Still, the question remained: Can a wounded hero sell? We live in a society that worships perfection, after all. Straight, silky hair. Sultry eyes. Whiter teeth. Breast implants. Liposuction. Size two. Grecian formula. Six-pack abs. Buns of steel. You get the picture.
Romance is a genre that often promotes perfection, too--slender, beautiful heroines and tall, muscular heroes.
And there's nothing wrong with that. I love a broad-shouldered, muscular hero. Still, could Win, with battle scars on his abdomen and a stump in place of a complete leg, hold his own against other heroes? He has issues. War changes people. There's no other way to put it. You can't go into a battle zone and not come back unscathed. My own grandson spent a year in Afghanistan and saw two of his buddies killed. The Joshua we said goodbye to was not the Joshua we greeted when he came back. He's changed.
Evie lives with her worthless brother. He's stolen her tip money she kept hidden in a shoebox. Shortly after discovering the loss of her earnings, Win calls her. She's in tears and Win rushes to her, forgetting to reattach his prosthesis...
Win reached for his crutches and followed her inside. So far she hadn’t seemed repelled by his stump, but she hadn’t seen it in the light either. His stomach clenched. If she rejected him, he didn’t know how he’d handle it.
Her back was to him as she poured the coffee. “Living room’s through the door. Go on in and have a seat. I’ll bring the coffee.”
Win moved into the living room. Clean, neat with older furniture. The kind of room a person could relax in. He settled on the sofa.
Evie set the mugs on the stand by his elbow and looked at his leg. What the hell is she thinking? She kneeled in front of him. “I didn’t know how much of your leg you’d lost.” Warm hands ran from his knee down. “You’ve got both knees, but your leg ends about three inches below that. You’re kind of red here.” She trailed fingertips over his stump and gazed up at him. “Hurt?”
“It’ll hurt if you stop.” He couldn’t believe she was touching him there, as if that part of his body were no different than his cheek or his elbow. Oh, how he needed that touch.
“Does walking so much in your prosthesis irritate your…your…” She tilted her head and regarded him. “Tell me the right term, Win.”
He shrugged. “Stump.”
“Stump,” she repeated. Then damned if she didn’t lean over and kiss it.
He didn’t realize how fearful he’d been that she’d reject him. In fact, he was sure she would. “Evie.” The anguish in his voice surprised him.
She jerked back. “Did I hurt you?”
He wrapped his hands around her arms. “Come here.” He lifted her to his lap and threaded his fingers into her damp hair. “It doesn’t repulse you?” He tilted his head so his forehead touched hers. “I was afraid…”
Evie pressed her hands to his cheeks. “I’m attracted to your mind, your heart, your soul and even that surly mood you’ve got goin’ on sometimes. I’m sorry about your wounds, but the loss of a limb does nothing to change the man you are.”
Win laid his head against the back of the sofa and exhaled an audible breath. “I was so worried…” He rushed here to comfort her and help her with whatever problems she had. Now, here she was comforting him. If he had any questions before about whether or not he adored her, her attitude just now lured him the rest of the way into love. How had he lived without her all of his life? How could he face the future without her and her sweet acceptance of his battle scars?
“A lot of women couldn’t handle an amputee.”
“Is that why you’ve been blowing hot and cold with me? Were you afraid I couldn’t handle less than physical perfection?”
“Made sense to me."
Fortunately for me, Stacy Holmes, editor of the Honky Tonk Hearts line saw the heart of Win and not his wounds. She loved him. So do I. In many ways, he's my favorite hero I've written about so far. All who have reviewed the book have loved him, too. Wounded heroes do charm, do seduce readers and do sell. I'm a romance writer...and I love my job.