In Praise of Nerd Heroes


Hi, I’m Zoë, and I’m a nerd lover.

Hi, Zoë.

As a romance reader, and romance author, I know I’m supposed to love the big, brooding, badass alpha hero.  He’s the guy who can do everything—lead an assault on a nest of vampires, single-handedly take down the drug cartel, defeat the spy ring while flawlessly dancing a waltz and making all the maidens weak with desire.  These heroes are larger than life, and yes, they definitely make a woman’s pulse speed up.

But give me a shy, smart guy, and watch me swoon.

There’s something so utterly charming, something that makes me all weak in the knees when a man who’s known for his brains suddenly loses his composure around the woman he fancies.  He doesn’t have the smooth moves, he doesn’t know the right words to say.  He may even stammer and blush.  He’s more comfortable thinking up complex equations than seducing, and that makes his awkward attempts at wooing all the more irresistible.

Of course, I’m also talking about a romance hero, so my favorite nerd heroes can also kick butt.  It wouldn’t quite work if the heroine had to keep bailing him out, would it?  So underneath his button-down shirt or uniform, you’re going to find a body that’s just as sexy and capable as his brains.  Oh, and you know that famous line from the film “Revenge of the Nerds?”  “All Jocks ever think about is sports, all [nerds] ever think about is sex.” Yeah, that’s definitely true.  Smart guy + sex = very attentive, creative lovemaking.

Lieutenant Nils Calder, the hero of CHAIN REACTION, is the top mind in the 8th Wing’s Engineering Corps.  (The other 8th Wing soldiers refer to Engineering as NerdWorks.)  He’s also the very last person Lieutenant Celene Jur wants accompanying her on her mission of vengeance.  But behind Nils’s quiet, nerdy exterior beats the heart of a true warrior.  All he has to do is survive the mission—and survive Celene.

Tell me some of your favorite nerd heroes!  I’ll pick a winner from one of the comments to receive a copy of CHAIN REACTION.


You can read an excerpt of CHAIN REACTION here.

Order: Carina, Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook


Zoë is a RITA-award nominated romance author who loves kickass heroines and heroes who love kickass heroines.  Her books include the paranormal historical Hellraisers series and the acclaimed Blades of the Rose historical paranormal adventure series. she enjoys baking, tweeting about boots, and listening to music from the ’80s.  She and her husband, fellow romance author Nico Rosso, live in Los Angeles.

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19 thoughts on “In Praise of Nerd Heroes”

  1. azteclady says:

    Westley from Angel leapt to mind, though I’m not sure he meets all the criteria. Perhaps Ford, from Nora Roberts’ Tribute is a better example.

  2. Scarlettina says:

    I have a soft spoke for the absent-minded professor type – think David Tennant’s Doctor from Doctor Who. Although I think this may be a result of some formative-years’ Jude Deveraux reading!

  3. J. L. Hilton says:

    My husband is my favorite nerd hero. All that shy awkwardness and intellectual conversation was so hot I had to marry it. :)

    In fiction, I’ve always loved the unlovable dorks… Dobbin in “Vanity Fair,” Cyrano de Bergerac, Raistlin in the DragonLance Chronicles, Edward Scissorhands, Data in Star Trek… I still tear up when Kim Possible finally kisses Ron Stoppable in “So the Drama.”

  4. Lisa says:

    Not really entering the drawing since I just won one, but I wanted to join the convo. I love this type of hero! I’m partial to Daniel Jackson from Stargate, but I’m an odd duck in that for me, that means the movie, not the show.

  5. I’m a Chuck fan! Chuck is my number one nerd love, especially since he’s a computer tech and a secret agent, who works as a Nerd Herd. So cute! I love his type because he’s always nervous, wants to do the right thing, and loves comic con as much as I do!

    My vote is for Chuck as my favorite nerd hero!

  6. Kathy Ivan says:

    I was also thinking David Tennant’s Doctor Who. Daniel Jackson from Stargate is also a good choice. I agree there just something about a man using his brain that is just uber-sexy! :-)

  7. Julie Rowe says:

    I think Dr. Spencer Reid from Criminal Minds is HOT! And what about Charlie Eppes from Numbers?!

  8. Linda Banche says:

    Nerds are my favorite types of heroes. A great bod without the brains to match doesn’t work for me. All that intelligence is sexy. And the best part about brainy heroes is that they like equally brainy heroines, especially nontraditional ones. I want more stories with nerd heroes and heroines walking into the sunset together as they collaborate on how to build a transporter or discover a cure for cancer. Nerd power!

  9. Becky Black says:

    My favourite nerd of the last few years has to be Daniel Faraday in Lost. Adorable.

    Looking forward to reading this book. I enjoyed Collision Course was great fun, so I can’t want to read more in that setting.

  10. Julie says:

    If anybody watches Leverage, Aldis Hodge plays my favorite nerd ever, Alec Hardison. Geek power baby, stay strong.

  11. shel says:

    I’m also a Chuck fan, so Chuck Bartowski. :) Reluctant CIA asset (his brain was accidentally programmed with The Intersect, long story) who works at a chain electronics store.

  12. Dee J. says:

    Would McGyver be considered a nerd? He’s kind of a cross… a studnerd. He gets my vote!

    Congrats on the new release!

  13. Kathy Miller says:

    My favorite nerd would have to be Keith Carridine (sp) from the movie Revenge Of The Nerds.

  14. Zoe Archer says:

    Thanks for stopping by, everyone!

    azteclady: Westley is DEFINITELY a nerd hero! Especially as he evolves into a “rogue demon hunter.” “What’s a rogue demon?”

    Scarlettina: If his name is “the Doctor” that definitely makes him qualified to be a nerd hero!

    J. L. Hilton: my husband is my nerd hero, too! And I am a huge sucker for the unrequited nerd love. Yay, Dobbin!

    Lisa and Kathy Ivan: Funny you should mention Daniel from the Stargate TV series, because when the art department wanted some images to for reference for the cover, I sent them pictures of him! You read my mind!

    Kristen -Seeing Night and shel: I’ve never seen Chuck, but maybe I should reconsider that!

    Julie Rowe and Julie: You guys are going to make me watch all kinds of new shows now! Who knew the nerd hero would be so popular on TV?

    Becky Black: Didn’t you just want to give Farraday a hug? And thanks for reading!

    Dee J.: Most definitely MacGuyver is a nerd hero! He’s one of the original hot nerds!

    Kathy Miller: I think it was actually Robert Carradine in Revenge of the Nerds. He was great–that laugh!

  15. infinitieh says:

    Vicki Lewis Thompson wrote a whole book series of nerd heroes… hm, my favorite is definitely MacGyver. I’m sure many impressionable young people like myself ended up in engineering because we wanted to be like him.

    Are nerd heroes inherently betas?

  16. I’m chiming in for MacGyver as well. I always loved that boy’s brains and Swiss Army Knife!

    More recently I’ve also got to chime in for the Doctor–Tennant’s regeneration in particular was certainly nerdtastic, but really, the Doctor in general is a glorious example of a hero who always wins because of his brains. Some of the Doctor’s regenerations are definitely nerdier than others, though!

  17. Jo says:

    Doctor Who for sure. Weird. Anyone else think that cover model looks a bit like Captain Jack?

  18. azteclady says:


    Not to be a pest but…did anyone win this?

  19. I Know your from Yahoo search engine. Was looking for ideas! I would read your site frequently. Thanks..

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