Like Lisa yesterday, this is my first post for The Naked Hero. I love it here – what’s not to love about a hero? He’s gorgeous and sexy. He can slay dragons (real or metaphorical) for his woman. He can make her laugh, he can make her happy in a way no other man can and most importantly he can make her come six ways to Sunday.
What’s not to love?
How about when they cheat?
That’s what I want to talk about today – the hero who cheats. And does this automatically strip him of all the rights and privileges of hero status?
Big, fat, hot button, I know.
Plenty of A-listers have done it. Hugh Grant is a classic example – cheating on Liz with a hooker. And Jude Law and Ethan Hawke both strayed with their children’s nannies. Doesn’t seem to have done any of them long term harm, does it? Television is rife with infidelity plots. Some of my favourite TV shows feature it – The Good Wife, Saving Grace, Homeland, Game of Thrones.
Movies also – anyone seen my bunny? And how wrenching was the almost-infidelity sub-plot with Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson in Love Actually?
I wrote a book a while back (How To Mend A Broken Heart out in August) and as I was writing it my muse was telling me my hero had cheated on his wife. I kept writing, ignoring her, because, that’s just not something that happens in category romance. But the more I wrote the more I knew she was right.
My hero had cheated on his wife. (I hope they don’t revoke my Goddess status around here…)
Sure, there are extenuating circumstances. Their marriage is in the toilet and has been for a year since their little boy drowned in the back yard. My heroine is stuck in a deep mire of grief where she’s barely functioning. They certainly haven’t been intimate on any level since it happened. He’s been trying and trying to reach out to her, to help her through her grief even as he’s trying to stumble through his own but she’s completely emotionally shut down. It’s an impulsive Saturday night bar hook up that’s really not about the sex – it’s about a woman who sees him as a man, not as an inadequate husband or a grieving father, not as someone who’s failed him. But as an interesting, attractive man. He instantly regrets it and knows that the marriage is well and truly over and they go on to separate.
This is a couple with a tragic story and I hope whoever reads it feels for both of them.
Does it really matter what he’s been through? Is cheating ever okay? Are there ever any circumstances where it’s okay? Or does the hero just instantly become a dud in your eyes once he crosses the line? Have you ever read a book or seen a movie or TV show where infidelity made you so mad it changed your opinion of a character or broke your heart? Or have you seen it done well and been able to sympathise with the cheater?
Talk to me – I’m all ears!