Kate Quinn’s Top Ten Heroes

the lion and the roseGuest Blog by Kate Quinn, author of The Lion and the Rose (A Novel of the Borgias)

Any book-loving gal has a list of fictional boyfriends—they get us through lonely Valentine’s Days, bad break-ups, and countless daydreams. And if you’re a historical fiction buff like me (I was reading it long before I was writing it) then chances are your book dates aren’t vampires, werewolves, or black-ops soldiers, but knights in shining armor, Highlanders in kilts, or gladiators in spiked leather. Here’s my list of top ten fictional heroes . . .

1. John of Gaunt, from Anya Seton’s “Katherine.” I read the story of King Edward III’s princely son and his scandalous Cinderella romance with a low-born girl when I was about fourteen, and heroic Prince John (quite literally carrying his lady away from an abusive marriage on a white horse!) ruined me for teenage boys.

2. Mr. Rochester, from Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre.” Sorry, Mr. Rochester has my heart even over Mr. Darcy: the original brooding alpha male after which all other alpha males must brood inadequately. His verbal duels with Jane prove once and for all that intelligent conversation is the best aphrodisiac.

3. Jamie Fraser, from Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” series. Fiction’s most famous Highlander hero captured my heart when I was in high school, completely ignoring most of my class trip to France because I was too busy tearing through “Outlander” to spare a glance for the Eiffel Tower. Who doesn’t love humorous, fierce-hearted, red-haired Jamie? And kudos to Diana for bucking the trend by making the hero both younger and more virginal than the heroine for once!

4. Rhett Butler, from Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone with the Wind.” Rhett’s river-boat charm, dashing courage, and devotion to his lady won me over along with every other woman in America. And how cute is it that this ultra-macho man’s man was self-confident enough to collect European fashion tips for the couture-starved Confederate ladies?

5. Uhtred of Bebbanburg, from Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Stories. This blond Viking-reared Saxon strides through six books as Alfred the Great’s most feared champion: a cranky warrior with snappy one-liners and a great big sword. Cornwell coined the phrase “lord of war” and this man defines it to the life.

6. Horatio Hornblower from C.S. Forester’s Hornblower series. Moody melancholy men might be frustrating to date in real life, but between the pages, Horatio Hornblower is totally worth it: a brilliant naval commander who thinks nothing of taking on four French warships single-handedly, but worries compulsively (and adorably) about his uncontrollable hair and his cheap shoe-buckles when going to dinner at his lady love’s.

7. Xavier March, from Robert Harris’s “Fatherland.” A German detective in an alternate-history world where Hitler won World War II. Secretly anti-Nazi despite his mandated political party, the brilliant and taciturn March is a police investigator on the trail of the Final Solution—and also a total hunk.

8. Sam Damon, from Anton Myrer’s “Once an Eagle.” An idealistic farm-boy who joins the army in World War I, wins the Medal of Honor, fights through WWII as a general, and ends his career as a military observer in Vietnam. Sam Damon is as cute as movie-star Matt; saintly-good but somehow not a bloodless prig or a cardboard white-hat.

9. Emperor Claudius, from Robert Graves’s “I, Claudius.” Just to prove that not all heroic men are men of action. Claudius won my heart even before I saw the TV series: a man who overcame a stammer, a limp, and a scornful family to become a fiercely intelligent scholar and one of Rome’s shrewdest Emperors.

10. Leonello, from Kate Quinn’s “The Lion and the Rose.” Hell yes, I’m including one of my own characters! Leonello is my latest fictional hero, a snarky bad-ass with a gift for knife-throwing who acts as bodyguard to the Pope’s golden-haired mistress (and yes, Popes really did have mistresses back then). The thing that amakes Leonello different from most romantic heroes? He’s a dwarf, and he lives in a world that ridicules him as a freak. But this little man has a lion’s heart in a small body: the sarcasm of Mr. Rochester, the intelligence of Emperor Claudius, and the passion of Jamie Fraser all locked in one small package—and there will be one lucky girl in “The Lion and the Rose” who is smart enough to look past his height and see him for the hero he is.

BLURB: The Lion and the Rose

From the national bestselling author of The Serpent and the Pearl comes the continuing saga of the ruthless family that holds all of Rome in its grasp, and the three outsiders thrust into their twisted web of blood and deceit . . .

