Monday, June 29, 2020

Real men vs romance men

Man in suit

I should probably start this post off by saying that this is one woman's opinion. Mine. And even as I go on and on and wax lyrical about the romance heroes I adore and the man who is the love of my life, I'm just one woman. And this is my opinion.

Let's face it. We are here because we read romance and we enjoy it. For whatever reason, be it the heroes, the heroines, the romance, the story, the journey, the Happy Ever After, we read it, and we enjoy it.

Today, I want to focus on the one thing that I'm particularly biased about. The hero. And not just any hero but the romance hero vs a man in real life because I very often hear people say (rightly or wrongly) that romance gives women unrealistic expectations of men. Do I agree or disagree with that statement? A little bit of both, I think, because it all depends on how we, individually, as women approach the men, our own experiences, if we're seeking an ideal, or if we are firmly rooted in reality and understand romance is an escape.

Man in black jacket

Personally, the way I like my men in real life is not quite like the way I love my men in romance. Let me elaborate because I feel I have my very own real-life romance hero in my Steve, but he is far removed from the romance heroes I love to read about (sorry darling!), and yet I wouldn't change him for anything.

My Steve and I have been together for over two decades now. It started as a long-distance love affair with him being my boss and me being his employee. See? Right there! Romance trope. I still have a soft spot for all those boss/secretary/employee romances. Our relationship back then was quite taboo because he's almost two decades older than me, and he was my boss. When we got (accidentally) outed, it was a cause of great concern within the organization. It led to my resignation and returning to my home country, followed shortly by Steve relocating countries to be with me. He literally moved continents for us to be together. And don't even get me started on the financial consequences and what he lost as a result of dating an employee. The consequences were harsh. Despite it all though, we thrived together as a couple.

Man in grey suit

Why is Steve, my real-life romance hero, and how is he different from the heroes I like to read about in my romances? Let me elaborate.

Steve is the ultimate nice guy. Often to his detriment. To our detriment. People take advantage though I would never label Steve as a pushover or as a loser. It's just that with his honor and high integrity, he's walked away from questionable situations while others have lied and deceived their way into profit and promotions. There have been moments when I have wished that Steve had a bit more of an asshole in him, but then he wouldn't be the man I love.

I have a thing for powerful men. See the whole boss/employee thing. When I met Steve, he was a consultant to the senior executives of the bank I was working in. People were terrified of him. I was warned about what an asshole he was and how he was a career killer. Then I met him. And really, he's one of the nicest guys you could possibly meet. I really didn't understand the hype around him and why people called him "Chainsaw Shipley," but at the same time, I was attracted to that aura of power around him.

Aside from that, Steve's kind, considerate, and genuinely one of the most generous people I know. Let me give you a few examples.

Blue jeans

Early on in our relationship, he left for an overseas trip, and he was due to be away for about three weeks. He asked me if there was anything I'd like him to bring back for me. I asked for a pair of Levi's 501 jeans. That aside, while he was away, communication was limited to emails (this was a long time ago before mobile phones and instant messaging). One day, I fell ill with a terrible bout of the flu. I emailed to let him know I wouldn't be at work that day and was home sick with the flu. He immediately rang me at home to check on me even though I knew he was pretty tired from traveling long distances through the night. I thought at that moment, "what a nice guy!"

A few months later, I moved to his home country for a new job where he was going to be my boss. It was winter and my first time in that particular city. On my first morning there, after having arrived the night before, I get a phone call quite early in the morning. It's Steve calling to tell me it snowed the night before and to be careful walking into the office since it would be slippery from the ice and to stay off the salt since that would ruin my shoes and my clothes. See what I mean about considerate?

Girl in winter snow

This has been a consistent theme throughout our twenty plus years together. Many moments of kindness and consideration stringing into a lifetime together. He's still the powerful, decisive man I first met those many years ago, people still defer to him, call him for advice, and after years of working with him still give him the dedication and loyalty he doesn't ask for but truly deserves.

These days, I get coffee in bed in the mornings (my record is eight, it was a very indulgent morning!), he does all the laundry (I'm banned from doing laundry, I'm very bad at it and have destroyed many a thing) and washing up, and takes out the trash. He makes me my favorite ice tea, and even though I can pour it myself with dinner, he always pours it for me. And when we are out walking, he always walks on the outside so that I am protected from oncoming traffic. See? Ultimate nice guy. I'm spoiled rotten.

Heart mug coffee

Of course, he doesn't always come up smelling of roses. He's one of the most conscientious and hard-working man I know. He's constantly learning, researching, looking for ways to improve. I'm not saying it's a bad trait, but sometimes it drives me crazy. Like when he reorganizes his office for the umpteenth time. I stopped counting after six. It's recently had another reorganization, and he's color-coded his socks and shoes. Or when he changes his mind about a decision because he's come up with an even brighter idea. I don't cope well with constant change. But seriously, these are minor blips in our life.

