Putting the A in A-Hole

I’ve been writing more of my dirty virgin hero and pondering the mysteries of what makes a hero an a-hole for some readers and yet not for others. It’s an interesting question. I’ve read books where the readers hated the hero and I haven’t really been able to understand why because he seems fine to me. And yet I’ve also read others where I think the hero is a douche and yet readers rave about his dreaminess (not looking at anyone in particular FSOG).

I guess I’m pondering this more as I’m doing final edits for Finn and knowing that after these are done, he’ll be going out to reviewers and OTHER PEOPLE will be reading my book!! People who might think he’s a total douche and don’t get why he should be with my heroine.

As well as being totally freaked out by this, I’m also kind of sanguine because hey, not everyone is going to like your books or your characters. But that being said, I’m interested to know what pushes people’s buttons when it comes to a hero.

Myself, I’m very forgiving of heroes.  If the motivation is there, he can get away with anything basically and I hate it when writers water their heroes down in the name of political correctness or because they’re trying to make him overly sympathetic. If he’s angry, I want to be shown his anger and if he’s angry with the heroine then so be it. Because why should heroines be the only ones who are allowed to get angry? Male anger is just as valid as female anger. Emotions like that, the ‘flawed’ emotions, also make them more real. Because I don’t want to read a book about perfect people. Perfect people are boring. Political correctness is boring. Too sympathetic is boring.

I read a Presents a week or so ago and some of the reviews on the M&B site said that the hero was awful and some said the hero was awesome. So I bought the book to see what it was about the hero that polarised people, and well, now having read it, I can see why. He was wonderfully, gloriously arrogant and selfish and some of the things he said made me laugh because they were SO outrageous. I thought he was adorable because he’d totally embraced his selfishness and was out and proud about it. I loved it from a writer’s perspective because the author did not pull back on him and I loved it from a reader’s perspective because I could see how completely he was deluding himself.. You know he’s going to fall HARD. In fact, for me, the more arrogant and jerky the hero, the more I love it simply because of that payoff.

And I suppose that’s the rub for me. If there is no payoff, if he doesn’t fall hard, if he doesn’t grovel, then that’s where he crosses my line into douche-land.

So, I guess that’s what I’d like to know – what puts the a in a-hole for you when it comes to heroes?