Archive for August 1st, 2012

Irishman Kieran has a history of staggering successes and one truly awful failure.  For years he served as the ‘Piper,’ enticing wealthy, unscrupulous men into dealings with other wealthy, unscrupulous men.  It was a highly lucrative way of life for a man without a conscience, and he was very, very good. 

But now, he’s on a misson of revenge, and the men who once betrayed him are about to pay.  Everything has been put in place, every move scripted, from how he’ll lure them out, to how he’ll hammer the last nail into their coffins. 

He’s planned for everything.

Except the appearance of the woman who can bring the whole thing crashing down around him.




We love our bad boy heroes. It certainly true for me. But still, there’s bad and then there’s Bad. There’s a line in the sand there, a place the hero cannot go, a thing he cannot do. Everyone’s line might get drawn in a slightly different place, but I think we romance readers also have a lot of similarities.


What’s the line for a romance hero, or heroine for that matter?


I’ve noticed heroes can pretty much be as bad as Bad can be at the start of the story (or have a history of bad-as-bad-can-be behavior). As far as the past, there’s not too much a hero cannot have done and still be forgiven for by the reader, depending on his current, in-story actions. We’re generally more concerned with the Now, with the things we witness on the page.


I’ve also think we, as humans, have a pretty high moral tolerance for actions that fall under Wrong Thing For The Right Reason category. People who INTEND to do something they consider ‘good,’ to make the world somehow better, maybe to right a wrong, but the thing they’re doing is B.A.D. Clint Eastwood made an entire career out of this, as did a ton of other movie heroes did.


I think, in part, this is because we detect a sense of honor. The protagonist who risks everything to do a thing that can get him in trouble, but he does it because it matters that much to him. We might disagree with what he’s doing, but why he’s doing it? We tend to respect that.


We definitely also have a soft spot for Right Thing-Wrong Reason people too, though. Those people who’ve channeled their, well, let’s say “less socially acceptable urges” into socially constructive channels. This is often the warrior, the man who’s had a hard life but channels it in the service of something meaningful.


I think this is partly a survival instinct: we have an inherent attraction to power, and then to see it restrained, to see it channeled in the service of ‘good,’ um, YES.


We’ve also got pretty high acceptance for people who’ve done wrong because they’ve COME FROM wrong. i.e. If they’ve been dished a hard life, and have simply been dishing it back out again. As long as we see them change.


Yeah, we readers can tolerate a whole lot from our heroes, as long as they CHANGE before our eyes. We need to see a meaningful ‘arc.’ (Sometimes culminating in a grand bit of groveling.)


In other words, what we care most about (in general) is how much does the hero change over the course of the story, and why.


Because in the end, we’re suckers for redemption. And our bad boys can be pretty bad, as long as they transform in front of our eyes.


I write what I call the ‘good alpha,’ hero, but it has nothing to do with how ‘good’ or kind he is to the world at large. He’s the man confident enough in his own abilities that he’s not scared of other people’s strengths, in particular the heroine’s. And at heart, he’s got (or develops) a code of honor that he sticks to even when things get messy. Really messy.


In my new release, DECEPTION, a sexy medieval romance, the hero is Kier, a con man who’s lead a very dirty life, doing very underhanded things, and making a lot of money at it. Now he’s on a mission of revenge, and has devised a scheme that has everything required to make the men who betrayed him step forward to get a closer look at it. Then Kier will kick them in the back of the head and listen to their screams as they tumble into the abyss he’s devised just for them.


Unfortunately, that’s when the heroine steps into his schemes. And if she’s in the way, she’ll go tumbling in with all the rest.


So, now it’s simply a question of how bad Kier really is.


What’s the line of ‘bad’ for you, and how does a ‘bad boy’ hero redeem himself in YOUR eyes? What are some great ‘bad boy’ heroes you love form fiction or movies? One commenter wins a copy of DECEPTION!



Kris writes hot historical romances about dangerous alpha heroes who transform for their heroines, but only after lots of sexy drama. Her current release DECEPTION, received 4 1/2 stars from RT Book Reviews. Visit her website http://kriskennedy.net for excerpts, updates, newsletter sign-up, or just to drop Kris a note!



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