Blogger, Smut Lover.

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April Cabrera
1. Squeaks1977
Hmmm ok Marquetta, I can see your point to romance novels. The hero usually has emotional and sometimes mental issues but is an amazing lover. But then again that is the fantasy of romance novels. I know it gets repetitive but that is what sucks every woman into these wonderful novels of ours. As women we live with the average joe. Women don't necessarily have the 100 % man. They usually have pieces of that fantasy man of theirs.

Now I'm going to have to use my own personal experience because well it's the only one I got. My husband is average looking, he doesn't have a six pack, he has a cheesy smile, and eyebrows that make me want to wax them for him. Now having said that I can proudly say that our sex life can be compared to my lovely novels and I don't mean the romantic parts but the actual act. Now don't get me wrong, my husband can be romantic, BUT he's more of a goofball! LOL :-) As far as sex, he has been blessed with the stereotype of thick and long. And I know every woman is different when it comes to the big "O" but he makes sure I have several before he even comes. And he LOVES have his "desert". Trust me I consider myself very lucky to find a man THAT good in bed and I do have experience with others that left me dissappointed and wondering if these men even read the sex self-help books to give women pleasure. LOL I was blessed with an average joe that does have the consideration, stamina, and is well endowed. But one comical experience I can give ( I'm sure he'd be embarrassed if I told) is that during one of our love making sessions he passed gas, which had us both laughing so much we couldn't breathe. LOL

So you see I do understand the need to see average men and (comical relief) to a certain degree, but for the most part women want to fantasize about what they don't have. Women live every day with the average joe so it's nice to escape to the forbidden fruit or rock hard abs and drop dead gorgeous looks, thick and long shafts and romantic and amazing lovers. For me, I like when they put comic things into the sex scene just because that is what is close to me. One example, Jennifer Cruisie has one sex scene where they hero and heroine finally go at it in his office and they end up on the floor close to the door and his partner walks in on them and the door banged the heroine on the head. I swear I busted out laughing at that! :-) Things like that make it, not only funny, but more real to me that those things could actually happen. LOL

I see your point but for me personally I don't mind it at all. I think also because I change up authors frequently so I'm not reading the same author back to back. Good post and glad to see someone brave enough to question it. :-)
J. Nicole
2. J. Nicole
This article is nothing but the truth! I found myself cracking up while nodding in the affirmative for every point brought up. It's about time someone called it out, hahaha!
J. Nicole
3. Neea
Thank God!! I'm soo much agree with your opinion! It's okay to be unskillful in bed, or wearing a geek glasses or maybe had a pale skin (even, honestly, i prefer the toned-skin men), a little chubby or skinny, after all, you're man :)
Catherine Swartz
4. swartzcl
I found this blog absolutely hillarious! You had me laughing out loud. Thank goodness I have a closed off office.
J. Nicole
5. CdnMrs
Yes! I'm so glad that I'm not the only one who thinks this way. I get the whole fantasy, escapism thing, but sometimes, usually after glutting myself on romance, I feel this way exactly. Great post!!
6. wsl0612
I think it's the rock hard abs trope that bothers me the most. I would start being very intimidated if the guy was that cut. I prefer them to have a little "bit of belly"!
J. Nicole
7. Isabel C.
Oh, see, I'm totally the other way around.

I like a variety of body types, so uber-muscled doesn't have to be a thing as long as the dude's in good shape. But if I wanted a schlubby guy who was average-at-best in bed...I don't need to pay $7.99. I don't need to look any further than the bar down the street, or five minutes on OKCupid.
J. Nicole
8. chris booklover
Well, most romance novels are written by women for an overwhelmingly female audience. It's not surprising that they are written to appeal to women's fantasies, which include the elements mentioned in the OP.

On the other hand, there is a distinction between fantasy and never gonna happen. At some point a fantasy can become so unbelievable that it becomes impossible - for some readers at least - to sustain the "willing suspension of disbelief" required to enjoy a novel. If that happens the book simply does not work, at least for that reader.

In the context of this discussion two issues seem to be particularly striking. The first (discussed in the OP) is that heroes are not just unselfish (which is a good thing) but are often amazingly and unbelievably uninterested in their own sexual pleasure. It's not only that they are eager to give but not especially interested in receiving oral sex. I recently read a novel in which the hero and heroine had just entered into a marriage of convenience. They had separate bedrooms, but one night the hero felt "in the mood" as the saying goes. He went to the heroine's room, pleasured her .... and returned to his own room unsatisfied.

