Broken Heroes…How broken is too broken?

I came across a few really good books lately, but one over arching theme kept resurfacing: the tortured, broken, humbled hero.  In the face of death, despair, and distain, when the hero can no longer pull himself up from the quagmire…is it then that the hero is too broken?

In fiction, the broken hero offers a wide array of literary avenues to pursue.  The heroine could save the hero, with a little telepathic help (see my review of Maya Banks latest KGI novel Whispers in the Dark).  Just when Nathan, who was imprisoned and tortured in a guerrilla jungle camp, was about to give up all hope, Shea came to him as a voice, encouraged him, saved him.  Despite his rescue, Nathan was still a pale shadow of the man he was before his capture.  Shea came back to him in the physical world, and her being, her love and her faith in him renewed his spirit and healed even his unseen wounds.

The hardest blow to any hero may be the broken body.  As heroes, many of these characters need their bodies and brawn to save and to charm.  But what happens when the broken hero is quite literally broken in body?  I loved this theme in the Paladians of Darkness series by Alexis Morgan.  Both Devlin (Dark Protector) and Blake’s (Dark Defender) stories sucked me into the fierce warrior world of the Paladians.  These heroes found their ultimate salvation and healing in the loving arms of their mates…Proving once again, that love can heal all types of wounds.

Broken may also come in the form of a shattered heart or a firm disbelief that love can ever be true…this point is no better exemplified than by my newest favourite author Kristen Ashley and her book Sweet Dreams.  Tate is crude, rude and bitter…but just about women.  His ex hurt him more ways than could be counted.  The worst of it came when she intentionally kept their son from him.  Tate’s life took on so many different twists and turns that he could have just given up, but he didn’t.  He merely gave up his belief that there could be a faithful woman.  I loved watching Laurie prove him wrong.  Her belief in mankind and her unfailing optimism won Tate over…then her love for him delivered him.  True love can mend a broken heart. 

Another great Kristen Ashley hero that is saved by true love is Cabe “Hawk” Delgado in Mystery Man.  While not broken in the physical sense, Hawk is definitely not into relationships.  This type of man is also the type of guy many of my friends meet on Plenty of Fish (read fun in fiction, but crumby in real life).  The emotionally crippled man is the ultimate make work project.  But in Mystery Man, what we see are two emotionally crippled people who learn to trust and believe in each other…with the rewards being oh, so sweet!  The Dream Men series is a great set of reads. The last edition, Motorcycle Man, is anticipated May 24, 2012 with Tack as the ultimate Dream Man and the pinnacle example of the emotionally broken and unavailable man.

While the theme of tortured and broken heroes is a common undercurrent in romantic suspense, generally they are never too broken or tortured or embittered to see the promise of a wonderful HEA.  Tell me about your favourite broken or tortured hero…I also would love your comments and book suggestions!  Enjoy!


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