He was at least a decade older than me, smoked cigarettes, refused to be photographed, barely got out of high school, dealt some illegal substances, and drove a ’57 Rambler. Oh, and he looked like Willem Dafoe.

So what did I do?

Reader, I dated him.

I love bad boys.

I am, quite possibly, the goodest girl you will ever meet. Besides my sometimes outlandish fashion choices, I always got enough sleep, stayed out of trouble, did my homework, read everything on the suggested reading list, felt guilty when I discovered I’d been given the wrong change. But I am irresistibly attracted to men who seem to walk on the edge of danger, which is how I like my romance heroes, too.

Anne Stuart writes the best bad heroes. Liz Carlyle also has a penchant for less-than-perfect men, and of course anybody who’s written a vampire hero usually walks on the dark side.

The funny thing is, I can’t write them. My heroes seem to be pretty nice, sometimes almost boring, and it drives me insane. Why can’t I create what I love so much? I’ve tried to make them meaner, but it’s very hard.

I’ve just finished the first draft of a new book, and this month’s revisions process will include toughening up my hero, Reeve.

So–do you like bad boys in fiction? Which are your favorite? What are the best ways to show he’s a bad boy without making him kick a puppy or something? And have you ever dated one in real life? Did he live up to your fantasies? Come on, share!


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7 Responses to Alpha-Bad-Tizing

  1. Elena Greene says:

    I have to admit I like good guy heroes a lot. I’ve written a few and it gets me steamed when people call good heroes “beta” and imply they are weak. A hero can be strong without being bad; soldier and bodyguard types come to mind. A good hero can balance a tortured heroine; think Ruck from FOR MY LADY’S HEART (Laura Kinsale).

    OK, off soapbox! I do get the appeal of the bad boy. So much to reform… as long as he doesn’t come off as just a perp, as some of them do. “Daddy didn’t love me” isn’t enough motivation for some of the things bad boy romance heroes do. The worse he behaves the more tortured he must be.

    As for the hero of your story, Megan, what does he really want to be? What if you tried reverse psychology on him and tried to make him sickeningly nice, just to see what would happen?

  2. Ah, I love bad boy heroes! My Reputable Rake is one!
    As is The Phantom of the Opera, the origins of my obsession with Gerard Butler. Phantom is also a tortured hero, which makes him so much better.

  3. CindyS says:

    Zapped over from Megan’s blog because I love Bad Men 😉 I saw Anne Stuart and Joaquin Phoenix so I’ll need a minute to stop the drool….

    I’m trying to think of what the real appeal of a bad boy hero is and for me, it’s that he could hurt or kill someone but never, ever the heroine. If you think about Walk the Line, Johnny Cash was not nice to his first wife but (at least in the movie) he just clicked with … crap, can’t remember her name.

    Maybe it’s the creation of an inner world where he is completely different with the heroine than he is in the real world. Sure, he’s still deadly or a jerk but not with the heroine (or at least, the heroine is strong enough not to take it)

    Oh, and a little bit of desperation. He absolutely needs this woman to breath even when he *thinks* he doesn’t.


  4. Arlene says:

    Yet one more thing you and I could discuss over beers. I loved bad boys when I was dating. If he was dangerous in the least – he was mine. Although I haven’t tried it yet, I don’t know that I would be able to write a *convincing* bad boy hero. My current hero is a golden boy.

  5. I do sometimes like a bad boy in a book. What’s key for me in a romance (as a reader) is seeing that the couple are perfect for each other. So, what I enjoy is really getting the sense that the hero (and heroine) are real, complex people. If he’s “bad” in a convincing sense, I love it (like Allegreto in Shadowheart) . But I think there is a knack for writing good bad boys (like Anne Stuart and Liz Carlyle do), and I just don’t really have it. When I try to make a hero bad he turns into one of those totally irritating “fake rakes”–you know, the kind who all the characters in the book say is “mad, bad, and dangerous to know” but in reality he just does some stuff that was totally mainstream and accepted in that period.

    My favorite kind of romance–and there aren’t very many of them at all–is where the tormented HEROINE is loved faithfully and “saved” by a good hero. I think For My Lady’s Heart is the number one example of this.

  6. Although I love the idea of the bad boy fictional hero I find many of them deserve a slap around the head. All that glowering and pacing about…I like the idea of the lone wolf hero, but at the same time I like a hero who has a bit more complexity than your average rake in need of Relationships 101. And I like flawed or damanged characters, both heroes and heroines, who can fix themselves independently of the relationship. That’s really important to me–it may be that meeting the Other is a catalyst to recovery or healing, but it’s done for themself.

    One of the most interesting things for me in historicals is that even a hero who’s at odds with society and/or his family still has them and all their baggage knocking around. In particular an aristocrat would have all sorts of family loyalties and obligations–plus his own “pack” loyalties and obligations (such as to his regiment, club, or set of close male friends).


  7. I need to try reading For My Lady’s Heart again, clearly.

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