Romance novels are the perfect fantasy, but what about reality? Rachel Dove talks about her real life hero, her husband, and the things he does that a romance hero would NEVER do.
As a romance writer, I love writing male characters. In fact, I love writing about them more than creating my female characters, which is probably a little bizarre. The truth is, today's modern times are more 'grafting' and 'banging' on Love Island than they are being suave like Cary Grant, or adorably British and handsome like Colin Firth. Chat up lines nowadays are a bit obscene compared to the old trusty sayings, but do we want this in our romance novels?
If Mark Darcy had sidled up to dear Bridget and said the heart stopping words "Fancy a shag darling?" would we all have swooned as we did? I think not. Mr Darcy of Austen times would have fainted himself, if that was the norm.
The fact is, I am married to a human male, who farts and scratches his man parts in front of the television. (World Cup season, I and many of my female counterparts curse you!) He never puts the
bins out, or picks up the piles of clothes he passes on the stairs, and I regularly use our anniversary as a password just to test his knowledge and thoroughly annoy him.
"Babe, what's the password?" *scratches head, and balls*
"Our anniversary darling!" *smiling sweetly, hiding behind a paperback*
Cue awkward stuttering, uncomfortable muttering and later, colourful swear words as he tries, and fails, to remember. Shame the football is on. Not. Next time, check the dang calendar.
But Dear Reader, I married him.
Why? Because he's adorable, and sexy, and romantic. He makes me laugh, and I couldn't imagine being with anyone else. It's easy to forget that, when kids want feeding, the gas bill needs paying, and you are shattered from working all day. The dog throws up on your new rug, and a hot bubble bath and glass of wine are your date for the evening, along with the latest fiction novel about falling in love. Something to make us hot under the flannelette nightie collar.
Remember that book we read as kids, with its words of wisdom? No, not Dr Seuss. Everybody Poops. Wise words, and very true. Even the Queen sits on the porcelain throne.
We are all human, but the fact is, we don't want that in our novels. Christian Grey would NEVER hold our face under the covers and ask 'Can you smell my lunch?''. He is far too busy being sexy and perfect and making our legs wobble and our buttock cheeks tremble.
In romance novels our heroes are masculine, vulnerable, protective, damaged, as well as neat, tidy, polite, and thoughtful. They stand outside our window with a boom box above our heads, they spend their twilight years reminding us how much we love them, who we are to each other. The love rats are less perfect, but they would probably still put the rubbish out, if only to hide their lipstick kissed shirt collars amongst the trash.
We want the romance, the love. The frisson of first touch, first taste. We want to feel the heat from the candles on the table, their sweet minty breath on our cheek as they lean in with their sexy, on-trend, designer stubble. We don't have a chapter where the heroine tells the man to get a shave and pick the cereal crumbs out of their chest hair.
'You look like Mr Twit, I'm not going out in public with you looking like that!'
'Fine. You seen my razor?'
*cue screaming into pillow*
In today's modern dating world, where a man is considered a 'melt' when he shows real feelings, and shunned for having any body hair above the knee, give me a Mark Darcy any day. I want to fall in love, to dive into the pages and be that girl who is rescued by the sexy fireman, or taken over the desk by Mr Sexy Pants CFO. Romantic fiction is often shunned for being frothy, or predictable, or sugary sweet. I say, bring it on! Life is about finding happiness, and love, and feeling like we are alive in the short time we are here. Love makes the world go around, as they say, and I grew up reading about the kind of man I wanted to marry, about the kickass independent woman I wanted to be, and about the type of sons I would be proud of, once they get out there and make their marks on the world. I want to raise melts, not love rats. I want to raise the boys who ruin a girl's lipstick, and not her mascara. A Mark Darcy over a Daniel Cleaver. (although, ding dong!)
So when the world cup is in full flow this summer, I shall be in my garden, falling in love with a new book boyfriend, or lying in bed, ignoring the snores from the man I love and embarking on an adventure.
If a romance book could learn to put the bins out, I think real men might start to worry.
Rachel's latest The Wedding Shop on Wexley Street, is out now. You can learn more about Rachel by following her on Twitter and Facebook.
What does your significant other do that a romance hero never would? Should there be more reality in romance novels? Let us know here or on social media using #OhNoHeDidnt