My Dream Date – Fiction vs. Reality
Every year as Valentine’s Day approaches, my thoughts turn to romance. Well, to be honest, they turn to chocolate then to romance.
As a single woman, and card-carrying member of the AARP, what are my expectations for the love interest in my life? I used to go for the tall, dark, silent type but lately that hasn’t worked out so well.
Am I still searching for a fellow who possesses a muscled physique, broad shoulders, slim waist, and a wicked grin? Or will I be satisfied if those perfect specimens of male hunkiness exist only between the pages of my favorite novels?
Women from eleven to eighty have devoured the books in the Twilight series; panting with desire over the youthful, brooding Edward Cullen or the delicious Jacob Black. Teenagers, moms and grandmothers flocked to the theater to view these romantic icons who are not only decades younger, but of the vampire or werewolf persuasion. So what do women really want?
I asked a male friend of mine to read an early version of DYING FOR A DATE, the first book in my romantic mystery series. He questioned why the detective investigating the murders had to be tall, dark and handsome? I pondered his comment and decided to change this character, a potential love interest, to a regular guy. I re-wrote him as a plain Joe, smart and funny, but not the sort of character that would make me rummage through my dresser in search of my black silk nightie.
When I shared the revised version with my critique group, their unanimous comment was, “what happened to Detective Hunk? The guy with the Dairy Queen hot fudge sundae brown eyes. We want him back!”
When it comes to our own love interest – do we care if he’s chubby, bald, and snores like a chain saw on steroids? No! We love him and he’s the guy we want to wake up with every morning. But we want to lust after the men we meet between the pages of our paperbacks!
In my own search for a perfect match, my top five items on my wish list have nothing to do with looks. I want someone who is witty, intelligent, kind, caring and energetic. A full head of hair is a plus, but these days it’s totally optional. A few extra pounds on his frame? I can help him work them off. Need a four-way bypass before our coffee date? Not a problem. Call me after they staple you back together.
But just because I’m practical in life, doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the hot and cold of a romantic flirtation. It’s amazing how titillating a love scene an author can craft, using a washing machine and her imagination!
I’d love to know your thoughts. Who are you looking for in fiction and real life? Leave a comment by midnight on Valentine’s Day, and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a box of See’s Truffles or a gift certificate worth $20 to the candy store of your choice.
Good question! I like regular characters, ones I can relate to. They don’t have to be super human, beautiful, or handsome, just believable. A good story always draws me more than anything else.
The contest sounds wonderful. I’ll pass though, since I won something here not long ago. Have a great week! 🙂
Hi Karen. Thanks for commenting. I agree. I like to read about characters that I would like to hang out with myself. Characters you think about long after you put the book down.
In fiction I am most attracted to the personality. I look for intelligence, a great sense of humor, wisdom, heart, and someone that I can meet myself in everyday life. In lfe, I met my husband 13 years ago on Valentines Day on Yahoo Personals. He has the same qualities as what I look for in fiction. And he is taller than me and has a beautiful smile! I do like the hunk in your books! Hugs to you my dear! Have a wonderful VD filled with loads of chocolate and lots of love! – B
Barb, that is such a romantic tale – meeting on Valentine’s Day through an on-line matchup. And he’s so lucky to have you! I am rather fond of Detective Hunk in my books as well. I can’t wait to see what happens to him and Laurel in DYING FOR A DAIQUIRI. So far my characters are writing this book!
Hmmm, in fiction, the hunks are nice, but they can’t be so out of this world that you can’t even believe the fantasy you create in your mind with that guy. An ordinary nice-looking guy, who treats a woman the way she wants to be treated–and he MUST MUST MUST be intelligent!:)
In real life, I have him, in all our imperfections, he’s perfect for me:) He knows I’m the only coffee drinker, but a whole pot is wasted–so he gets me a Keurig. He knows I love to read, so he gets me books. It works.
May you have all the chocolate and romance you want on Valentine’s Day, and beyond.:)
Hi Margaret. It sounds like you have the perfect match – a man who knows what you want and how to make you happy. It’s the little thoughtful every day things that keep that long term romance burning bright. Happy Valentine’s to you both!
Real life is easy–my husband. It really was love at first sight and hasn’t changed over the years–just gotten better.
