The Hot in Heartwarming Heroes
by Rula Sinara, author of After the Silence (Harlequin Heartwarming)
Yes, I’m talking about Harlequin Heartwarming, a line known for its clean, sweet, wholesome—whichever term you prefer—contemporary romances. I bet you’re glancing back at my title and wondering if I’m crazy. Hot heroes in a sweet romance? Is that even allowed?
Can sweet and heat go together?
As one who couldn’t stop eating the habanero-cashew brittle her friend sent last Christmas, let me assure you…sweet and heat are incredible together, and the flavor lingers like a love story that finds a spot on your keeper shelf. Still doubting that sex-free, PG-13 rated romance can star heroes who make your cheeks flush, pulse race and heart ache for them? Hot heroes in sweet romance. I have two words for you.
Admit it. You swooned just by reading his name, didn’t you? Sure, Pride and Prejudice is a historical romance and Harlequin Heartwarming is contemporary (though a line of Heartwarming Historicals is on my dream list ;), but it wasn’t a historical when Jane Austen wrote it! And I’d categorize it as a clean read.
And what about all the other beta heroes who have stolen our hearts with their quiet, reserved, honorable, protective, wounded, flawed and sometimes awkward charm? Think Beauty and the Beta—I mean Beast—or Shrek—a character who proved there are no boundaries to love and who redefined the image of both “beauty” and “hero.” Think of our favorite Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan movies, like Sleepless in Seattle or You’ve Got Mail or oh, so hot hero Matt Damon in a movie like We Bought a Zoo. Could you blame Scarlett Johansson’s character for falling for him? And I absolutely loved it when Eva, in Enough Said, said that Albert (think Shrek without the green skin) was sexy to her. He had the heart of a hero.
Don’t let the word “sweet” or the “warm” in Heartwarming fool you. These are emotionally complex stories and the heroes (and heroines) in each one are conflicted, flawed and deeply layered with molten cores and hearts of gold. Maybe we don’t get to witness what they’re capable of in the bedroom, but do we really need that proof to know they’re hot? These guys are protective, moral, honorable, respect women, love children and animals, will sacrifice their own needs for the sake of a loved one, want the heroine to achieve her dreams and make the heroine feel safe and adored (eventually). They’re firefighters, farmers, photographers, doctors, marines and more. Heartwarming heroes are relatable and tangible—no, I don’t mean actual touching…keeping it clean here—I mean they’re the guy next door. A guy you could actually meet in real life. They’re possible. They’re the Darcys of the modern world. The merging of habanero and caramelized sugar. If you ask me, all of the above is what I call hot.
So go ahead and fan your face. The sweet heat of a Harlequin Heartwarming hero will have your heart tied up in knots and wanting forever after.
What qualities do you find irresistible in a hero? Do you have a favorite “hot” hero from a clean or sweet romance?
About After the Silence:
Marine Ben Corallis is an expert at facing death, but nothing comes close to the terror that grounds him when his wife is killed in a car accident the day he returns from duty. He’s left to raise an infant, a toddler and a ten-year-old girl who hasn’t uttered a word since her mother’s death.
It’s hard not to care for the widowed marine with three young children. Yet he’s still grieving, too burdened with guilt to fall in love again. And Hope Alwanga’s future as a doctor awaits her on the other side of the world, in Nairobi. If two such opposites can’t agree on a common country, how can they ever create a safe place to call home?