Posts Tagged ‘In-Between’
Grey is a Good Starting Place
He’s your knight in shining armor, handsome, wonderful, and there to do whatever it takes to help you out of a horrifying experience. Then, once you’re free, he’ll take you away for a happy ever after life together. Or he’s bad, gorgeous, and with evil on his mind. He’s there to kill you and your family, ending all thoughts of living a long and happy life.
Black or white, hero or villain, that’s the way it has to be, right?
No, it doesn’t, in fact those existing in the grey area end up following an interesting path to their end.
In Linda Howard’s “All The Queen’s Men”, the bad guy – Louis Ronsard – is selling a highly explosive material to the highest bidder. No question, that makes him beyond bad, right? What if I told you he was doing it to make money to help save his seriously ill young daughter? When the heroine, Niema, asks if that’s the reason he became an arms dealer, he says:
“Yes, I had to have enormous sums of money and quickly. The choice was drugs or weapons. I chose weapons.”
Not so cut and dry anymore, is it, at least Niema doesn’t think so.
There’s another type of neither good nor bad character and that would be the one who made a big, huge, ugly mistake. You know who they are, maybe they were the town toughie growing up or stole a car as a teen, and those are the ones in need of a second chance. Personally, as a writer, I like working with this type of figure. Perfection sounds lovely, but flaws can also be fabulous.
April 15th “Tied Up For Love”, from the Mythological Messes Redux series, will be released and it is the epitome of grey being a good place to start again. Marsyas, the hero, didn’t kill anyone, but he did insult a God and must therefore die. Before the sentence is handed down, he leaves to prepare himself mentally for the end of his life and people. As he comes to terms with the consequences of his actions, he finds himself falling in love, and is ashamed to share who he really is and disappoint his lover.
“I was stupid to throw down the challenge and once it was accepted, should have held back, flubbed a bit, but I was lost in the moment. It isn’t in me not to give my all.”
There is no place for the ipotane to go but toward being a hero or death. For Marsyas, the place in between being good and bad is where he needs to be in order to get a second chance.
A character who is either black or white, good or bad, are great to write and read. However, when it comes to romances, there’s definitely a place for heroes, villains, and those caught in between – in the grey area.
WARNING! Red hot romances ahead!
Tilly Greene Mythological Messes Redux Series
Hephaestus Lays Down the Law – paranormal erotic romance w/bondage
Together Again? – paranormal erotic romance
Cyra’s Cyclopes – paranormal erotic romance w/ménage
Double Punch – paranormal erotic romance w/ménage a trios
Tied Up For Love – paranormal erotica romance w/bondage – April 15 2011!
Walking the Plank – Pirates and Heroes
Reading through these fabulous guest posts on villains, heroes, and everything in between, one thing is perfectly clear: There is a point of no return for these characters, when they’ve done something irredeemable. Much like walking a plank, you can only go so far before falling into some shark-filled, treacherous waters, with little hope of escape – and if the character is bad enough, you might even hope that he’s eaten or drowns.
It’s also perfectly clear that the point shifts, depending on the reader.
This was something that I thought about constantly while writing The Iron Duke. My hero, Rhys Trahaearn, isn’t a nice guy. He’s arrogant and overbearing, and his moral center pretty skewed. A former pirate, he was a thief, and he didn’t hesitate to kill anyone who threatened him, his crew, or his ship. Sure, he had his reasons and a tortured history – and depending on where a person’s perspective, he might have even been justified in those reasons: the law failed him and many other people, and so he chose lawlessness.
Now, the worldbuilding itself gives him a little more leeway there on redeemable/irredeemable, because the pirate stuff he does would never fly in, say, a contemporary novel. No question, he’d be an out-and-out bad guy if the setting was modern day America (or Somalia). His actions would be unforgiveable. Much like the serial killer of the modern suspense novel, the excuse of a bad childhood only goes so far (but then you make that serial killer only murder bad guys, and you’ve got a Dexter – a hero of another sort).
So Rhys has a history that pushes him close to the edge of that plank, but there are other circumstances that keep him from falling overboard: because he freed England from an oppressive regime, he’s also considered a national hero. Even the heroine, who doesn’t like his pirating ways at all, is grateful to him for that.
And although Rhys isn’t a pirate anymore by the opening of the novel, he still often does exactly as he wants without considering what others want or need – and there’s always a point where overbearing and alpha can turn into: he’s a jerk.
I pushed Rhys to that jerky line a couple of times – I pushed him to the edge of that plank – pretty deliberately. For some readers, I know that means he goes straight over, because their plank is shorter than mine. There’s one scene that was actually difficult for me to write, where he is his usual “I know what I’m doing, I’m totally in control of myself” mode, and he inadvertently hurts Mina, the heroine. He’s immediately remorseful and horrified as soon as he realizes what had happened – which, to me, meant that he’s just barely hanging on to the edge of the plank by his fingernails, but there’s still the possibility that he can pull himself back up – but to a lot of readers, I knew that he took a flying leap right into the water.
That is always the risk that heroes like this will run. There will never be a one-size-fits-all-readers plank for our characters to walk. As I writer, I accept that.
As a reader, it makes for a lot more interesting experience with each book. When I read a review, I never know whether a hero or heroine will cross my personal line into irredeemable territory . . . and I think that’s a good thing. It keeps everything exciting. Maybe not as exciting as hanging upside-down from an airship and shooting a spear at a kraken, but still a pretty damn good time. Heroes that walk to the edge of the plank keep us on our toes, if nothing else – hoping they don’t go over and become shark-bait (or hoping that they do.)
The Iron Duke Excerpt:
Mina turned to find a man as big as his voice. Oh, damn the newssheets. They hadn’t been kind to him—they’d been kind to their readers, protecting them the effect of this man. A hollow fear shivered within her, much like the first time she’d run into a razor-clawed ratcatcher in an alley—the instinctive knowledge that she faced something dangerous and that she didn’t wholly understand.
Not that Rhys Trahaearn looked strange, or mutated as those ratcatchers were. He was just as hard and as handsome as the caricatures had portrayed—altogether dark and forbidding, with a gaze as pointed and as guarded as the fence that was his namesake. The Iron Duke wasn’t as tall as his statue, but still taller than any man had a right to be, and as broad through the shoulders as Newberry, but without the spare flesh.
