There is one matter of taste in which I appear to differ from most romance readers: I have a great fondness for blond heroes. Love’em. But I seem to be part of minority, because the majority by far of romance heroes are dark-haired. Not that I mind a yummy black-haired hero … but I sigh for blonds.
In the past, blond heroes were even more marginalized than they are now. In some cases, like in Laura Black’s Scottish romances from the late seventies and early eighties, this amounted to color-coding: As soon as a blond man appeared – usually described as having butter-colored hair – you could bet he would turn out to be the villain.
Recently, I have observed a small increase in blond heroes, however, and this I attribute solely to the advent on television of the delectable Mr. Simon Baker. For those of you who don’t know him: He is an Australian actor who has risen to fame as Patrick Jane, the title character of the show The Mentalist. Patrick Jane is a very close observer and gifted psychologist, and after a serial killer murdered his wife and daughter, he assists the California Bureau of Investigation with their work, in the hope that his path will cross that of the murderer again, and that he will be able to revenge his family.
Now, to discuss Simon Baker/Patrick Jane’s very special brand of attractiveness, let’s begin with his looks. In addition to his brightly blond hair, he has blue eyes, even features and a very charming smile. He dimples. As he’s 41, there are some lines in his face, but they suit him perfectly. While he has a trim figure, and shows to advantage in the three-piece-suits he usually wears in his role as Patrick Jane, there has never any reason to pay attention to “the muscles that rippled underneath his fine lawn shirt” (as so many heros do – have you ever, ever come across lawn that fine??). Simon Baker’s face deserves special attention, I think. Well, obviously. Compare it to the way that romance heroes are described, though, and you come to the conclustion that a face like this would technically disqualify him from romantic hero-dom. It’s neither rugged – far too even-featured for that – nor can you cut anything with his cheekbones. It’s just an oval, symmetric face whose features just add up to that elusive quality, beauty.
Let’s pay some more attention to Simon Baker’s hair. It’s curly and often just a bit messed up – carefully so, of course. I can fully imagine his co-actors getting this urge to smooth back a lock that romance heroines experience so regularly. So in this respect, he perfectly fits the hero mold.
It would be undeservedly one-sided to only concentrate on Simon Baker/Patrick Jane’s outward charms. Now I know next to nothing about the actor Simon Baker. From the one interview I’ve read, he seems to be a pretty grounded, very pleasant kind of person – too boring to be hero material really, unless it be the guy-next-door sort. Patrick Jane, the character he portrays, is quite a different matter, though. He is haunted – who wouldn’t be after his wife and child had been murdered gruesomely? – but he doesn’t carry his hauntedness on his sleeve. He never glowers. He hardly ever broods. Instead he is quirky, sometimes sarcastic, sometimes humorous, often aggravating, and stubborn as a mule. He does Sudoku in his spare time. In short, he is not at all like the typical romance hero, not being one of course, but I really wish there were more like him. Romance heroes wide outside the cookie cutter forms. Romance writers, are you out there? Please give us more heroes that share Simon Baker’s blond good looks, and Patrick Jane’s unpredictability.
– Rike Horstmann