Jessica: Thanks very much for having me, Melissa! I’d like to share a bit with your readers about one of my favorite topics—villainous heroes.
But heroes can’t be villainous, you say. They’re heroes. Nevertheless, every hero struggles to fight his inner demons. And sometimes, that struggle involves a little temptation by the dark side. Just think of Anikin Skywalker in Star Wars. It takes Anikin quite a while to become any sort of hero, but it’s the darkness in him that creates a killer-conflict and makes him sexy as hell. Taking a walk on the dangerous side with a devil can help a heroine grow, and it’s almost sure to provide her an erotic-fantasy-come-true.
Generally, in TV and movies and in books, characters fall under the category of one archetype: hero, villain, anti-hero, etc. But sometimes the writer shakes things up. That’s when we get to wonder for a while as to whether a character will be ultimately good…or evil.
Badboys are quite the turn-on in romantic fiction—in many instances, the main draw of a story. The allure of jumping into bed with a man who is suave, gutsy and down-right-dangerous (minus the potential repercussions, of course) is very tempting, and a great reason to pick up a particular book. Villainous heroes possess many qualities that make them intriguing—desirability, sexiness, bravery, ruthlessness, arrogance, a take-no-prisoners attitude, fearlessness, and a dangerous-by-nature edge. What female reader wouldn’t want to see a bad-boy such as this take center stage?
Lord Rochdale in Candice Hern’s Lady Be Bad is a notorious gambler and rake, who believes there isn’t a woman in London who’s bed he could not seduce himself into with very little effort. Though Rochdale is actually the hero in this story, I would argue that he possesses the characteristics of a villain. For one, he places a bet that he can seduce any woman in London and sets out to seduce the heroine to prove this. Clearly, Rochdale has much to learn about love. Hern develops his character quickly, almost as though there are two stories being told, one in which we see Rochdale at his worst, and one in which his eyes are opened and his reformation occurs.
In my latest release, Dangerous Proposition, Colin Westwood a doctor-by-day and diamond smuggling kingpin by night, has his world shaken when he learns his best recruit is missing in action, and the man has been keeping a secret for years—he has a twenty six year old daughter. Like Rochdale, Colin is consumed by many demons, past events that essentially drive his criminal behavior and initially keep him from being the hero he can be. It’s his struggle to reform that gives this badboy character, and makes him dangerously sexy!
Dangerous (no matter the cause) = excitement. As is the case with villainous heroes, their dangerous sides are often what spawn their initial appeal. In essence, it enhances their masculinity, and gives the heroine a hunk she can drool over!
Villainous heroes are in a class all their own, and they’re not every reader’s cup of tea. But finding a great one definitely makes for a fun, suspenseful read. I fell so hard for one of my own “villainous heroes” that I wound up taking him from an unpublished manuscript and making him the hero in what would later become my debut novel, Dangerous Ally. I proved to myself with this experience that feelings can develop hard and fast for a knight in tarnished armor.
If, like me, you find badboys irresistible, then villainous heroes are definitely for you. Either way, one just may make for your greatest reading experience yet!
Blurb: In the course of one disastrous evening, diamond smuggling kingpin Colin Westwood learns that his best recruit is missing in action, and that the man has been keeping a secret for years—he has a twenty six year old daughter. Determined to protect his identity, Colin vows to find the young woman, and keep her silent at any cost. Intrigued to learn that she is actually the attractive woman he kissed, he makes Julia an offer. Come to New York City with him to search for her missing father…as his mistress.
When Julia Dyson learns her father has been abducted, she believes his hidden profession may be to blame. But when she discovers a man’s name in her Dad's caller history, a man suspected of shady business activity and also her teenage crush, she decides to take matters into her own hands. She confronts her father's presumed abductor, resulting in an unforgettable kiss, and his offer of a dangerous proposition indeed.
Though becoming Colin’s mistress could very well be her undoing, Julia must choose—give in to her desires, or protect her already-broken heart…
As he stepped into the hotel elevator, Colin loosened his hold on Julia. She was clearly terrified, but he didn’t suppose he was going to help her any by crushing her to death. Wincing at the sight of her tearstained face, he pressed the button for the second floor.
