In the same way that a cliche becomes a cliche because it contains a strong dose of universal truth, I believe our classic romance archetypes like “pirate” or “bodyguard” have been such enduring successes because they push a primal button in most women. No matter how liberated she is, what woman doesn’t yearn to “stand and deliver” when her carriage is being robbed by a dashing highwayman? And doesn’t it shiver your timbers when a pirate fires his warning shot across your bow? And who can resist a Regency rake who emerges from a pond looking like Colin Firth in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE?
Even the words--highwayman, Regency rake, Viking, spy, etc.--evoke an emotional response when we read them. I’m not suggesting that our heroes are cardboard cut-outs because the most enduring heroes are always three-dimensional and may contain elements of several archetypes. But the archetype itself gives us a starting place for our attraction. We often talk about the qualities we love most in our heroes--intelligence, a sense of humor, a glossy mane of hair, a well-defined set of abs. But the one quality that all of these archetypes share is power. And I know that for me, power is the strongest aphrodisiac of all.
I live in a world where I’m expected to be in control 24 hours a day. Yes, I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan and never let my husband forget that he’s a man (especially if I need the plumbing fixed). But in my darkest, most secret heart, I long to be mastered. I want to be swept away, both by my heroes and by my reading. The more reality I have to face, the more important and vital to my mental health my fantasies become.
So send me a bodyguard to protect me, a rake to seduce me and a pirate to ravish my yearning heart!