Why do people love grumpy heroes?
There is a reason Beauty and the Beast is wildly popular–arguably one of the most popular retellings–and I think it is more than just the amazing library. Then there is Pride and Prejudice. Has anyone ever wondered why that is Austin’s most popular book? Sure he is rich, but so are several of her other characters.
The banter: Most everyone loves a book with good banter and a book with a grumpy hero is bound to have banter especially when it is a case of opposites attract!
A protector: Most woman love to feel safe and protected when they are with a man. It fulfills an innate need to be cherished. I’m not saying we women need a man to protect us, but it sure is nice when we have that extra support and are with someone who makes us feel safe. And those grumpy men exude that Alpha-male masculinity, trait that makes us feel like he can protect and cherish us.
A bit of bad-boy danger: Lets face it, many of us find a bad-boy exciting. You never know what he might do or say next, but with these grumpy heroes, often the bad-boy front is covering a cuddly teddy bear inside. What is better than a complex man with a troubled past who just needs a bit of tender-loving care?
The redemption arc: No one is perfect, no matter how much we try. Reading about a character whose imperfections are there for all to see but is able to do what it takes to change and become a better man makes us feel hope for not only ourselves but for all of humanity.
Personally the banter and strong masculine vibes mixed with a dark exterior hiding a troubled but sweet marshmallow who melts your heart, gets me ever time! I can’t help but fall for the endearing grump and long for his healing and redemption arc.
Sweet & Swoony Retellings
Fabulous Grumpy Hero Fairytales I Loved:
I’m sure there are even more reasons you love a good grump. I’d love to hear about them in the comments. Meanwhile I hope you enjoy some of these sweet & swoony fantasy grumpy hero romances!
The Dark King and the Eternal Dance by Alesha Adamson
An unwanted proposal. An unexpected curse. Will Rayna and her eleven sisters ever be free of the Dark King and this eternal dance?
Rayna is not usually the boldest of her sisters. However, when her eldest sister, Faelynn, seems ready to abandon her own happily ever after and accept the Dark King’s proposal, Rayna knows she must act and take drastic measures before someone gets hurt. Measures that just might cost her her heart.
*A retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” intertwined with “Hades and Persephone”
Considering how much I love grumpy heroes it should come as no surprise that when I came up with how to turn the fairytale on its head and have the villain as the hero, I knew I wanted a misunderstood grump. Soon the delightfully grumpy and slightly oblivious Drake was born. The more I got to know him and his troubled past the more I loved him. He was a joy to write. And I adored his banter with Rayna! Their whole relationship was simply adorable.
Reflection by Camille Peters
Princess Rheanna’s self-esteem shattered when her former fiancé unexpectedly ended their betrothal. Years later, the rejection continues to haunt her, and now that she’s faced with yet another unwanted political engagement, Rhea will do anything to avoid another heartache.
When a mysterious lure draws Rhea to an abandoned turret of the palace, she discovers a magic mirror and is shocked to find a snarky man trapped inside. Although she agrees to help break Drake’s curse, things quickly grow complicated, for not only does she begin to fall in love with him, but breaking a curse proves quite difficult when she herself feels trapped––by her own self-doubts.
*Inspired by “Snow White”
Poisoned: Snow White’s Story by Mary Mecham
A poisoned apple and true love’s first kiss were only the beginning to Snow White’s story…
After a handsome prince swoops in to save the day, Snow can’t help but feel like something is still missing in her life. She begins to wonder if “happily ever after” really exists, because what she is experiencing certainly isn’t the idyllic life she imaged a princess would have. With each passing day, Snow feels an increasing desire to escape the pressures of the castle and return to the brothers who live in the cottage in the woods.
*A retelling of “Snow White”
Beast Charming by Jennifer Wardell
Beast Charming tells the story of Beauty, who works as a temp at an agency run by a high-tempered dragon. To avoid running into her conniving and desperately-craving-for-nobility father—conveniently named Noble—she takes on a peculiar job that will force her to converse with a violent beast named, well, Beast. The rest of the story develops into a hysterical tale of a classic fairy tale romance gone modernly awry.
