For the most part, the era of flowery romances and purple prose with mindless heroines is over. No matter the sub-genre, our heroes must live up to certain standards these days or lose their heroines to stronger men who exhibit characteristics indicative of true love.
We all recognize these indicators when we encounter them – the same qualities we look for in a compelling romance with characters we can’t help but love. Contrary to the opinion of many, these qualities are not relegated to the pages of a romance novel, nor are they simply dreams or fantasies. The same characteristics evident in our favorite romance novels should be major factors in real life, and whether we read romance or not, we all want and need to be loved by someone.
Apart from the obvious – that is, saying “I love you,” what are the unmistakable signs that he loves you? Let’s face it – any con man can put his lips together and utter those three words, and some men believe any and every woman becomes putty in his hands when he utters them, but although I wasn’t born in Missouri, I am a “show me” kind of girl. Words without actions mean absolutely nothing to me.
Every time a new hero presents himself to me and I flesh him out into a real character, I immediately focus on his actions. So, that said, let’s talk about some of those qualities. I’ll start with the letter “A,” and work my way through as inspiration strikes: acceptance, adoration, and appreciation are our words for today. Since stories are the best examples, true or fictional, I’ll use those as examples.
In “Dark Sentinels Book One: Sable,” Sable dislikes Akila’s tendency to resort to profanity when angry, yet he learns to accept it as part of who she is because he adores her and believes her big heart (appreciation) outweighs the rather unattractive behavior.
Joban, my hero in “Dai’s Dark Valentine,” is even more obvious in his acceptance of Daitre’s habit of leaving her clothes around for him to pick up. He shows adoration in his willingness to look after her every need. Despite her shortcomings, he appreciates her sweetness and intelligence.
We all have shortcomings and strengths, as do well-rounded characters, but no one needs another person in her/his life dwelling on these shortcomings while ignoring strengths. Love is about building up – not tearing down the person we love. When I’m accepted for who I am, including shortcomings, I’m much more inclined to overcome them. When I’m adored, it’s much easier to adore in return, and when my qualities are appreciated, I act on them and use them more readily.
If only we would expect and require these signs of love in our real-life relationships more diligently; we’d save ourselves so much time and trouble. What about you? Tell me your story. Tell me about some of the times you’ve felt accepted, adored, and appreciated.