But it was not his size that made her wary. And for the first time, she could see why his crew might follow him through kraken-infested waters or into Horde territory, then follow him back onto shore and remain with him. When he leveled that cold, detached gaze at them, as if he couldn’t care less whether they dropped dead in front of him, they would be too terrified to do anything else. He leveled it at Mina now, and the message in his eyes was clear.
He didn’t want her here.
Because of her bloodline or her occupation? Mina couldn’t decide. It hardly mattered, anyway—she was here now.
She glanced at the man standing beside him: tall, brown-haired, his expression bored. Mina didn’t recognize him. Like the Iron Duke, he wore a fashionable black overcoat, breeches, and boots. A red waistcoat buckled like armor over a white shirt with a simple collar reminiscent of the Horde’s tunic collar. Perhaps a bounder and, if so, probably an aristocrat—and he likely expected to be treated as one.
Bully for him.
She looked to the duke again. Though she’d never been introduced to someone of his standing before, she’d seen Superintendent Hale meet a marquess without a single gesture to acknowledge that he ranked above her. Mina followed that example and offered a short nod before addressing him.
“Your Grace, I understand that you did not witness this man die.”
“And your companion . . . ?”
“Also saw nothing,” the other man answered.
She’d been right; his accent marked him as a bounder. Yet she had to revise her opinion of him. He wasn’t bored by death—just too familiar with it to be excited by yet another. She couldn’t understand that. The more death she saw, the more the injustice of each one touched her. “Your name, sir?”
His smile seemed just at the edge of a laugh. “Mr. Smith.”
A joker. How fun.
She thought a flicker of irritation crossed the duke’s expression. But when he didn’t offer his companion’s true name, she let it go. One of the staff would know.
“Mr. St. John has told me that no one has identified the body, and only your footman saw his fall.”
“Did your footman relate anything else to you?”
“Only that he didn’t scream.”
No scream? Either the man had been drunk, asleep, or already dead. She would soon find out which it was.
“If you’ll pardon me.” With a nod, she turned toward the steps, where Newberry adjusted the camera’s thermite flash. She heard the Iron Duke and his companion follow her. As long as they did not touch the body or try to help her examine it, she did not care.
Mina looked down at her hands. She would touch the body, and Newberry hadn’t brought her serviceable wool gloves to exchange for her white evening gloves. They were only satin—neither her mother’s tinkering nor her own salary could afford kid—but they were still too dear to ruin.
She tugged at the tips of her fingers, but the fastenings at her wrist prevented them from sliding off. Futilely, she tried to push the small buttons through equally small satin loops. The seams at the tips of her fingers made them too bulky, and the fabric was too slippery. She looked round for Newberry, and saw that the black powder from the ferrotype camera already dusted his hands. Blast it. She would bite them through, if she had to. Even the despised task of sewing the buttons back on would be easier than—
“Give your hand over, inspector.”
Mina hackles rose at the command. She looked up into Trahaearn’s face and heard a noise from his companion, a snorted half laugh—as if Trahaearn had failed an easy test.
The duke’s expression didn’t soften, though his words did. “You’ll finish more quickly if I assist you. Will you allow me?”
No, she thought. Do not touch me, do not come close. But the body on the steps would not allow her that reply.
“Yes. Thank you.”
She held out her hand and watched as he removed his own gloves. Kid, lined with sable. Just imagining the luxurious softness warmed her.
Mina wouldn’t have been surprised if his presence had, as well. With his great size, Trahaearn seemed to surround her with heat just by standing so near. His hands were large, his fingers long and nails square. As he took her wrist in his left palm, calluses audibly scraped the satin. His face darkened. She could not tell if it was in anger or embarrassment.
However rough his skin was, his fingers were nimble. He deftly unfastened the first button, and the next. “This was not the evening you had planned.”
She did not say this was preferable to the Victory Ball, but perhaps he read it in her voice. To her surprise, his teeth flashed in a smile—then his face quickly hardened again, as if his smile had surprised him, as well. He bent his head over her hand again and Mina found herself staring at his short eyelashes, so thick and black that his eyelids seemed lined with kohl. She looked away, but gold glinting through the thickness of his dark hair drew her gaze again.
Three tiny rings pierced the top curve of each ear. His earlobes had been pierced, too, though he wore no jewelry in them.
And so the newssheets had dressed him up. In a drawing, his thickly-lashed eyes and jewelry would have appeared feminine. But not up close, not in person. Instead, the effect was . . . primitive.
Unsettled, she focused on her wrist. Only two buttons left, and then she could work.
She should be working now. “Were the dogs patrolling the grounds before the body was discovered?”
“No. They search for the point of entry now.”
Mina pictured the iron fence. Perhaps a child could slip through the bars; a man could not. But if someone had let him through . . . ? “Have you spoken with your man at the front gate?”
She had not asked the gatekeeper his name. “If Wills has a prosthetic left leg, and often saves a portion of his supper in his beard for his breakfast, then we are speaking of the same man.”
“That is Wills.” He studied her with unreadable eyes. “He wouldn’t let anyone through.”
Without my leave, Mina finished for him. And perhaps he was correct, though of course she would verify it with the gatekeeper, and ask the steward about deliveries. Someone might have hidden themselves in one.
His gaze fell to her glove again. “There we are,” Trahaearn said. “Now to . . .”
She pulled her hand away at the same time Trahaearn gripped the satin fingertips. He tugged. Satin slid in a warm caress over her elbow, her forearm.
Flames lit her cheeks. “Sir—”
His expression changed as he continued to pull. First registering surprise, as if he hadn’t realized the glove extended past her wrist. Then an emotion hard and sharp as the long glove slowly gave way. Its white length finally dangled from his fingers, and to Mina seemed as intimate as if he held her stocking.
Her sleeve still covered her arm, but she felt exposed. Stripped. With as much dignity as she could, Mina claimed the glove.
“Thank you. I can manage the other.” She stuffed the glove into her pocket. With her bare fingers, she made quick work of the buttons at her left wrist.
Mina looked up to find him staring at her. His cheekbones blazed with color, his gaze hot.
She’d seen lust before. This marked the first time that she hadn’t seen any disgust or hatred beneath it.
“Thank you,” she said again, amazed by the evenness of her voice when everything inside her trembled.
