I have noticed lately in romance novels that Good Boys have been losing out in favor of their antithesis. Note I am speaking chiefly of YA paranormal as it is the main romance genre I read, but I believe this conversation could be applied across adult genres as well. This observation made me wonder—why? While I understand that there is a certain appeal in a damaged leather-studded rocker, I find myself with a rather soft spot for the likes of Sam Roth from Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver and Edward Ferrars of Sense and Sensibility.
There seems to be a highly popular base storyline in romances which can be widely recognized. It involves an innocent young girl becoming involved with a not-so innocent man which culminates in him realizing that he would rather have her than any of the scores of women he’s had. While I have no problem with this story and many of my all-time favorite love stories follow this formula, I do wish we could see more romance literature about honest young men finding love with girls who appreciate them for who they are.
To me, the ideal romantic hero is the type one would want in real life—humble, forgiving, intelligent, respectful of women (not just his ladylove), considerate of others, and (this one is going to be unpopular) chaste.
While Jace of The Mortal Instruments is endearing in his own way (not sure he squarely fits the Bad Boy archetype, just an example of cockiness), I do not find arrogance to be an appealing trait in characters any more than in real life people.
Yes, revenge tales can be riveting, but the truth is that this world would be a far better place if more people learned to stop counting wrongs.
Intelligence is a given trait for heroes in general as beauty without brains makes for a buffoon (The Big Bang Theory’s Zack being a perfect example).
Bad Boys by their nature tend not to respect women, usually employing a “use and lose” policy toward their partners until they meet the One. This is usually in part the result of not thinking about the emotions of others—who they hurt, etc.—a form of selfishness.
And finally—I know some might consider this one extremist—it seems for the most part male characters must have at least one requisite relationship prior to that with the love of their life. In YA, the girl is almost always untouched while I would say that about two-thirds or more of the time the hero is not. The heroine doesn’t get to be the hero’s first nearly as often and that hardly seems fair, does it?
I hope to see more of the Good Boys in future, though I do enjoy a Bad Boy love story every now and again. So what do you think? Do you go for Bad Boy or Good Boy heroes? Do you think we could use more of one than the other? Do you have a favorite story with a Good Boy hero?