*A retelling of “Beauty and the Beast”
Beauty by Robin McKinley
The sisters’ wealthy father loses all his money when his merchant fleet is drowned in a storm, and the family moves to a village far away. Then the old merchant hears what proves to be a false report that one of his ships had made it safe to harbor at last, and on his sad, disappointed way home again he becomes lost deep in the forest and has a terrifying encounter with a fierce Beast, who walks like a man and lives in a castle. The merchant’s life is forfeit, says the Beast, for trespass and the theft of a rose—but he will spare the old man’s life if he sends one of his daughters: “Your daughter would take no harm from me, nor from anything that lives in my lands.” When Beauty hears this story—for her father had picked the rose to bring to her—her sense of honor demands that she take up the Beast’s offer, for “cannot a Beast be tamed?”
*A retelling of “Beauty and the Beast”
TBR Grumpy Hero Fairytales:
The Scarred Prince by Erika Everest
A bitter and reclusive prince. A determined intruder. An unlikely friendship.
His face scarred from a witch’s curse, Prince Sebastian retreats inside his castle, resentful and angry. He shuns contact with everyone except the Red Hoods, the elite soldiers he trains and leads.
Four years ago, Sienna was kidnapped. Still traumatized by her ordeal, she needs to learn to protect herself to feel safe again, and she wants the Prince to train her.
Reluctantly, Sebastian agrees.
*”Beauty and the Beast” meets “Little Red Riding Hood”
Song of the Sea by Deborah Grace White
Sometimes the death of your greatest dream is only the beginning…
Princess Estelle has never been happy in her father’s underwater empire, although she’s ready to do her duty—marry at fifteen and pass her three hundred years in service to family and empire. But when she’s finally allowed to ascend to the surface and catches sight of a handsome human prince, a different—and altogether dangerous—dream starts to grow in her heart.
*A “Little Mermaid” retelling
Wilting Captive by Abigail Manning
A duchess, a beast, and a castle full of hungry hostages…
Duchess Mirabel Brantley has spent nearly all her life being sheltered due to her fragile health. With no hope of ever living the life of adventure she dreamed of, Mira agrees to an arranged marriage with the neighboring duke of Dhurin. Their betrothal celebration might have been pleasant if they didn’t already despise each other, but it also might have helped if the entire party wasn’t taken hostage…
*A retelling of “Beauty and the Beast”
The Reluctant Godfather by Allison Tebo
A humorous and magical re-telling of Cinderella from a unique perspective.Burndee is a young and cantankerous fairy godfather, who would rather bake cakes than help humans. A disgrace to the fairy order, Burndee has only two wards entrusted to his care…a cinder girl and a charming prince. A royal ball presents Burndee with the brilliant solution of how to make his wards happy with the least amount of effort. He’ll arrange a meeting and hope the two fall in love.
*A retelling of “Cinderella”
Grace by Contract by Rachel Rossano
After her father uproots the family to the northern duchy of Brackenhurst, Grace Eldon and her four younger sisters struggle with a new life of hardship. Desperate to keep a roof over their heads amid mounting debts, she and her youngest sister seek employment in the Duke of Brackenhurst’s household despite fearsome rumors.
Scarred and maimed from a terrible fire Silas Isling, Duke of Brackenhurst, buries himself in his work to avoid the stares of pity and fear. When one of the new maids shows no fear at his appearance, he is intrigued. That is until his meddling steward gives her the task of cleaning Silas’ bookroom. It is a most unwelcome disruption since he prefers to be alone.
*A reimagining of Beauty and the Beast
Mirrors of Ice by Celeste Boxendell
There is still worth in broken things.
