Sep 11 2013 3:30pm

Falling for Barbara Samuel’s Realistic Heroes

Breaking the Rules by Ruth WindBarbara Samuel can do it all—contemporary romance, historical romance, single title, category, series, standalone and even women’s fiction. Whether she’s writing as Barbara Samuel, Ruth Wind, or Barbara O’Neal, every book brings a heroine who goes through the fire and comes out stronger for it, and the same goes for the heroes who love them. Not convinced that a women’s fiction hero can hold his own alongside his romance counterparts? Try a few of these gents on for size:

Hero: Zeke Shepherd
Book: Breaking the Rules by Ruth Wind, category romance

What woman can resist a motorcycle-riding bad boy who’s a natural with babies? Zeke’s been burned before, but the loss of his soulmate horse stings more than that of the woman who done him wrong. Is it any surprise that this man won’t back down from a challenge in life or in love? While he pursues heroine Mattie, aka Mary, with dogged determination, he also knows there are some things a woman has to do for herself. Bonus points for building his own sweat lodge for pursuing inner peace and sexytimes.

Hero: Julian Liswood
Book: The Lost Recipe For Happiness by Barbara O’Neal, women’s fiction

A horror movie wunderkind with a heart of gold and a taste for fine dining, Julian brings romance hero swagger to the world of women’s fiction. This dedicated single dad of a troubled teenager knows that the true horror is the death of love, and yearns to finesse his storytelling mojo, but not if it would hurt the resilient chef who has won his heart. Julian offers heroine Elena shelter in his palatial home when she has none, and even names his latest restaurant after her irresistible dog. Kiss the cook? Oh yes, he most certainly does, well, and often.

Lucien's Fall by Barbara SamuelHero: Lucien Harrow
Book: Lucien’s Fall by Barbara Samuel, historical romance

What happens to a musical child prodigy when he’s all grown up? If he’s Lucien, it’s a whole mess of angst, his music driven so deep within him that it might tear him to shreds if he lets it out again. Lucien doesn’t only hear music, he sees it in shapes and colors that threaten to drive him mad…or perhaps madder. This bad boy former rock star of the Georgian age could be heroine Madeline’s ruin as well as her rescue, and if she can find the key to unlock the genius buried beneath the traumas of the past, she can help him make beautiful music in more ways than one.

Hero: Thomas Coyote
Book: A Piece of Heaven by Barbara Samuel, women’s fiction

If you never thought a hero with a bit of a belly could be your book boyfriend, you’ve never met Thomas Coyote. Thomas loves ice cream like he loves everything else in his life, with deep and abiding passion. He takes in his beloved grandmother when her house burns down, does everything he can and then some to keep an ex-con buddy on the straight and narrow, and while his desire for heroine Luna rages strong, he’s also determined to be a considerate partner in her sobriety. As for heartache? Thomas’s ex-wife left him for his brother, and turns back to Thomas when her new marriage goes south, exactly when Thomas’s love for Luna could send him over the moon.

A Bed of Spices by Barbara SamuelHero: Solomon ben Jacob
Book: A Bed of Spices by Barbara Samuel, historical romance

Medical student Solomon is a man of science and a man of faith, so when Jewish Solomon finds his soulmate in Rica, a Christian woman who keeps a dangerous secret, he knows their love could rock both of their worlds. Solomon is a man who weighs his options seriously, isn’t afraid to sacrifice for the greater good, and cherishes his family, even when they aren’t on the best of terms. He’s learned, poetic, and passionate in body and soul. The perfect medieval hero? Might be.

Hero: Blue Reynard
Book: In the Midnight Rain by Ruth Wind, women’s fiction

Dr. Laurence Reynard takes his nickname from the music he loves, and that music oozes out of him, perfuming the air around him with the slow, sweet drug of desire. Okay, maybe that perfume comes from the hothouse orchids he cultivates, which is only one of the many layers of fascination in this Bourbon-tongued bad boy. Part southern gentleman, part internet curmudgeon, he tangles with biographer heroine Ellie, unwilling to give too much away, yet determined to win her, heart, mind, body and soul. He’ll leave readers with a smile, for while he’ll share his story for a spell, he’s Ellie’s man, through and through.

Whether romance is the main course or a delicious side dish to the heroine’s journey, Barbara Samuel's heroes belong to a special brotherhood: real heroes who make mistakes, wrestle with hard questions, and are, ultimately, strong enough to stand beside a strong and determined woman and love her exactly the way she is.

Which Samuel hero has won your heart?


Anna C. Bowling considers writing historical romance the best way to travel through time and make the voices in her head pay rent. She welcomes visitors to her blog, Typing with Wet Nails and to follow her at Twitter.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
1. Sabre
Blue is my favorite. Passionate bad boy, that's really all warm and fuzzy on the inside. Yeah baybee, that's my man. Plus I'd drink burbon with him while we enjoyed the steamy southern nights on his front porch...sigh.
Anna Bowling
2. AnnaBowling
@Sabre, Blue is a most excellent choice. Those southern nights could last well into dawn. :happy sigh:
5. Janga
Yes to all of the above, although I would also include dark and dangerous bad boy Malachi Shaunnessey (No Place Like Home) on my list. But Blue is not only my favorite Barbara Samuel hero; he's also one of my all-time favorite heroes. I fell in love with Ellie's first look at him:

"Darkness lay in the hollows below slashes of cheekbone, and along the fine line of his jaw; peered out from large eyes of a color impossible to determine in the low light. Her mind catalogued other details, his bare feet and worn jeans, the shadow of unshaved beard. His hair was thick and long, of indeterminate color. A skinny white cat sat serenely at his ankle."
6. wsl0612
I've not read Barbara Samuels' work yet, but I have to say I'm not intrigued by the cover art :-(
Heather Waters
7. HeatherWaters
@wsl0612 -- Well, to be fair, those were just my image choices. I like to use original edition images when I can 'cause I think they're interesting. Here's one of Barbara O'Neal's more recent covers:

8. Kareni
I recently read and enjoyed The Lost Recipe For Happiness by Barbara O’Neal. Speaking of cover art, that is absolutely NOT the dog in the book! I've put holds on two more of these books; thanks for the article.
Anna Bowling
9. AnnaBowling
@Janga, Malachai is wonderful. I will admit I started talking to him near the end of No Place Like Home, when things looked uncertain. Must agree on Blue; that's when I fell in love with him, too. I bet he gets that a lot.

@wslo612, don't let the cover art put you off; these stories are magnificent. No matter the wrapper, what's inside is delicious.

@redline_, I like seeing the original issue covers as well. While cover trends change, it's interesting to see what the art looked like back in the day.

@Kareni, if there's ever a reissue cover for The Lost Recipie for Happiness, I'd love to see a more Bear-like dog depicted. It did jar me a bit to see the dog on the cover and then read a very different description. Yay on having more Samuel/O'Neal/Wind in your reading future.
10. JacquiC
One of my absolute favourites is Malachi in "No Place Like Home". I just loved this book, even though it totally broke my heart.

I also love Rick from "Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue". Yes, he was unfaithful to the heroine (this is not really a spoiler, since you find this out at the beginning of the book), but he is so sexy and wounded. This book broke my heart too.
Anna Bowling
11. AnnaBowling
@JacquiC, another vote for Malachai, yay.

I thought I wasn't going to like Rick at all, but that brokenness that Barbara does like nobody else won me over. A man who knows he's done wrong and wants to do better has a very special appeal.
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