After reading Awaken to Pleasure and Nalini Singh's other novels, I come to a realization (and maybe it's because her Silhouette novels really focus on the emotional aspect of her characters) that her male characters have a male dignity and are allowed to keep, for the most part, that dignity throughout their story. What I mean to say is that they are not unmanned or emasculated to illustrate how much they truly love their female counter part.
(I should briefly describe my version of male dignity: when a strong men who carries strong emotions, but is locked down so tight that it is hard for them to express it (usually due to past emotional stress), the woman who are starting to love them understand and take joy in the affection they show without demanding what their 'version' of love and affections is. Instead, in most cases, the men are allowed to generally come to the conclusion on their own of what they want and it tends to line up with what the female characters want as well. There is no, it's only my way or the highway between either of the two main characters. In place of that, the two characters slowly feel out their relationship and in the end get what they both desire.)
Nalini allows, and her female characters accept, that the men in their lives have dignity. In fact the heroine's are allowed to and find respect in the male characters point of views and emotional state. In her Silhouette novels, the men tend to be strong and have a lot of possessive tendencies (in a good way). Their female counter parts understand and work within their views, but that isn't to say that they don't stick up for their beliefs or argue when the moment is right. I should also say that even if the male characters don't initially like their female counter parts, they always display respect towards them.
The heroines tend to work with their men and up until a point in the novel (usually when the man starts to get out of hand) are willing to have parts of their relationship be guided by their views. It's at this point in her stories that the men in her novels have to come to a certain realization and take their blinders off to realize that they truly love their woman and they desire to spend the rest of the lives with them.
Her men, like almost any man, throughout the story starts to feel like it's their due that the heroine do as they request, whether if it's going to a party with them, allowing for their disagreements to be conversed about in private, or giving the woman in their life a little space (not much) to chose to be with them, they act like real men and the woman in her stories never allow themselves to be walked over, at least, not for long.
That isn't to say that her woman are emotionally submissive and that they are constantly prostrating themselves on their husbands to tell them what to do or how to think. All of her female characters are strong, have their own views and are willing to take the time to look back on their conversations/fights to reflect and decide where to go from there. It's this true almost 50/50 relationship that she builds that keeps me coming back for more.
When reading her novels, I truly feel that apart her characters would have a lackluster and unfulfilled life, but together they are made whole and turn out better for it. There is always an emotional sharing, a strengthening of both characters mental state when they are completely together in the end. It's as if she weaves her characters emotional halves together to create a whole and the end result is something that I would wish for everyone to find in real life.
I very rarely find this in any other author novels (Lisa Kelypas is another great novelist that does this well). In most cases, the characters come together in the end but the compromise is always uneven and a true meshing of characters emotional and physical lives is not there. Usually the woman ends ups staying home (I should say that this statement is geared more towards paranormal novels) while the male goes out and kills something before returning home. Even though the female is his 'heart' what has he given up or over come? While the female character tends to have either given up her world, her work or friends because 'they wouldn't understand' or 'shouldn't know the trueth', the men still get to run around like before and kill things.
No, I desire a man who can be a man and a woman who appreciates it and the love that truly makes them both stronger. That's what keeps me reading...