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?