A “rule” I’ve heard bantered around Christian romance fiction is that the hero of a story must be “likable.”

I SO understand this. When I read a book, I want to fall in love with the hero. I want to ohhh and ahhh over him and root for him to get the girl.

Heroes who are jerks just make me want to punch them very hard.


Our heroes must have flaws too. I think sometimes in our quest to make a “fall in lovable” hero, we make one who is too darn perfect. They never make a mistake, never do anything wrong.

So, I’m offering up TWO “five” lists today (to equal ten, ha!)

Five inexcusable flaws for heroes.

  1. Potty mouths. Don’t make me wash your mouth out with my bar of Irish Spring…
  2. Women beaters. Hero hits a girl… book gets burned in fireplace.
  3. No job/Lazy. I so understand there are reasons a man doesn’t have a job. But I really don’t want to read about a dude that is so lazy that he doesn’t want to work. Really, I don’t. Man up, buddy!
  4. Sex addicts. I can imagine the google hits I’ll get from this one. But no, I don’t want to hear about a hero that has trouble keeping his pants zipped. I completely understand that you can take a “player” and redeem him by the end of the book. I’m just saying that I won’t be around at the end of the book to be reading about his redemption.
  5. Other “habits” such as an alcoholic, a chain-smoker (for CBA fiction ANY smoker…), a user, a porn addict… need I say more? Seriously… I’m REALLY getting nervous about the potential search engine hits. All you men that fall into these categories… we still love ya. Just don’t want to read about you in a romance novel… (I’ll shut up now before I dig myself a MAJOR hole!)

Five excusable flaws for heroes

  1. Overly devoted to taking care of your sick aunt/mother/sister/neighbor’s best-friend’s cousin’s uncles sick cat…
  2. Heroes that are completely ignorant of the swooning effect the flexing of their muscles has on innocent women who happen to be peaking through the curtain staring at him…
  3. A workaholic. Okay, not a funny one, but seriously, this is totally redeemable for a hero in a romance. Especially when heroine lures him away and convinces him that spending time with her is so much funner than his stuffy old office.
  4. He spends way too much money on flowers and gifts for heroine… (although… he can’t go into debt up to his eyeballs, so uncool!)
  5. A sports addict. (on surface, we don’t like this… BUT… I think it’s excusable and normal.. gives hero a flaw that we can handle!)

Discussion: Anyone else have some suggestions for “excusable” or “inexcusable” flaws?



  1. Let me clarify as well:

    I write inspirational contemporary romance. The themes and threads for other genre, might be completely different allow some of my "inexcusable" traits. *grin*

  2. Great post! Well…one of my heroes commits adultery, which seems pretty inexcusable. But every body who has read the book has said they love Ben. That he is very redeemable and they root for him to win his wife back. I think a huge factor is MOTIVATION! I wrote a post about this. Motivation is HUGE. There has to bea valid reason behind why our heroes do what they do. And if the motivation is strong enough, then I think readers will be able to understand and still like the flawed character. There was a lot going on with my Ben character, and the remorse he felt over his actions probably helped too. 🙂

    Let's see…inexcusable:

    – child molester

    Excusable flaws:

    – arrogant/cocky
    – womanizer (as long as, like you said, he's not a sex addict). I mean, c'mon, what lady doesn't like the story about the womanizer who actually falls head over heals for a woman for once
    – slob (I can stand to read about a messy guy)

  3. Krista: What a great post! Thanks for sharing, and I agree with your lists.

    Inexcusable: overbearing and prideful.

    Excusable: clueless as to how women think and react. This is prevalent in most men I believe, but it can be remedied in real life or a novel, don't you think?


  4. great lists!

    Inexcusable flaw: dog-kicker…be nice to animals!

    Excusable flaw: taciturn, not much for speechifying. 🙂

  5. Awesomeness!!!!

    Inexcusable: One who let's out unmentionable explosions from their person! (belches and farts)

    Excusable: Brooding,and maybe sometimes some bragging on their manliness…lol

    Seriously, Krista, you crack me up!

  6. Well I sure hope this doesn't go for books that aren't straight romance, because my hero has several of the traits that are on your unexcusable list. I've been pondering over this all morning. I guess I just have to disagree that a hero doesn't always have to be likable. If I was writing romance, I would be wrong.

    Now I'm afraid my hero is a terrible unlikable drunk who hits girls and likes sex. YIKES! I really don't think it's that bad, but your post has me wondering…

  7. ohhhh, please make sure you read my first comment clarification. I am talking romance only here. Although I think to a point all heroes have to have some redeemable qualities and motivations as Katie pointed out.

    And I'm also talking for CBA fiction here as well. AND (sorry for the number of ands…) these are CURRENT issues, not past issues. I can totally see a CBA romance with a recovering alcoholic as a hero. Of even a recover sex addict (guy liked to sleep around in high school college… maybe even has a child or two as a result but has since *seen* the light)

    My point is… ESPECIALLY for the hero… the light needs to be seen very close to the beginning of the book, if not prior too it. He can still struggle, yes. But Not so much that us women can't stand him.

    Again, this is for romance when it's imparative that the reader falls in love with the hero. It's not so much in Women's fiction or even some action novels where the hero might be a rogue as well that gets redeemed by the end.

    Does this make any sense???

  8. One for me that is inexcusable is rape. I've read a couple of stories where this occurs and the female lead gets over it and winds up with the flawed person.

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