What kind of heroes do you like? That's a topic that comes up all the time in romance author interviews. Alphas―tall, tough and taciturn, the kind of guys who take over and practically force you to love them? Betas―sensitive, responsible, best-friend type of guys who turn out to have harbored secret passions for years? Anti-heroes―bad boys who break all the rules and maybe even the law, but who are too sexy to resist?
My answer? I like smart guys. How the hero looks doesn't matter nearly as much as whether he's got something special between his ears. In the real world and in fiction (mine and the work of others), I find intelligence to be a turn on.
I'm a sucker for the brilliant nerd type. One reason is that I've known so many. (In fact, I married one!) I spent the first twenty six years of my life in school, getting more degrees than anyone should ever want. In the process, I met and loved my share of near-genius men―guys who could discourse for hours on the subjective nature of reality and the illusion of time, or create a mathematical model of the solar system, or build a functioning computer from bottle caps, paper clips and picture wire.
Why are intelligent men attractive? Well, for one thing, most are less likely to be threatened by an intelligent woman. Instead, they appreciate a companion who doesn't bore them. Insight or intuition often, though not always, accompanies intelligence―my genius guys sometimes knew what I wanted before I did. In addition, my experiences suggest that, contrary to the nerd stereotype, bright men are more highly sexed. Or just possibly they're more desperate, but the end result is the same―more passion!
I've written some alpha heroes, but many of my favorite characters don't fit the mold. One example is Rick Martell in Ruby's Rules. The whole book is a contest of wits, wills and sexual wiles, pitting Rick, a clever, charismatic (but not particularly handsome) entrepreneur against Ruby, the brilliant, subtle young CEO of an international business empire. Despite their fierce competition for ownership of a strategic semiconductor factory, Rick and Ruby find each other irresistibly attractive. In fact, the intellectual games they play only fan the flames of their mutual passion.
Here's a brief excerpt (R-rated), the scene where Ruby first meets Rick.
“Bravo.” A soft, melodious male voice, and then the sound of applause. “I’m extremely impressed.”
I pull myself abruptly upright. Did someone dare to watch me and my medieval servitor?
I have just been finger-fucked to exhaustion, yet my first reaction is a wave of total, incomprehensible lust. Incomprehensible because the man who stands between the parted curtains is not at all my type. He is short and wiry. His hair is scraggly and a bit too long around his ears, and he has a dreadful drooping black mustache. He wears nondescript jeans and a khaki shirt.
Somehow, though, he radiates sexuality. His aura is palpable, the air thick and sticky as syrup. He fixes me with his intense, dark eyes and grins. I feel like I am melting. I want to spread my legs wider, desperately offer my swelling sex for him to use as he will.
I struggle with my impulses, close my legs decisively and try to stare him down. “I gather you were spying on me and my admirer.”
“Indeed. A most entertaining and instructive tableau.” He enters the balcony-space, letting the curtains close behind him, and picks up the flogger. The knotted thongs dangle an inch above my cleavage. “You seem to be quite an expert in the arts of discipline.”
“Hardly,” I say, taking the whip from him, trying to take control of the interaction. “I am just beginning to explore the possibilities. But,” I say, my eyes narrowing to watch his reaction, “I do find myself quite sensitive to my partners’ desires to yield to my power.”
“I could see that. You knew what he wanted, and you gave it to him.” He pauses and searches my face. “But, do you know what I want?”
Truly, I have no idea. He seems fascinated by the flogger, but I sense only a hint of submission in him, a playful curiosity totally different from the aching need of my recent conquest.
His eyes play over my body in a leisurely fashion, appreciative, it seems, but not urgent. Surreptitiously, I glance at his fly: an appealing bulk there, but no indication of arousal.
I, on the other hand, am hornier than I have been in weeks. Maybe months. Or ever. My clit throbs like a sore tooth. I lean forward so that my breasts part invitingly, and lick my painted lips.
“Tell me what you want,” I purr. “I’m feeling generous tonight, and just might grant your request.”
He leans toward me in answer, and grasps my chin. Strange electricity flows from his touch. My breasts ache. My cunt is on fire.
“I want you to take me home with you,” he says with a cryptic smile. And then he kisses me.
I am not sentimental. I am not romantic, susceptible, easily mastered. But I swear, I could drown in this kiss.
His lips are smooth and full, his tongue demanding. He tastes of peppermint, and behind that, an aromatic trace of pipe tobacco. I smell his cologne, something clean, woodsy, Scandinavian.
I do not want to give in, and yet I do. I return his kiss, open my mouth wide to his probing. He senses my partial surrender, and presses his advantage. He has slipped his hand inside my vest, now, and is pinching my nipple hard.
I love it. I am awash with lust. I am dying for him to take me. My sex is liquid, spilling over. My scent rises in the velvet-draped space. I know that I cannot hide my desire, but still I try.
“You seem most enthusiastic,” I say, my voice surprisingly steady. “But why should I allow you into my personal space?”
“Because you want to,” he says, deftly extricating my breast from its leather casing and planting a kiss on its tip. “And because you think that you will have more control on your home territory. As an interloper, I will necessarily be at a disadvantage.”
He is right. Many women would feel vulnerable, bringing a stranger into their home, but I am more confident on my own turf than in some unfamiliar locale. I am astonished at his perspicacity. Who is this man? He appears so ordinary and yet there is both physical attraction, and psychological intrigue.======================================================
Of course, Ruby is as intelligent as Rick. That's a major part of the dynamic that propels this novel. I should have mentioned that smart heroines are my favorites, too.