Now for a fictional hot guy, I have two candidates: police detective Mike Gardner in the Kim Reynolds mystery series and doctor Daniel Reiner in my latest romantic suspense novel DEATH LEGACY.
HI Jacquie. I love YOUR love story about your husband. It gives us all hope. And I agree. I would hang out with Detective Mike Gardner any time he wants to jump out of one of your books and into my home!
When I was 15 and 16, I had my first “crushes” and they were much older than me. D.A. was a George Clooney type with that grin and whisper of mischief. J.S. was a Greek God – a shock of blond hair, a body hardened from scuba diving and sports. I have pictures of the two of us together in jungle garb, posing for pictures in a home decorated from African Safari hunting expeditions. I was 18 at the time; J.S. was in his late twenties or early thirties. I think those early experiences shaped my chemistry such that athletic men with a hint of mischief appeal to me for novel characters and for those to whom I am attracted. I may settle for a kind and generous man with a good smile and gentle disposition, but my sparks are kindled by the man of raw, sensual excitement. Even my aging characters are fit beyond their age expectations. http://www.dkchristi.com author of Ghost Orchid and more…
Hi DK. I really appreciate this comment. I would imagine that many of the romantic leads in our books resemble those early crushes or romantic encounters of ours. And as far as I’m concerned, sparks can fly at any age. And not just on the pages of a book!
In real life, I live with a delightful man with a great sense of humor who shares my love for travel and eating adventures.
Back when I was available, my friends always laughed when I fell for the same body type, tall and slim, time and again. And yes, predictably, that fits my dear husband, although neither of us is as slim as we were thirty years ago!
In fiction, I DO want to idealize my guys a bit, but I’d like to be given the broad outline that I can fill in with my dream guy’s features. Wit outweighs muscle for me, but muscle can’t hurt!
You’re a lucky gal and I absolutely agree. Wit triumphs looks every time.
A good laugh on a gloomy day, thanks, Cindy! I like my men to be androgenous, above all. As an AARP person myself, I like gray, even white (I just colored part of my hair purple–truly–a protest). I do like lean, if possible, but my own man has a bit of embonpoint, so that’s okay. Above all, I like a man who talks to me and listens. Mine is pretty good at that, altho he’s an engineer.
You’re so funny. I love the way you mentioned your fellow talks and listens to you – despite being an engineer. And these days, it’s those silver foxes that draw my eye:-)
When it comes to fiction, either in books or on TV, I prefer to escape into a make believe world where the guy is always good looking and the gal is beautiful. That’s fiction, but real life is quite different, since I”m not exactly young anymore and neither is my DH! lol.
Hi Morgan. Books and TV provide the perfect fantasy for us to escape into. And we may not look the same on the outside, but I don’t think any of us feels any older on the inside.
I just wish my hips felt as young as I do!
I have had both the hunk and the avarage Joe. Ill take average Joe any day of the week. I was a single mom for 11 years waiting for perfect fit. My list of wants… simple. Accept that my kids are my world and love them like I do. A great since of humour because life, especially mine, is chocked full of craziness. He also had to have a roll with the punches attitude since life with me and kids changes daily. Any man that will take on a very independent 14 year old daughter, an autistic 12 year old boy and there imperfect mom is a rare commodity and often I wondered if that person was just a fantasy in my head that would never become a reality.So glad God provided the real deal for us 8 1/2 years ago. Never take less than you need and deserve. Your fantasy can absolutely be a reality.
HI Sarah. Thank you for your encouraging words to me and others. I’ve been in your situation and can relate to the difficulties of trying to blend two families together. I’m thrilled that you found the real deal. He sure doesn’t sound like an average Joe to me!
You know, they call it fiction for a reason. I want to read to escape. Give me a good story, a basic description, and I’ll fill in the blanks to my specifications! 😉
A vivid imagination is such an asset!
Ha, right on. Change the genders around and it was my story right until we got to the writing while washing clothes part.
I can’t get my arms around that.
When first back in the game I thought I had the dream gal down to her Manolos.
1. I must see no daylight when looking into her ear.
2. She must look me in the eye (not all the time, once/twice a week is fine).
3. She says what she means, and doesn’t say it mean.
4. Preference given to good grooming
Must be funny is a given.
Now that is a story! BTW, you might want to put your reading glasses on. The washer was being used for something far more exciting than writing!
