A while back, BN Romantic Reads moderator Melanie Murray pointed out a hero that easily could have made his way into a BN Unabashedly Bookish post I'd written about heroes with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Melanie suggested Kev Merripen of Lisa Kleypas' "Seduce Me at Sunrise " earned a place because the injuries that caused him to be found - beaten and near death - by a slightly shabby, but happily eccentric English family, were not all that unusual in his hardscrabble Gypsy life up to that rescue. 

Kev Merripen turned into a capable, yet reticent man who stayed on with the Hathaway family into adulthood because of his attachment to one of the three sisters -- and their need for a guiding force. But Merripen's early experiences literally fighting for his daily bread as a child with no power made him a man ready to take on any challenge to keep from harm those he feels are his to protect.

The hero as "fighter/protector" is one seen fairly often in romance novels, especially historicals.  For instance, an aristocratic hero who has no real responsibilities - or is shirking what he does have - is turned tougher, less the dandy, when he spends time doing a little bare-knuckle brawling.  And, of course, it's a great excuse for an author to describe a hot, sweaty, totally ripped guy in the throes of testosterone-driven physical aggression. Sigh.

Sometimes the fighter/protector hero's a scrapper, and a guy for whom the bare-knuckle brawl is his bread/butter, a guy like Conor Branigan of Laura Lee Guhrke's 1996 release, "Conor's Way  ." Branigan's an Irish émigré who finds himself in post-Civil War U.S. after experiencing years of horrific torture when caught by the Brits running guns for Irish rebels.   Fighting earned Conor's way until his pride and rough-hewn honor caused him to get on the wrong side of the folks who own just about everything in one Louisiana town.

Olivia Maitland lives outside that Southern town in more ways than one since the war wiped out her venerable family's wealth, leaving only the bankrupt peach plantation Olivia's struggling to keep going for the sake of the children she's taken under her wing.  Though she's alone - and it's "unseemly" - she takes on hired help, and reluctantly takes in a bloodied, beaten and nearly dead man she

finds on a back road.

When Conor Branigan's nursed to health and ready to help with the plantation, Olivia begins to see that he might mean more to her than simply a helping hand.  Yet there's one thing about Conor Branigan Olivia needs to learn: Conor's a brave man who's not afraid to run away when he thinks it makes sense.  But Conor's about to get a lesson himself - and about himself - if he's able to put aside the things that make him raise his fists, and take up the challenges for which it's worth fighting to the finish.

What do you like about the fighter/protector hero, like Nick Stoneworth of "Her Notorious Viscount?" Who are some of your faves and the books they're featured in?  Why do you think bare-knuckle brawling and Gentleman Jackson's-style fighting appeal w/in the romance novel?


by Moderator becke_davis on ‎12-09-2009 02:50 PM

I think we like it in romance because we DON'T like it in real life. We can experience a vicarious thrill without any real threat. 


And talking about heroes with traumatic stress syndrome, or whatever it's called -- I seem to be reading a lot of those lately.

by Author MonicaBurns on ‎12-09-2009 03:06 PM

I think it's the guy fighting for something that's of value. The heroes I've read or written that fight only do so when it's protecting the weak or their loved ones. It's about taking a stand against "evil." It's about knowing that even though a hero might not want to fight, they'll do so if it's the last option available to them.

by Moderator Melanie_Murray on ‎12-09-2009 03:40 PM

All my favorite heroes know how to handle themselves in a fight, and all my favorite heroes only jump into the fray when they absolutely have to...


Lisa Kleypas writes heroes who know their way around a good scrum, both in her historicals and her contemporaries. I'm sure that Hardy Cates could beat any man alive into a bloody pulp! As for others, I'm thinking...thinking...



by Moderator becke_davis on ‎12-09-2009 04:03 PM

Oooh, love that Hardy Cates!

by amyskf on ‎12-09-2009 10:18 PM

I couldn't come-up with a comment at first, I was lost in Hardy-land...but now that I've re-grouped, I'm always happy for a fight scene and I agree, I want it to be for a good reason, but I'll settle for a weak reason too. I know that sounds shallow -- but it's my fantasy and darn it, I like men fighting; sweating and panting and punching each other.


Oh my.

by Joan_P on ‎12-09-2009 10:43 PM



You GO girl!!! Yah! (big sigh; soft "yah")  :smileyhappy:



by 1lovealways on ‎12-10-2009 01:42 AM

Hi Everyone!


Oh, I love fighting in the romance novel!  That's sounds so awful, doesn't it?  As long as it's for a good reason, a good cause and sometimes, let's face it the hero and the villain just don't like each other.  There's nothing like a good pirate fight, a duel or protecting the heroine's honor.  My favorite is protecting the heroine's honor.  You know that ... you mess with my woman, you mess with me mentality.  I love that!

