Misfits & Smart Asses

November 16, 2009 at 5:00 am 7 comments

Magic Burns by Ilona AndrewsI love alpha heroes.

They are undeniably confident and in control. And, when you read as much paranormal romance and urban fantasy as I do, they are sometimes even literal Alphas.

Shifters Hawke and Curran, fiend Xia and the mysterious Jerhico Barrons, never doubt who is in charge. (They are, of course.) Even human alphas like Max Bhagat or Vic Savian are bigger than life characters, that make the heroine (and me) weak in the knees.My Forbidden Desire by Carolyn Jewel

Beta heroes, too, are wonderful, for that matter.

Sir Harry Valentine is a great, supportive beta. When I think about how he is there for Olivia, giving her the support she needs, it just makes me sigh. And, the artistic Jamie (from the Isabel Dalhousie series—warning: link starts an audio clip) brings out my nurturing tendencies.

Wicked Burn by Beth KeryDave Malkoff, from Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series is another wonderful supportive beta. However, there’s also something else about Dave that I find so irresistible. Through the last 7 books, I’ve seen him become the go-to guy for the Troubleshooters team, reluctantly (but effectively) taking a leadership position among all the tough-guy alpha SEALs and operatives.

However, he’ll always be a bit of a misfit.

What Happens in LondonNow, all misfits aren’t hero material, but I sure do love it when an author is able to turn the frog into a prince. These guys aren’t always comfortable it their own skin or with the people around them. They may not always say the right thing.

But, there are some things I find really appealing about a good misfit hero:

  • They walk their own path, regardless of what everyone else is doing or expecting of them.
  • Often, they’re loners. Yet, when they connect with their significant other, I can’t help but cheer.
  • Most times part of what sets them apart from others is that they’re really intelligent. (Brains=Sexy in my book.)The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith

I’m so happy for the underdog, and glad that their s.o. can see past first impressions to the wonderful person underneath.

A few of my favorite misfit heroes (along with Dave):

Wildcard Karmody (Troubleshooters series by Suzanne Brockmann)-When we first meet him, he is an emotional mess, unpredictable and over-the-top devastated by a break-up with his girlfriend. But, by the time he got his own story in Out of Control, I loved how honest and forthright he was about his feelings for Savannah. He just put himself out there emotionally, and didn’t hold back.Dark of Night by Suzanne Brockmann

Mildmay the Fox (The Doctrine of Labyrinths by Sarah Monette)-Mildmay is one of those guys that brings out my maternal instincts—which, of course, he would hate. A cat burglar who has been thrust into a world of wizards and court politicians, he is always out of sync with everyone around him. But, his loyalty to Felix makes my heart melt.

Jack (Nadia Stafford series by Kelley Armstrong)-Now, this hitman is one of the most anti-social potential love interests I can think of. He doesn’t even speak in full sentences. However, I love seeing him and Nadia connecting in a way that they can’t with anyone else.Melusine by Sarah Monette

Clay Danvers (Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong)-More wolf than man, human behavior often puzzles Clay, but he never cares enough to actually start acting more human. He’s got his pack, his mate, (and now) his children. For a guy who will never fit in (even among most other weres) he’s doing pretty well for himself.

Made to be Broken by Kelley ArmstrongAnd then, there are the smart asses.

Originally, I started thinking about this post when I read 3 books pretty close together. One was the Troubleshooters series in which Dave Malkoff was pretty prominent, Into the Fire. I just couldn’t stop rooting for him to get the girl, instead of the more typical-style hero who was the other potential love interest.

The other characters that made me realize how much I love off-beat heroes were not really misfits. Instead, Finn, Simon, and Izzy (see more about them, below) were smart asses. You know, the guy who usually has a comeback ready, doesn’t always respect authority, and isn’t embarrassed to make a scene.

He would, IRL, make me cringe, since I’m normally a person who is not into drama or “scenes”. However, in a book, these guys always say the things we’re thinking or do the things we wish we had the guts to do.Men of the Otherworld Anthology by Kelley Armstrong

What is it about a smart ass hero that I find so attractive?

  • Confidence/Independence. Not a sheep or wanting to be one of the crowd.
  • Sense of Humor. They often get the best lines in a book, using everyone around them as the straight man.
  • Intelligence. (Again, Brains=Sexy.) Usually, their mouth gets ahead of their better judgment (or they ignore it all-together) and they wind up in situations that are so fun to read about!

Gobsmacked by LB GreggA few of my favorite smart ass heroes:

Mark Meehan and Finn (Michael) Finnegan (Men of Smithfield series by LB Gregg)-The reader first meets Mark from Gobsmacked when he enters a church and smacks his cheating boyfriend upside the head with a book. Talk about making an entrance!

Tigers and DevilsIn Cover Me, Finn is a little less confrontational, but still has the heart of a fighter. Even when knocked down by circumstances, he comes up swinging (verbally, at least). I love his internal monologue when he sees Max again after their previous disastrous encounter.

Izzy Zanella (Troubleshooters series by Suzanne Brockmann)-everytime Izzy opens his mouth, I get ready to crack up. He’s unpredictable, and when he’s in a scene, I’m know something is going to happen. Of course, his attitude belies what a sweet guy there is underneath. (Though I’m sure he would deny it.)Deathwish by Rob Thurman

Simon Murray (Tigers & Devils by Sean Kennedy)-I love how Simon refuses to be intimidated by Declan’s fame as a soccer star, and even when he realizes he has stuck his foot in his mouth after meeting Declan, he stands by what he says. That confidence allows him to weather all the notoriety that comes his way later in the book.