Hahahaha, Oh Cindy
Fiction: I love romantic suspense. So hero must be willing to face all kinds of exotic dangers for his love interest. Brave, smart, and smart-ass funny are top requirements. Good looks don’t hurt a bit.
Real Life: My husband lets me be me, laughs a lot, and doesn’t suggest I get an estimate on plastic surgery or invest in hair dye. What a guy!
ARen’t you lucky, Linda. You have wonderful heroes in your books and in your life!
Cindy, years ago I might have said Mr. Darcy. Now, in fiction as in life, he’s got to be smart, funny, and compassionate. Lucky for me, that description fits my husband.
It looks like the consensus demands smart, funny and kind for our love interest, whether it’s in fiction or real life. Thanks for commenting, Anita.
Hold the phone there, Cindy, WHAT are you doing with my idol!?!
Ha ha. They wouldn’t let him on the plane, so he’s all yours:-)
I’m so not into the bare-chested dudes on romance covers and neither is Anastasia, the heroine of my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries. In both fiction and real life I want a guy who stimulates me not just physically but intellectually. He’s got to have a great sense of humor, witty, not slapstick–a guy who thinks M*A*S*H was the best sitcom ever on TV. He’s also got to be caring and respectful, valuing the heroine, overlooking her short-comings, encouraging her to succeed. He doesn’t need to have 6-pack abs, but he’s got to care enough about his appearance and his health that he doesn’t sport a spare tire or look like he lives in his parents’ basement. His eyes should sparkle when he looks at the heroine, and he should have a killer smile. A full head of hair is optional. There are some really sexy looking bald guys out there.
I love the heroes in your books, Lois. And I agree – intellect, wit and a killer smile says it all:-)
I want my heroes to be real, to treat my heroine with respect and tolerate her personality quirks. I like my heroines to slowly fall for his generosity, tolerance and notice his attributes. I know there must be conflict in the story, or there is nothing to hold your interest. I would rather keep them happy all the time, but know they need to grow into a relationship for it to be real.
In real life, I believe this happens. I will admit to falling for my hubby of 44 years the moment I saw him at an Air Force picnic. Over the years I’ve discovered he is my hero because of the way he’s treated me.
I don’t kneed all the trappings we look for in our books, but it is nice to have some of them in the man I’ve been living with all these years.
I love the way you’ve crafted your hero, Paisley. Obviously your husband has provided the perfect role model!
Since romance fiction is just that–fiction!–I think we owe it to our readers to make our heroes pant-able. Droole-able too.
Dee, you are truly the queen of romance in crafting your drool-able heroes:-)
Well, well, that’s an interesting question to ponder. Why can’t I have both? The hunky romance novel as my real life love interest.
I’d like to say that I do, but my love interest could use a few upgrades. I love him as he is, but if I had my druthers, sure, I’d fix him. (You cannot tell him I said that.)
That said, I do get tired of the tall, dark and handsome cops or Navy seals too. I rather like the Average Jo guys. I sitll want my cowboy to look and act a certain way, but for the most part, the heros I read about need to just be all around good guys, like my own personal love interest.
Good post, Cindy!
w/a Jansen Schmidt
As long as I can find a guy with wit and smarts I’m happy. And if he can wear a cowboy hat, even better:-) I’ve met your cowboy. He’s a good one:-)
In fiction, I like the mysterious, witty, humorous, adventurous type. In real life… well, I already have a boyfriend and we’ve been together over 3 years. HE is my type in real life 🙂 He’s funny. selfless, giving, honest, playful, dedicated AND he has the muscles!
Isn’t it great that you found your real life hero? And muscles to boot!
Oh, my, what a question…I want him to combine the masculine heroism of John Wayne, the sexy voice and eyes of Sam Elliott, the self-deprecating humor of Harrison Ford, Tom Selleck and Burt Reynolds and the warmth of Mr. Rogers and his sweater. If he is self-supporting, that’s a plus and if he can sing like Jim Reeves, I’m gone.
I’m saving up to hire a lab to put the pieces together so that I can custom order my perfect guy. Or maybe I’ll just leave it up to God – surely He knows where the guy is!
Love your post and I’ve shared the link on Facebook so I hope I don’t get you deluged (or maybe I do…LOL). And since I’m allergic to chocolate (double-drat!!!) I’ll let you pass it on to someone else.
