Sep 28 2011 9:45am

So Scary They’re Sexy: Terrible, Lothaire, Zsadist, and Barrons

City of Ghosts by Stacia KaneNearly 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?

Lothaire by Kresley ColeI’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.

Shadowfever by Karen Marie MoningIn 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.

Jason Momoa as Khal Drogo in Game of ThronesThe 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.)

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Megan Frampton
1. MFrampton
I never would have thought any hero could have out-scaryed Zsadist--until I met Barrons, and then Terrible. These are some of my absolute favorites, so apparently I like my heroes to have a lot of dark in them?
Amanda Bonilla
2. Amanda Bonilla
I like the dark heroes too. I'm really anxious to read Lothaire's story because, yeah, he's crazy scary...but sexy. And Zsadist? *Swoon* He's one of my all-time favorite heroes. These scary guys rip their enemies apart with their bare hands. And thatfierce emotion translates very well into passion when written by the right author.
Amanda Bonilla
3. wsb
I LOVE Zsadist and Rapheal. Not sure if I would put Khal Drogo on their level. He's bad but not on the same level. That being said, I cannot WAIT to read about the other Bad Boys mentioned in the article. Thanks for sharing
Sarah Smith
4. sasmith361
Zarek from Sherrylin Kenyons Dark Hunters Series is frighteningly sexy!
Amanda Bonilla
5. M. E. Franco
You know I love Z, but Vishous gets me every time. Also, I love Bones from the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost. He isn't as damaged as some of these guys, but he is ruthless. Oh yeah, and hot!!
Toni Horton
7. Tonidh69
We must read the exact same things. Zsadist, Raphael, Zarek, Vishous, Bones, and most expecially Jerricho Barrons!! Love, love, looovve these guys. The only one I haven't read about is this Terrible guy. Will have to add that to the list!!
Danielle Monsch
8. DanielleMonsch
Yes, I am a nervous nelly :)

I would like to point out that the books mentioned are a mix of Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy, with the mix favoring the latter. For me, what I expect from these genres is vastly different.

An anti-hero/straddling the line/all out bad guy protagonist in a UF series can and does work well because there is not the expectation of the HEA in a UF (yes, of course it does happen, but it's not the expectation.) It's a very different playing field than a romance series.

With Cole, her world is great and fun and I'm a fan, but it is a solid PNR series - not even one of those PNR series that kinda straddles the UF line. That set-up is hugely different than, say, Stacia Kane's series, where the female protagonist is a junkie and the other male lead her pusher - would you really expect with that mix of characters the male protagonist to be all sweetness and light?

So I do like dark heroes, but I do think part of whether they work or not is based in on how your books are presented and structured.
9. ChelseaMueller
@DanielleMonsch - You're right about how it plays out, but I think it's fascinating that so very many of us latch on to these ruthless types in UF books. Barrons isn't really a "love interest" for several books, but right away everyone is drawn to him, lusting after the guy despite only seeing him in this callous light.