Nothing is more boring than fighting just to boast.  That's a big turnoff!


My all time favorite hero is Alexander Cameron from The Pride of Lions & The Blood of Roses by Marcia Canham.  Other heroes are Rhage & Phury from J.R. Ward's Lover Eternal and Lover Enshrined, All of Kresley Cole's heroes and Vane Kattalakis from Sherrilyn Kenyon's Night Play and Dante from Lara Adrian's Kiss of Crimson.  I can remember the current one, because I haven't been too long finished these books.  Alex is from two older books, but he's the definitive hero for me.


Fighting appeals in the romance novel, because it is manly and heroic. The men in romance novels will fight to the death for their women.  They not only show them they love them, but they prove it by their actions.  Some fight and some have that quiet reserve that just speaks hero and no fighting is needed, but if needed they can be counted on always.  Honor is a big thing in romance.  It is one of those things that is first and foremost always present in a romance whether mentioned or not.  Every heroine wants a dashing hero to defend her.  To step up and be there for her no matter what.   Whether as a man, a vampire or a werewolf these males know how to defend their women.  Definitely my kind of heroes!  :smileyhappy:



by PrincessBumblebee on ‎12-10-2009 02:32 PM

Oh, I just love the brawling guy! But only if absolutely necessary. It's like that song goes "fresh from the fight"! Gets me every time. I think not only does it show him at his sweaty best, but it also shows that he's confident that he's gonna take down this guy and, yes, it's usually about protecting the heroine and he'll be darned before the guy gets to her. Hubba Hubba!

by PrincessBumblebee on ‎12-10-2009 02:36 PM

1lovealways, I agree with you on all acounts, hehe! And Kresley Cole's heroes rock!

by MalePerspectiveGuy on ‎12-10-2009 10:29 PM

An Irishman fighting for his food...This reminds me of Tom Cruise in the movie, "Far and Away."  Hey Michelle, ever seen that movie?

by 1lovealways on ‎12-10-2009 11:50 PM

Princess, I love that old song!   Gotta listen to it now while I have visions of these heroic males in my head. :smileyhappy:

by amyskf on ‎12-11-2009 08:49 AM

1love, you realize you've mentioned Marcia Canham...I've heard, or it's rumored, that Michelle has a certain fondness for Marcia Canham's books...

by 1lovealways on ‎12-11-2009 06:21 PM

Yes, she does Amyskf!  So do I.  I'm getting that new one asap!  :smileyhappy:

by Loves2ReadKR on ‎12-15-2009 12:19 AM

Hardy Cates is a great hero who could certainly take on any man.


I am reading To Desire a Devil by Elizabeth Hoyt right now. Hoyt addresses the issue of PTSD in The Legend of the Four Soldiers series. She talked about this aspect of her books in the book club thread about To Desire a Devil (very interesting). Anyways, the hero Reynaud is tough and very manly. Even though it would be a bit scary to find myself in the situations that Beatrice does, I really like to read about their story.

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎12-16-2009 05:17 PM

Did someone mention Marsha Canham? I think I've heard of her.  Yes, 1la, those books set around Culloden are bloody as hell and the fighting is amazing. All those clai'mores!  Or is it claymores?  Anyway, not only is Cam eron stand up, but there's a secondary guy who's really heroic who's like a berserker.  Derned Sassenachs had to go and learn how to use the big swords...

OK, does anyone remember Dain fighting for honor outside the inn in "Lord of Scoundrels?" I don't want to give away too much, but it was marvelous, and she's a right bloodthirsty wench, Dain's countess.


Principessa, what a great connection to make: fresh from the fight.  One of my fave love scenes is a Connie Brockway from one of her rose trilogy (i never can get the titles straight), but the hero's Kit and one of my faves of all time. total honor-driven Celtic warrior. Um, but in Regency. Anyway, that phrase is perfect for the scene. you rock. 


by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎12-16-2009 05:22 PM

Welcome Loves2ReadKR!  That's a fabulous series, and a great example of ptsd, as you say. And hardy cates is another hero for all time, I think.  He's awesome in both sugar daddy and blue eyed devil.


amyskf, I don't think you're describing a scrum.


Oh, MPG, you're so romantic! I never made the connection. : ) You know I love that movie so much. Who knew it was a romance? I sure didn't even though I'll gladly watch any portion of it anytime it comes on.

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎12-16-2009 05:23 PM

Mon, I LOVE it when the guys fight against fighting! What a good point to make. 


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