With the end of her mourning period approaching, Princess Eirwen of Glaciar knows her time is up. Her aunt, Queen Regent Isolde, is going to strike soon, but Eirwen’s ready—as ready as one can be for their own assassination. As soon as Eirwen is out of the way, there will be nothing left to stop Isolde from taking over Glaciar.
A retelling of “The Snow Queen”
Fly with the Arrow by Sarah K.L. Wilson
He’s been stealing brides for centuries and now he’s stolen her.
Izolda is as chilly and practical as her icy homeland. The prospect of an arranged marriage to a much older man doesn’t worry her. But when a stranger arrives, kills her would-be husband and claims her as his bride instead, citing a law she’s never heard of, she is left with a tangled problem on her hands.
*Inspired by “Bluebeard”
*End on a cliffhanger so be ready with book 2!
Sweet & Swoony Fantasy Romances
TBR Grumpy Hero Fantasy:
In Darkenss Forged by Kenely Davidson
In a land of darkness and deadly adversaries…
He might just be the deadliest one of all.
Burdened by a debt she can never hope to repay, Aislin is sent by her cruel lord to the mysterious land of Dunmaren, where she must beg the night elves for a single favor. The shapeshifters demand a steep price, but Aislin will do anything to save her family—even travel alone into a nightmare forest filled with monsters.
Except she isn’t quite alone…
*Moderate violence, occasional swear
Gardian of Talons and Snares by Anastasis Blythe
Can they stop almost killing each other long enough to save their empire? Or will his secrets destroy them both?
Sun Aranya just wants a stable job so she can care for her ailing grandfather. After years of relentless magic training, she has finally earned a city wardenship—only to discover on her first day that annoyingly handsome Shi Kai is laying claim to her position.
There’s only one option: they’ll just have to compete for it.
*Moderate fantasy violence
The Shadow Elf’s Rescuer by Elisa Rae
In a world full of elves, woodwose, gargoyles, and brownies, shadow elves are the most feared. Casimir, brother of the elven king’s spymaster, is constantly reminded of this reputation in his service to his brother and his king. Now, dying slowly at the hands of a crazed magus, he holds no hope of rescue. Who would risk their life for a nightmare like him?
The Elven Healer’s Apprentice by Elisa Rae
Merlon, the king of Eldarlan’s healer, hides his soft heart beneath a prickly exterior. Despite a traumatic childhood, he strives to excel as a healer and an elf. But he gets more than he bargained for when he rescues a human woman from certain death right before being snared in the curse put on the king of Eldarlan.
Moonlit Woods by Eliza Tilton
When Rosalie is thrown into a deadly bridal competition she must decide if the dark fae stealing her heart can be trusted to save her life.
In order to save her sick firehawks, Rosalie sells herself into a competition to marry the wicked magistrate of Farrow’s Gate. If she wins, her farm is saved. If she loses, she’ll be forced to work off her family’s debt in an undisclosed location.
But the magistrate won’t marry just any human.
*Mild fantasy violence
Court of Bitter Thorn by Kay L. Moody
Faerie wasn’t supposed to be real. Tricked by a fae prince, Elora is stuck in the Faerie realm far from her young sisters who depend on her for survival. Under the terms of her bargain, she can’t go home to the mortal world until Prince Brannick becomes the next High King. Or until he’s taken out of the running.
*Mild fantasy violence
Knight’s Rebirth by Sarah Ashwood
“My name is Buckhunter Dornley, and I am dead.”
This isn’t your average fairy tale, and Sir Buckhunter Dornley isn’t your average knight. He’ll tell you that himself. Winning tournaments, fighting cyclopes, and slaying dragons? All in a day’s work for the mightiest knight in the empire, but that knight is about to meet his match in Mercy, the charming and outrageous princess of Merris. The bigger they are, the harder they fall, and Buck falls hard. What he doesn’t know is Mercy lives under an ancient, terrible curse. When he finds out, Buck swears he’ll do anything to break it.
*Mild fantasy violence
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