"Despite the fact that she was obviously capable of taking care of herself, she brought out his protective instincts" (Filthy Rich, Kindle Loc 525)
"I'm going to protect you on this, Cara. Trust me, okay?" (FR 1821)
"He'd fucking promised to protect Cara, and instead he'd allowed someone to get close while they'd ben dancing and endanger her again" (FR 3895)
"I told you once: violence is clumsy. But sometimes it's called for. And when me and mind are at stake, I'll do what I must. Show no weakness, accept no insult, allow no advantage: that's the law of the street. (Luck p. 216)
"Your wife, whom you will overrule whenever you deem it fit. Your wife, whom you will lock away when her desires strike you as inconvenient."
"To hell with that," he snarled. "If I think you in danger, yes. That's what a man does—for his wife, for his friends, for anyone he loves. You think I give a damn if you're angry now, so long as you're safe tonight?" (Luck 327)
The word "protect," or some form of it, appears forty times in the NetGalley ARC of Filthy Rich, most often in reference to the feelings that its rich businessman hero, Branden Duke, experiences towards the heroine Cara. In contrast, the word appears hardly at all in the novel by the more literarily-inclined Duran. Yet Duran's hero, a London crime boss, is just as invested in a conception of masculinity defined by its ability to protect a heterosexual beloved as is DePaul's Manhattanite financier.
Why, at this particular point in history, do so many romance readers find the fantasy of being loved by a protective man so appealing? Or, to ask the question another way, what are romance readers today so afraid of? In real life, few of us are in danger of having someone ruin our reputations with a false sex tape, or being abducted by a mad Russian general, or being attacked by a crazed colleague, or being incarcerated in a Victorian madhouse. What is is that many romance readers feel in danger of, then, that draws them/us like bees to pollen to heroes who promise to save us, even at the expense of our independence?
*See my Goodreads review of Filthy Rich if you want the particulars of why I consider this one unfeminist