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*Starting Off

Every good regency needs a hero. The brooding type tends to be popular. Occasionally one sees the perky one but lethargy and brooding tend to rule the day.

Things to remember about your hero:

He is always handsome and most of the time he’s a brunette. I’m not sure why this is particularly appealing, but it seems the vast majority have gorgeous dark locks to be played with. There are a few blonds in the mix. Red hair is an extreme rarity. Make sure he’s tall, usually taller than everyone else and has piercing eyes. I don’t go for the angelic type, but apparently some do, for there are many who get described as angelic. Though, more often than not, it’s a dark angel.

He’s from a good family. With exceptions that I can count on one hand and have fingers left over, he’s from the aristocracy. He doesn’t have to be titled, there are those occasional spare brothers floating around, but most likely he’s got at least one or two titles. Some families seemed to have enough for everyone so no boy had to be a mere mister. Those rare exceptions probably have some kind of gentry in the past, even if he is a *gasp* merchant or *the horror* estate manager.

Your hero must be an exceptional rider, driver, dancer and fighter. He alone can handle the horses no one else can and is never thrown. He’s always exceedingly kind to them and they never lose shoes. He beats regularly the times others have set on various road races. Within the ballroom he never ever steps on a ladies feet and always in charge when dancing. (Would that all modern men could lead with such panache and confidence!) And no matter what he’s handed: pistol, sword, or knife, or if he’s just using bare fists, he is one of the undefeated at them. Along that fisticuff line, he has a “punishing” hook and usually trains with Gentleman Jackson himself. It’s a nice way to let the hero go blow off some steam, bond with other men, or attribute why he’s so amazing at everything he does.

The hero has quite the active night life, but amazingly shows no sign of the dissipation. He drinks, gambles, smokes and carouses with the demi-monde until wee hours. He sleeps until noon and is quite often hauled out of bed with a thick head. (Assuming of course that alcohol affects him, there are a number of heroes who seem to be able to imbibe vast quantities without every having a bad morning afterwards.) But none of these cause pudginess, gout, diabetes, red noses, and amazingly, despite having biblically known quite a number of women, none of these men have contracted sexually transmitted diseases.

Speaking of the time he’s spent with the demi-monde: your hero has a past with the ladies. He’s had any number of mistresses (often a “really big number of them” that shocks nice ladies). These ladies are always acknowledged courtesans, dancers, and widows. It’s amazing how he finds all these women with loose morals, the ladies of the evening never seem to have any problems with the fact they’ve turned to the oldest of professions. If the hero finds the heroine in a brothel, he must of course spirit her out of there post-haste because she’s a nice girl who would never do that. If he finds anyone else, apparently she’s excited about her profession and the chance to entertain him. There were an amazing number of lusty bar wenches. There are also an amazing number of wives who cheat on their husbands, though of course the hero and heroine never would cheat on each other. A surprising number of these adulterous wives are happy to set up their lovers with girls who turn out to be the wife of his chaste and monogamous dreams. Who knew?

War heroes are convenient to have around, so consider making your hero a former (in his past) or recent (just coming home from the wars now) soldier. If he fought in the war, he was mentioned in the dispatches, so everyone knows what a hero he was and how he sacrificed himself for others. Despite the sacrifice, he usually comes home in one piece, despite the French soldiers and horrible surgeons best and worst efforts. Often, regret and reflection is alluded too, along with nightmares. I appreciate this, actually, it makes the men more human to realize that they fought and took lives and had friends lose their lives. Much more realistic than shoving it down with a “doing one’s duty” and being perfectly able to resume civilian life.

The hero generally has one of two approaches to marriage: he has to for purposes of having an heir, saving his fortune, meeting a parental requirement, winning a bet, etc OR he’s completely against it, plans never to marry, thinks all women are beneath him (insert double entendre here), so on and so forth. It seems to be one or the other, rarely is he just casually interested in women (Austen’s Captain Wentworth in Persuasion is a rare example where he’s open to the idea of marriage without it being forced upon him.)

We’ve met our hero, now on to our leading lady.