“Inspector.” He inclined his head, then looked beyond her to the stairs.
And as she turned, the trembling stopped. Her legs were steady as she walked to the steps, her mind focused.
“Tell me, captain: Did you plan to assist her, or undress her?” she heard his companion ask. Trahaearn didn’t reply, and Mina didn’t look back at him.
Even the pull of the Iron Duke was not stronger than death.
Meljean was raised in the middle of the woods, and hid under her blankets at night with fairy tales, comic books, and romances…and that pretty much explains everything about her. Meljean is the author of the Guardians paranormal romance series, and the Iron Seas steampunk romance series. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and daughter.
Bad Boys vs Assholes
There are all kinds of heroes in books. I write just about every type you could think of from the good guy to the tormented hero. However, there’s a breed of hero out there that I think is gaining a lot of momentum with readers: the heroes who aren’t all that sterling. Of these not so wonderful heroes, the two I like most are the bad boy and the asshole (jerk.)
The bad boy is the guy who appears to be not squeaky clean, not the boy next door, and definitely not the sweet, good guy. The bad boy may not be all that bad in actuality. He may not have a criminal record or have done anything that could remotely be called bad. He may be a bad boy simply by virtue of the fact that he’s unconventional. He wears biker boots or work boots instead of wingtips. Faded, ripped Levis instead of a suit. He may ride a motorcycle or drive a beat up truck instead of a sports car or fancy sedan. These guys are bad boys by virtue of their appearance.
Then there are bad boys who actually aren’t all that nice. These guys could be suit wearing corporate raiders or leather jacketed ex-cons. Their commonality is that they do what they want and brush aside the feelings of others. In other words, they are arrogant assholes.
In my series Tales of the Darkworld, I have both bad boys and assholes. In Ride the Lightning, the hero Vahid Delrey is a total asshole. He spurns his destined mate in favor of moving in with his boss’s sister. He’s horribly rude to his mate, judgmental and uncaring of her feelings. Eventually, he begins to change his attitude and his feelings about her. In the end, he takes responsibility for his poor behavior and the detrimental affect it’s had on Emily. He realizes that he needs to put her and her needs first and his attitude does an about face.
Seth Dylan who first appears as a secondary character in Common Ground gets his turn as the bad boy hero in Sunstroked. He’s the boot and jeans wearing, scowling and dour Scots werewolf who doesn’t recognize his mate when he finds him. I think Sunstroked’s readers found Seth to be pretty much a classic bad boy. He admits that his sexual relationships with men aren’t relationships. He admits to using those men to get off with complete disregard for whether they might be interested in more from him. When the man who took his virginity appears in his life after nearly two years, Seth realizes he’s held himself distant from other men because it’s Corey he wants, needs and loves.
The penultimate bad boy in my series is black dragon Sean Antaeus who won’t have his own book until the very last book. Sean is both bad boy and asshole. The arrogant, take no prisoners head of the Antaeus family and the conglomerate Antaeus International can be ruthless when he needs to be with family, friends, and in business. But a good portion of his bad boy image is just that, an image. One that equals the leather, ripped jeans and motorcycles of other bad boys. Sean uses it to hide how much he loves his family and how much they mean to him.
Whether you’re a fan of the bad boy hero or not, you can’t be indifferent to them. They always bring out some sort of emotion in you even if it’s annoyance. But I see more and more readers of my series calling for Sean’s story and exclaiming over Vahid’s redemption. The asshole and bad boy heroes are gaining ground on the nice guys. I like to think it’s because we all admire a man who is strong and forceful but still caring and loving. We all want to believe that everyone has good qualities. And who wouldn’t want to be swept away by a primal man with a fiercely loving heart?
An award winning, multi-published PAN author, Lex is a member of Romance Writers of America and EPIC. Her publishers include: Ellora’s Cave, Pink Petal Books, MLR Press, Liquid Silver Books, and Cobblestone Press. She is published in both ebook and print. The Tales of the Darkworld series can be found at Pink Petal Books.
Born and raised on California’s Central Coast, Lex moved to Southern California in 1992. She lives in Orange County with her daughter Nikki and Rott, her long haired, tattooed DH. She loves loud music, builds her own computers, and has very weird dreams about Nikki Sixx. Lex works full-time at a cemetery as the network administrator.
Heroes are always a complex subject, especially in fiction and particularly in romantic fiction. On the surface of it, they seem simple. The hero is the good guy with the perfect moral compass, who always does what’s right and gets the girl. Right?
Yeah, I suppose. But, being honest? That’s the sort of hero who bores me to tears. I don’t like reading them and I sure as eggs is eggs don’t like writing them. A writer has to like his or her hero, and even fall in love with them a little themselves, otherwise how can we do their story any justice or even write a story that is credible?
My heroes are usually deeply conflicted, not perfect, and even sometimes can be considered down-right bastards. But deep within, there is something there that is redeemable. Something about them which is just waiting for the right circumstance, and the right woman to come along to make them shine, or show them the way to being the man they want to be, and of course, the hero I want to write about.
Let me share with you my thoughts on one of my favourite heroes. I make no secret of the fact I am a Jensen Ackles fan. I’ve been hooked since watching him play on Dark Angel with Jessica Alba. But my favourite role of his has to be Dean Winchester.
Like my heroes, on the surface Dean isn’t hero material. He’s rough, violent, has questionable morals when it comes to women (okay, the lad’s got the morals of an alley cat at times) and has a more meaningful link with his car than most people. He’s a liar, a conman and for a good portion of the series’es (how the hell do you make series plural anyway?) he’s wanted for murder.
If we dig a little deeper though, there is something compelling and actually heart-rending about the character. He lost his mother at a very young age, but not young enough that he doesn’t remember her like his brother, and grew up dealing with his Dad’s one-man war against everything that goes bump in the night.
He didn’t have a normal childhood, instead moved from pillar to post as John Winchester hunted, and being responsible for his little brother for large periods of time. Both boys were brought up with the knowledge that the monster under the bed isn’t a story, but is real, and how to kill it in a variety of bloody and brutal ways.
As the story progresses, we see different facets of Dean’s character revealed like little gems. His ability to kill can’t be questioned, and he’d rather take that on himself than let his brother do it and suffer agony over it. He spent time in hell and started the apocalypse, but he fights harder than anyone to put that right.