The other issue is that few novels acknowledge the impersonality of the male sex drive or the male taste for sexual variety. Men can and do remain faithful while in a committed relationship, but it's another thing entirely to expect that if the hero and heroine have broken up and a reconciliation is unlikely that he will remain celibate for years. Worse, some authors seem to believe that if the hero is in love he will be impotent with other women, however attractive they are. Um .... male sexuality does not work that way at all.
J. Nicole
9. BrooklynShoeBabe
I humbly respect your position, but, as I used to say back in my younger days "f*ck that noise." lol. I have and had average, which I'm quite okay with (and is satifsying with lots of work, compromise and knowledge). However, when I pick up a romance book (or delve into a romance movie), I'm not looking for the average, regular, or normal. I want to fantasize and imagine different; above average; or damn near perfect.
J. Nicole
10. JacquiC
My earlier comment seems to have vanished. Maybe I did something wrong? Anyway, I like ordinary heroes. I worry that the supermuscled ones have to spend too much time maintaining those muscles. I like heroes that are in decent shape, but kind of geeky or funny. I'd also like to read a few first sexual encounters which don't go absolutely perfectly, or which actually show the participants having to give each other a "road map" to what makes them feel good. And I love scenes with humour in them. Which Jennifer Crusie book is the one described in the first post above?
Heather Massey
11. HeatherMassey
I'm all for more variety as well and would love to read about more chubby/pudgy/beefy heroes. Not just for the physicality, but for the different type of tales that such heroes would demand.

I'm betting that ebooks will create more opportunity for all kinds of fantasies and hero body types. It's not that there's anything wrong with what's out there; it's just that now there's room for alternatives for readers who want them. This is a good conversation to have!
Carmen Pinzon
12. bungluna
The Crusie sounds like "Fast Women" to me. I like "Faking It" because it takes the hero and heroine some time to get to the 'perfect sex' part of the relationship.

I don't mind the perfect hero who's hung and ripped, etc. I get upset when the heroine clamouring to be treated well even if she's overweight-plain-whatever shortcoming du jour, isn't happy unless she gets the perfect guy. I feel like this is discriminatory, as if less-than-perfect guys aren't good enough, either! Sorry I'm not clearer. I just feel that regular Joes can be excellent husbands and fiction doesn't do them justice.
April Cabrera
13. Squeaks1977
@JacquiC the book is Fast Women. That book is hilarious. I love all her books.

I have to agree that if I'm going to spend money on a book it better be a handsome, fit, amazing lover that can rock my "mental" world! LOL :)

If I want average you have to just go on these free dating sites. ;)
Marquetta Whitmore
14. lovetoreadforfun
Thanks everyone for your comments. My main issue is yes it's fantasy, but what happened to variety? Do we want every heroine to be a size 0 with big boobs, blond hair and blue eyes? No, at least I don't. We all come in different sizes, colors etc. So why not throw a little reality into the fantasy. Why can't the hero be a sensitive guy who is unsure in the bedroom? Is that not sexy? Variety is the spice of life and I'd like to see a little more variety with my heroes in romance. That's all I'm saying.
Larisa LaBrant
15. MsGodiva1
Duke of Sin by Adele Asheworth is just the antidote you need. It works every time I get the point(s) of this article!

Also fun to read another romance reader hooked at 12 and still doesn't want or need her mother to know. Even if it was mother's books being swiped!
S Tieh
16. infinitieh
I don't care what the hero is supposed to look like inside the book but the cover has to have a hot (preferably shirtless) guy on the cover or I won't buy it. If the cover model isn't hotter than my boyfriend, then what is the point?
J. Nicole
17. LaFleurBleue
Totally agree. Although the described body type appeals to me, sometimes it just does not really work and I feel like reading something about an image but not a real person.
You can try Ferdinand Dudley from Mary Balogh's "No man's mistress"; let's just say he has a lot to learn, but as you can guess he's a quick learner.
Laura Kinsale's heroes also stand out of the crowd.
Marian DeVol
18. ladyengineer
I would concur with the majority that I read romance for the fantasy, although a LITTLE variety wouldn't hurt. ;->

With @LaFleurBleue, I enjoy Mary Balogh's work. Most (not all) of her heroes do have a nice physique, but they have a broad range of experience and expectations. From her earliest work (A Masked Deception, 1985) through her mistress (the Dudleys - More Than a Mistress , No Man's Mistress , and The Secret Mistress ) and Huxtable series (First Comes Marriage thru A Secret Affair ), Balogh goes for the unexpected, but is logical in her character and plot development.

If you are looking for the "common man" as hero, try Balogh's Lord Carew's Bride (1995) which was republished with Dark Angel (1994) in 2010. Lord Carew is handicapped and walks with a severe limp. Both Dark Angel and Lord Carew's Bride are delightful. They were republished as a set because they share a villain and the heroines are related (cousins?).
Alie V
19. ophelial
lmao that was one of the funniest posts ever! I totally agree, I have seen all of these used in romance books.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
20. tnh
Male eye candy? Not a requirement. Not even a turn-on. If there's no meeting of minds, pretty people are just pretty.

Besides, I don't date outside my species. Geeks are my kink. My idea of a hot male character would be an intensely tactile bodger with a massive throbbing IQ, a streak of mad scientist in his makeup, and a speculative gleam in his eye. Oooh, baby. Good times ahead.
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