Happy Valentine’s Day, my friend!
Okay, Mary Beth, when this fellow appears in your life, would you find out if he has a brother:-) Sending you virtual chocolate and a virtual hug!
I personally prefer tall, dark and handsome men–who wouldn’t? Ben Affleck fills the bill for my visual fantasy. He’s also smart and clever. Didn’t he win an Oscar for his screenplay of Good Will Hunting? The perfect date would include a nice, light meal with good wine and music, maybe even dancing. Or a night at the theater. Another great date would be a golf date on a cool, sunny day. A man’s character is often revealed when under stress. How a man plays golf and contends with adversity or at the very least imperfect strokes can be telling. Afterward, we’d share a lunch on a sun-splashed deck overlooking a river or lake.
Oh, if I were thirty years younger!
–Donna Del Oro, author of smart, romantic thrillers
Hi Donna. Following a fellow on the golf course is an excellent way to ascertain if he’s the guy for you. Especially if he lets you drive the cart which I personally think is the best part!
Fiction is fiction and readers do love a good fantasy and escape but just between us, men benefit in the real world from a very real truth.
“Men fall in love with women they are attracted to, but women are attracted to the men they fall in love with.”
Intelligence, a sense of humor, kindness. Those are the qualities that win us in this world and then when we really “see” that bald, ordinary man or “regular guy”; to us, there’s not a cover model on the planet who can hold a candle to him or make our hearts beat faster.
Fantasy? Bring the pretty. But even in my fantasies, he better be intelligent, funny and kind for me to love that character. Why? Because it makes the fantasy REAL and reminds me of what I truly dream about. A REAL GUY.
I love that quote, Renee. It truly says it all. BTW, I met your husband when I was doing an event at Placerville News and he is just so proud of his wonderful wife:-)
He’s pretty cute! I’ve decided to keep him! LOL
There has to be some quality that gets my attention; not necessarily drop dead handsome; in fact too handsome of a man can be a turn off – too good to be true. Intelligent, articulate without being self absorbed, sense of humor, and in possession of some talent, i.e. musical, artistic, etc. Enjoys adventure and travel but can be content to sit by a fire reading a good book, or lazing on a sunny beach. Some character flaw that makes him human and appealing through his vulnerability. He is comfortable watching a football game, attending a yoga class, or sitting with a guru. As attentive as he is to me he will never betray himself to make me happy. A self contained man who radiates warmth, is interested in those around him, and who knows his own limits and boundaries.
You did say a romantic, fictional character, Cindy? I’m pretty sure he exists only on the pages of a book and in my dreams. But since you asked I decided to share. Happy Valentine’s day, and look I forward to meeting your new romantic hero in your next book . . . whoever he is.
Hi Pam. That is an excellent description of the ideal man – in a book or in our lives. Let me know if he wanders into your life!
In real life I have the perfect match…smart, athletic and loves sports, adores traveling , my cooking, and me. He loves movies and shows, opera and ballet like I do! He never holds a grudge, though he never forgets…good or bad. He loves family! In fiction, I like to see a male protagonist that is a composite figure of all the guys in my life…the goodness of my father, the brains of my husband, the generosity of my brother, the good looks and height, the sweetness of my son.
There needs to be a universal feel and a totality in the male character that makes me feel at once attracted, interested, and understanding of his situation, goals, and troubles. I want to be curious about of how he thinks and why; what his thought processes are for problem-solving; and have donuts as to whether or not he will survive, overcome, persevere.
You do have the perfect fellow – sports, opera and ballet. Does he have any brothers? I like your description of the male character, who he is, how he thinks, and how he will react. I may post this description by my keyboard!
I turned my dream guy into the protagonist of my mystery series: tall, blonde, long hair, big blue eyes, cute face, smart, funny, charming, athletic, fearless (reckless, actually), honest, and he can sing and dance too! He’s a bit overweight now but he’ll be working that off soon.What more could a gal want?
I think Sandy is a great protagonist. And funny too!
In real life, I like a guy who has eyes only for me, someone I can trust with my heart, even if I’m temporarily not around. In fiction, I’m not looking for precise descriptions, I can fill in the blanks myself.