The sweetest episodes for me are the ones were we see what Dean actually wants. Far from the gung-ho, action-driven lifestyle he has, and which most men would kill for in their dreams, he wants a home and family. He wants to be normal.
However, when the shit hits the fan, and the world is about to end…even though he can’t do anything and the very attempt will probably kill him…he doesn’t back down. He faces down the devil himself to try and save his brother.
Violent, egotistical, arrogant…determined to do right, unbelievably noble and sweet as all hell. That’s why Dean Winchester is one of my favourite heroes.
Mina Carter Bio:
Mina Carter was born and raised in Middle Earth (otherwise known as the Midlands, England). After a slew of careers ranging from logistics to land-surveying she can now be found in the wilds of Leicestershire with her husband and young daughter…the true boss of the family.
Suffering the curse of eternal curiosity Mina never tires of learning new skills which has led to Aromatherapy, Corsetry, Chain-maille making, Welding, Canoeing, Shooting, and pole-dancing to name but a few. A veteran Star Trek RPGer, she’s run both games and groups of games but now finds her home in Bravo Fleet, one of the internet’s oldest Star Trek simm groups.
She juggles being a mum, working full time and writing, tossing another ball in the air with her cover artwork. For Mina, writing time is the wee hours of the morning before anyone wakes up and starts making demands, or any spare minute that can be begged, bought or conned.
Her first stories were penned at age 11, when she used a stationery set meant for Christmas thank you letters to write stories instead. More recently, she wrote for her own amusement and to save on outrageous monthly book bills. Now she’s totally addicted and needs her daily writing fix or heads roll!
Primal, dark and dangerous. What’s not to love?
I was twisted early into favouring the anti-hero, the man with ambiguous morality, the man who isn’t afraid to walk—and possibly cross—the line into darkness.
Kerr Avon, one of the main characters from Blake’s 7 was my first, if improbable crush. A thief, a convict, a murderer…in the end Avon went completely to the darkside. He realised it in the final moments when he killed the only man he’d ever admired. And then the BBC went and killed him. I’ve never quite forgiven them for that.
So…jump forward more than a few years and the imprint of Avon is still with me. I look for it in books, in films in the heroes that often pull me to write their stories. Primal, sometimes bitter, tough, clever, not willing to play by conventional rules but following his own integral sense of honour. He will do what needs to be done. Regardless. And there’s a vicious charm there too, edged with a dangerous sexuality…
In real life, I’d run like hell from men like this. In fiction? I eat them alive.
I think the darkest hero I’ve written is John Ramius in Breaking Chance. He started out as an idea between friends. We wanted to write stories with a very dark hero…and a high body count. So enter Ramius, a criminally insane convicted mass murderer who’d killed fifty three men in as many minutes. Avon would be so proud!
Then I had the fun of making Ramius exactly what the heroine needed…
What a girl wants and what a girl needs are sometimes two different things…
For Melissa “Lucky” Chance, another stretch in Ganymede’s ice prison is nothing new. The flash-freeze that’s supposed to destroy her will only leaves her with an insatiable desire for the first hot body she lays eyes on. Except this time, she faces a death sentence. Her only hope of escape lies with the man known as The Butcher.
John Ramius understands the logic behind his conviction as a criminally insane mass murderer. No man should have been able to slaughter over fifty men in as many minutes, but no one sees the underlying curse that compels him to sense—and fulfill—someone’s deepest need. Chance’s skill will free him to kill the Sun-King; he will find no rest until he does.
As they run from the forces of the Jovian colonies, Ramius finds himself temporarily sidetracked, not only by Chance’s relentless desire, but by her underlying, unspoken need. Ignoring it—or his own compulsion to do every wicked thing imaginable to her—is not an option.
Only after all their defenses are stripped away do they discover that their meeting wasn’t by chance. Someone is manipulating them both, and the only way out is the path to their destruction…
This book contains explicit sex, thieves, murderers, a sentient ship and a hero who will give you exactly what you need.
Breaking Chance Excerpt
©2010 Kim Knox
“You have a kink?”
Ramius snorted and his fingers paused as they unfastened the second gun. “Yes, you could say I have a kink.”
“All right, now I’m curious.”
He met her gaze, and the warmth of humour left her. The cold face of a killer held her, all sense— possibly pretence—of banter gone. Her heart thudded in the endless, silent seconds and, damn it, his dark side tugged at her. A light shone in his eyes, and Chance recognised the quick surge of lust, felt it echoed in her own flesh. His change was palpable. Had her curiosity sparked something in him?
Ramius pushed himself up and her heart gave an excited jump. She was crazy, she was, to continue to push him. He was the Butcher and she’d seen the grisly evidence of his work…but… He was closing the distance between them with predatory grace. Blood pounded in her temples and her body ached. Sex made her feel alive, and every part of her burned right then.
Ramius took the mug from her lax fingers and put it behind her. His body blocked her and he gripped the edge of the counter, trapping her. Chance held his shadowed gaze, finding the familiar curl of lust and something else she couldn’t name. He leaned in, his mouth almost, almost, brushing her lips, and she drew in a sharp breath. “I don’t play games, Chance. I can’t.” His mouth moved and his whisper stirred the shell of her ear. She swallowed. “I’ve thought about fucking you, hard, fast, up against the nearest wall.” He paused, and in the short silence there was only the pounding of blood in her ears. “I know that’s the way you want it.” Ramius leaned in closer. “But I won’t ever do that.”
Her fingers curled into her palms, nails digging sharp into her skin, and she held her hands tight to her breastbone. If she pushed her hands against the hardness of his chest, felt the thud of his heart, the warmth of his skin…she would have to nip at his tempting earlobe.
His scent, spiced, seductive, wrapped around her. He was so tempting… Chance teased with the tip of her tongue, tasting his skin. She moaned. John Ramius tasted even better than he looked.
“Chance…” The soft growl forced her fingers to clutch at his shirt. “Stop now, and I won’t take this further.”
His words sounded reasonable, but she didn’t miss the need thickening his voice. A need that also spun though her blood. She nipped at his earlobe and his hiss burned her skin. “I think you will.”
