Heroes - charismatic, caring, compelling. A great hero 'makes' a romance. There are bold heroes, quiet heroes, wounded heroes, heroes who become heroic, charming heroes, clever heroes... the list goes on.
To show what I mean, here is an action scene from my latest Kensington medieval, A Knight's Captive. It's mentioned by Kathe Robin of Romantic Times in her 4 Star review of my work. In it, the hero Marc acts as a hero should and rescues the heroine, Sunniva. (I love having my hero and heroine rescue each other!)
"Rot in hell and back!" Marc bawled, bringing his sword round in a close, lethal arc that raised sparks on the bastard's belt buckle and rent a bloody welt across his chest. "No sanctuary here - you are dead!"
He stamped on the jerking creature and raised his sword, aiming for the heart, when a low moan beside him had him tumbling to his knees to guard her. At the same instant, her two attackers crawled away, stumbling through the door and out.
Marc let them go. Dropping his sword, he gathered Sunniva into his arms, whispering over and over in Breton, "You are alive. Safe. Safe, my angel. Safe."
He had been so afraid she was harmed that having her trembling but whole beneath his hands was overwhelming. Tears stormed into his eyes, swiftly followed by rage.
Where was her father? Her brothers? Where were the useless escorts, meant to protect?
"Hush, hush," he crooned, rocking her back and forth as he struggled to keep his own grief and anger in check.
He dared not look at her too closely while he had tears in his eyes and looked so unmanned, but the warrior's sense in him told him she was not fatally hurt in the flesh. He could smell no blood or sickness on her and though she shook, she did not grimace or writhe in pain.
The injury to herself, however: her integrity, trust, humor, spirit - Marc furiously blinked away the moisture in his eyes as he prayed that Sunniva would soon recover and forget.
"King Christ, ruler of heaven, let her not be afflicted by night terrors, as my poor Isabella is. Let her know peace."
He should be raising the alarm, since none of the other fools of the pilgrim party seemed to have realized yet that anything was amiss. He should be returning to his own three. In a breath, his memory went back to the fire that had carried off his elder brother Roland and his wife: on that dreadful night he had cradled his niece Alde in his arms, even as he was now clutching Sunniva; he remembered how his and Alde's tears had mingled as they clung to each other.
Sunniva did not cling. She was still too stunned to do anything save take great gasping breaths and shiver. There was a dark, welling bruise on the left side of her cheek and her eye was puckering, threatening to close altogether. Tears had streamed down her face; he saw them glistening near her nose and quivering lips. Such a red, soft mouth -
"Do you hurt anywhere else?" he asked softly, relieved when she shook her head. Longing to wipe away her tears, he held her close.
A KNIGHT'S CAPTIVE. The perfect prison is in his arms...
In the year 1066, England struggles against Norman invaders, and two strangers cross paths on a pilgrimage fraught with peril - only to discover a love worth any danger....
Battle-weary Marc de Sens has never encountered a woman like Sunniva of Wereford: beautiful, brilliant, and miles above the curs who call themselves her kin. Alas, she is promised to another and Marc's obligation is to his three orphaned nieces. But when Sunniva's circumstances suddenly change, Marc learns the truth about her "betrothal"...
A rough-hewn knight so gentle with children intrigues Sunniva, who never knew a kind word or caring touch from any man until Marc rescued her from the grimmest of fates. When her loutish father and brothers are killed, Sunniva is finally free, but her troubles are far from over. Although Marc has appointed himself her protector, he has a dark secret - as well as an uncanny ability to disarm her completely...
Best wishes, Lindsay.