Today we're joined by author C.L. Wilson, whose The Winter King has just been released. The Winter King is a high fantasy romance, featuring a fierce hero who—though he is the Winter King—finds a way to warm up the heroine's heart. C.L. (and her friends) talks about the best bad boys of romance. Thanks, C.L.
I love me a dangerous, no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners, bad boy alpha. I swoon for them. They make my heart go pitty-pat, my pulse pound, my tummy get all tingly. And they can be really, really bad but a great author can still make me love them. Case in point: Kresley Cole’s Lothaire (yum!), Nalini Singh’s Kaleb Krychek (mega yum!), Jeaniene Frost’s Vlad Tepesh (uber megalicious YUM! With a capital YUM!).
First, however, before I start talking about what makes bad boys so yumtastically appealing, I want to clarify what exactly a “bad boy” is. I asked a few of my Power Hour writing buddies to help me out. #1 New York Times Bestselling author Christine Feehan, who has written Bad Boys in virtual every one of her 50+ novels, says a bad boy is “a man who’s willing to step outside of society’s rules and take things into his own hands if he feels it necessary. He’s the man who’s going to do whatever it takes, even if that means going outside the law.” That’s pretty much the definition of all of Christine’s heroes, as well as one of my new personal faves, Jeaniene Frost’s deliciously dangerous Vlad Tepesh (aka the “Real” Dracula).
Multi-published veteran romance author, Susan Edwards takes it a step further, “A ‘bad boy’ is someone who does whatever he pleases, no matter what.” He doesn’t follow rules: he makes them, very much like Kresley Cole’s Lothaire, who pursues his End Game with ruthless determination, manipulating others without remorse, using anyone to achieve his aims.
Reader, writer, and book addict Kathie Firzlaff isn’t a particular fan of the term “Bad Boy;” she prefers “Dangerous Men,” whom she identifies as being “the kind that have something inside them that makes you go ‘whoa.’ Their will is just so strong. They have reached their own personal power. They’ve taken all the life experiences they’ve survived and become stronger for them.” So true. The Bad Boy Dangerous Man Hero would definitely stop you in your tracks. He has a deep, palpable aura of personal power, a definite edge of danger. Very much like Nalini Singh’s ultra-deadly psy bad boy, Kaleb Krychek, who can kill (and has killed) with just a thought and is acknowledged as the most powerful man on the planet in her Psy-Changeling world.
Author, marketing entrepreneur and CEO of COS Productions, Sheila English says, “It’s all in the attitude, not just what he does. Bad boys don’t care what anyone else thinks.” Most definitely. Lothaire, and Vlad Tepesh (arrogant to his core) in particular exude attitude in spades. They go after what they want with single-minded determination, and woe to anyone who gets in their way. Note: As a Psy who has embraced Silence (e.g. total control/elimination of emotion), Kaleb Krychek doesn’t bother with attitude. But he’s so scary, just his presence is attitude enough.
For me, the Bad Boy has an almost Beast-like raw, untamed quality about him from which he draws his strength. But unlike the fairytale Beast, who was cursed into his beastly form to punish him for arrogance, the Bad Boy has embraced his inner Beast. Wild at heart, unhindered by the chains of “civilized” behavior, the Bad Boy is a fierce, unrepentant, indomitable survivor. He’s had to be. He is a living testament to the adage, “that which does not kill you makes you stronger.” It’s also important that despite his dangerousness, his determination to survive, his willingness to break rules, the Bad Boy Alpha isn’t entirely lawless. If he were, he’d be a villain, not a hero. So despite the rule-breaking, the potential arrogance, the Bad Boy Alpha lives by a certain code. There is a line he will not cross, and even in what can be the almost impenetrable darkness of his soul, there remains a stubborn flicker of light—some tiny measure of hope, of goodness—that refuses to be extinguished.
And what does my little Bad Boy Alpha focus group find most appealing about the Bad Boy/Dangerous Man?
· Christine: “Whatever has shaped them in their life—that rough journey—they still have that good side of them, the protective side, that’s given to one woman. When I did research on men in extreme, dangerous jobs, they all had that very protective side reserved for their family.”
· Susan: “They do whatever they want, but they still have their own code of honor.”
· Sheila: “I love their unpredictability. And I love that the badder they are, the sweeter it is when you get them to fall in love”
· Kathie: “They can seem irredeemable, but the love of that one good woman can bring them back from the edge, save them.”
As for me, I love the ferocity, fearlessness, and self-confidence of the Dangerous Man, and the knowledge that he will bring all those qualities to bear in protecting the ones he finally lets inside his tough outer shell. I love that the Dangerous Man’s love is hard-won, never given lightly, but once that love is given, he will never betray it. And I love that because the Dangerous Man, who is so alone inside himself, knows just how precious such a deep, intimate connection to his beloved truly is, and he will do anything to protect it (and her).
So who are some of our favorite Bad Boy (Dangerous Men) Alphas?
· Christine: My first Bad Boy love was Jonas Quarrel from Jayne Anne Krentz’s Gift of Gold/Gift of Fire.”
· Susan: Christine Feehan’s Ilya Prakenskii, from Turbulent Sea
· Sheila: Damon, from The Vampire Diaries
· Kathie: Roarke, from J.D. Robb’s In Death series
As for me, it’s impossible to limit myself to just one. Jacques Dubrinsky from Christine Feehan’s Dark Desire is one of my long time loves. More recently (as you can tell by the way I start drooling whenever I talk about them) Nalini’s Kaleb Krychek and Jeaniene Frost’s Vlad Tepesh have set my heart racing. There are others (oh, so many), but I’m running out of page space, so I’ll just close with the following:
Long live the Bad Boy / Dangerous Man Alpha—and the strong, courageous women who love them. So long as wonderful writers keep writing their stories, I’ll keep reading them—with relish.
Learn more or pre-order a copy of The Winter King by C.L. Wilson, available July 29, 2014:
Praised for exceptional worldbuilding and lyric prose, C.L. Wilson’s unique blend of action, romance, and richly-imagined fantasy have endeared her books romance and fantasy readers alike. Her critically acclaimed novels have regularly appeared on bestseller lists including the USA Today, the New York Times, and Publisher’s Weekly.
When not torturing her characters mercilessly, C.L. enjoys reading, questing through the wilds of the latest Elder Scrolls game and dreaming of a world where Bluebell’s Nutty Chocolate ice cream is a fat burning food.
The Winter King is her latest release. She can be found online at www.clwilson.com.