The Warrior-Hero in Romance

Anyone who browses (erotic) romance titles regularly knows that military romance is a whole subgenre unto itself. You might even be a major fan of it. Along with billionaires and bikers, the soldier/warrior is a permanent fixture in romance novels. In honor of July 4th, let’s spend some time considering the warrior in romance.

I confess that I haven’t read many (okay, any) contemporary military romances, but that’s only because my personal taste runs to the old fashioned. Even though I love writing contemporary, I mostly read historical romances (a la Jo Beverly and Amanda Quick). But even in historical romances the warrior-hero is a common trope, and I love him as much as the next romance reader.

So why do we love the soldier-hero? So many reasons.

Sure, there is, of course, the ‘man in uniform’ obsession some women have. Something about the uniform itself is a mental and/or physical turn on. I think for most though, it’s less about the uniform and more about what that uniform represents.

The modern soldier is the natural descendent of the knight in shining armor. He follows a moral code of ethics. He is loyal, honorable, a defender of the weak. Except of course when he is kicking serious ass, and then he is a paragon of physical and mental power. The soldier is, well, heroic. He makes us feel safe and protected. You know he can fight off the bad guys or rescue you from the villain. He’ll even get your cat out of the tree, because he’s that guy. The one who will always win.

But it isn’t just his heroism that makes the soldier such an evergreen. He is also, often, someone who needs to be saved by the heroine. He is burdened by the things he’s seen and done, scarred emotionally and physically. He may show a cold, even ruthless face to the world, but inside he’s a battered man who can only be healed by a woman’s love and understanding. He will save you, but he needs to be saved too.

Another aspect to the soldier-hero that makes him such an exceptional main character is that he is a taboo breaker, but a legitimized one. A soldiers does the one, most-terrible thing that a human being can do: he kills. Even in the hyper-violent context of popular culture, real killers still fascinate us, as all real taboo-breakers fascinate us. It’s a creepy fascination, so we love the soldier because he only kills when he must. We allow ourselves to believe that the killing he does is always justified, legitimate, necessary, and therefore okay. And if the killing he does is okay, then our fascination with it is some how less creepy. More like admiration than morbid curiosity.

And finally, the soldier-hero appeals on a primal, evolutionary level because he is a survivor. We know he’s strong/fast/clever because he wasn’t killed in the battle. If you get it on with him, your babies are going to be survivors too. Your ovaries love the soldier-hero as much as you do, because there’s cold, hard evidence that he’s packing some prime DNA.

If you love the warrior-hero and you think I’ve missed something, tell us about it in the comments below. Until next time, happy reading!

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