Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
William Ernest Henley
Me! Me! Me! Me! Me!
I mean, he was a bit obsessive and controlling. And his taste in real estate was a bit Norman Batish. Okay, fine. He was a serial killer with boundary issues. But with the right woman at his side ....
The great majority of romance readers (and romance writers for that matter!) love a bad boy hero. Make him a dark, wounded and brooding and you have a romance hero trifecta. But why is that? What is it about this growling, angry, rude, closed-off specimen with more emotional baggage than a Kardashian Family Reunion that makes us want to read about him, dream about him and wonder how on earth any heroine is ever going to drag him kicking and screaming into a happily ever after?
Not me, you say? Really?
Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent
How about a guy who kidnaps his best friend's fiancee, threatens to rape her into submission and eventually marries a mousy stuttering woman because he needs her money? Additional baggage - an inability to connect with women because his mother died in childbirth and he lost one of his older sisters the same way. The other two sisters he lost to cholera and all before he was a teenager.
Charming, isn't he?
But you want to keep reading, don't you.
Hard to believe this same heartless rogue will take a bullet for the mousy stuttering woman he marries. Even harder to believe he will beg his former best friend, the man he betrayed, to look after said wife once that rather large bullet takes his life. What is not so hard to believe is the mousy wife's determination to save him from the bullet wound and then to save him from himself.
Ivan Thornton, the Gypsy Earl
Then there is this dark-haired, blue-eyed criminally handsome heart-breaker. His Romani mother sold him to his aristocratic paternal grandmother when he was seven years old. His grandmother promptly shipped him off to a remote boarding school where she hoped they would beat the gypsy out of him and the decorum and stiff upper lip of an English earl into him.
The glacial stare focused on her. The mocking smile thinned. The furious voice turned low and dangerous. "Unless you are here for some useful purpose, it would be better if you remove yourself from this discussion. This is my house not hers. The only guests I will allow are my own." The frosty glare moved over her, head to toe, taking a swift yet alarmingly thorough appraisal of her appearance. Then those bitter blue eyes met hers again. "Dare I hope your purpose here is carnal? And that it involves me?"She slapped him.
Apparently he missed a few of those classes on decorum.
Imagine the young lady's surprise when she finds herself attracted to, compromised by and married to this crude, insulting rogue in fairly short order. He hates his grandmother. She doesn't. He doesn't want children. She does. He has no intention of falling in love. She's already there. Imagine his fury when he discovers she is the woman hand-picked by his grandmother to guarantee an heir to the title he swore to let die. Things get ugly. He gets uglier. And until the last ten pages the reader wonders how in God's name this is ever going to end happily for anyone. Why would any woman want to spend the rest of her life with a man so full of hate?
Bad enough for you?
Lets add a little madness to the mix.
Everyone in London society knows Lord Ian MacKenzie is mad. He grew up in an asylum and is only running loose about England because his brother, the duke, had him released once their father died. He is incapable of looking anyone in the eye. He spends hours doing complicated math problems and is obsessed with collecting Ming bowls. Oh, and it is believed he murdered a prostitute at his brother's love nest, but you know how those crazy aristocrats are!
"Not won't. I can't love you.""I beg your pardon?"
"I am incapable of love. I will not offer it to you."
"Perhaps you simply haven't found the right lady, my lord. Everyone falls in love sooner or later.""I have taken women as lovers, but never loved them.""You make no sense, my lord. If you don't care about my fortune or whether I love you, why on earth do you wish to marry me?""Because I want to bed you.""Do you?""You were a vicar's wife, respectable , the sort to be married. Otherwise, I would offer a liaison.""Have I got this right? You want me to come to your bed, but because I was once a respectable married lady, you must marry me in order to get there?""Yes."
Wicked? Absolutely! Mad? Possibly. A murderer? Could be. Still interested? These are not the sorts of men our mothers would want us to bring home. And in real life heaven only knows what sort of havoc they would wreak in our lives. Hell, some of us have been married to guys like this. Some of us have been married to guys that make Freddy Krueger look like Tom Hanks! Why then do the bad boys top the best-seller lists week after week after week?
Because they call to us. Because in spite of every thing they have suffered, their soul is not yet conquered. There is something to be learned from a soul that will not break. And dear God, we want to learn it.
They call to something in us that makes us want to heal those broken souls. We want to believe it can be done. We may go through every day life dismissing people's ability to change, to rise above. We may look around us and see those broken by the things life has thrown at them or even the things they have thrown at themselves and in the real world we just assume there is nothing to be done. But what we read, especially those of us who read romance, lets us live in a world where anything is possible. Even the most wounded soul can be brought into the light. Even the most ragged heart can learn to love, can conquer old fears, old hurts and can walk out of the monster's skin they've donned to survive and become who they were always meant to be.
We read the Bad Boys because we can be completely free to love them without ending up in the looney bin or worse, on the next episode of Snapped. We can open ourselves to the possibility of leaping without a net into a place we know is dangerous, but frankly don't care because in spite of the risks, the rewards are just too great.
We read them, we love them, we can't get enough of them because in the end they teach us the one lesson we can never hear enough. And its a lesson that seeps into us and on really bad days allows us to go out into the world and maybe bring a little of that light with us.
Love hopes all things, believes all things, trust all things. And even with the Baddest of the Bad Boys
Love. Never. Fails.So, why do you read bad boys? Why do you love them? Or if you don't why not? Who is your favorite bad boy hero and why? Share your deep, dark secret bad boy crush and I'll give a random commenter a $10.00 gift card to Amazon so you can have a bad boy delivered to your doorstep!