The elevator doors closed and he retightened his hold on her. He stroked her back, which was the same thing he had been doing for most of the ride there.
He sincerely hoped it was helping. Julia had stopped shaking, but her lack of chatter indicated that she was still very much in shock. Though he imagined any woman would have been in shock, had she just been held in a room against her will.
Only, Julia Dyson wasn’t any woman. She was as courageous and headstrong a person as he had ever known. Which was why it was worrying him so much that she hadn’t yet snapped out of her trance.
Maybe Dylan Rossler had done something to her. Maybe the bastard had hurt her, or worse, maybe he’d taken her against her will. So help that prick if he had touched one hair on Julia’s head…
Keeping Julia firmly within the groove of his arm, Colin stepped inside the hotel room and flicked on the light switch. After shutting the door, he double-bolted it behind them.
Short of a pale complexion, Julia didn’t appear to be injured. At least, it didn’t look as though she had any bruises. But he knew he wouldn’t feel better until he saw this for himself. Though it was completely unethical, he had half a mind to give her a physical. And if he actually believed he could perform one on her and control himself, he would do just that.
He led a trembling Julia to the bed. Looking into her tearful eyes, he knelt beside her, cupping her cheek. It killed him seeing her like this, killed him even more knowing that he was completely to blame.
Speaking as gently as he could manage, he said, “You’re safe now. It’s all right, sweetheart. You’re safe. I’m right here—no one’s coming after us. No one’s going to hurt you ever again.”
Julia nodded, but she said nothing, causing him to have a horrifying realization. Maybe something had happened between her and Dylan Rossler in that room. She’d been dressed when he found her, but that didn’t mean she hadn’t put her clothes back on afterward, or that Rossler had bothered to remove them at all.
Feeling as though he were on the brink of an explosion, Colin said, “Did that guy—I mean—Dylan Rossler didn’t…you and he didn’t—”
“Of course not! Holy crap, Westwood. What kind of girl do you think I am?”
“One who clearly has a death wish,” Colin muttered under his breath.
“Me?” Julia exclaimed. “I went over there to save your ass. Not the other way around.”
“Which you were obviously doing a phenomenal job with while you were locked inside that bedroom.”
Her chin squared. “You may have been the one to kick the door down, but I would have gotten out of that room with or without your help.”
“If you really believe that, Julia, then you really are naïve. Do you realize what Dylan Rossler would have done if I hadn’t gotten there when I did? Allow me to clue you in, since you’re obviously not aware. Because it’s the same thing every other red-blooded bastard at that party wanted to do to you!”
“You mean”—she bit her lip—“that he—”
“Was planning on having sex with you? Of course, Julia. Of course those guys thought you were sexy, of course Dylan Rossler wanted to have sex with you! I’m not blind. I can see what’s right in front of me. Any man at that party who didn’t want you was either gay or in a drunken coma!”
Her blue eyes narrowed, and Colin bit his tongue. He hadn’t intended to say all that out loud. Hadn’t intended to say any of it, in fact. But he was glad it had happened because he was done holding back.
There was something between him and Julia. A need that ran deep and had been building since that night in his bed. Sometimes it seemed as if it had been longer, particularly at moments such as this when he wanted nothing more than to toss her onto the bed, rip off that damned cocktail dress she was wearing, and sample every last inch of her skin.
He’d wanted to keep his desires to himself, wanted to keep things simple between them. The complications they were risking were great, and God knew he hated the idea that he might be taking advantage of Julia when her father was missing. But right now, he couldn’t seem to think about those things. And after everything they’d been through tonight, he was no longer sure that holding back was going to be possible.
“Does ‘every other red-blooded bastard’ include you?” Julia asked, blinking her blue eyes furiously.
Colin took a staggered breath. Narrowing his gaze, he approached her with two hastened steps. “If you didn’t want me to behave like a red-blooded bastard, Julia,” he whispered, “then, you shouldn’t have worn this dress.”
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