Thanks for commenting, Emilye. I do enjoy the books where I get to define the hero myself. And I must admit I’m partial to Dairy Queen Fudge Brownie eyes and a hint of silver running through his thick hair:-)
I don’t read romance at all, simply because i can’t believe what some authors think is good sex. That aside, I do appreciate a good male character that comes across as interested in what the protagonist is doing. If it is going to lead to smolder, fine, but I prefer to see the building attraction. I just can’t suspend belief for wam bam.
Thanks for commenting, Pat. I prefer the long build-up myself. It makes the story far more intriguing to me.
Happy Valentine’s Day Cindy…Very cool blog and web page…You are an inspiring woman!!!I think the best men are ones that smile easily, pay attention, are kind , independent thinkers with big imaginations…That’s sexy… Good looking fantasy guys are fine for films, stories and observation but all good looks fade quickly if the personality doesn’t match… Hope everyday is chocolate covered and romantic!!!Here’s to continued success
The perfect description of a perfect guy. I hope you have a chocolate filled Valentine’s Day yourself!
You’ve got some great answers here, Cindy.
In fantasy, I like the idea of a man who knows me better than I know myself. To read a hero tell his heroine that they WILL be having sex, or fall in love, or whatever, really turns me on; that absolute certainty & decisiveness is alluring. It also wouldn’t hurt if he were a few inches taller than I, had a great head of hair that I could run my fingers through (no buzz cuts for me, thanks), & also enough chest hair to look manly (hairless chests make men look like teenaged boys, IMO). Think Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond.
In reality, I’ve always fallen for the “geeks” or “dorks.” Men who are smart & witty enough to keep me intellectually engaged, & emotionally mature enough to know when it’s the right time to act like a kid or an adult. I also want someone who holds my heart very safely & tenderly in his own.
Thankfully, I married a man who combines both fiction & reality very well. He’s not taller than I am, but he’s got all the wonderful qualities of the geek that I love, AND has a way of kissing me very soundly & decisively. Plus, he doesn’t mind that I still crush on Pierce Brosnan or the like in movies.
Hi Alyx. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and telling us about your hubby. You and your husband have one of the best friendship turned fairy tale romance turned marriage stories I’ve ever heard. Happy Valentine’s to you both.
I’ve had the perfect character. Unfortunately, he passed away twenty years ago.
Truthfully, I find romance begins above my neck. Most men think it begins below the belt. So, my fictional Romeo has to mess with my brain. Tall is OK, but I will pass on dark and handsome. My experience is that handsome is seldom LOYAL. They have little substance because they can rely on their looks to get the woman of their choice. And handsome seldom goes along with brains in real life. I’d much rather have a man with humor and wit.
Myron Bolitar in Harlen Coben’s books would be my choice. He is so funny that I laugh out loud. And he seems to be of an age that he still has manners. While Joe Morelli (Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum Series) is a heart-throb, he doesn’t make me laugh.
My quality requirements have changed through the years. I too hold an AARP card and find that a sense of humor, loyalty, and the ability to stimulate me intellectually are my sole requirements. I truly like snoring and BALD! Snoring tells me they are alive and BALD means nice and clean. No hair in the sink! I’m not a fan of television, so his sense of humor has to come from HIS brain. Wit and humor are not the same for me.
Cindy, I have both of your books and think you are doing a fine job with Detective Hunk. Just because six pack abs don’t work for me, doesn’t mean I ever toss any book! I just skip those pages till I get back to the meat of the story.
Hi Linda. Thanks for the compliment on the hero in my series. I’ve met a few Detective Hunks in my day and you are right – brains and wit trumps good looks every time. Hopefully my Detective Hunk will be smart enough to know how to capture Laurel’s heart. I’m waiting for him to make the next move in DYING FOR A DAIQUIRI. Hmmm. I guess Laurel is too:-)
Since I am a Non-fiction writer, and soon to be Author, I would have to go with realistic Hunk. Although, a Hunk of a man, usually chooses Chocolate ice cream as his first choice and with this being said, he is one hard man to tie down, unless you turn out to be his soul mate. Then he’ll be your keeper. < I talk about Flavors of Ice Cream in my upcoming book, "What's Your Favorite Flavor Of Ice Cream?"
I hope this helps you Cindy
Lov ya, Lara
I’m a fan of any man who chooses chocolate ice cream or chocolate anything. Can’t wait to read your book, Lara!