Many frequent romance readers have noticed how dissimilar a book’s hero and heroine is on the cover to the description within.
Readers may not be aware of this, but it seems that dark-haired heroes on book covers sell much better than blonds. So even if the hero’s hair is described within the book as flaxen as a field of corn on a summer day, the guy on the cover’s hair will look like, well, mine (By the way, there’s been such a rumpus because the newest James Bond, Daniel Craig, is blond. Personally, I wouldn’t care if he were bald if he did a better job than Timothy Dalton, a guy I find totally hot, but who sucked as Bond. But that’s just my opinion).
Now, I would never be so silly as to not buy a book because the hero’s hair is not to my liking, but I would be so silly to not like the hero if he is too short. I might be prejudiced from personal experience–prior to my 6’1″ husband, my boyfriend of six years was 5’3″ (I am 5’6″). But if the hero is anything less than six feet, it gives me pause.
I especially like tall, rangy, sinewy men, the kind whose veins pop out of their arms. Mm. Preferably with very little, if any, chest hair. Picky, I know, but I’m reading romance for escapist fantasy, and I don’t fantasize about 5’10” hairy-chested men. So sue me.
What are your deal-breakers when it comes to your heroes? Do you find yourself passing by the books with a blond on the cover? How about height? Chest hair? Muscles? Would you find a bald hero sexy (I would, especially if he looked like Jason Statham)?
I don’t like blond heroes. I can’t imagine ever writing one with flaxen hair (auburn, tawny, dark blond maybe…but never cornsilk). That’s my deal-breaker.
So I’m one of those who probably wouldn’t look at a cover with a blond hero.
Although, I have been in love with Sting for years. (But he’s not really that blond anymore. Right?)
Heh. I was discussing this not long ago with my editor for the cover conference — my hero is blond, but I told her that if they had to cut off the top of his head to make a more marketable cover, go ahead. (I think the same is true of really short-haired women. Rarely do we see that on covers.) The only thing that mattered was that they didn’t give him a mullet.
I guess redheaded heroes sell worse than blonds. I know I’m less likely to pick up a cover if the hero has really, really red hair (Johanna Lindsey’s LOVE ME FOREVER auburn-haired Fabio is one of the worst offenders, and it burned my eyeballs for eternity.)
I also prefer no chest hair — too much chest hair (or any) on a cover, and I’m so gone. And it looks scraggly, especially in cover art. The first HOT SPELL cover (I should post this on my blog, because it’s kind of funny to see) had the model’s sparse chest hair showing. They Photoshopped (I know, I shouldn’t verb that word) it out so that it looked a lot more appealing. But even if the guy inside is described as hairy as a bear (ugh) with the heroine constantly running her fingers through his mass of chest hair, I still want the guy on the cover to be nicely waxed. And that’s the image I’ll keep in my head.
I do find that once I’m reading, the hero/heroine’s description kind of fades into what my idea of them is — so even if the hero is described as short, I’ll probably add a few inches in my head.
Hmm–I love Sean Bean, he’s sort of blond. And–well, I guess that’s all I can think of right now. 🙂 Blech on too much chest hair, and I’m totally with you on the lanky, sinewy thing.
I’m not sure I have any deal-breakers, but I prefer the guys not to be super-buff, like body builders. I may be weird, but that just creeps me out. 🙂
I don’t like blond heroes either. In fact, the Sharpe of my imagination (and of the books, if I am not mistaken) had dark hair. I like my heroes with chest hair though, but probably not on the cover.
Two short heroes I loved. The Duke in Mary Balogh’s The Unlikely Duchess. He had a habit of rocking on his heels.
The other is Miles Vorkosigan in Lois McMaster Bujold’s Science fiction series. Miles is a dwarf. But what a hero. Kept me reading through the whole series. Bujold’s characterization is masterful.
