Cheating Heroes With Jean Joachim

Before we can discuss cheating, let’s define the term.  In romance novels, a cheater is someone who violates the rules of a relationship. The hero and heroine or two heroes can be lovers who have made a pact, simply strayed into monogamy or actually gotten married. But if there is a spoken or even unspoken bond that the couple will remain sexually faithful and the hero sleeps with someone else, he is cheating.

Escape from life
Why can’t a hero cheat? Plenty of men do in real life? Why don’t romance publishers want to publish books with cheating heroes? One reason readers flock to romance is to escape from real life. Some romance books are more realistic than others. I write contemporary romance and strive to make them as realistic as possible within the boundaries readers are looking for: faithful heroes and happy endings. That rules out cheating men.

Makes the hero look untrustworthy
Another reason cheating leaves a bad taste in the mouth of a romance reader is that it’s a break of basic trust between the hero, his lover and the reader. A relationship doesn’t work if trust is broken. Once the lover discovers a cheating partner, it’s practically impossible to regain the same level of trust. And if that trust is violated in the bedroom, where else is the lover being dishonest? Suspicion created by cheating taints all aspects of the hero’s life in the mind of his lover and the reader. 

Faithful heroes become supermen
            Romance readers are the first to admit they love the men in their lives. But those men are flawed, as are all human beings. In romance novels we read about the perfect hero. One aspect that makes him perfect is being sexually faithful to the heroine or significant other. I like to write imperfect heroes, slightly flawed men, but my men are never so flawed they can’t stay faithful to the heroine.

Tarnishes the Lover
Whether the object of desire for our hero is a man or woman, if the hero is cheating it makes his lover look less than wonderful. If he’s off making love to someone else, we tend to think less of his main squeeze. We wonder what’s wrong with him or her. If the SO is painted as irresistible, how come the hero is screwing around? Why does he need someone else if he or she is so great? So his unfaithful behavior taints his lover as well.

The Strength of Love
            Hopefully everyone reading our books has experienced true love at some time in their lives. True love is a powerful emotion. It can move mountains, start wars and heal the sick. If our hero and his lover have true love, it should be so strong, so captivating that he is overwhelmed with enormous desire for his lover. This won’t ring true if he is off bed-bouncing with someone else. Their love loses power, credibility if the hero is messing around with someone else. We don’t believe he truly loves the principal man or woman in his life. We think he’s a phony, a liar and we cease to believe the love story.

What do you think? Can a hero be a cheater without losing you, the reader? 

Jean Joachim is an author, married, a mother of two boys and owner of a rescued pug named Homer. She lives in New York City. She writes contemporary romance and has ten books published with two more scheduled to be release within the coming months. Jean has one book in the Amazon top 100 listing. She also has seven non-fiction books published. Her bestselling activity books are frequently in the top 25 on Amazon. Jean has been writing non-fiction for over twenty years and fiction for three. Her review column, "Movie Choices for Kids" has been syndicated in weekly and parenting newspapers and on websites for the past twelve years.

Find out more about her books on her website: http://www.jeanjoachimbooks.com

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  1. Thanks for having me, today, Lee. I'm not shy about expressing my opinion and hope to get some feedback from others about cheating.

  2. Nope, no love for cheaters.
    I like your point about how the Hero's cheating can tarnish the heroine in the readers' eyes - I'd never given that any thought, but it's very important.
    Thanks for the lesson Jean!

  3. Thanks for stopping by, Pamela. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  4. As I said, if its done right then it could be vital to the story. You make good points though, we do love our romance to take us away from reality. The grim realities make for a juicier story I believe if the situation calls for it.

    I read every book with an open mind. I won't rule out anything without at least trying it first.

    1. I guess it depends on what genre you're reading. If it's thriller, mystery or fiction, a cheater may work. But for romance, it doesn't lend itself to a HEA which most pubs insist on. They also make a point of refusing cheaters. I like to be taken away with a man who doesn't cheat. All in the mind of the reader, I guess.

  5. I don't particularly like cheating heroes- but sometimes it's all perception. Is taking another on a date to make someone jealous- but nothing happens- is that cheating? I say no but some readers would say yes. In my current novel it's a marriage of convenience and the heroine comes home to find the hero kissing someone else. To me since I wrote it- that's all it was- a kiss but someone wrote me and told me that no matter what I said she KNOWS that my hero cheated. and she does not like cheaters.

    great blog Jean!!

    1. No, I agree with you a date to make someone jealous is not cheating and the kiss in Callie's Heart wasn't either. It wasn't the same type of relationship. They had not committed their bodies to monogamy, only a business arrangement. I didn't find that interfered with the enjoyment of your book at all. I understood.

  6. Yes, I think the hero or heroine is allowed to cheat and this isn't limited to romance stories either. If we want to write our characters realistic then we need that aspect of life. Even if the H gives someone a seductive look or touch.

    1. Cheating in non-romance stories is a different thing to me. Why is the hero throwing a seductive look at another if his one and only is truly his one and only? Why does he want/need anyone else? It doesn't work for me in romance.

  7. Nope. No cheaters for me. People cheat in life all the time. I don't like it and certainly don't want my heroes doing it. Then they're no longer heroes, just another person making another mistake.

    1. I so agree Dianne. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your opinion.

  8. I recently read a great book where the main male character was so weak that he cheated. This of course was to show how the heroine could do better and did by the end. But I absolutely hated his character and really wanted that guy to get his just desserts by the end!

    I have read novels in which there are multiple partners such as in paranormal wherein one mate is seduced by a spell or something and makes loves to another. Even then, it loses something for me because I don't understand why true love wouldn't be strong enough to withstand temptation. I love books in which a character may be deeply flawed, but once they are smitten, then they only have eyes for the one they love!

    1. I agree with you, Kellie. Those are the kind of books that draw me to them. I want the hero to love his SO so much that he doesn't have eyes for anyone else. Anything less cheapens them both in my eyes. I'm not a fan of paranormal, so I don't know what goes on there, but spell or no spell, I want my hero faithful. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your opinon.


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