Nearly everyone on the H&H team loves a good alpha hero. We like the tough guys, the protectors. That makes sense; instinctually we like the idea of someone who wants to keep us safe.
Why, then, do I keep finding myself in love with the scary ones? I’m not just talking the bad boys, but the guys who ruthlessly kill, threaten and radiate an aura of danger.
How is it some heroes can just be so scary they become sexy?
Some literary heroes I know I should fear, like Terrible from Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts series. He’s covered in scars from having bones in his face broken repeatedly (and never set properly). He works as an enforcer for a drug lord. Most of the time we see him as the gruff guy. He’s smart, but no one gives him credit for it. We spend time seeing him help Chess, and fall in love. But at the same time, we read on as he beats people, and even in City of Ghosts we watch as the switch is flipped, and he callously pins someone he cares for to the floor, willing to break an arm. We know he’s the guy no one messes with in Downside. He will break you. But, honestly, I’d kind of be OK with that, wouldn’t you?
I’m nervous and excited for Kresley Cole’s Lothaire. I haven’t read it yet (to-read pile is a bit towering), but he’s at the top of the list of backstabbing, calculating, attractive bad guys. He’s charming and vacillates between working with the Immortals After Dark good guys and torturing, betraying and killing them and their loved ones. And yet now he gets to be a hero, and I’m excited for it. (Danielle Monsch is more nervous—see her Anticipating Kresley Cole’s Lothaire) I shouldn’t want to swoon over the guy who snaps necks, but I do. And the idea of reading about him accepting a woman into his life—one he won’t betray—makes me a special kind of happy.
Bella knew it before I did. In the early Black Dagger Brotherhood books by J.R. Ward, Zsadist is terrifying. He doesn’t talk much and he’s always angling for a fight. He wants to have his face beat in, and he’d be happy to rip out a Lesser spine or two for entertainment. Word around the vampire world is he kills human women. They say he takes things, including sex, by force.
And Bella wants him. Her advances are met with fury. He throws her around and threatens her, repeatedly. And, yet, somehow after that, I swoon. I want to help him, tame him.
In Karen Marie Moning’s Fever books, MacKayla takes a little trip to Faery that may have lasted a bit longer than intended. When she returns home the interior of Barrons Books & Baubles is destroyed. The bookshelves are overturned, the furniture upended. Yes, Jericho Z. Barrons ripped apart the place out of frustration. It’s at this point our mysterious anti-hero declares, “I will tattoo you, Ms. Lane.” Simply, he intends to track her via ink, forcefully.
Rude, vicious and utterly lethal, Barrons is not the guy you cozy up to. He’d likely stab someone for attempting to cuddle.
He doesn’t put stock in friends—even his eight are there more out of duty than loyalty. Actions define him, and everything says he will hurt you. But I still want Mac to try. I want him to try. I want to be the one stealing glances behind the icy exterior to see the man who can love as fiercely as he hates. And, man, does he hate.
The list of heroes who frighten then titillate us is long—I considered the likes of Raphael from Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series, Curran from Ilona Andrews’s Kate Daniels series, Khal Drogo from Game of Thrones, and several others—when writing up my favorites.
Knowing his murderous, vicious exploits, which hero can you still swoon for? Which one scares you enough to make you want to have a taste?
Hit the comments and give me reading suggestions for more men that are too bad for me.
While Chelsea Mueller runs Vampire Book Club, she won’t turn down a sexy werewolf, demon or faerie. (Her husband often reminds her that she’s taken.)