As the cherished concubine of the Borgia Pope Alexander VI, Giulia Farnese has Rome at her feet. But after narrowly escaping a sinister captor, she realizes that the danger she faces is far from over—and now, it threatens from within. The Holy City of Rome is still under Alexander’s thrall, but enemies of the Borgias are starting to circle. In need of trusted allies, Giulia turns to her sharp-tongued bodyguard, Leonello, and her fiery cook and confidante, Carmelina.

Caught in the deadly world of the Renaissance’s most notorious family, Giulia, Leonello, and Carmelina must decide if they will flee the dangerous dream of power. But as the shadows of murder and corruption rise through the Vatican, they must learn who to trust when every face wears a mask . . .

Buy: The Lion and the Rose (A Novel of the Borgias)


Kate Quinn is a native of southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Classical Voice. A lifelong history buff, she has written three novels set in ancient Rome: “Mistress of Rome,” “Daughters of Rome,” and “Empress of the Seven Hills,” all of which have been translated into multiple languages.

Kate made the jump from ancient Rome to Renaissance Italy for her fourth and fifth novels, “The Serpent and the Pearl” and “The Lion and the Rose,” detailing the early years of the Borgia clan. She also has succumbed to the blogging bug, and keeps a blog filled with trivia, pet peeves, and interesting facts about historical fiction. She and her husband now live in Maryland with a small black dog named Caesar, and her interests include opera, action movies, cooking, and the Boston Red Sox.

Buy: The Lion and the Rose (A Novel of the Borgias)

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Top Ten Heroes: Sandra Scholes

Today’s Top Ten List comes from LRP reader and guest reviewer, Sandra Scholes.

Sandra would like to introduce you to her top ten heroes of all time, and when she isn’t doing that, she likes to indulge in reviewing many erotic titles, romance novels and even the other branches of romance genres of fantasy, sf and horror – she can read pretty much anything she can get her hands on that can be naughty and even smutty, but she likes it well-written.

My Top Ten list has the uncanny knack of changing whenever my whim takes it, but I do really like these ten I have chosen for now as they all have that special something I would call unusual and original that makes them some of the best characters around.

1. Legolas – The Lord of The Rings
He’s a handsome Elf who wears tights, but who cares! He stands up for justice, and the right to wear his hair long and be played by handsome star Orlando Bloom.

2. Spencer – Spencer’s Secret
For a man with a destiny to have a small harem of werewolf men at his disposal, he comes under threat when a leader from a rival pack tries to take over leadership of his men. Spencer, guy that he is steps in and prevents a blood bath, yet even if things got rough he wouldn’t allow anyone to come between him and his men.

3. Brandon – Dark Passages 4
Although he is deaf and dumb, he has all the powers and punch a vampire from a very old clan called the Brethren can muster. Unlike his own family, he has his own sense of morality, and sees humans as people to get to know rather than indulge in for their blood. He is a very sexy and deep individual who has to be read about to truly

4. Kiowa – Soul Deep (Coyote Breeds)
Even when the subject of his desire is an annoying woman who doesn’t know how to keep out of trouble, he still manages to keep his cool around her and save her ass when he needs to – what a guy!

5. Ichigo Kurosaki – Bleach
A kid with a huge sword and an even bigger attitude to killing off those pesky Hollows. With funky orange hair and an aptitude for making some really bad mistakes with his superiors, he also knows how to save a damsel in distress.

6. Elric of Melnibone – Stormbringer
The pale-skinned albino with the haunted eyes and black suit of armor casts a shadow over all around him, vexed by his wife being murdered by cousin Yrkoon, he is in despair and vows to avenge her death, but not before he has to do a hell of a lot of slaying. The series of novels is long but well worth reading just for this central character.

7. Raistlin Majere – Test of the Twins
Originally written as an anti-hero, he is a dark figure that could be a baddie if he were born under the wrong circumstances, yet he withstood the test in the tower of high sorcery and stands as one of the fans favourite characters in the series in the Dragonlance fantasy novels. With long, white hair, amber hourglass eyes and a bronzed
complexion he is the dark, brooding type who hides his true personality.

