There is the typical hero most stories ascribe to.
Physical beauty, commanding posture, wealth and magnetism are characteristics that will be found in the hero. When I read of a man who is the most handsome in the land, or of his time, or his family; who commands with his tone of voice, or a look, or a poise; who is the richest man, or wealthy beyond reason; who is coveted by women of all ages and any station; the sum of this will always result in a hero.
‘Always’ may convey the impression that all romantic books are the same.
It’s true that there are heroes who are not the most handsome of all; if so, they will have the most expressive eyes, the most defined biceps, the most aristocratic hands, the most height, the broadest shoulder – if not in its classic sense, nevertheless there will be physical beauty.
If the hero is poor, and there is no one to be ordered about by him, he still won’t be diffident. He may be reserved, but will speak up when needed; poor or not he will always be protective. If the hero is poor, then he is wealthy in other things, like ideals, intelligence, creativity, single-mindedness, working to exhaustion.
He may attract sex or wiles or psychic connections or ridicule; he may fall for them or he may not; but he will not be a non-entity, with no opinion, no looks, no cronies, no chase, not a thing of interest.
Romantic characters are the most despised of all fictional characters. Not even their counterpart in suspense and thrillers, the murderer – who sometimes is the lead character – is so reviled. It is nothing new. At least from Victorian times romantic novels were not an encouraged reading. They were read, just not praised.