The latest book from my Library Pile is one that I’d thought to be a historical murder mystery from the cover, but once I started to read, I realized it was a mystery-romance. The heroine has a meet-cute with a guy on the ferry that she’s taking to the Greek island where the events of the book take place. On the island, he is giving her a lift in his sporty little car, when he accidentally knocks over an old lady’s fruit stand, knocking oranges all over the road. Immediately, he stops, apologizes, and helps the old lady pick up her fruit.
And this really gave me pause; it made me stop and go, “Wow, I like this guy! This one’s a keeper, lady.”
… then about five pages later, the actual romantic hero shows up, which is clearly signposted because he is a total dick and the heroine hates him. Just to be sure, I turned to the blurb on the back (normally I avoid those, being a spoilerphobe) and discovered that not only is Dick Boy our “hero”, but the guy I’d liked so much is slated to be the murder victim.
Yeah. No. This one goes straight back to the library.
But this made me realize just how thoroughly over the alpha-hero trope I am. Over. Done. I want characters (male and female) who are the sort of person who would stop to help an old lady pick up her oranges. I am hungry for kind characters in literature, the sort of people who are aware that they exist as part of a community; who, when they accidentally hurt someone, notice and apologize for it, even if it’s a stranger, and doubly so if it’s a loved one.
And I think it was very eye-opening for me how startling it was, to encounter a scene in the opening pages of the book in which the character that I had believed to be the hero does something kind and altruistic. That’s rare. And it shouldn’t be. And this isn’t a problem specific to the romance genre. I read so many books in which the characters are misanthropic loners or just general jerks. I can enjoy me some misanthropic loners, but these days, I find that I’m really craving books about characters who aren’t. (Even if they may occasionally mistake themselves for one.)
Crossposted from Wordpress.