Kim lives on an ancient boundary line, once marked by a Neolithic burial tomb. The tomb’s now a standing stone circle–thank the Georgians for that one–and stirs her mind with thoughts of history and ancient myths. She mixes the essence of the past into fantasy, along with the essential mix of magic and sex. She also writes science fiction romance, pushing out into the far future with effortlessly sexy men and the women who can’t resist them.
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kim-Knox/100915259965690
The anti-hero and his epic heart.
Is it true that women love bad boys? Or are we only in love with the idea of the bad boy? The great thing about fiction is that these two questions need only one answer—who cares! They shouldn’t even exist for the reader. Logic doesn’t enter the equation of whether or not its safe to love the bad guy. Real world mores and repercussions are irrelevant and inconsequential in the pages of a good book. Beneath the roof of a house of leaves, anything and everything the heart desires is perfectly acceptable—even encouraged. Bring on the bad boys, the badder the better, because its so much more fun to love the beast than it is to tame him.
The anti-hero is a fascinating character. He can be so many things at once, even the antithesis of everything we know to be good and worthy of our love. In fact the more dangerous, the more deadly, the more brutal he is, the more desirable he becomes. If he is capable of such heartless, single-minded purpose to gain his own ends, how powerful and shattering a thing might it be to capture his heart and be the target of his passions! He would love with all the unstoppable violence of a storm, devastating and consuming. It would take a strong woman to withstand such an encounter—that secret heroine in all of us, who thumbs her nose at danger and takes the devil by the horns with every intent to survive and triumph. There is no place at an anti-hero’s side for a simpering little Miss. He’d crush her before he even saw her. But a woman of spirit, now there is a prize any man would die for—doubly so the anti-hero, because he has absolutely no fear of death.
No matter how dark the anti-hero’s heart, it can be redeemed by the power of love. He may have the blood of thousands on his hands, but the stain is washed away (semi) clean when he meets the one woman who can reach through his savagery to the vulnerable man beneath the skin. Through her love he can find redemption, but he needn’t lose his edge. Love doesn’t transform the danger in his heart, it merely redirects it, channels it. The woman he loves becomes the center of his existence and woe betides the fool who dares get in his way. If anything, once the anti-hero finds his mate, he is even more deadly than ever before. Because if there is anything an anti-hero might fear, it would be the loss of his woman and so he would be driven to the single-minded purpose of keeping her close; never letting go.
In my series The Horde Wars, the recurring character Lord Daemon is a balls to the wall anti-hero. He is guilty of countless deaths, of immense destruction, yet he is without remorse. He can’t feel remorse (yet). He views life as a fleeting, inconsequential thing and as such, the taking of a life means little to him. Daemon will do anything and everything he must to achieve his goals. All because of a woman he loved and then lost.
Imagine being the focus of all that dark obsession.
Since the death of his woman, in a misguided attempt to resurrect her, Daemon has killed, maimed and corrupted everything in his path. He has turned the world in on itself and the gutted it. All in the name of love. Its twisted and its bleak, but Daemon is a shadow, not a rainbow. He has seen such darkness that were the light of a woman’s heart to find him now he would be blinded to everything else. But he’s so lost in his abyss of suffering that he may never find such a love again. There may not be a woman strong enough or brave enough to reach him anymore. But we can all fantasize. We can all imagine ourselves to be the one woman strong enough to ride out his fury, to claim his attention, become his new obsession and absolve his soul. We couldn’t tame him, would never tame him, but we could find the strength inside our deepest, most feminine self, to be capable of securing his all-consuming love.
That’s why the anti-hero is so appealing. Because no matter what he’s done, no matter how much of a monster he can be, to that one special woman he is the ultimate alpha male. Willing to kill, to poison his own soul, so that he can have her forever. He will tirelessly work to keep her safe and completely his. He would never crush her, but worship her, because she is his salvation. He has no heart, because she keeps it for him. An anti-hero would do anything, without regret, to hold onto his woman’s love. Savage, animalistic, barbaric and indomitable—this and all things dark are what comprises the anti-hero’s DNA.
Heady stuff. At least, in this reader’s opinion.
Sherri King lives in the American Midwest with her husband, artist and illustrator Darrell King. An avid bookoholic, when she isn’t reading or writing, she’s playing epic, time wasting video games with her husband, friends and two supernatural dogs, Porkchop and Spike. Sherri is the author of critically acclaimed series The Horde Wars and Sterling Files, as well as the horror lit-erotica, Venereus. Her books are available in electronic, print and audio formats from Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc. and Simon & Schuster.
To contact Sherri (provided she’s in Earth’s orbit and can be reached):
Facebook Page (where posts and news appear most frequently): http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sherri-L-King/116986838311505
What’s so good about being the guy in the White Hat?
As a western romance writer, I have all sorts of heroes in hats, the cowboy kind that is. Not all of them are honorable men though. *gasp* Yes, it’s true, sometimes my heroes don’t wear the white hat.
I am very much the kind of writer who tries to stay true to real life. I’ve had heroines who are homeless, disabled, bitchy and even scarred physically. I’ve had heroes who are drunks, suffer from PTSD, or missing a limb. Yes, the book is an escape from reality but in order to identify with the hero/heroine, I feel like they have to feel real to me, and consequently, to the reader.
So my heroes can also be bad guys, who find their way to a good place with the love of a heroine. I’ve had three heroes who are truly badasses, men you would not want courting your daughter.
The first was Hermano, who made an appearance in my first book, The Bounty. In the first scene, Hermano was torturing the hero, Tyler Calhoun, to give him information. Nice guy, eh? He pops up throughout the book, and the next, The Prize, dancing in the shadows in the periphery.
Well, what happened next was Hermano kept whispering in my ear while I slept, telling me he needed his own story, por favor. I couldn’t resist the pull of such a dark, sexy man, one who valued loyalty but would kill in a blink if need be.
Thus, my third book, The Reward, became Hermano’s story. He was Malcolm Ross y Zarza, a half-scottish, half-mexican man with a past of his own, one that thrust him into the role of a bandito.
He’s unapologetic for his actions and his choices – one of the things I love about him. He’s real, y’know?
