Oct 1 2013 10:00am

Author Beth Ciotta on Perfectly Imperfect Heroes

Anything But Love by Beth CiottaToday we're happy to welcome author Beth Ciotta to Heroes and Heartbreakers. Beth's Cupcake Lovers series has two upcoming releases—Anything But Love and the holiday novella Some Kind of Wonderful—both featuring heroes who are imperfect in some way. She's here to talk about some of her favorite imperfect movie heroes, and asks for your favorites as well. Thanks for joining us, Beth!

Family or love or romance, whatever it is, is not restricted to perfect people. If it were, it wouldn't exist.” —Sara Zarr, award-winning author

Perfection. I don’t know about you, but I’m sometimes troubled by the constant message I receive via the media that equates desirability with perfection. How many images of actors and models are manipulated via photo shop? How many of those actors and models have altered their looks via injections and surgery? How many everyday men and women drink the Kool-aid, believing they are unworthy of appreciation and love if they are not physically, and yes, emotionally and intellectually, perfect? Hey, I’ll admit to being influenced, although I try not to succumb. It ain’t easy, folks. We all want to be the best we can be. But sometimes fate and circumstances work against us. Is less than perfect, less than attractive? I don’t think so. I’m thrilled to say I’m not alone in my thinking. Let’s turn to the arts for proof.

I write romantic fiction and I confess I am enchanted by all things romantic. I’m a huge fan of  rom-coms or dramatic films that feature a romantic subplot and I’m ever so pleased that there are screenplays that focus on the physically or emotionally imperfect hero or heroine. Here are three examples of films that branded my heart with their tenderness, charm, and emotional complexities. 

The Magic of Belle Isle (2012) starring Morgan Freeman

From IMDB: Monty Wildhorn, an alcoholic novelist of Westerns, has lost his drive. His nephew pushes him to Summer in quiet Bell Isle. He begrudgingly befriends a newly single mom and her 3 girls who help him find the inspiration to write again.

From Me: Monty is not only battling alcoholism, he’s confined to a wheelchair. His challenges are both emotional and physical. He is far from ‘perfect,’ but Charlotte and her daughters look beyond the surface and Monty soon finds the incentive to live and love again. Inspiring and heart-warming. An all-time favorite for me.

From Monty: “Most times real life doesn't measure up to what's in our heads, but every now and then it comes pretty close.

Forrest Gump (1994) starring Tom Hanks

From IMDB: Forrest Gump, while not intelligent, has accidentally been present at many historic moments, but his true love, Jenny Curran, eludes him.

From Me: Forrest is a gentle soul who started life wearing leg braces and contending with school bullies. Though slow-witted, his heart is as huge as the universe and that, along with his determination to excel in life, his generous spirit, and his undying affection for his true, though elusive, love, endear Forrest to everyone he meets. Another inspiring story starring a challenged, though incredibly lovable, hero.

From Forrest: “I’m not a smart man... but I know what love is.”

Silver Linings Playbook (2012) starring Bradley Cooper    

From IMDB:  After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.

From Me: On the physical front, Pat is very attractive man, but his battle with bipolar disorder is off-putting to say the least. He's impatient, rude, obsessive, volatile. A hard man to like, and yet, his friends and family believe in him. They see beyond the illness and root for the kind heart inside the struggling man. Watching him find his way alongside a woman battling her own demons was fascinating and inspiring. A riveting, heart-wrenching, and tender tale of love and triumph.

From Pat: “The only way you can beat my crazy was by doing something crazy yourself. Thank you. I love you. I knew it the minute I met you. I'm sorry it took so long for me to catch up.”

These are just three movies out of many that made an impact on me via flawed heroes and heroines. The concept must resonate with me more than I realized. This month I have two new releases in my Cupcake Lovers series. It wasn’t intentional, but as it happens both heroes have a disability—one intellectual, one physical—making them both less than ‘perfect.’

In Anything But Love, Luke Monroe has a learning disability, something he works hard to hide. In my upcoming holiday e-novella, Some Kind of Wonderful, Zachery Cole, a Marine sniper scout, returns home with mental and physical injuries sustained overseas. Both men struggle with inferiority issues, not realizing that the women who love them see well beyond their imperfections. Both stories proved an emotional and challenging journey for me. I’m excited to share these imperfectly perfect heroes with readers and I hope they win your hearts as they won mine.

What about you? Are you a fan of the imperfect hero and/or heroine? What movies or books would you recommend that feature a somehow disabled lead?  

Learn more about or order a copy of Anything But Love by Beth Ciotta, out today:

Buy at AmazonBuy at Barnes & NobleBuy at Indiebound



Learn more about or pre-order a copy of the novella Some Kind of Wonderful by Beth Ciotta (out on October 22, 2013):

Buy at AmazonBuy at Barnes & Noble



Beth Ciotta is an award-winning author who specializes in romantic comedy with a twist. Her work includes contemporary, historical, and paranormal romantic fiction. “I can't think of anything more fulfilling than writing stories where everyone (except the villain, of course) gets a happy ending!”

Beth lives in New Jersey with her husband, two zany dogs, and a crazy cat. A retired professional performer, Beth now pours her artistic passion into her writing.

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1. Kareni
I'm a big fan of books with imperfect heroes (and heroines).

A few that come to mind:

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley (the hero has what is likely Asperger syndrome)

The Making of a Gentleman by Shana Galen (the hero has been imprisoned for a dozen years and has forgotten how to speak)

Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman by Lorraine Heath (the hero has been injured in battle and has amnesia as well as physical injuries)
2. digigirl
I don't remember the name, but I read an historical romance years ago where the hero was "simple." It has always stood out in my mind as one of the best romances I ever read! Author did a great job of making him very heroic and sexy while being mentally slower than everyone else in town.
3. JV_KY
I can't think of any other movies right now besides the ones you mentioned. I didn't see the first one, but, of course, I loved Forrest Gump and Silver Linings Playbook.

As for perfection, it's lovely to see, but none of us is absolutely perfect. So, there's always a hidden flaw - emotional if not physical. I am reminded of my first serious boyfriend, who I thought was a bit on the homely side when I first met him. When a mutual friend called me and told me that the guy liked me, I was less than completely enthusiastic, but over time, he became one of the most beautiful people in the world to me. Beauty truly does come from within.
4. Djm
I believe you are thinking of Simple Jess by Pamela Morsi - a wonderful book. Many of her heroes and heroines are not conventionally beautiful but she writes wonderful love stories.
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