Loving the Imperfect Hero by Ellis Carrington
I want to thank Julia for giving me the opportunity to guest blog. Her request for an article about the last book I fell in love with immediately brought Josh Lanyon to mind, and Fatal Shadows, book one of his fantastic Adrien English series.
Okay, true confession time: I, a married mom of two, am in love with a gay man. Now if my husband were reading this over my shoulder, he would double over in laughter at that statement. “Not just one, “ he’d scoff while holding his sides. “Is this about Adam Lambert again?”
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I adore Adam from his glittery hair to his pedicured toes – but this is something a little more complicated. I’m in love with a FICTIONAL gay man. That’s right. His name is Adrien English.
Created by the great and mystical Josh Lanyon, Adrien doesn’t exist in real life, and even if he did I would have no hope of pleasing him whatsoever. If you’re scratching your head and saying “Who?” don’t feel bad – go ahead and pop over to Amazon and do a search. We’ll wait here while you download Fatal Shadows to your computer or mobile device of choice…
Now, I know that I am not alone here. All over the interweb I have encountered men and women who love Lanyon’s work in general (he is probably a far better writer on his worst day than I can conceive of being on my best) and Adrien English specifically. I’m thinking about starting a local support group (“Hi, my name is Ellis, and I’m in love with Adrien English…”). We might even have t-shirts printed (“I fell in love with Adrien English and all I got was a hefty Amazon.com invoice and this lousy t-shirt.”).
For me, Adrien English is the perfect hero. He’s not a Navy SEAL, a werewolf warrior, or any other version of stereotypical beefcake-y-Alpha-maleness (What?? It is TOO a word.) . He’s a bookseller with a heart condition and a Miss Marple-ish tendency to nose around where he shouldn’t. But he’s refreshingly self-actualized. He’s confident and unapologetic about who he is, but his feelings get hurt sometimes. He seems pragmatic, but he’s a novelist so we know he’s imaginative. Not only is he well-off, but he’s humble about it. Sure, he knows how to shoot stuff, but probably wouldn’t. He’s wicked smart. Caring. Oh, yeah, and he loves his mom. The whole package that is Adrien is just sooo darned sexy.
I can still recall precise moment when I knew he had me for sure: There’s a scene in Fatal Shadows where he chooses to have sex with a homicidal maniac who he knows will probably try to kill him. It isn’t clear that doing so will save him, nor does he know for sure if help is coming. And despite the overwhelming horror and fear, his body still responds to this madman. He manages to feel for the horrible history that turned the villain into what he had become, even as he fights not to cry out in pain.
Hands down, it is the bravest moment I have witnessed from any hero in any novel I have ever read, and it is why Adrien English is the hero against which I will compare all others.
I’m told there is a trend back towards the flawless he-man type hero lately. Why on earth?? In my very humble and totally inexpert opinion, flaws are necessary to make a hero truly great. Without them, as Robert McKee says, your character is as flat as a table top.
So, in sum, the last book I really fell in love with Fatal Shadows, by Josh Lanyon. All because of Adrien. Interested? You can find out more at Josh’s web site.
All right! I’ve shown you mine, will you show me yours? Get your mind out of the gutter, I meant your hero. Who’s *your* favorite, and why?
Ellis Carrington is a woman who loves men who love men (who love men!) and has been since she stole a copy of The New Joy of Gay Sex from her local library as a teenager. Learn more at her blog, Manlove Paranormal. Please also check out her latest short story, an erotic M/M/M about new beginnings for a college football quarterback in the Ravenous Romance erotic anthology, Touchdowns.