Bernita's got a blog post about the tortured hero. (and also about the 'Big Secret' often used in the heroine's past, which often, as Bernita so succintly puts it, turns out to be bathos.
(Love that word, lol.)
December chimed in saying she loved the tortured hero, and I have to admit, that to a certain extent, so do I. (Heathcliff, anyone?) However, there are tortures and tortures, and Bernita is right when she says she'd like to see more heros with a problem past who turned out to be perfectly normal. Hallelujah! I have been thinking the same thing.
I was thinking that because my daughter is in seventh grade. (12) Age of rampant hormones and trying to learn all about algebra and human relations at once. Suddenly words like prostitute are heard at the dinner table, as questions come from left field. What is the difference between a prostute and a whore and a bitch? my daughter wanted to know today at lunch. Turns out several boys in her class have started calling all the girls whores. My first reaction is anger - who called my daughter a whore? I will knock his new teeth out. Then I realize the kid is 12, like my daughter, and probably is having the same sort of identity crisis and vocabulary crisis to go along with it. And all these kids come home with tragic looks on their faces. "Mom, so and so did (said) this to me!" And it's a Drama each evening, and each day they start anew. High drama in the junior high. I admire the teachers who have to navigate the teens through this difficult period.
And the drama often reminds me of the tortured heros and neurotic heroines I sometimes come across in books. The hero who can't stop insulting women. The heroine for whom every set back means a torrent of tears. I think it's because romance heros and heroines tend to be young.
Sometimes, as with my daughter, I wish they would grow up though.