Romance Rule #1 - A Delicious Hero

Jayla Jasso Romance novels heroes muscles beach hot guy
He looks like he can get the job done.
I started reading romance novels as a teenager, because my stepmom was a book addict and would devour several romances and fantasy novels each week. She and I would go to the local library every week in the summer and each check out the maximum number of romances we could, five each, then we'd both read all ten books and exchange them the following week for ten more. So by the time I was in my 20's, I had read probably hundreds of romances, everything from short Harlequins to the thicker mainstream ones, and I had formed a really clear idea of what, in my opinion, made a romance novel good, what made it great, what made it memorable, and what made it a page-turner.

I'll be honest with you, most romances we read during those years weren't good. Some of them were really bad. And a very few were amazing. To me, the amazing ones all have a few things in common, and those things form my "Rules" for Amazing Romance Reads.

Rule #1 - A Delicious Hero.

For me, the story has to involve a hero that I can fall in love with. That I basically DO fall in love with as I read about him. (I think a very, very good example of this would be Drustan in Karen Marie Moning's Kiss of the Highlander.)

My hero has to be strong both physically and emotionally, able and willing to make the right choices, possess honor and integrity, and fight for the girl. He needs to be a leader among other men without being an a-hole, while at the same time treating the heroine with some tenderness and compassion. And for me, the guy needs to at least try to do what's right, not be a cheat, a liar, a thief, a murderer, or anything else that's despicable. I want to know I'm in love with a good guy.

My hero needs to be vulnerable too, show some human struggles, some emotion, some heart, some sense of humor, some ability to laugh at himself and admit mistakes.

I'm sorry, but for me, he needs to be hot. I've read books where the hero's looks are never really described much (or he's deformed, ugly, hairy...), but I need a good mental-visual. I want to know what color his eyes are, what his hair looks like, and exactly how many muscles line those arms and that chest. Tell me about his flat abs, his sexy lips or whatever. I'm there.

My man needs to have some skill, like sword-fighting, hand-to-hand combat (like Val in Sweet Barbarian,) archery (like Yajna in Kiss of the Assassin,) running a brigantine (like Marcano in Caribbean Jewel,) catching bad guys, running a ranch, heading up an investigation, researching a cure, painting masterpieces, etc. (This feeds into another of my "Rules," that there be an engaging plot aside from and enriching the developing romance.)

You give me this recipe and I have a much greater chance of loving the novel. Without a yummy It's going to be hard for me to stay with the book for long.

What do you guys think? What makes a delicious hero in YOUR eyes???