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If you were a child of the 1980s, then you remember the thrill of your introduction to Superman. I mean the real Superman: Christopher Reeves.

He played a very handsome, very nerdy Clark Kent. Do you remember how beautiful that man was? Too lovely for this world.

This year, I had the opportunity to remember what it was like to go cuckoo for cocoa puffs over Clark Kent when, much to my surprise, he walked right into a Halloween party: ruffled dark hair, broad chest, lean frame, and nerdy glasses. He sighed, let out the host’s dog, and I was hooked.

The butterflies in my stomach about lifted me right off the ground.

In my adult predilection for Mr. Darcy, I had sublimated my adolescent affinity for Clark Kent.

My very visceral response to the poor young man who won my heart and soul at the Halloween party reawakened it, and being a thoughtful woman of mature years, I explored that response a bit. I wondered, what happened?

The answer came to me rather easily — Clark Kent and Darcy both have that sublime power of reserve. They are duty bound to hold themselves back, to secret their emotions behind screens of propriety. And frankly, this is a real turn on, for many of us.

These heroes may be like Clark, hiding a secret that could place you in peril should you discover it. Or like Darcy, struggling to maintain dignity in the face of your unique charm.

Of course the list goes on as to reasons, but even just these two will do well enough.

Lisa Kleypas will illustrate my point very well. In Seduce Me At Sunrise, (4 stars) Kev withholds himself from Winifred to  save her from peril (him) with an engaging broodiness. In It Happened One Autumn (4 stars) Marcus withholds from Lillian to maintain dignity in the face of her unique charm. Oh, and my personal favorite for the incredible way Harry awakes the morning after he finally sleeps with his wife… In Tempt Me at Twilight, Harry withholds himself from Poppy, well, because he loves her just so darn much. And for that, 5 stars.

What is it about the man who doesn’t want to hold back (of course, he doesn’t want to), but will. Just for you.

And if the sheer pervasiveness of this type of romantic hero has you thinking that, well, ALL romantic heroes use this power of reserve (Rochester, Heathcliff, etc. ad infinitum), we need only go back to Kleypas for the fab heros who wield altogether different kinds of magic: Simon, Leo, Cam.

You see the difference.

Consider your favorite romantic heroes and ask yourself: how many have been drawn from this single operating principle?

And when you begin to recognize how many of your favorites share this quality, please let me know how to find them. I love this kind of hero, and am so glad to find him whenever we meet again.

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