Aug 1 2013 8:30am

Author Manda Collins on the Trouble with Gingers

Why Dukes Say I Do by Manda CollinsWe are thrilled to have author Manda Collins talking on one of our favorite subjects today—red-headed heroes. And that's because the hero from Manda's latest release, Why Dukes Say I Do, also has ginger tresses. Not to mention a society flirt off in the country with a duke who has little time for Society—but plenty of time for his heroine. Thanks for joining us, Manda!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that brunet is the preferred hair color of Romancelandia.

Oh, you run across the occasional blond, or sometimes even multi-colored hair (I’m looking at you BDB’s Phury), but these guys are few and far between. But as a general rule, it’s dark-haired heroes who have the readers calling out for more.

But as reviled as blonds sometimes are, no hero hair color is as reviled as that of the ginger. For Americans I think this stems from a few pop culture icons who loom large over the collective consciousness: Howdy Doody, Opie Taylor, and Alfred E. Newman. These characters, however, have long been out of the public spotlight. It’s time for a change. And what better way to promote change than to give some examples of superhot gingers to bring the sexy (redheaded man) back?

First up, is one of the most beloved characters of romance (though his creator claims his books are not): Jamie Fraser of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. From the moment he showed up on the scene, staring up at Clare’s hotel room through the Scottish mist, Jamie grabbed hold of readers’ hearts, and would not let go. Even readers who don’t normally like red-haired heroes have fallen for this time-traveling Scottish hottie. And not, after years of waiting, we’re finally going to see his romance with Clare told on the small screen when STARZ makes a television movie of the first book, Outlander. Here’s a shot of him with his ginger locks untamed.

Jennifer Ashley's The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie was a ground breaking book for any number of reasons, but despite Ian’s status as perhaps the first historical romance hero on the Autism spectrum (it’s never spelled out as such since Autism hadn’t been “discovered” in the nineteenth century), he is also unusual because he’s red-haired. Like Jamie Fraser before him, Ian also happens to be Scottish (do you see a pattern here?) and not only is Ian blessed with a mane of auburn locks, but so too are his brothers, who also share his hair color. If I were casting a film version of TMOLIM? I’d pick the sexy and talented Michael Fassbender, who believe it or not, is also a ginger!

A ginger herself, Eloisa James has slipped in the occasional hero from the red-headed league herself from time to time. My favorite of these is the sexy, spiritual Ewan Poley from the second of the Essex Sisters Quartet, Kiss Me, Annabel. Not only is Ewan determined to have Annabel—though she is just as determined not to have him because she thinks he’s poor. (She has what she thinks is a good reason for this—really, don’t judge her!) But romance novels being what they are, of course they end up married and the rest of the story is a smoldering, funny read. Who do I imagine playing the role of Ewan in my pretend production of this fabulous novel? Another Ewan, this one a MacGregor.

Why am I arguing so hard for acceptance of the ginger-haired hero? Could it be because one of the world’s most famous gingers (Prince Harry) became an uncle (this/last) week? No, though that seems a good enough reason. I’m asking for some forbearance for gingers because the hero of my latest release, Why Dukes Say I Do, just so happens to be a member of the ginger-hair club for men. I won’t tell you which celeb I was thinking of when I wrote him. (Though if you’re clever you can find out easily enough with Google. ) I’d rather you came up with a mental image on your own.

It’s not that I want EVERY romance hero to be a ginger. I mean, that would be like saying I wanted all heroes to be tall, or right handed, or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! (Though that last one would come in handy.) What I am arguing for is variety. And for novels like mine that are almost always set in the UK, it’s just silly to think that all heroes would be brown-haired. There are a great many English, Scota, and Irishmen who bear the blond and red hair of their Norman and Celt ancestors. Why not let that show?

Do you have any favorite gingers from fiction or other pop culture sources? Tell me about them! What is it that you like about them?


Manda Collins spent her teen years wishing she’d been born a couple of centuries earlier, preferably in the English countryside. Time travel being what it is, she resigned herself to life with electricity and indoor plumbing, and read lots of books. When she’s not writing, she’s helping other people use books, as an academic librarian.

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Darlene Marshall
1. DarleneMarshall
One of the reasons I loved writing my red-headed hero Alexander Murray (Castaway Dreams) was because I got to use "rufous" in a sentence.

Sincerely, a green-eyed ginger who believes that except for the super-sensitive skin, being a redhead rocks!
Megan Frampton
2. MFrampton
I love that combination of green eyes and reddish hair, but I am guessing it's hard for an author to write so it seems as sexy and attractive as it is in real life. Plus all of us have seen truly unattractive red hair in real life, so it's doubly hard. I think Sarah MacLean had a redheaded hero, and I loved him.
3. flip
One of my favorite historical romances, Red Adam's Lady by Grace Ingram had a red-headed hero. As did two, Katherine Deauxville's medieval romances, The Crystal Heart and the Eyes of Love. Loved all three. If you can find an used copy of Red Adam's Lady, grab it. It is outstanding. I married a red head so I really like red headed heroes.
Manda Collins
4. mandacollins
Great word, Darlene! I wish my book wasn't already finished or I'd have totally stolen it from you!

Megan, I think you're right about it being hard to write a redheaded male as being attractive. I wonder, though, why our first thoughts when we hear red-head are about the unfortunate looking ones? Surely there are just as many unattractive blond and brunet men out there!

Flip, those all sound like great books! And I'll bet you're not the only one married to a ginger who likes to read about them! Come on, ladies! Fess up!
5. Janga
I love Trevor, Manda, and I cast my vote in favor of variety in heroes. I have favorite heroes who are dark-haired, blond, and red-haired. Another favorite red-haired hero is Finn Burke from Juliana Gray's A Lady Never Lies.

Flip, this is the second time this week someone has recommended Red Adam's Lady. I have it on hold at the library since the used copy I found was $40.
Manda Collins
6. mandacollins
Thank you, Janga! I forgot about Finn! He is an excellent choice!
Heather Waters
7. HeatherWaters
I have to say, I do tend to think of brunette heroes first when I think "romance hero," so I'm so glad you brought this up, Manda! We could always use more foxy redheads.
Darlene Marshall
8. DarleneMarshall
Oh, and Courtney Milan's most recent hero in The Heiress Effect, Oliver Marshall, has bright copper hair and is just scrumptious.
Manda Collins
9. mandacollins
Thanks, Redline! I do like to spread the love around!

Great example, Darlene! Courtney writes some fascinating heroes!
10. Rose In RoseBear
I like redheads!

Captain Lord Raphael Dalton, who appears throughout Edith Layton's "The" and "To" series (The Cad, The Choice, The Challenge, The Chance, The Conquest, To Tempt A Bride and To Wed A Stranger) is a tall, lean, red-headed fighting machine who is adorkably socially awkward.

Calvin O'Keefe, the hero of A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L'Engle, is also a red-head, and a misfit, and the most wonderful boy I'd ever read about, next to suave Castor and Pollux Stone of Heinlein's The Rolling Stones.
Manda Collins
11. mandacollins
Oh Rose! Rafe Dalton is one of my favorites! Loved that Layton series!! And I'd forgotten about Calvin. Great additions to our lists!
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