Too pretty. Too young. I must be getting old. LOL!
hmmmm..I think it is totally weird and quite rude to say oh I hate blonde men, for it’s so romance stereo type…for to have dark haired men and blonde women are too common in novels…I like varity and it’s so boring to see the same things in so many different stories. I think a guy can have blonde hair and be dark and mysterious, he doesn’t need be black haired for that. 😉 Men with some hair is a must, bald bodies are too girly. That’s just my opinion. I think in fantasy is that, fantasy, and is great to dream your own dreams, but to be ‘like urgh how gross if he’s red headed and blonde’ is not my type of novel, can’t help it. I guess why I’m open to varity on men is ‘cuase in my family there’s red, black, auburn, blonde… besides, I’ve two love interest in my life, one’s got cornwall blonde with blue eyes, the other is curly black hair and blue eyes..both are over 6’3..so I’m all into varity! 😉 Varity is a passion! 😉 and a must 😉
As for blondness there are always exceptions like the very handsome man on the cover of Jo Beverly’s A Most Unsuitable Man. I have a hero in one ms. who’s blond–very blond, b/c he’s from the north of England and therefore of vaguely Viking descent, and I based him on the lovely and talented Orlando Bloom as Legolas, fair hair and dark eyes, but of course with some gray matter between his ears (which were not pointed).
I hate covers with any people at all. Particularly clinch covers and buffed, shiny, completely hairless pumped-up mantitty, fresh out of the gym. Eeeew. They’re not human, they’re not particularly male. Now, for a historical, the right sort of shirt i.e. with a placket, unbuttoned, with a bit of chest hair showing, I think is incredibly sexy.
I’d have to say, a short and chubby hero would have me reshelving the book in a hurry. A slightly plump heroine is alright, but a plump hero? O, Horror!
You know, I don’t like blond heroes, either, but I just wrote one, based, like Janet’s, on Orlando-era Legolas. And a personality like my sorta blond husband.
And Sharpe has black hair in the books, plus a big scar. I know I am really strange, but I love scars and limps, too.
It’s funny, because I haven’t had a huge dating life, but I have dated guys with every hair color and found them attractive. My husband is as dark as the standard “tall, dark and handsome”. But I like variety in my fantasy men.
Even bald might work if the guy looked like Patrick Stewart. Though I doubt that would fly on a cover!
Re the bodybuilder muscles, I’m with Cara. Waxed pects just don’t seem real and don’t ring true historically either. I do want the hero to look fit. Ditto for the heroine, too. Not runway model thin (about as real as those waxed pects) but someone who looks as if she walks or rides regularly.
Anyway, cover pics never figure in to my buying choices. I usually buy based on authors I’m familiar with or have had recommended to me by kindred spirits.
While this question was clearly not addressed to me, and not to be contrary (OK, maybe a little), I really liked Timothy Dalton’s depiction of James Bond. The second movie wasn’t very good, but The Living Daylights is one of my favorite Bond movies.
No way! Really? I just thought Dalton was so ineffectual. I didn’t believe he could kick ass AND take names the way Bond was supposed to.
I mean, Dalton is totally and absolutely dishy, but he’s not an alpha male.
I read all the books, too, and wished Bond would come sweep me away…the whole gadgetry of the movies always bothered me, but heck, they looked great. Pussy Galore was a great name for a heroine (and a pretty awesome band for awhile, too).
No accounting for tastes in ass-kicking, I guess. I agree that the second Dalton movie (License to Kill?) wasn’t very good, though it did have Carey Lowell with a shotgun, which is always good in my book.
And just to compound my heresy, I like Roger Moore’s Bond about as well as Sean Connery’s, (though the last two or three Moore movies were markedly inferior). I’m not crazy about the way they’ve turned Bond into a superhero, though I otherwise like the Pierce Brosnan films; I mean, Bond was pretty unbelievable just as a secret agent, without running around on the outside of airplanes and such. 🙂
I freely concede, however, that the name Pussy Galore was never equalled. They should have retired her number, like in the NBA.
But–getting back to the original subject–regardless of whether you think Timothy Dalton could kick ass, I think we can all agree that he could definitely take names. (What does that mean, anyway???)