The start of a new novel is always the start of a wonderful adventure, and my very first step has to be naming my characters, especially my hero and heroine. As soon as I have done so, they become alive and turn into real persons I can talk to, dream of and shout at. Choosing the names of your romantic characters, like picking the name of your baby, can be a long and stressful process because names are full of meaning. They give the reader an immediate impression of the characters' personality and background, of their social status and physical appearance, and even of their age. A hero's name can be so attractive the reader is immediately drawn and falls in love with him, or so off-putting she will stop reading.
So, what do you need to consider when choosing a name for your hero if you write romance?
1. Consider the time period.
If you call the hero of your Regency Harley, Bailey or Zane, the reader will not find it credible and may be turned off (or indeed intrigued). On the other hand, names like Ethan or Micah which may sound at first too modern, were actually quite common in Puritan English families in the 17th century. Talking about Puritan names, you should however steer clear of Fear-God, Fly-Fornication or Die-Well for your hero!
2. Consider the setting.
If your novel takes place abroad, then it is logical to have a cast of characters with names from that country, and that includes your hero. However too may unfamiliar sounding names might put the reader off, so you may have to chose names which work well both in English and French, Spanish or Russian - or whatever nationality your hero is. For example, I think Gregor, Alexei, and Dimitri would work well for a Russian hero, whereas Ermolei, Evgeny or Miron may not work so well.
3. Consider also the letter your hero's name begins with.
I have read that it was better to give your hero a name beginning with a 'hard' letter like B, G, J, K, R, V, because a hard, tough man must have a hard, tough sounding name. Well, I may have got that right with Bruce McGunn, the hero of The Dream Catcher, but all my other heroes had names starting with supposedly 'soft' letters: H (Hugo Saintclair), L (Lucas Saintclair), and F (Fabien Coste) and yet there was nothing soft about them!
4. Consider the meaning of your hero's name.
There are many books or internet sites about the meaning of names and it's always a good idea to check first, especially when you want to use a foreign name. For example, you might find the following names lovely but be put off when you find out that Amos means 'troubled', Vaughn in Welsh means 'little', and Cameron in Scottish means 'crooked nose'!
Why did I choose Bruce? It just popped into my mind when I was thinking about my Scottish hero. I knew straight away it would be perfect for the kind of man I had in mind, and of course it was the surname of Robert the Bruce, the Scottish hero of the 14th century who achieved independence from England and became the king of Scotland.
5. That brings me to the hero's surname, which is just as important as his first name.
McGunn wasn't my first choice of surname for the hero of THE DREAM CATCHER, but then I thought it would be fun if Rose, the heroine, could make fun of him and of his dark moods by giving him nicknames such as 'McGlum' or 'McGrump'. So this is how Bruce McGunn was born!
6. Lastly, consider your heroine's name too, because the hero's and heroine's names must work well together. You should practice saying them aloud. I did and I really liked the sound of 'Bruce and Rose'.
Originally from Lyon in France, Marie has lived in the beautiful Rossendale Valley, Lancashire, England, for the past few years. ANGEL HEART, her debut historical romance, has just been re-released by Áccent Press, together with award-winning THE LION'S EMBRACE. She also writes contemporary romance with A SPELL IN PROVENCE, which was published earlier in 2015. THE DREAM CATCHER, Part I of her historical romance Trilogy DANCING FOR THE DEVIL, will be released on November 26th by Áccent too.
You can find her at
Blurb - DREAM CATCHER
Can her love heal his haunted heart?
Cape Wrath, Scotland, November 1847.
Bruce McGunn is a man as brutal and unforgiving as his land in the far North of Scotland. Discharged from the army where he was known as the claymore devil, haunted by the spectres of his fallen comrades and convinced he is going mad, he is running out of time to save his estate from the machinations of Cameron McRae, heir to the McGunn's ancestral enemies. When the clipper carrying McRae’s new bride is caught in a violent storm and docks at Wrath harbour, Bruce decides to revert to the old ways and hold the clipper and the woman to ransom. However, far from the spoilt heiress he expected, Rose is genuine, funny and vulnerable - a ray of sunshine in the long, harsh winter that has become his life.
But Rose is determined to escape Wrath and its proud master - the man she calls McGlum.
DREAM CATCHER is the first of the DANCING FOR THE DEVIL trilogy and is followed by BLUE BONNETS and SWORD DANCE.