Expectations are certainly different between UF and PNR when it comes to the scary hero, but our pull toward these anti-hero, asshole types is fairly universal -- just with UF the heroine doesn't always agree that he's someone she should bed. ;)
Amanda Bonilla
10. Beansie101
Jerricho Barrons for sure, Zsadist,Rhage(for the inner dragon),Rhevenge (just for the intimidation factor),Jim Heron. Just a few of my many favorites.
Amanda Bonilla
11. SuzanneG
I get the dark and scary sexy thing...and I haven't read any of these books. Even in traditional romance I'm attracted to this sort of hero...Allegreto in Shadow Heart by Laura Kinsale and Bastien in Black Ice by Anne Stuart...they are both deadly and drop-dead sexy! I have been meaning to check out Barrons and now I think I need to check out this Terrible guy, too! For some reason I just cannot get into Ward's loss, I guess.
Toni Horton
12. Tonidh69
SuzanneG-try Nalini Singh's Angel series. Raphael is wickedly mean...and he's an archangel
Toni Horton
13. Tonidh69
Oh! And definately the Fever Series for Jerricho Barrons
Heather Waters
14. HeatherWaters
@SuzanneG -- Oooh, I'm glad you brought up Anne Stuart's heroes. They are very wicked, and (in general, at least) super hot for it.
Toni Horton
16. Tonidh69
And along with Rapheal is Dmitri...he's pretty wicked too
Amanda Bonilla
17. SuzanneG
@Tonidh69--thanks for the suggestion, Raphael sounds like my kinda guy! I have not read any of the Fever series, but I read a scene KMM wrote from Barrons POV...I have wanted to get the books ever since, even though I know they aren't written that way. @redline--yeah, I like that her men aren't just pretending to be wicked, but actually are. There must be something wrong with me, but at least I seem to be in good and plentiful company!
Toni Horton
18. Tonidh69
SuzanneG--You are definately not the only one who likes the bad guy to be really bad! I especially like when it's not all wrapped up in a neat little package. I like a series where the story is ongoing...but still keep the interest. In the Fever Series it won't be from JB's pov, but you definately are intrigued by why the heck is he so mean and mysterious. You've gotta read the whole series to get those kind of answers, but it is definately worth the trip! ( I read that scene from JB's pov also...shocking...but not really for JB! Pretty cool to get something from his side. I like KMM's "interview" with JB also, but I would wait till you read the series to read that)
Amanda Bonilla
20. StephWorne
Love Zsadist, @ M. E. Franco, Vishous (and Butch together) are incredible. V terrifies me, but I'm in love with him. Bones is probably one of my all time favourites along with Vlad of course. Vlad is so scary, but come on... the pyrokenisis is way too sexy to not swoon for. I love Zarek and Stryker from the Dark Hunter series. Stryker cuts his own sons throat for christs sake. But him a Zephyra... smoking hot! What's not to love? Everyone is talking about Jericho Barrons. I think I may have to read that series to see what all the fuss is about. One guy I am head over heels for, that I'm not sure if many people will know of is Malcolm Cole from the Big Bad Wolf series by Heather Killough Walden. Holy crap he's scary. But the way he dominates his mate is too seductive to ignore.
Amanda Bonilla
21. jayzee
Without a single doubt ...BARRONS!!!! He's the ultimate bad boy ...cause he is bad. Not bad with a heart of gold ...just bad ...yet I'd still lie down for him!!!!!!!!
Synde Korman
23. SyndeKorman
great post it.. love barrons... I'd add Archeron...he's a different kind of scary..but yum
Amanda Bonilla
24. shauntih
I love Zadist, Bones, and Malcolm Cole, but BARRONS beats them all.
Synde Korman
25. SyndeKorman
ok im stupid.. I love the article but spelled Acheron's name wrong..
Toni Horton
26. Tonidh69
Yay! I was going to add Acheron, but thought he might not technically fit. But man is he bad ass when he gets mad!
27. ChelseaMueller
I'm a bit ashamed to say I haven't read Acheron's book. But this will change! I swear!
Amanda Bonilla
28. Pyper541
I absolutely loved Barrons even though he is most definitely scary, I still don't even know about all of his abilities I'm sure he still has a few tricks up his sleeve!
I'd also like to add Deagan Rei to the list from The Vampire Queen Series by Joey W. Hill... come on a Vampire who's the hit man for the Vampire Council. Talk about scary, him and Barrons could go rounds and as long as I got one of them in the end I'd be happy!
Both "men" are completely sexy and oh so scary but in a way that if I could have one night even if it cost me my life I'd die happy!
Toni Horton
29. Tonidh69
It's pretty devastating. It's what all the rest led up to! It's a MUST read!!
Toni Horton
31. Tonidh69
Pyper541- This is slightly off topic, but I was checking out the Vampire Queen Series on your recommendation. I have a kindle and use the library alot. Well, the library was a bust. And on Amazon the paperback version sold for $13.98 and the kindle version was $12.99. Can anyone tell me why an e-book would cost almost as much at a real physical book? I know it can't cost as much to produce and e-book as it does a paperback. Kind of discouraging and I really want to read that series....sigh
Amanda Bonilla
32. Kimberly Kiker
I've got to add Laurell K. Hamilton's men--Jean Claude, Asher, Frost, & Doyle. They love with all their hearts, but you don't mess with them or what it theirs. That just flat does it for me.
