It’s no secret that the strong, silent type is not always my type, especially when it comes to heroes. I like a guy who talks too much and waves his hands around.
But there is an aspect of the trope I do connect with, and that is the struggle for words. I have a lot to say, and I can be excited or angry with the best of them. But when it comes to being vulnerable, to openly expressing affection or pain without sarcasm…I clam up.
That aspect of myself made its way into the starchy valet hero of my new Regency romance, Listen to the Moon. So here, for your enjoyment, is a list of ten of my favorite heroes and heroines who will doggedly walk through hell for you, but have trouble saying I think you’re great.
1. Oliver Queen from the CW’s Arrow.
Oliver grew up surrounded by lies and silence and passive-aggression, and then spent five years in hell.
He hates hard conversations. He hates questions. He will stand there with his head bowed and his mouth a tight line and let you think the worst, rather than push out an inadequate explanation. My squirrelly baby.
2. Jessica Jones from the eponymous Marvel TV series.
The scene where Jessica slowly forces out the words “I hear…talking…helps,” because someone else is in pain and she wants to help them even though we’ve watched her steadfastly not talk about it for episodes and episodes…yes. Just yes.
3. Constable Benton Fraser, RCMP, from Due South.
Constable Fraser will only talk about his feelings when he’s talking to 1) a ghost, 2) his half-wolf, 3) a sleeping person, or 4) a criminal, to create a diversion.
4. Dante Valentine from Lilith Saintcrow’s eponymous series.
She is the noir kick-ass necromancer I never knew I needed. Watching her push people away is my everything.
5. Spock from Star Trek: the Original Series.
No one has ever loved as deeply as Spock ever maybe? But he cannot talk about it, because then he’d be a bad Vulcan. Remember in “Naked Time” when he says “Jim, when I feel friendship for you, I am ashamed”???? REMEMBER?
6. Constable Wu Kaifeng from Jade Temptress by Jeannie Lin
There is probably no quiet, granite-faced cop I would rather have in my corner were I suspected of murder, but he puts up a great front of being scary and mean. And when he does manage to put his thoughts into words, they pack a wallop:
“It’s difficult to look at you because you make me want things,” he answered plainly. “Things I cannot have.”
7. Eliot Spencer from Leverage
There are a lot of things Eliot can’t talk about, or doesn’t let himself talk about. He can’t talk about his hired-gun past because it’s too painful. He can’t talk about his feelings because it wouldn’t be macho. He has trouble even giving a hug without a takeback afterward. Eliot is smothered by shame, and it’s beautiful to watch him push through the pain when his friends need to talk to him.
This clip of him explaining what cooking means to him (“It makes me feel something.” “Feel what?” “…Just…FEEL”) will definitely make you feel stuff.
8. Gareth from Proof by Seduction by Courtney Milan
Milan takes the alpha hero and flips him onto his back like a turtle, and suddenly all the things that are supposed to be his strengths are actually weaknesses. Gareth yearns for connections with other people, and has zero idea how to forge them. I may have made horrible squeaking noises during the scene where (under orders from the heroine) he tries ineptly to make small talk with his steward.
9. Tom Foss from ABC Family’s Kyle XY.
I am not exaggerating when I say this minor character in an obscure show that’s been off the air for years changed my life. You can see his soul hovering in the air over his head because it sure as heck is never going to be channelled through his mouth. He answers every question in evasive monosyllables, and also has blown up a bunch of stuff, and then is hurt when you don’t trust him, because he’s given you everything he has and what more do you WANT?
10. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
Katniss can’t say how she feels. Often, she doesn’t even know herself. Put Katniss in the arena and she will get shit done, but don’t ask her to make a speech! And definitely don’t ask her to talk to her friend (who she maybe loves? who knows?) who has been brainwashed to hate her. Because she can’t. She can’t even look at him, and she can’t find the words to explain to anyone why not.
Rose Lerner discovered Georgette Heyer when she was thirteen, and wrote her first historical romance a few years later. Her writing has improved since then, but her fascination with all things Regency hasn’t changed. When not reading, writing, or researching, she enjoys cooking and marathoning TV shows. She lives in Seattle with her best friend. You can find her online at her website or on Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr. You can read the first chapter of Listen To The Moon at her website.