Before I get into the how and why of giving my heroes ... heck, here's a little bit about me: My main website is JeniferNipps.com. I write articles and nonfiction books (soon) under Jen Nipps, but my romance, whether they be historical, contemporary, or suspense, as Kat O'Reilly. (There are some things on that site that are not safe for work.) I'm currently working on book 4 of the Maguire Men series. Books 1 and 2 are currently under consideration with a publisher.
There are two questions to address here:
- Why do I torture my characters, especially the men?
- How do I torture them?
Really, though, without conflict, there is no story. I throw everything I can think of at them. For example, in my first Maguire book, the morning after he meets the heroine, Kiernan gets hit on the back of his head with the butt of an axe.
Major immediate conflict.
Now, in my day job, I do medical transcription. I never thought I would use it very much outside of work. Let's just say I was wrong. With the knowledge I have of head injuries from that, I gave him blackout spells, seizures, and vision problems. That's enough to stress anyone out, much less someone who's dealing with a persistent woman who insists she's his next wife and is moody and emotional herself.
In the second Maguire book, the hero, Devon, is nearly killed in a hunting accident. In the third, Benen is severely burned in a fire on the first page of the story.
The women in their lives all serve as nursemaids, whether by choice or circumstance. There's another method of giving them heck. None of the men in these stories take orders very well unless they come directly from the king. Why would they do what their physician or healer, through their nurse, says to do just because they were told to do it?
In the first case, it drives Maeb away from Kiernan on more than one occasion. Even to the point that she goes to the community of priestesses in Kildaire, Ireland, to have her baby and leave it with the sisters. (You know with the Happily Ever After inherent in many, if not most, romances, this doesn't happen.)
Those are all answers to How. For why?
Like I said before, it's fun. But it also lets the characters develop and grow. It makes them understand the need they have for each other. And it shows their mettle. No one wants a wimpy hero, especially a woman living in central Ireland in the early Middle Ages.