8. Fitzwilliam Darcy – Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts
Remembering the original novel by Jane Austen and thinking it was a welcome detour from squashbuckling tales of handsome pirates and highwaymen, I found Mitzi Szereto’s erotic retelling of it better with its kinky sex and lesbian overtones and powerfully evocative sexual scenes – it ranks him on the adult erotica list for me.

9. Konrad – The Werewolf Upstairs
Pretends he’s an upstanding citizen in his area of town, but when faced with a really good woman in Roz, he shows how chivalrous and protective he can be in this supernatural comedy about folk living in an apartment block.

10. Duncan Caldwell – The Sex: Virtus Saga Book 1
A man of honor who only wants to aid young lady Ylianor through hard times, he has a problem with his lover, Christopher, a man who is jealous of Ylianor being around them, and in his bed – he feels he has to be the centre of attention when he is with them, and cannot accept her as his female mate even if in their land he is allowed to take a woman as well as a man.

Top Ten Heroes: Yodamom

Today’s Top Ten List comes from LRP reader Yodamom.

I like reading Ilona Andrews, Karen Marie Moning, Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs, Kimberly Frost, Susan and Clay Griffith, C.L. Wilson, Gerry Barlett, Kim Harrison, Keri Aurthur… and many more.

I love a strong alpha type, one that has been to the dark side of life or is still there and has/had to crawl out to survive. They have scars, they hide their true feelings until they meet the one they love….and she/he is a smart arse, then the fun begins. : )

  1. Curran – Kate Daniels Series (Sexy alpha beast.)
  2. Barrons – Fever Series (Uber sexy alpha??? Dark and mysterious.)
  3. Eric Northman – Southern Vampire Series (A viking vampire!!)
  4. Adam – Mercedes Thompson Series (Alpha shifter with style.)
  5. Bryn – Southern Witch Series (Sexy, sexy and hot and sexy.)
  6. Prince Gareth – Vampire Empire Series (Vampire Price, hero, sexy and mysterious.)
  7. Rain – Tairen Soul Series (Alpha, shifter, king and fantastic lover.)
  8. Blade – Glory St Claire Series (Lovable loyal vampire and he wears a kilt.)
  9. Trent – The Hollows Series (Elf, sexy super mysterious, rich…)
  10. Quinn – Riley Jenson Guardian Series (Sweet, sexy, hot, vamp.)

Top Ten Heroes: Karen

Today’s Top Ten List comes from LRP reader Karen.

I love paranormal romance and urban fantasy, more urban fantasy than the paranormal romance. I have a tendency to like the bad boys in the series. The ones with a darker side that the fight to control or fight to suppress. These heroes are the ones that usually always stick out in my mind and stay with me even after I’m done reading the book. They are usually the ones that make you stop and say “Wow! He’s hot!”

  1. Jean-Claude – Anita Blake by Laurell K. Hamilton.
  2. Dante Baptiste – The Maker’s Song by Adrian Phoenix
  3. Cal Leandros – Cal and Niko Leandros by Rob Thurman
  4. Mario – Otherworld Series by Yasmine Galenorn
  5. Mircea – Cassandra Palmer by Karen Chance
  6. Curran – Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews
  7. Johnny – Persephone Alcmedi by Linda Robertson
  8. Erik – Sookie Stackhouse by Charlaine Harris
  9. Clayton Danvers – Otherworld Tales by Kelley Armstrong
  10. Adam – Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs

Top Ten Heroes: Marcia

Today’s Top Ten List comes from LRP reader and guest reviewer, Marcia.

I cannot say that I remember the names of heroes from romance novels with the exception of Jamie Fraser from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. Not only is he really good looking and sexy, but he is strong, brave, honorable, intelligent, capable, longsuffering and treats Claire with respect. When he loves someone he loves unconditionally. So I pick Jamie Fraser 8 times, once for each novel he’s in.

  1. Outlander
  2. Dragonfly in Amber
  3. Drums of Autumn
  4. Voyager
  5. The Fiery Cross
  6. A Breath of Snow and Ashes
  7. An Echo in the Bone
  8. The Exile (Graphic Novel)

Sorry that I cannot give you a list of 10 heroes, I just read too many romances for them to make much of an impression.