I'll stop waxing lyrical, or this will end up being called "Ode to Steve," but he is how I like my real-life romance hero and the man in my life.

What about the romance heroes I like to read about then?

Ah, now they are a slightly different kettle of fish.

Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison Primitive by Piper Stone The Professor by Serena Akeroyd

For starters, I love my book, romance heroes alpha. I mean UBER, SUPER DUPER, ULTRA ALPHA. If he grunts somewhere along the way, throw in a little growling, and maybe the odd roar? I'm all in. Steve has alpha tendencies, especially in the work environment when he's always the top dog, but UBER ALPHA he's not. Think Dragos from Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison, Erik from Primitive by Piper Stone, and he can even be a stalkery asshole like Nicholas from The Professor by Serena Akeroyd.

Rough and Tumble by Rhenna Morgan Wild and Sweet by Rhenna Morgan Claim and Protect by Rhenna Morgan

Couple the uber alpha with the jealous, possessive sort and I get all warm and gooey inside when I'm reading a hero. The men who are all "MINE" and do not want to share, are not interested in any other female, and will not even look at another female. That just gives me all the feels. The men from the Men of Haven series by Rhenna Morgan are all like that and gosh, do I love them. They live by their own set of rules, straddle the line between right and wrong, define their version of honor and integrity, and above all, will do anything for their women. Sigh. *melty puddle*

Blake by Maddie Wade Imperator by Anna Hackett Cyborg Commander by Cara Bristol

Of course, I also love men who are high in integrity and honor. This trait, my Steve does have in spades. No lying, deceit, or cheating. Men who come to mind who are like that are Blake from Blake by Maddie Wade, Galen from the Galactic Gladiator series, more specifically Imperator by Anna Hackett, and Carter from Cyborg Commander by Cara Bristol.

Virgin Tribute by Delta James Rogue by Piper Stone The Duke's Pet by Lily Harlem

And this is definitely something I do not want in my real-life man, but I definitely like to read about is when the romance hero is into a little tough love and discipline. I love reading about the heroine getting spanked for some kind of infraction and disobedience. There are times when all that's keeping me reading is waiting for the hero to come on the scene to set the heroine straight, like Drake from Virgin Tribute by Delta James, Rogue from Rogue by Piper Stone, and Gerard from The Duke's Pet by Lily Harlem.

The Bad Boy Next Door by Lexxie Couper The Good Girl In My Bed by Lexxie Couper The Bad Boy In Cuffs by Lexxie Couper

Strong, protective heroes who will do anything for the heroines, even lay down their lives for them, make me melt into a puddle of good. In real life, I do not need anyone to die for me, and let's face it if it ever came to it, I'm pretty sure both Steve and I will cave within a minute of being tortured for information. A classic example of this would be Lucas from the Dangerous Desire series by Lexxie Couper. Lucas would do anything to protect Ronnie, even kill for her and give up his own life. Fortunately, he doesn't have to because he's totally badass and saves the day.

Forged In FIre by Juliette Cross The Deepest Well by Juliette Cross Hardest Fall by Juliette Cross

I shouldn't forget to mention intensely passionate and romantic. The sort that makes my breath catch and my heart melt. The sort that turns me into a giant puddle of goo because it's sweet but also sexy, and fiery, and ardent, and emotional. For example, I think Juliette Cross's heroes make the ones. Jude from The Vessel Trilogy. Be still my beating heart. Jude is just sooo intense, passionate, deliberate...all the words. George from The Deepest Well because his love has a depth that saw him battling for Kat for over a hundred years, and Xavier from Hardest Fall because who knew he had such vehement fervour in him?

Heat and Desire by Kelli Callahan 10 Men by Stephanie Brother Sentinel by Anna Hackett

Finally, we must never forget stamina. Whether it's one man or two or more, menage or reverse harem, we have to admit that these men seem to be able to go on for days. I saw a very funny post about a book a friend was reading, and her hashtag for the book was #DontKnowHowSheCanStillWalkTho. That cracked me up because yeah, there is such a thing as too much sex, especially when you start multiplying the number of men who all have voracious appetites. Brody and Micah from Heat & Desire by Kelli Callahan, the ten brothers (I can't remember all their names) from 10 Men by Stephanie Brother, and Jax from Sentinel by Anna Hackett because, duh! Cyborg! Part man, part machine, all the stamina.

But really, don't take any of this too seriously. It's my opinion and me poking a bit of fun at our beloved book boyfriends too. Tell me though cos I want to know. What's your ideal real-life man like and is he anything like your favorite book boyfriend?

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  1. Chainsaw Shipley! That made me chuckle. Bit of a tongue twister too.

    1. Yeah, that nickname was kind of funny but scary for a lot of people.

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