The second hero with a gun and a dark soul is also from the Malloy family books, Kincaid. Oh, Kincaid, how I love thee. He first appeared in book five, The Gift, as a man hired to kill the heroine, Adelaide. Somewhere along the way he became friends with Brett Malloy, the most reticent and quietest of the brothers. So when Brett’s story, The Tribute, was published, Kincaid played a major role. He found a friend in Brett that he’d not found before. At the end of The Tribute, Kincaid disappears only to resurface in his own book, Hell for Leather.
A man who survived a wickedly awful childhood, Kincaid tries to start over, to emulate the man he wants to be like his friend Brett. He finds a place to be, and a new name, Cade Brody, and tries to keep his dark past buried beneath the roots of a pine tree. It takes a strong woman, Sabrina, to force him to confront that blackness and find the love he deserves.
My third serious badass hero is Grady Wolfe from Ruthless Heart, my first book published as Emma Lang. Grady is the penultimate bad guy – who will take any and all jobs for money. He’d been an assassin since he was fifteen, darkest of dark. It takes a scientific, brainy heroine like Eliza Hunter to smash through the castle of hell he lives in, and find the man he could be.
Who doesn’t like a dark, tortured hero? Each of these men personified what I want to see happen to all badass men, redemption.
My next release in print, Devils on Horseback: Lee, has the angriest hero I’ve had. Lee lost an arm and the rest of the world is gonna suffer for it. He’s unlikeable and snarly – so what do you think I’m going to do with him? Why yes, bring on a heroine who is as brassy as he is, Genevieve is going to tame that beast, just wait and see.
Beth has never been able to escape her imagination and it led her to the craft of writing romance novels. She’s passionate about purple, books, and her family (not to mention long cruises). She works full-time and writes romance novels evening, weekends, early mornings and whenever there is a break in the madness.
She is compassionate, funny, a bit reserved at times, tenacious and a little quirky. Her cowboys and western romances speak of a bygone era, bringing her readers to an age where men were honest, hard and honkin’ built.
For a change of pace, she also dives into some smokin’ hot contemporaries, bringing you heat, romance and snappy dialogue.
Heroes and Villains
Sometimes there is a very fine line between the two. Call it the bad-boy syndrome or the anti-hero, but many story “heroes” often flirt with both sides. It can make for a nice dynamic, particularly if the heroine isn’t entirely sure what to make of it. And of course, she’s most likely going to be attracted to him, just for that reason. If he’s truly bad, can he be redeemed? And will she be the one to do it?
For myself, I don’t mind it if my heroes straddle the line, because people generally tend to exist in shades of grey, and that’s exactly how I like my characters. I enjoy watching a hero’s layers slowly peeling back as we discover what makes him tick and what those inner motivations are. Often we find certain actions that may have appeared villainous or untoward at first become much more heroic once we know *why* he did them.
Not that those reasons necessarily excuse them from being an asshat, but it lends a certain amount of sympathy to their plight and it can be much easier for a reader to connect with that character. We can make allowances as to why he very well *should* end up with the heroine.
In my debut, A Brush of Darkness, Brystion the incubus has a certain element of the anti-hero in him. He’s motivated by the need to rescue his sister, but my heroine Abby has very little incentive to trust him, particularly when she has her own set of missing people to deal with. Of course, they end up having to join forces in the end…but things aren’t always what they seem. As much as Abby is attracted to him, she’s also very much aware that Brystion is an actual daemon, and one known for his overly seductive traits. Although she does give in to him (partially due to attraction and partially due to a deal they worked out), there is always a niggling of uncertainty in the back of her mind. Will he love her? Or betray her?
Here’s a little excerpt of A Brush of Darkness:
“I wasn’t trying to seduce you. The offer was genuine.” He pushed his hand through his hair. “It’s a little disconcerting to be turned down by a mere mortal.”
“Just a mortal,” I snorted. “Real nice. I’ll see what I can do about soothing your ego, O gracious and tactful one.” I chewed on my lower lip thoughtfully and gave him a sly smile. “Of course, you probably shouldn’t feel too bad. After all, I am wearing a magical amulet now.”
His mouth pursed. “You are?”
“Sure. It’s made of silver and moonbeams and blessed by a flatulent dwarf,” I intoned gravely. “It’s a guaranteed ‘plus four’ against Incubus Seduction.”
“You’re an ass.”
“Kiss, kiss, darling.” I fluttered my eyelashes, puckering my lips in mock affection.
His hand snarled into my hair, fingers twined tightly at the base of my head. “This is a complication I don’t want, Abby.” He growled the words, but there was no mistaking the desire that smoldered behind his now glowing eyes.
“The bulge in your pants says otherwise,” I retorted, perversely nudging my hips against him. A little voice in the back of my mind was going into apoplectic fits at my boldness. As far as I was concerned, the incubus had been acting like some sort of preternatural cocktease since we’d met and I’d had enough.
He let out a stifled groan, his other hand snaking down to grip my ass. “You’ll regret it,” he breathed, releasing his hold on my hair to trace a curious thumb over my jaw. His face drifted closer until his mouth brushed mine. I shuddered at the delicate intrusion. His fingers slid up to the small of my back.
“Probably.” I sighed, my mind happily unable to focus on anything but the way he was nipping at my lower lip. “I regret a lot of things.”
The incubus stared at me, an unnamed emotion flickering across his face, and then his lips were on mine, fierce and possessive. He devoured me utterly. There was only the sweetness of his tongue, probing hot and wet into the velvet contours of my mouth. It swept shallow, lingering to taste the soft edges, and then moved deeper, pulsing and rhythmic to match the rapid beating of my heart. I jerked forward to bury my hands in his hair, my ragged breathing giving way to a low cry of longing.
“How’s that ego?” he purred.
“Rock hard from the feel of it,” I gasped. “Just the way I like it.”
I had a naked incubus in my bedroom. With a frying pan of half-cooked bacon and a hard-on. And a unicorn bite on his ass. Christ, this was turning out to be a weird morning.
Six months ago, Abby Sinclair was struggling to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. Now, she has an enchanted iPod, a miniature unicorn living in her underwear drawer, and a magical marketplace to manage. But despite her growing knowledge of the OtherWorld, Abby isn’t at all prepared for Brystion, the dark, mysterious, and as sexy as sin incubus who shows up searching for his sister—and is convinced Abby has the key to the succubus’s whereabouts. Abby has enough problems without having this seductive shape-shifter literally invading her dreams to get information. But when her Faery boss and some of her friends vanish as well, Abby and Brystion must form an uneasy alliance. As Abby is sucked deeper and deeper into this perilous world of faeries, angels, and daemons, she realizes her life is in as much danger as her heart—and there’s no one she can trust to save her.
