Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Hero Ditch

This one is an odd one so buckle up.

Here's the burned down core of this post - heroes who turn out to be like all the other heroes the author has written before.

Now I'm talking fairly well known authors who for some reason have a distinct impression of character but who then, once they get to that heroes book, mush him into some sort of mold that looks exactly like the previous heroes of a series.

The most extreme example for me is Butch from J.R. Ward's series.

Now I'm being lazy so I can't be quoting passages from the books. I just remember being so enamored of Butch - weary, ass dragging, over worked, seen to much cop. He was gorgeous in his ragged ways.

Books 2 and 3 of the series have him becoming a metro-sexual. Okay. I can cope. Cause down deep he's still that weary cop.

And then his book comes and holy crap, what a shit storm of character assassination.

Here's this man who is lovable just the way he is. I mean seriously french kissable.

I couldn't wait to see how Ward would deal with a human male being in love with a female vampire (I'm watering this part down).

Didn't happen.


See, Butch isn't meant to be human, he is a Brother. So instead of becoming happy as the man he was (which would have been a wonderful story) he becomes another Brother with all the woo-woo factors and suddenly he has a purpose to his life.

Guess those years as a human cop were nothing.

So instead of reading a story about Butch, we get a somewhat similar copy of the previous Brothers.

I don't think I'm explaining this well.

So another author.

Suzanne Brockmann (Someone cover C2's eyes!)

I noticed it with a guy named Cosmo.

Again, a super quiet hero of a man. Little dark.

You know I love the dark.

Get to his story and well, what a down right talkative SOB. He's just misjudged by all who have ever known him. I tell you, when he started a speech (I'm talking epic) about how he's not a hero to the heroine I had to visualize my happy place to keep from puking.

And then Max.

Don't get me started.

Too late!

Max was dark and tortured and just yummy. By the end of his book he was laughing and singing an Elvis song.

Uh, no.

I'm not saying Max should have remained a bear but singing? Don't see it. He's just too intense - or he was before he was mashed into a 'hero' mold.

I guess this melts down to series books.

You catch a glimpse of a hero or heroine who is different and edgy and down right mind blowing. You think about how *this* is the story you are waiting for.

Only, when the story shows up, there is this other character walking around pretending to be the hero/heroine you have been waiting for. Huh. They aren't dark or intense or anything. They are just like all the other heroes in the series and darn if they don't start to sound like them also.

Since we talked about the bad I can tell you the good.

Sam from Brockmann's series.

This guy must have been living with the author because I don't remember one thing he did that wasn't true to his character. Sam was a hero that doesn't come around that often. He was different from all the other heroes of Brockmann's.

I really have no interest in reading about similar heroes meeting their heroines. Sure, I have my guilty pleasures (Diana Palmer) but I always thought that really great authors could tell different stories with unique heroes and heroines.

Anyone else noticing this in their favourite series? Any characters you have been waiting for only to discover the story isn't really about the character you got to know in the previous books?

Okay, I'm brain dead now and praying I made a point that is understandable in there somewhere.


Kat O+ said...

With the BDB, it wasn't Butch I felt this with, but Zsadist. I thought that he was totally out of character in his book, especially the ending.

And if you think Cosmo was bad, you should try Jack Norton from Christine Feehan's GhostWalkers series. I think he was talking more than the heroine at one stage.

I think Nalini Singh mixes it up well most of the time with her Psy/changeling/human combinations.

Great post, this!

sula said...

I actually prefered the bad-ass BDB type of hero and wasn't a fan of Butch at all, so it didn't bother me much, lol. But I do see what you're saying. For me, Anne Stuart's heros are all the same guy with different names and slightly different talents. Still, cold killer with no emotions, mysteriously drawn to the Mary Sue heroine that he "ought" to kill but just can't... blah blah blah. Not that they're not hot and sexy, but I had to swear off of them after two or three books.

nath said...

I get what you are saying, Cindy :) Isn't it disappointing? You're drawn to a character because he's different and then, ends up being the same as all the previous ones. I think that the Immortals After Dark series suffer from the same problem. Especially, the vampires - Sebastien and Conrad :(

Speaking of heroes from the same mold (not necessarily from the same series though)... Jayne Ann Krentz'heroes are very similar from one another... a bit like what Sula said for Anne Stuart's heroes... but they work... and I think it's different when you're talking about heroes from stand-alone books and heroes from series. When it comes to series, you've read about the heroes already and have an idea...

Bookwormom said...

I agree with you Cindy. I swore off SB quite a while ago. JRW I stopped at Zsadist although I have the next few TBR. Only read Anne Stuart historicals, so it has been a while. Feehan's heroes seem to blend together across her series, but I read the Dark books for the overarching plot.

