I was recently reading some of the reviews for Opening Act (breaking Rule No. 1 of Authordom, I know) when I stumbled across someone calling the hero a “clueless idiot.” I wasn’t mad. I really couldn’t be mad. In fact, I cracked up laughing! You know why? Because he is a clueless idiot. Alpha heroes who are completely confident of their abilities to woo and win fair ladies are all well and good, but sometimes you’ve just got to write a beta hero…and, not only that, but a a doofus-y, has-no-idea-what’s-in-front-of-him beta hero. Adam Harper, 25-year-old blue-collar bartender and bass player certainly fits that bill.
I know what you’re wondering: Why would anyone knowingly write a guy who doesn’t know his cute butt from a hole in the ground? Honestly, it’s because he felt authentic to me. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know a lot of asshat billionaires who think they’re God’s gift to women. I don’t know a lot of smooth operators who dickishly say, “I want you” and have girls falling at their feet for it.
What I do know are dudes who are cute and sexy and nice and say the wrong thing. Boys who don’t realize they’re hurting your feelings. Men who wouldn’t realize you liked them “that way” until you paraded around naked in front of them. And, for this story, that’s what I wanted to write about: that gloriously infuriating realistic guy you could meet at your local bar. The guy you’ve known since high school who still doesn’t realize you grew up. A guy that needs to be told, “I want you” for it to dawn on him that he’s allowed to want you, too. We’ve all met that guy, right?
Every ounce of my heroine Saroj’s frustration stems from real reactions I’ve had to that guy. She just actually gets to vent her frustration…and reap the benefits! Lucky gal.
And there are plenty of stories I love that feature men who thrive when women take the lead. Be it Archimedes in Heart of Steel, by Meljean Brook, or The Hunger Games’ Peeta or Tom from Shelley Ann Clark's recent debut Have Mercy, there’s just something about guys who aren't put off by or afraid of a powerful, passionate woman. There's a sense of, "Oh, these women don't have to compromise what they want to make their love interest feel manly. He likes her exactly how she is." Not that Adam is quite up there with Peeta or Achimedes. But that's okay...
After all, clueless idiots need love, too.