We all know that January is a time of new beginnings and painful purpose as you attempt to tackle those tricky New Year resolutions – that points-based diet, your new Mandarin course, and all those yoga and body attack classes. To keep up morale, the BBC have recently kindly provided us with some exciting new telly featuring not one, but two delicious heroes – the exquisite Luke Pasqualino as Musketeer D’Artagnan with a sexy sword-belt and tight leather breeches, and the delectable Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock exuding slick and stylish intelligence in his beautifully-tailored coat. As I was salivating over such delicious hotness (and following the intricacies of the plots of course, ahem) I wondered how two such contrasting men can have such an appeal. D’Atagnan is courageous and impulsive and dashing, while Sherlock is thoughtful and smart and quietly cautious. So what makes them the hero of their very different stories? Is it their courage, honour, justice and self-sacrifice – that old-fashioned code of chivalry that we still crave today (and sadly, rarely see in real life)? And yet they don’t always follow such prescriptive knightly rule, they often get things wrong, and are each flawed and imperfect in their own way – D’Artagnan is often rash in his actions and Sherlock seems to lack basic social skills. So just what is that elusive quality that makes a true hero?
In the Mills & Boon universe, chivalry and true heroism still exist – whether it’s a Regency gentleman risking scandal to defend a lady’s honour, a dishy doc saving a premature baby’s life, or a Billionaire sacrificing his playboy lifestyle for that one special woman. One of the perks of my job is that I live and breathe the alpha male, and spend a lot of time helping authors find the hero in their male characters. For me, a Mills & Boon series hero is first of all devilishly, devastatingly handsome. He is all chivalry; not only will he risk life and limb to rescue fair maiden – but he will open the door for a lady, give up his seat for her on the train, and offer her the jacket from his own back on a cold Winter’s night. He is fiercely protective of his heroine and loves her fearlessly, and he is loyal to the absolute ends of the earth. At the same time, he is often tormented; he grapples with internal demons that only his heroine can help him overcome. Perhaps it is the way he courageously faces his own flaws that is the ultimate measure of his heroism.
So what does heroism mean to you? Perhaps it’s grand, sweeping gestures – or just the little things that matter? Chocolates and roses – or a hug after a hard day at work? And how can we make our M&B heroes even more heroic than they already are?
Over to you…
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