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Monday, September 28, 2009

The Physically Scarred Hero

This weekend I read Elizabeth Hoyt’s TO BEGUILE A BEAST and I know exactly why I was hooked. I’m a push-over for a hero who is psychologically or physically scarred due to some violent act in his past. Hoyt definitely went out on a limb with this one and I was with her all the way (till 2:00am to be exact). Actually, her Legend of the Four Soldiers series, the fourth one coming out in November, is based on men changed by war, but the first two books have heroes with internal scars. This book’s hero, Alistair, has some pretty scary physical scars which of course mold his motivation towards being a recluse. I think it is a real challenge for an author to write the physically scarred hero, especially as Hoyt did, where the damage is readily apparent and not beneath his clothes.
I think I love this type of hero because I hope that I would be like the heroine and see beyond the scars and through the defenses he puts up, and like her provide emotional support for the vulnerable man underneath. How do you feel about physically scarred heroes in romance novels? Do you find them more compelling or the same as any hero with a tough past? Have you read any particular romance novels where the physically scarred hero was particularly memorable?


  1. Ah, the scarred hero. I actually love them too. Dark, brooding and oh so dangerous. :) If you're a brilliant author, I think you can pull off about anything, even physical scars. I also think if there's a large character arch, that really makes a difference in the appeal of the hero. At least for me. I guess it also comes down having the urge to fix things or people when they're broken, even though, I know in real life that's a no-no. I wish a could remember a particular book about physically scarred heroes, but you do have me interested in this series. I may just have to run to the bookstore real soon. :)

  2. It's not very common but I've read a few romances where the hero wasn't physically "perfect" and I think it can work rather well. It just endeared the hero to me more. So much so that I've written a hero or two who were scarred. One had several scars from knife fights and bullet wounds and the heroine actually touched them and asked how he'd gotten them. Made for a sweet scene. The other was wounded during the Civil War and his wound isn't completely healed - I've described how angry the wound looks and how it made them both feel - though she doesn't want to be sympathetic toward him, she can't help it and he's embarrassed she's seen it, but determined not to let on how much pain he's in.

  3. Hi Carol,

    I agree it takes a very skilled author to pull this off. In Hoyt's series, she actually introduced Alistair and the circumstances around how he received the scars in the previous book. In this one you learn that women have actually fainted from the sight of him. What I liked was the heroine didn't pretend his scars weren't there. She couldn't because they were severe.

  4. Hi Anonymous,

    You bring up a great point about the hero's reluctance to let the heroine see his scars or wounds for that matter. I think it's that male thing where he doesn't want to appear weak or worse have to explain how he received his wounds. Men definitely don't want to be pitied or coddled. Maybe we like these men because they obviously need us even though sometimes they just don't realize it :-)

  5. Well, I hope physically scarred heroes work because I just had a book, Tales of the Shareem: Calder come out at Ellora's Cave, about a hero who is scarred all over his body. :-)

    When I introduced Calder in a previous book, I had readers begging for his story. I think, like you, Alexis, that the scars make us empathize with the hero, and we want the heroine to see past the scars to the wonderful man inside (and happily, she does!)

  6. Hi Jennifer,
    Thanks for letting me know that Tales of the Shareem: Calder is about a scarred hero. That book just went to the top of my "must have" list!

  7. Hi Alexis!

    I love the tormented, and physically scarred hero! For me thats what makes him real, human, not the godlike men we see in some books. I love that they are afraid to face the world becuase of their scars, that their vulnerabilities show even when they act so tough trying to hide it! I read a great book years ago and I can't remember the name or the author right now, but the hero and heroine were both scarred. Ugh, I wish I could remember it!!! It was a fabulous story!

    Well, now I need to add "To beguile a beast to my MUST have list!


  8. Hi Alexis

    I've just finished reading Yours Until Dawn by Teresa Medeiros in which the hero, Gabriel, was wounded at the Battle of Trafalgar, leaving him with a facial scar and blind. Great story with a real twist at the end. My favourite scarred hero has to be Zsadist from J R Ward's Lover Avenged.

  9. Carol, I love Teresa Medeiros and I bet she did a wonderful job with her hero. That is real talent to pull that one off! Don't these scarred heroes just make you want to prove to them that they are more than their scars? Haven't read that J.R. Ward book. May just have to add it to my To Be Purchased list :-)