Bearded Heroes

I’m a guest today at the Novelists, Inc. blog on “Five Ways of Thinking About a Writer’s Conference.”

As for my own personal blog, I’ve been wondering something. Where are all the romance heroes with beards? Or even moustaches?

I’m thinking about this because Maxime, hero of The Duke & the Pirate Queen, has a beard. The man on the book’s cover does not have a beard; I’ve rarely seen moustaches, much less beards, on the covers of romance novels. Or on the characters inside romance novels. Or even in erotic novels, for that matter.

I recently read The Forbidden Rose by Joanna Bourne; it’s a historical set during the French Revolution. For most of the novel, the hero is bearded, or more accurately, stubbled. It’s part of his disguise. I believe, though, in “normal” life he is cleanshaven.

Three major characters in my World War One-set novel The Moonlight Mistress (Pascal Fournier, Noel Ashby, and Gabriel Meyer) have moustaches. In that case, I considered their facial hair to be an important part of the historical worldbuilding; it’s early in the war, and they don’t yet have the gas mask issue that led some soldiers to shave. But also, I like moustaches. Again, the man on the book’s cover does not have a moustache, though I am pretty sure he represents Pascal. Maybe there’s some kind of marketing thing going on with all these cleanshaven men. Or maybe models just don’t tend to have facial hair.

I wonder why that is? Facial hair, I suspect, is more commmon in historical romance set in certain periods when, well, facial hair would be more common. Is there more facial hair in Western Romance? I can’t bring examples to mind. Does this trend hold over time?

Do readers just not want to imagine the scratchiness? Anybody have any thoughts on this?

Published by Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen’s writing showcases her voracious lifelong love of books. She reads over 120 new books each year, especially historical romance, fantasy, and space opera, and incorporates these genres into her erotic fiction. Her first erotic novel, The Duchess, Her Maid, The Groom and Their Lover (Harlequin Spice, December 2008), was translated into French and German. Her second Spice novel, The Moonlight Mistress (December 2009), was translated into Italian and nominated for a RT Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her third novel is The Duke & The Pirate Queen (December 2010). She has also published erotic short stories as Elspeth Potter. When not writing, Victoria conducts research in libraries and graveyards, lectures about writing and selling erotica, and speaks at literary conventions on topics such as paranormal romance, urban fantasy, erotic science fiction/fantasy, and the empowerment of women through unconventional means. Her daily writing blog features professional writing and marketing tips, genre discussion, book reviews, and author interviews. She also guest blogs for Heroes & Heartbreakers and The Criminal Element. She lives in Philadelphia.

4 replies on “Bearded Heroes”

  1. I actually asked them to add a beard to the hero on the cover of Kiss of the Rose, because he's a Tudor man and he definitely had a beard. I think he looks awesome LOL

  2. Ben in my novella The Retreat has a beard, and so does Jay in Kiss It Better, although he shaves his off half way through the story.

    I'm sure I've written other heroes with facial hair too. Was going to make Edmund Ellsworth Ritchie in In The Flesh bearded, but somehow I just didn't see him that way, even though he's a Victorian gent.

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