Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Why Do Fools Fall in Love?

I’ll admit that I’m fickle when it comes to heroes. Way back in the 70’s it didn’t take me long to get over Shaun Cassidy as Joe in the Hardy Boys Mysteries and fall for Parker Stevenson as Frank. I gave up on Erik Estrada’s Frank Poncherello in CHiPs pretty darn fast and developed a crush on his blond, blue-eyed partner Jon, played by Larry Wilcox. {What ever happened to him, I wonder?} Then along came Mark Harmon in 240-Robert and I was hooked. {Anyone watching him in NCIS?}

Aside from showing my age and how incredibly nerdy I probably was back then, this confession serves to show that romantic heroes come and go. We get over them and we move on.
Case in point – yes, I’m back to talking about Dr. Who. Remember back in June when I wondered how the Tenth incarnation of the doctor would work out, considering his role as the albeit reluctant romantic hero to Rose Tyler? I predicted it would take Rose a while to warm up to this new ‘shell’ that had grown around the man she’d fallen in love with.

I was wrong. After three episodes of Series 2, it’s clear to see that Rose has fallen head over heels and so have I. The new Doctor is a little shorter, probably a little less meaty than the last one, but egads, he’s just adorable. He possesses a joie de vivre that’s contagious, a ready and winning smile and an underlying fierceness that makes him the perfect Gamma hero.

Why, I wonder, is it so easy for me [and Rose] to move on? Well, for Rose I guess it’s because he’s just a new face on the same man. He knows her, he obviously cares deeply for her, and she absolutely, positively can’t tear herself away from the heart stopping life of adventure he offers. For me, it’s because I’m a hopeless romantic [I know, I promised not to use that term, but in this case, I guess I truly am hopeless]. I like love. I love love in fact. I have to or I wouldn’t write about it all the time. If I can’t root for Rose and Dr. No. 9, then I’ll root for Rose and Dr. No. 10. No big deal.

I wonder, would romance readers accept such a change so readily? How would you react to a book – or more accurately – a series of books in which the heroine changed heroes – lost one man and fell in love with another over the course of time? Would it be a turn off, or a new type of adventure? It’s done all the time on television, but would it work in romance novel? It is only true romance if the heroine falls in love only once [I’m not talking about ménages here, btw]? Or can you simply love love enough to root for the heroine, no matter who she sets her sights on?


sharp2799 said...

First, oh yeah, I definitely watch NCIS! And Dr. Who as well. Still miss no. 9 and his edgier feel, but like no. 10 as well.

Second, well, no, I'd have problems if a heroine in a series (or even in the same book) fell in love with the hero, we meet both on the page and fall with them, and then she finds someone else, no matter how legitimate the reason. Part of this may be the programmed response/expectation in the genre of romance fiction. Another part is...change. On the page or on the tv screen, there's time for the characters. We often are told that X number of months, years, whatever have gone by. But to the reader, it was just a page ago, an episode ago, and that's too soon to switch.

Jennifer Elbaum said...

Wow, this is a tricky question! Here's why the switch from Dr. Who #9 to Dr. Who #10 worked for me: I had MONTHS to mourn #9. I always thought that the Tom Baker version of Dr. Who was my favorite and I was resistant to #9 but he grew on me and I grew to love him and I was royally pissed when he, for all intents and purposes, died. But I had months to get over it. I was prepared to hate number 10 but dammit, he's grown on me too!

So, in terms of a book, I think that the hero would have to die in order for me to fall for the second guy along with her. Does that make any sense. If not I'll try to get the TARDIS to translate...

MK Mancos/Kathleen Scott said...

With Dr. Who it's kind of an odd situation. It is still the Dr. and he does have all the other one's he's really the same guy. Just different packaging. I think it will work in a book under a similar situation. I agree if the hero dies then it is acceptable for the heroine to fall in love again. There would have to be a reasonable mourning time though. Even if it's only a tag line where we know it's a year or so.


Skylar Masey said...

I think a couple heroes would be okay, but not say a dozen. I mean there has to be a reason "he" is the one, and then for some reason things don't work out. But the cause would have to be something major--not something like a new flavor per month.

I think this is especially true for urban fantasy like Kim Harrison & Laurell K. Hamilton because the series is somewhat focused on the life/lifestyle of the heroine.

I have a book (ALL I EVER WANTED) where the heroine and her girlfriends are talking about if it's possible to have more than one "one". In the book the heroine is a widow, but wants her husband back. When she makes the wish hse is introduced to a man who looks like her husband, but is a magical being from another realm. And she has to change her ideas about only having one "one" for her lifetime.