Image courtesy of Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of James Barker, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I couldn’t write a Beta hero if he donned the finest kid gloves to pet, soothe and sympathize me into a gentle swoon with his ‘neighborliness’. Yes, I am prejudiced, but I have to go with my heart as a reader…when I write.
I like my heroes tortured, damaged, and in pain, especially when they are so lacking in self-awareness, they couldn’t find their own pulse. I enjoy a right royal bastard, the king of jerks and pricks, because to me, behind all that iron-balled posturing is a man worthy of an epic saving—by a heroine with sufficient grit and passion to bring about his redemption—but never, never, his full surrender. (If you’ve fallen for a bastard, it makes no sense that you’d continue to love him if he changed to the extent a jaunty halo wouldn’t look out of place, gleaming atop his handsome head.)
Of course, such men are not always easy to like. And therein lies the rub. Because you don’t just want your reader to like, you need them to fall in love. You want them to cast aside their aversion along with their knickers (panties—as I’m learning to speak and spell American).
Revealing the integrity that lies beneath the mean as a celibate snake, hard boiled exterior is far from easy. And that’s where the backstory comes in, the drive behind his motivation if you like. The bastard hero needs a reason to behave as he does. A convincing apology (unspoken by him) to excuse his bad-assed-ness.
Some of my favorite heroes (and heroines) who put the ‘B’ into bastard and bitch but who nevertheless have a weird kind of integrity one can only respect are:
The brethren of the Black Dagger Brotherhood J R Ward The Dark Hunters (especially Acheron) Sherrilyn Kenyon The very hot and jaded, fighters against The League (Born of Shadows etc) Sherrilyn Kenyon The Ghost Walker warriors Christine Feehan Lords of the Underworld Gena Showalter The exquisitely psychotic detective, Kathy Mallory, created by Carol O’Connell Grace Macbride (of the Monkeewrench Software fame) P J Tracy Lucas Davenport John Sandford Dave Robicheaux James Lee Burk The brilliant John Luther (played by Idris Elba) in the BBC drama series Luther Lady Fury Shehanne Moore
Any more entries for the Rogues’ Gallery?... I’d be delighted to investigate and add them.