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Monday, July 29, 2013

Turning the Tables on a Hero

We all know how the heroes and heroines go in paranormal romance, right? There’s the tortured vampire who’s lived for centuries and needs the spunky human heroine to make him feel more alive and less, well, undead.

Or he's the brooding alpha werewolf or werecat who thinks he’s destined to live alone, always fighting to keep his spot—until he finds the woman who completes him.

Or the misunderstood demon who really isn’t evil at all—he just needs
the right woman to bring out the angel in him (unless, of course, he’s really a fallen angel).

Often, the heroines who become the emotional saviors of our paranormal heroes are humans. Women who are emotionally strong, courageous, straight-talking, and unimpressed by the hero’s posturing. As if imbued with emotional x-ray vision, they can look past his angst-riddled or downright grumpy outer shell and see the marshmallow heart behind those abs of iron.

And then there’s Jack Kellison, one of my recent hero characters. Kell has his work cut out for him.
Oh, he’s an alpha male, don’t get me wrong. He’s an Army Ranger recently pulled off active duty because of a back injury, and wants desperately to return to duty because it’s all he knows. He’s spent too much time in the company of other guys. Kell is smart, funny, loyal, brave, stubborn, and, yeah, kinda bossy. He’s good at barking orders.

Did I mention that Kell is human? He's the leader of a six-member counter-terrorism team specializing in domestic cases. Three of the team members are former Rangers. Two team members are brothers, black cougar-shifters. And one team member—the tracker for the unit—is a golden eagle shifter inappropriately named Robin. She weighs a hundred pounds soaking wet, can bench press way more than Kell, and has an aversion to clothing. This does not make Kell happy.

And then there’s the heroine of the story, Emory Chastaine. Mori has a lot of secrets of the not-quite-human variety.

Can a human hero still be alpha when the heroine might not be human at all? What can he bring to the table when he’s partnered—either professionally or romantically—with a shapeshifter or other paranormal critter?

First, he can bring experience. Kell’s got ten years of Ranger training and active duty under his belt. He is cool under pressure, is a good tactician, knows how to keep a team working together…and he’s handling pretty well the whole news that there are such things as shapeshifters, all things considered.

Second, he can bring a simple outlook and focus to everything he does. Face it—shapeshifters and other paranormals have all kinds of baggage. Pack structure, internal politics, pack or den rules, traditions, long lives, vendettas. I mean, if the dominant of the cougar-shifter den needs taking down, your human hero isn’t going to worry about who the beta might be. He’ll just do the job, or as Rangers say, “Rangers lead the way.”

Finally, in the romance department, the human hero might prove to be a breath of fresh air to a paranormal paramour—someone who doesn’t have an ulterior motive or a political agenda. And, hey, if he’s sexy, all the better!

So, raise a toast to the human hero in paranormal romance. Do you have a favorite? Leave a comment for a chance to win a $10 Amazon or B-and-N gift card or Book Depository book if you’re outside the US, plus a copy of my human-shapeshifter romantic thriller (as Susannah Sandlin) Storm Force. (Be sure to leave your email in your comment so I’ll know how to find you!)

30 comments:

  1. Hi Suzanne! Welcome to your first Lady Scribes post! ;) I love turning the tables on characters every once in a while--it's good for them. Lol. I did the same in my latest--the hero is a human cop who doesn't know what to do with an angel heroine who can knock him flat. It's such fun to change things up, and I think readers like it too. Not every hero needs to be the 'hero.'

    For those as interested in learning more about this book as I am, here's the link to Amazon...

    http://www.amazon.com/Storm-Force-ebook/dp/B00BI0M8OM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1375102259&sr=8-1&keywords=storm+force+sandlin

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    1. Thanks, Andris! I love the idea of the human cop and angel heroine! It is a lot of fun to switch things up :-)

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  2. Hi Suzanne!
    We're so happy you joined us at LS!!! I haven't read a lot of paranormal romance, so I'll have to get more up to speed. I can't say I have a favorite human in a paranormal romance-Is that what you're asking? But my favorite paranormal heroes are probably angels. I like that they have the ultimate power backing them up, but they must have honor to maintain their position. Seems like a fine line to walk. :)

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    1. Thanks, Samantha--it's great to be here! I like angel books, too...fallen angels, tempted angels who don't want to become fallen angels...avenging angels! It's all good.

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  3. My favorite human in a paranormal romance, has always been Edward in Laurell K Hamilton's Anita Blake series. It's a draw when it comes to my favorite paranormal being as I read them all. Right now I've been in demon mode.

    temtnfate13 at yahoo dot com

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    1. I love Edward! He was so seriously scary in the early books. Just as dangerous, but a little more relatable (note I say a "little") in the later ones where he has a family. I always knew when Edward showed up in the books it was going to get interesting, and fast.

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    2. I haven't read it yet but he's back in her newest Anita!

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  4. Hi Suzanne! I loved Ladyhawk, star crossed lovers. I wanted so for them to get together and find their romance.

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    1. Sigh. I loved Ladyhawk too. I'd completely forgotten about that one!

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  5. Hey Suzanne!