Top Ten Heroes: Sharon S.

Today’s Top Ten List comes from reader and guest reviewer Sharon S.

The list of my favorite authors and series is too long to list. I love UF and PRN. I like it dark or snarky. I also like to read some paranormal mysteries (Casey Daniels, Shirley Damsgaard, Madalyn Alt).

I picked these heroes cause they are all alpha-males and I like me some alpha! Barrons is probably the ultimate alpha in my book (I mean he pissed a circle around his woman while in his monster form… can’t get much more alpha than that <G>) Some of my heroes are tortured and screwed up in the head (Black Dagger Boys, IAD boys) some are secure in themselves and know when to be gentle and when not to be ;)

No order to these:

  1. Barrons – The Fever Series by KM Moning
  2. Rhys – The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook
  3. Curran – Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews
  4. Bones – The Night Huntress Series by Jeaniene Frost
  5. Jorick – The Amaranthine Night series by Joleene Naylor
  6. Royal – The Whisperings Series by Linda Welch
  7. Raphael – Guild Hunters Series by Nalini Singh
  8. Black Dagger Brothers (yes, all of them!!!) by JR Ward
  9. Pritkin – Cassandra Palmer Series by Karen Chance
  10. Immortals After Dark boys (yes, all of them too!) by Keasley Cole

Top Ten Heroes: Carla F.

Today’s Top Ten List comes from LRP reader and guest reviewer, Carla F.

Carla F. believes the best place to read romances is stretched out on the love seat in her living room with a throw blanket over her lap. She likes books in the Regency, Medieval, Contemporary, Western and Paranormal genres.

My list of top 10 romance heroes for now (tomorrow could be different) in no particular order except for the first one is:

  1. Quentin “Leo” Marsden – Not Quite a Husband
  2. Randolph “Bentley” Rutledge – The Devil You Know
  3. Reed Tyler – Courting Miss Hattie
  4. Elec Monroe – Flat-Out Sexy
  5. Gabriel Cynster – A Secret Love
  6. Noah Reeves – Naughty Little Secret
  7. Sinclair Lilles, Duke of Rochford – The Courtship Dance
  8. Quinn Jennings – Start Me Up
  9. Lord Bramwell Johns – Always a Scoundrel
  10. Jasper Renshaw, Viscount Vale – To Seduce a Sinner

This list started out with 25 heroes.  Once I culled it down to 10 (it wasn’t easy), I wondered what these men had in common. Then I realized that all but Bramwell Johns had known the heroine for a long time. Jasper Renshaw and Elec Monroe were mere acquaintances of their future loves, but the rest counted the heroine as a friend. A few loved from afar for years.

Of course, romance is about the hero/heroine finding their one true love and living the HEA. However, the length of time that these men knew and loved their women really heads toward the idea of a soulmate! I didn’t realize that I was so drawn to this idea, but now I know why that the only paranormals that I really enjoy are ones about werewolves because of the strong emphasis on one mate. (Although it doesn’t hurt that they are Alpha males.) Unfortunately, no werewolves made the top 10, but Devlyn in Heart of the Wolf was in the top 25.

Top Ten Heroes: Cris

Today’s Top Ten List comes from LRP reader, Cris.

Somewhere along the line I stopped being enamored of the typical “Alpha” hero (probably when I dated one and found that rich, handsome, slightly shady, driven men that fixate on the woman they want are not very fun in real life), and I fell in love with the gentler heroes, the ones that are self-made, the ones that doubt themselves and withdraw to hide their fears. I have a preference for contemporary romances when they’re well done, but the most consistently good romances are the Regency ones – for whatever reason. So today my top ten favorites are (and tomorrow I’ll have a different list, I’m sure):

  1. Derek Craven: Dreaming of You
  2. Ethan Quinn: Rising Tides
  3. Dean Robillard: Natural Born Charmer
  4. Nate: Northern Lights
  5. Roark: In Death series
  6. Ian: The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie
  7. Jason: Just the Sexiest Man Alive
  8. Michael: In Bed with the Duke
  9. Sebastian: Lord of Scoundrels
  10. Cole: A Woman Scorned