After a while some authors' h/hs all blend together. It's very sad really. The beauty of humanity is our diversity- I wish we could read some of that in romances.

Maybe the authors/pubs are afraid that if you don't follow the trends they won't sell enough (after all, one assumes it's art, but also livelihood)?

C2 said...

I seeeeee you!! LOL

I didn't have a problem with Cosmo's change - since we knew so little about him and hadn't seen much of him. Remember he cries when Kelly gets hurt in one of the earlier stories, though. I'm blanking. Rats.

Max...well, there were hints that he was different inside than he let on to people.

Sam really is the bestest, though, isn't he? Loves me some Sam!

I agree about Butch. Marissa is nothing but annoying, too. Blah.

CindyS said...

Kat O+ - I did get an early warning with Zsadist also but seeing Butch de-rail was painful. I have to say I did love Z's story but like you say, the ending was a bit much.

Love Singh although my fav cold psy male did have a 'wtf' moment for me.

Sula - I think expectations are a huge part of what works and doesn't. And I think any author can fall into a familiar pattern - Anne Stuart (I'm a fangirl) can run a rut also but I can't stop loving her. Maybe because I can't find men who are cold and dark who are able to remain so even when they fall in love.

Don't know if you watch Heroes or not but when Sylar fell in love - that's interesting. I thought killing her off was the easy way to go.

Nath - Okay, now I have to check - IAD - is that Cole? Cause I'm getting ready to bust back into her books. I think you can enjoy an author's work with the stand alones if you can leave space in between reading.

And yes, Krentz does have a 'hero' type and a heroine type but for me it's like mashed potatoes. Yummy comfort ;)

Bookwormom - Yes! A way to make a living also! So if it's not broke why fix it? Not to drag up dirt or anything but looking at Brockmann - an author who has really had unique characters - took a chance with her latest book. I think if the story hadn't been leaked she may have gone through unscathed. I think it's brave when an author tries something different.

I just don't like when they abandon romance :(

And then again, I wasn't in on this story arc so I wasn't too close. There was the author (sorry, can't remember her name) who killed off a major character in book 6 of her series. I hadn't tried her books and after talking to my friend who had read them all, I don't think I could cope. My friend was on vacation and was doing that 'only a few pages to go, I can keep reading and then sleep' only to discover a complete upset on the last page. She didn't sleep after wards!

C2 - that's where my bad memory gets me every time. I think it's whatever character strikes your fancy. I remember when I heard that some guy named Cosmo's book was next. I was all 'who the hell?' while other readers were excited. I think I'm that bad reader who if you don't show me the guy in more than a few scenes then I won't even know he's there ;)

And Sam. I love Sam. And the hero of her time travel romance - Charlie/Chuck/Charles - she rocked TT!

Thanks for playing guys!


Marianne McA said...

I'd say Hot Target is probably one of my v. favourite Brockmann's - but I agree, it'd have been a stronger book if Cosmo had had to choke the words out.
I think it's meant to show us how much the heroine means to the hero - that he'll be open with her than anyone else - like when Mike swears in his book (I'm not imagining that, am I?) but you're right, comes across as out of character, rather than meaningful.

I think Jules is a consistent character as well (and Robin is too - grows a lot, but stays in character) - have you got to their book yet?

Holly said...

I'm w/ Kat on Z. That was one brother who went from dark and tortured to just a joke. Blech.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips is another example of bleeding heroes. All of them are carbon copies of each other. And yet I still love them.

I don't read SB or JRW anymore for just this reason (and b/c SB writes whiny crybaby, pukey heroes and heroines with strong cases of penis envy, but that's a post for another day...)

Kat O+ said...

Holly, have you read All Through The Night? If I hadn't read a couple of books before that one, I'd never have managed to get past all the vomit in the beginning.

Holly said...

Which one is ATTN? Gone Too Far was the worst offender for me. Cripes, could Sam BE anymore of a puke-face wussy? And don't get me started on Alyssa.

(C2 should probably look away now..heh).

Kat O+ said...

ATTN is the novella featuring Jules and Robin. And there was actual vomiting.

Holly said...

There was actual vomiting in GTF also. Lots of it, actually. And crying. Good Lord the crying. I wanted to stab my eyes out.

CindyS said...

The more Holly and Kat talk about the vomiting in the books the more I want to read them! ;)

Marianne McA - I haven't read Jules' story yet, I was waiting for that story arc to finish before I got in too deep. I loved Cosmo's book but not for Cosmo - for Jules. And I didn't know if Robin would be his hero although I wanted him to be. Now I know and I look forward to reading their story.

And if Jane had had to poke Cosmo every once in a while and say 'hey, I'm here, I'm not going anywhere so talk' I would have been able to cope.