A marine biologist in a former life, Allison Pang turned to a life of crime to finance her wild spending habits and need to collect Faberge eggs. A cat thief of notable repute, she spends her days sleeping and nights scaling walls and wooing dancing boys….Well, at least the marine biology part is true. But she was taloned by a hawk once. She also loves Hello Kitty, sparkly shoes, and gorgeous violinists.
She spends her days in Northern Virginia working as a cube grunt and her nights waiting on her kids and cats, punctuated by the occasional husbandly serenade. Sometimes she even manages to write. Mostly she just makes it up as she goes.
Facebook: – http://www.facebook.com/apang
Twitter: – http://www.twitter.com/allison_pang
Why Being Bad Can Feel so Good
by Beth Kery
My upcoming print release from Samhain, Velvet Cataclysm, involves clones, one who is evil to root of his bones and the other who struggles against his vampiritic, parasitic nature.
We all have a selfish, ego-maniac residing deep, deep inside us—go on, admit it—which is one of the reasons it’s so fun to write and read about a truly nasty anti-hero. Especially when said anti-hero is a gorgeous, walking god. Teslar, the bad-guy in Velvet Catalysm, does bad things because it gets him what he wants…or it feels good. He accepts his nature without doubt, and you’ve got to love a guy who’s decisive.
His face may have been Saint’s, but his luxurious mane of blondish-brown hair hung down his shoulders and back. While Saint wore a neatly trimmed goatee that was a shade darker than the burnished hair on his head, this man was clean-shaven. He wore a pair of circular, mirrored sunglasses that hid his eyes.
“Well, well, well. What have we here?”
His voice was very much like Saint’s—resonant, rich, and mesmerizing. She felt his eyes on her even through the dark glasses.
Heat bloomed beneath the surface of her skin. (From Velvet Cataclysm)
Freud was the one to break down why the bad in us can feel so good. Those id-impulses are alive and well in all of us; that part that would to bare our teeth and claws when we’re pissed or let the clothes fly and get down to it following a passing sexual attraction. There’s a good reason we don’t let things fly, of course; things like morality, the law, loyalty, compassion, etc. Yes, these things are worth the struggle to damp down the beast in all of us.
Yes, we know the superego is good and necessary for civilization and individuals to grow.
BUT, it sure is fun to let that bad girl or guy out occasionally, and books or movie give us that outlet.
The thing that I like about Saint, my hero, is that he’s not the opposite of Teslar. He actually completely identifies with Teslar, and understand that Teslar is—in essence–him. He understands he has the parasitic nature, the bloodthirst, the nearly uncontrollable hunger and lust. Saint’s power is that he chooses to fight it to gain something higher. Sometimes he fails, but the friction of his struggle grants a damned, inhuman creature the unimaginable—a soul.
The soul in this context incorporates Freud’s idea about the ego. The ego negotiates the impulsive beast (id) and the stuffy authority figure (superego) in all of us. It represents something higher than a combination of both. This is the transformation that Saint must undergo to be worthy of a soul…and an amazing woman, Christina.
Do you have a favorite bad guy/gal in a book or movie, someone you secretly root for? If I were an actress, my ultimate role would be a brilliant, ruthless…busty villainess. What about you? Comment to win a print book OR ebook version of Velvet Cataclysm, the first book in the Princes of the Underground series from Beth Kery and Samhain Publishing.
Velvet Cataclysm, in bookstores, March 1
Beth Kery is the National Bestselling author of more than twenty novels. She writes for Berkley, Harlequin and Samhain Publishing, both as Beth Kery and Bethany Kane. Beth holds a doctorate in the behavioral sciences and spends a busy life balancing her family life and two careers.
Captain Mal, The Ultimate Antihero
I love anti-heroes, men who make you question their motives and their morality but always come through in the end as men of honor even if their methods are a bit tarnished. One of my favorite anti-heroes is Captain Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly. Mal fought for the independents because he believed in a world where people could live free of the Alliance’s control. He did his best to care for the men and women who served under him. And later when he becomes captain of the Firefly class ship, Serenity, Mal truly cared about his crew even if he’s didn’t always show it.
Mal doesn’t behave as a traditional hero should. He prefers to shoot first and ask questions later. He takes jobs that put him on the wrong side of the law, content to steal when necessary to support his crew. He kills when he needs to and doesn’t spend time on remorse.
But “Bad” as he may be, Mal protects his crew even when he doesn’t like them personally, and he never leaves a man or woman behind. Once someone is under his protection, he’ll risk his life for them even if he thinks their predicament is their own fault.
Captain Marc Devlin from my Shifter’s Station Collection is a similar type of anti-hero. He served Terra Gov as a special forces officer until they chose to experiment on him and other members of his battalion, turning them into shape-shifting killing machines. A natural leader, he gathered a group of the genetically-altered shifters and helped them escape and form a mercenary company.
But he’s no do-gooder. He’s harsh and controlling, and he isn’t the least bit concerned with the legality of the jobs he takes on. As long as the money’s good and he can support his crew, he’s content. He’ll shoot any man or woman who threatens him or his crew without a second thought. He’s gruff and tough as hell on the men and women who work for him, but he has their loyalty, because they know he’ll do anything to keep them safe.
Captain Devlin is also not above abusing his power when it suits him like when Larissa delivers a faulty shipment of weapons to his station. He and his lover, Commander Kirlos Adesta, determine that she had no part in the sabotage attempt, but Marc wants her in his bed so he refuses to release her, eventually making her a wager he’s confident he’ll win.
Read an excerpt below of the meeting between Marc, Kirlos and Larissa and see if this anti-hero doesn’t make your pulse flutter…..
Silvia Violet writes erotic romance in a variety of genres including sci fi, paranormal, and historical. She can often be found haunting coffee shops looking for the darkest, strongest cup of coffee she can find. Once equipped with the needed fuel, she can happily sit for hours pounding away at her laptop. Silvia typically leaves home disguised as a suburban stay-at-home-mom, and other coffee shop patrons tend to ask her hilarious questions like “Do you write children’s books?” She loves watching the looks on their faces when they learn what she’s actually up to. When not writing, Silvia enjoys baking sinful chocolate treats, exploring new styles of cooking, and reading children’s books to her wickedly smart offspring.
