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.

Mr. Darcy.

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:

after the silenceDoes following her passion mean losing her way? 

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?

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Comments ( 26 )
  1. Hosty Penn
    March 24, 2015 at 9:56 am
    Reply

    I have lots of favorite heroes from sweet romances. The ones who make you laugh, who are ‘salt of the Earth there for you’ guys, the ones who have hidden depths and do what’s right for their families and communities. And authors are pretty good at conveying how hot these guys are. 🙂

  2. Melinda Curtis
    March 24, 2015 at 11:09 am
    Reply

    You had me at Mr. Darcy.

    Great perspective that you don’t need to mention body parts to generate some heat!

  3. Marcie R
    March 24, 2015 at 11:42 am
    Reply

    One of my favorite scenes is when Tom Hanks’ character in You’ve Got Mail visits Meg Ryan when she is sick (after he puts her out of business). When she crawls into bed and he sits on the edge and it’s that moment when you see the attraction between the two of them.

  4. Amy
    March 24, 2015 at 11:51 am
    Reply

    As much as I like steamy scenes, I enjoy reading sweet romances every so often as well. I love heroes who are honorable and supportive, and don’t get overly jealous/possessive!

  5. Catherine Lanigan
    March 24, 2015 at 11:57 am
    Reply

    I LOVED this. You are so right, Rula, Mr. Darcy was a hot contemporary guy in his time and who wouldn’t want an afternoon walk with him??? I’m a Heartwarming junkie through and through–not just because I write them, but because I love ’em to pieces. I just read a couple novels–truly not from our line and was so bored. It was sad. Great writing, every ONE!!!

  6. Patricia Bradley
    March 24, 2015 at 12:10 pm
    Reply

    I much prefer the clean romances. Nothing is hotter to me than an honorable man or woman who show restraint. A favorite movie is Return to Me. I loved it when the hero says, “I ache for Grace.”

  7. Kate James
    March 24, 2015 at 12:12 pm
    Reply

    Great post, Rula, and well said, regarding Heartwarming!

  8. Karen Rock
    March 24, 2015 at 12:23 pm
    Reply

    Terrific post, Rula! Heartwarming heroes are the guys next door and every other wonderful compliment you gave them 🙂 They aren’t caricatures, but real people and yes- hot!

  9. Anna J Stewart
    March 24, 2015 at 12:32 pm
    Reply

    Well, Mr. Darcy definitely says it all. Now we have the perfect response when people ask about the line! Wonderful post, Rula. You did us proud!! And our heroes can definitely be hot! 🙂

  10. Tara Taylor Quinn
    March 24, 2015 at 12:49 pm
    Reply

    Rula,

    Yes!!! You said it perfectly. Hot isn’t about the body parts. It’s the emotion, the action before bed that’s erotic. Having just finished writing my first and second Heartwarmings, I totally get and agree with what you’re saying here. I think of things like, “You had me at hello.” And Tom Cruise in the old classic Top Gun. He sat at a bar and looked at Kelly McGuillus and that was HOT. And it’s a kind of heat that is still burning after the body parts are done.

  11. Roz Denny Fox
    March 24, 2015 at 12:59 pm
    Reply

    Rula, great post. I like that there are books to suit everyone’s taste. The heroes and heroines in sweet romances are the same people that populate other stories. We just don’t open the bedroom door. Cops, military heroes, cowboys, they don’t change.

  12. Cynthia Reese
    March 24, 2015 at 1:00 pm
    Reply

    Oh, yeah! All you have to think about is that sizzle that zinged between you and your own real-life hero when you first met … Heartwarming, to my mind, is how lasting romance happens in real life. And I’ve not read a Heartwarming yet that didn’t capture the chemistry between the hero and heroine.

  13. Carol Ross
    March 24, 2015 at 1:05 pm
    Reply

    Rula, yes! You said it. I like to have a little left for my imagination! And Heartwarming heroes set the tone for that. Great post!

  14. Tara Randel
    March 24, 2015 at 1:17 pm
    Reply

    Great post, Rula. You really captured the essence of Heartwarming books.

  15. Rula Sinara
    March 24, 2015 at 1:49 pm
    Reply

    I’m loving all the comments! I too can’t resist an honorable and supportive guy. And I love how Tara said, ‘…it’s the kind of heat that’s still burning after the body parts are done.’ 🙂

    I think not seeing the hero in the bedroom (so to speak), actually makes his bedroom eyes stand out more…if that makes sense lol. There’s something undeniably hot and swoon-worthy in the anticipation and tension that builds around seeing that he’s going to be the heroine’s perfect, adoring, supportive and reliable forever guy.

  16. Beth Carpenter
    March 24, 2015 at 2:48 pm
    Reply

    Great post. Yes, these guys are hot, and leaving a little something to the imagination only makes them hotter. Love the heartwarming line.

  17. Liz Flaherty
    March 24, 2015 at 3:17 pm
    Reply

    Oh, Rula, I love this post. And like Hosty said, I love’em when they make you laugh!

  18. Muriel Jensen
    March 24, 2015 at 5:54 pm
    Reply

    Laughter, comfort and a hand to hold on to. That’s hot to me.

  19. Elephant's Child
    March 24, 2015 at 6:15 pm
    Reply

    A sense of humour, integrity and empathy are hotter than any of the more fleshy bits in my head and heart.

  20. Pamela Tracy
    March 24, 2015 at 7:59 pm
    Reply

    I always say we Heartwarming authors write Snap and Crackle, just no Pop!

    Great post, Rula

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