Harry Dresden (The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher)-Not only is he the king of the smart-ass comeback, but he can think of one while putting a beat down on —or getting a beat down by —the bad guy. Often, his self-deprecating sense of humor is at his own expense, and I find that so charming.Changes by Jim Butcher

Cal Leandros (Cal Leandros series by Rob Thurman)-His snarky observations crack me up. I love Cal’s irreverence, regardless of the monster he’s fighting, the apocalyptic situation, or the odds stacked against him. Even when he’s giving his brother Niko shit about things, I know that he really loves him.

Dean Robillard (Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips)-Dean proves that macho good looks can go hand in hand with a smart ass attitude. Normally, a god-like good looking football player who dresses in designer clothes and spends more time in front of the mirror than most women would not be my idea of a favorite hero. But, his smart ass-ness  takes him from a ho-hum hero to a stand out. And, he definitely gets the best lines in NBC.Natural Born Charmer

Sterling (With or Without series) -Sterling hasn’t even gotten his story in this series, but this younger brother to Remi steals the show whenever he’s on the page. He is young, cocky, and refuses to be intimidated by all the macho shifters around him, especially Rhys. Did I say I can’t wait for his story?

Of course, being a smart ass is not mutually exclusive withWith Caution by JL Langley being an alpha. Curran and Hawke are great examples of heroes who are both Alphas and smart asses. They never let their attention to being in charge get in the way to give the people around them a hard time (especially, Kate and Lucas, respectively). Jack, too is a definite alpha male, but a misfit, nonetheless. But that’s what makes these characters so interesting, isn’t it?

Do you like a smart ass or misfit hero? Who are your favorites?

Entry filed under: alpha, beta, Heroes, misfits, Ramblings, smart ass.

M(e)/M(e) 2009 TBR Challenge (November): Snowbound

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lbea  |  November 16, 2009 at 8:26 am

    Renee–Glad you like my beta boys. Markie Meehan is a bit of a spaz–but he was so much fun to write. Impulsive. Emotional. Sass-mouthed.

    Good times. I keep thinking I should revisit he and Tony. Tony, btw, plays a big part in the next MOS. Tony is MEROW.

    Yes to Sterling!

    And Izzy? Love. Him.

    Reply
  • 2. Lori  |  November 16, 2009 at 8:49 am

    Oh, great topic, Renee! I love them all, LOL! I do love a smart-ass. You’re right – it implies a great sense of humor and a level of intelligence, both of which are super important to me. And the ability to laugh at oneself? Yeah. I’m all about it. Izzy is a great example there. Or really, almost any Brockmann hero in Team 16 (note I didn’t say the Troubleshooters). Those guys were adolescent, silly dufuses, but when the chips are down, there’s nobody I’d rather have at my back and nobody I’d rather have loving me.

    But, a good alpha? Yum. And a beta, when well done can be awesome as well. One of Lauren Dane’s Chase brothers, Matt was a beta and he was hot as hell.

    See? Like you, I just love all of them!

    Reply
  • 3. Renee  |  November 16, 2009 at 9:40 am

    Lisabea: And, you do them so well, too!
    I can’t wait for In and Out. I’ll be looking forward to seeing more Tony. 🙂

    Lori: I love that group of 4 guys: Izzy, Jenk, Gillman, and Lopez. When they’re together, I just crack up!
    Hmmm…those Chase Brothers keeps popping up. They’re on the list after the Cascadia series!
    An equal opportunity reader!

    Reply
  • 4. Carolyn Crane (CJ)  |  November 16, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    What a great post! This was a fun trip down memory lane for the different heroes I’ve enjoyed, and it’s making me SO need to read that Brockman series!!! And Jack was a particularly inspired choice for misfit, a category of hero I really do love, starting with Pinkie in Brighton Rock (not a romance, but my all time fave misfit) but also, of course, Tolliver from the Grave series!

    Reply
  • 5. orannia  |  November 16, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    Fantastic post Renee, and you’ve really got me to thinking. Smart a*s heroes make me tongue-tied…I never know a good come-back line until hours afterwards. They do make me smile though; I love Hawke’s not so subtle digs at Lucas 🙂

    The loners *SIGH* Actually, I think Hawke is both. And I just love it when they connect with their significant other. Weirdly, I’m thinking of a heroine now – Eve Dallas from the In Death books (I just read Promises In Death). She was a loner…now she has Roarke….and Peabody…she has family. It really came home to me in this book.

    Reply
  • 6. Renee  |  November 16, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    CC/CJ: Thanks, I had so much fun writing this post. Now, you’re going to have to tell me who Pinkie is. You are so right about Tolliver (and Harper, too for that matter).

    orannia: Thanks! I think it’s sort of a wish fulfillment on my side. I was raised that one NEVER drew attention to oneself, and to always be aware what people were going to thing of what I said or did. The smart ass hero has no fear of that, you know?
    Hmmm…I’ll have to think about the misfit heroine. A smart ass heroine is more prevalent, especially in all the uf I read. But, I find that a misfit/loner heroine, like Eve more interesting.

    Reply
  • 7. orannia  |  November 17, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    I wasn’t raised that way Renee, but I learnt early on that a tonne of bricks would fall on my head if I wasn’t very careful if anything I said or did…or didn’t say or do. And yes, I relate far more to the misfit heroine. I still think Eve is both…she really doesn’t care what (most) people think, but she’s definitely a loner.

    Reply

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