    I've been thinking all morning and all that is popping to mind are the heroes in Lydia Dare's Gentlemen Vampyres series. (They're vampypres at the beginning but not after they fall in love and their heart starts beating again.) But that kind of feels like cheating since they were paranormal at one point.

    You've stumped me! But your book sounds awesome! :)

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    1. I haven't read the Gentlemen Vampyres, but they sound interesting. The same thing happens in Colleen Gleason's Regency vampire series--the vamps turn human when they fall in love (only in this case they do something to reverse a satanic curse to actually revert to human).

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  6. Hi Suzanne!

    I have *no* idea. lol. All I can think of is Bella from Twilight (who I don't like that much until she turns vampire) and Elena from Vampire Diaries, who definitely tops Bella. I love that she has an inexplicable pull on the vampires in her life. Of course, she eventually turns vamp, too, which spices up her personality, but it may disqualify her from the contest. lol.

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    1. LOL--only the comment's needed for the contest! I am not a fan of Bella la Dull, and you're right. She was much more interesting after she was turned vampire. (Just don't get me started on the childbirth.) I'm probably the only person in the world who hasn't watched or read "Vampire Diaries"!

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  7. Um...I don't think I've read a paranormal with a human hero. Granted, I don't read a lot of paranormal romance in general, but any of them that I can think of have all had paranormal heroes. :/

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  8. Before discovering kell i would have to say Butch ... however he doesn't stay complete human either so kell is my favourite^^ i love how he learn to cope with the fact his girlfriend could lift him without trouble and that Robin could go crazy on him if he doesn't behave... all that not seeing they do aknolegde him as an alpha^^
    ( and you have my email by now^^)

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  9. Hooray for your first official post, Suzanne!

    I'm a little stumped, as it seems as if all the antagonists in the paranormals I've read who are human often then discover that they are not completely human after all. But I agree that I love Lydia Dare's vamps that become human!

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  10. Hmm, yeah I think human males can pull off that whole alpha male thing, but I still prefer my shifters cause 1, the paranormal aspect gives them that element of mysterious sexiness :P and 2, the animal part gives them the feral edge. :)

    Not that I don't like human alpha males! They're cool too. :))

    Cheers on your first post! And thanks for the giveaway!

    Yet Peng
    cypsays_hi at hotmail dot com

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  11. Hey Suzanne! Welcome to LS! I haven't read a paranormal besides yours where the hero was a human, but I have to say I love Jack, but then you know that! I'm not adverse at all to a human as the hero, I just don't think it's been done much. Has it?

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  12. Hi Suzanne! Yes, welcome to Lady Scribes! First, your books sounds beyond delicious...your questions got me thinking. I love my alpha males and imagine that you would add tremendous conflict (which is always awesome!) if you give him a heroine that is more than human! But you have me stumped too...I got nothin'! : )

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  13. One of JR Ward's male heroes in the BDB series remains a human throughout but it wasn't one of my favorite books. I believe in her Fallen Angels series, all the heroes are human but it's still a paranormal because of the angel involvement. Sara Humphrey's new series, Tall Dark and Vempire has it's hero start as a human but get that love bite..
    I'm looking forward to checking out your book, Suzanne.
    Tweeted

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  14. Welcome, Suzanne! It's wonderful to have you join the Lady Scribes :) I haven't read a whole lot of paranormal, so I've got nada. Sounds wonderful, though!

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  15. Yes, I love the paranormal hero, but a human hero is definitely a plus because you don't need to deal with all that extra stuff that comes along with a vampire or were/shifter. Just the normal alpha male stuff is quite enough to deal with, especially for a heroine who has her own problems. :D

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com

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  16. It takes a strong & confident male to hold his own against a PNR heroine! What a good idea Suzanne to write a different aspect. I don't have a fav; as you mentioned it's more common to have it the other way around.

    thumbelinda03@yahoo.com

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  17. I can't remember a human hero in a paranormal, but I like the concept. A lot of the Alpha is in the attitude, not just the physical.

    sallans d at yahoo dot com

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  18. My mind went totally blank! I know that ive read some good ones! Oh maybe Dez from Shelly Laurenstons Pride series? She cracked me up. :) I have your series on my wishlist. I cant wait to read them! Thank so much!
    -Amber
    goodblinknpark(AT)yahoo(DOT)com

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  19. Thanks for sharing about the heroes. I think that a human male can still be alpha because think of all the dominant personalities out there, like cops, soldiers, even men that are driven to succeed are have alpha personalities. My question would be could an alpha male accept a female as his equal in that way or keep trying to dominate her. evamiillien at gmail dot com

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  20. Butch O’Neill in BDB book Lover Revealed!!! Even though he's not completely human he's completely irresistible!
    blackcapballistics(at)gmail(dot)com

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  21. I'm sure I have read some books with human heroes, but the only one I can think of right now (because I just read it!) is Pineiro's Temptation Calls.
    jmcgaugh (at) semo (dot) edu

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  22. I'm having such a brain fart and can't think of a human hero. Usually it's the heroine who the human and the guy the supernatural who swoops in and saves the day ;) Thanks for sharing such a fun post and congrats on the newest release!

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  23. Its hard to think of a human hero in PNR. Im sure I have some but right now cant come up with one.

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