Shifter’s Station Collection by Silvia Violet
Years ago, the Terran Government betrayed special forces officer Marc Devlin, forcing him to flee for his life. He rescued several fellow officers and built a new life as the head of his own mercenary force. When he captures a beautiful Cerian diplomat, he thinks to torture the man to learn Cerian secrets. Instead, he finds a lover. Months later, Marc and his Cerian lover, Kirlos, take a young woman captive, fearful she might be an agent of one of Marc’s oldest enemies. The two men strike a bargain with her that lands her in their bed for a month. As they dole out exquisite torment with their Cerian sex table, passion builds and turns to love. But Marc and Kirlos must fight to keep her and the life they’ve made for themselves.
This e-book collection contains the previously released Shifter’s Station series novellas Pilot’s Bargain, Pilot’s Heart, Loving the Enemy, and Eye of the Tigress.
Buy it at Changeling Press: http://changelingpress.com/product.php?&upt=book&ubid=1315
Buy it at All Romance Ebooks: http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-shifter039sstationcollection-419034-144.html
Excerpt from Shifter’s Station 1: Pilot’s Bargain
The commander cut off whatever Captain Devlin was going to say. “I have the ability to probe your mind to determine if you’re telling the truth. And if you are lying, I can compel the truth from you.”
Larissa studied him for a moment. He seemed sincere and somewhat dismayed by the captain’s brusque manner. “Do it.”
She felt pressure on her head, as if someone were mashing the heel of their hand against her forehead. Then the pressure turned to pain. It grew sharper until it felt like a needle was boring into her skull.
She felt tension radiating from Adesta. “Stop fighting it.”
“I… can’t. I don’t –”
Then the pain spread as if her skull had cracked. She fell to her knees, panting. The world began to go black. But just before she passed out, the pain disappeared.
“Fires of hell, she’s strong.”
The captain snorted. “Did you get through?”
“Yes, she’s telling the truth.”
Thank the god. They would have to let her go now. Larissa heard the men speaking, but they sounded very far away. A dull pounding still echoed in her head. Nothing like the tearing pain of the scan, but she still wasn’t sure she could stand.
Then she felt a hand on her arm. It was the commander. She wanted to refuse his assistance, but she didn’t want to be on her knees in front of the captain. He was arrogant enough without her prostrating herself like a slave.
When the commander helped her to her feet, she stepped away and forced herself to focus on Devlin. His dark eyes were narrow and cold. “Who taught you to shield your thoughts?”
Devlin raised his brows. “You need this ability often on cargo runs?”
“When you take these kinds of jobs, you do.”
He laughed. “I suppose you are right. Federated Transport isn’t exactly a legitimate business.”
“And yours is?”
Adesta’s lips curled into a wicked smile. “You seem to be losing your touch, Captain. You usually have them trembling in their boots by now.”
Larissa just managed to keep from rolling her eyes. The captain might be one delightfully put together man, but she had no intention of rolling over for him. “Can I go now?”
Devlin scowled. “No.”
“The commander has established my innocence.”
“He has established that you were unaware that the weapons were faulty. But I still have one dead crewman and several more injured. Someone has to pay.”
“Yes. That someone is my bastard of a boss.”
“But he’s not here, and you are.”
“Captain.” The warning glare in the commander’s eyes gave Larissa hope he might convince his superior to let her go.
Larissa’s heart pounded. “You can’t be serious.”
He gave a cold smile. “I’m always serious.”
Larissa clasped her hands behind her back to hide their shaking. “You can’t just keep me here.”
“I can do anything I damn well please.”
The captain stepped toward her. She stabbed her nails into her palms, hoping the pain would dull her fear and help her hold her ground.
Devlin grasped the single braid that hung down her back and jerked her head to the side. “I am the law here. No one questions what I do. If I wanted to shove you out an airlock, that’s exactly what I’d do. No one would dare protest.”
She held her breath, and commanded her suddenly rubbery legs to keep her upright.
He let her go and stepped back. “Fortunately for you, I have something far more pleasant in mind as repayment for your crimes.”
Larissa’s lungs burned, but she couldn’t seem to fill them with air. She forced herself to look him in the eye. “I have no intention of letting you punish me for a crime I didn’t commit.”
Adesta smirked. “I like her spirit.”
The captain stared at her intently. “So do I. The spirited ones are so much more fun to break.”
Larissa’s heart hammered against her chest. She knew her eyes were wide and her fear shone all too plainly. She felt like a rabbit cornered by a wolf — a big bad wolf with plans to eat her.
Now why the hell did that thought make her body feel hot and tight? She was so damn wet she’d likely soaked through her flight suit. What was wrong with her?
Devlin took a long, deliberate inhale. “Mmm. I think she likes us more than she wants us to know.”
Shit! The last thing she needed was for him to be aware of how she was responding to them. She needed to convince them to let her go. But before she could think of anything to say, Devlin’s lips curled up in a wicked smile.
“Since you seem so interested in the issue of fairness, why don’t we strike a bargain?”
“What bargain would that be?” Larissa mentally cursed the quaver she heard in her voice.
His smile widened. “I will spend the next two hours convincing you that you want to stay. If you can resist, you go free. If you can’t, you agree to remain on the station as my servant for the next month.”
Larissa took a deep breath. Her initial reaction was to tell him to go to hell, but something told her this might be her only way off the station. “How will you convince me to stay?”
“That’s my secret, but you have my word you will come to no harm.”
“Why should I trust you?”
The captain’s face froze, and a sound too like an animal’s growl rose from his chest.
Larissa glanced at Adesta. He shook his head. “I wouldn’t go down that road if I were you.”
“Fine. If I were to lose, which I have no intention of doing, how would you expect me to serve you?”
The captain’s smile returned instantly. “With every last inch of your naked body.”
Purchase Link: http://changelingpress.com/product.php?&upt=book&ubid=1315
Contest: Comment and be entered to win a book from Silvia’s Backlist! Good Luck!
Silvia’s Website: http://silviaviolet.com
To watch episodes of Firefly online go to Hulu here: http://www.hulu.com/firefly