So how do you like your heroes? I have to confess I am a bad boy fan.
Okay, it’s probably not that simple. I love bad boys, but I also love the gentleman who’s got the bad boy hidden underneath the proper outer layer. I am a huge historical romance fan and I’ve spent many years reading just about every author out there. The ones that end up on my keeper shelf are the ones where the very dignified and elegant gentleman is hiding that dangerous alter-ego just beneath the surface. When the heroine least expects it--BAM--he pulls her into his arms and steals her breath with a punishing kiss. She pulls away and stares up at him... ”Hmmm, I did not expect that.”
I am very partial to Laura Kinsale’s romantic heroes. They’re never perfect or above reproach. Of course a steadfast, perfect man is attractive...but it’s more interesting if there’s a little turmoil. Kinsale’s heroes are always hiding some kind of intense emotion behind their steely stares. Samuel in The Shadow and the Star is a perfect example of the gentleman-bad-boy. Outwardly he is polite, reserved and well-spoken, but inwardly, he is a mass of confusion and hot, addled lust. Jeremy in my book Comfort Object is similar in a way. On the outside he’s a slick, self-assured movie star. Inside he’s...well...you should read the book. But he’s not quite as put together as he projects.
I’m just putting the finishing touches on a historical with one of these “gentleman-bad-boy” figures. Lord Ashbourne is well mannered and unfailingly proper...but underneath, he burns for the heroine, as much as he feels he can’t have her. And the heroine, Lily, has no suspicion of the thoughts he’s having about her, that is, until one night...well...you’ll have to read the book. Heh.
In real life, I know a Dominant who exemplifies this double persona. He is a successful businessman, very intelligent and charming and painfully polite. But underneath that innocuous veneer lurks a wonderfully subversive sadist who comes up with the most depraved erotic tortures and scenarios (all consensual, of course.) I really should write a book about him, because the dichotomy is fascinating. He’s looking for a sub, by the way, if anyone is looking for a very polite and yet terrifying Dominant.
But there is something so compelling about someone who’s not quite who you expect him to be. What do you prefer in a romance hero? A perfect gentleman or a hopeless bad boy? Or some combination of both?