Physical descriptions in books are important, because the reader wants to be able to picture the characters in their heads. I made a point never to describe Annie Seymour too carefully because I wanted the reader to imagine her, not just see her clearly. But with Brett Kavanaugh, I have described her short red hair, the fact that she's almost six feet tall and skinny, and all of her tattoos in detail. She's an attractive woman.
Other writers follow suit: Alafair Burke's Ellie Hatcher is petite, blond and extremely attractive. Lee Child's Jack Reacher is a man's man and a woman's man, even though I've always wondered just how "clean" he is, since he doesn't carry a suitcase and seems to wear the same clothes all the time. Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache is a nattily dressed middle aged man. In Harlan Coben's THE WOODS, all the women are gorgeous and have long legs. Jim Born's Duarte is surrounded by amazingly attractive women, as is his Bill Tasker. Wallace Stroby's Harry Rane always manages to bed beautiful, sexy women.
Speaking of sex, Lori Armstrong's Martinez is the epitome of hot (and if you read SHALLOW GRAVE you may find yourself blushing). Alison Gaylin's Krull may be strong and silent, but not when it counts. Michele Martinez’s Dan causes Melanie to throw caution to the wind, lock her office door and offer herself to him on the desk. In my books, Vinny DeLucia used to be a geek but now he makes Annie weak in the knees. In THE MISSING INK, Brett meets a suave, gorgeous, British casino manager who sweeps her off her feet.
In reality, though, as an example, those CSI shows can't be farther from the truth when you see an actual CSI. Cops aren't always that good looking. Neither are lawyers or tattoo artists or journalists. Can we justify feeding into society's idea of what people should look like by writing these characters who take our books just a stone’s throw from the old-fashioned bodice rippers? Can we justify this by saying that’s what readers want? Can we justify it by saying that’s what we want?