Amanda Bonilla
33. DDC
I agree. Barrons does it for me too. So many of my favorites have been mentioned already. I am drawn to crazy SMART men. I want them to be ruthless and one step ahead of me too. I am making of list of the authors I haven't read yet. Thanks for all of the suggestions.
Amanda Bonilla
34. DDC
I agree. Barrons does it for me too. So many of my favorites have been mentioned already. I am drawn to crazy SMART men. I want them to be ruthless and one step ahead of me too. I am making of list of the authors I haven't read yet. Thanks for all of the suggestions.
Amanda Bonilla
35. Callysta
Barrons is THE best. But I love me some Zarek,Zsadist,Vishous!!!!!
Ash`s book was my least favorite Hunter book, too sad. I think Nick will end up being my second favorite Hunter,
I love all the McKeltar`s in KMM`s books, especially Christian.
Amanda Bonilla
36. Mrs. Mechanic
I have to point out that Sherrilyn Kenyon wrote Born of the Night. I know, I know, Nykyrian is not a vamp but good gravy he's a fav of mine! He's also not quite in the same league as Barrons and Zadist(also favs). He's bad and dangerous though!
Amanda Bonilla
37. Mrs. Mechanic
I have to point out a another bad in Born of the Night. Nykyrian is not a vamp but good gravy he's a fav of mine! He's also not quite in the same league as Barrons and Zadist(also favs). He's bad and dangerous though!
Amanda Bonilla
38. Lege Artis
Oh, I know that UF/PR heroes are made from the same mold- incredible bodies, strength and awesome bedroom skills (yup, that's a chategory for me). I know what to expect and I like it. But JZB, Curran and Terrible are the ones I'm obsessed with! I love them and they are my precious... Hard to love, but impossible not to.
Melissa Hammitt
39. Llaph
I am gonna say ahead of time excuse the spelling. I am using a screen reader and am too lazy to look everything up I think I spelled wrong... if it sounds okay, right on. I also tend to talk too much... I finished the Downside books just a few days ago thanks to another article on here. Terrible I liked a lot... I was pissed off about Lex though. I read the Fever books a few weeks ago, I liked Barrens from the get go and so did not like V’ane as in I did not trust him worth crap... I cannot wait for Lothaire to come out I like that series. One of my favorite characters from there is Malkom. I really liked his book. From J.R. Ward books, I like Zadist and Rev from BDB then from Angels I like Adrien Karen Chance Cassie books I like Pritkin, but does he really count? I think so because you have no idea really what he is thinking. Hamilton’s Anita Blake books, I like Truth, Havoc (before all the stuff happened with him... I will not say because I am not a de spoiler of havenotreadyets) Edward, and Nicky from Merry Gentry books I like Rhys and Mistral even though Doyle and Frost are pretty close. Sherrylin Kenyon books... DH Zipher, Seth, Jerricho/Cratus, Thorn (though he does not have the word time yet) and maybe Nick (His story makes me really sad... same as Ash’s though his book I cannot read the whole thing, I am a wuss... I skip the first half when reading it again.) League: Nik, Callin, Dancer somewhat. Ilona Andrews... I reallyreally like anything by them. I love Curran Iam hoping Jim gets more word time in 2013 Frost, Bones and Vlad... Vlad because you know he is a jerkface, but he admits it. I can’t wait for his book next year. I was not able to find the Heather Killogh Walden books on bookshare so I doubt I will find them on NLS. (Those are library sites for optically challenged people.) It is hit and miss with BS a lot of the time. I am glad they had the Fever and Downside books though. I should be glad I did not find the Big Bad Wolf books... I read too much as it is.
Amanda Bonilla
40. Mo
I haven't read through the comments, but just my 2 cents. I think there are 2 reasons why we love them. First, we recognize and want to soothe the inner pain that makes them this way. Second, we know instinctively that while he might do all these things that are bad, when he falls in love, he would never ever hurt her, in fact he would kill and die for her. He makes us all feel a little safer knowing there is someone out there ruthless enough to protect us.
Amanda Bonilla
41. MJB
Great post and comments, too. But there are a few scaries here that I am not acquanited with yet and now, since everyone seems to think this Barrons guy is as good or better than the bad, bad men I've come to love and covet? (Z, Vishous, Daegan, Bones, a hell yes to Doyle and Frost, etc) Now I have to read about this Barrons guy and someone named Terrible?? What am I, made of money? Don't you people know that Chanukah gelt is really only chocolate, not real gold dubloons?? (I hope their some members of the tribe out there that will actually get this joke!)
Well, I'm off to buy more ebooks I can't afford!
Amanda Bonilla
42. Amanda S.
One Word Barrons. Geez just thinking about that man...
Amanda Bonilla
43. JeanP
I have to say Ryoden, from Iced (Fever series #6) has my panties on a permanent combustion phase. He has this quiet and deadly vibe, so cool about being a first rate jackass that whenever I think of him and his derisive smile, my teeth begin to float. Charming and deadly; that's how I like my men. A couple others would be Lestat, Damon Salvatore, and Reyes Farrow. ;)
Post a comment