Jul 11 2013 8:30am

Villain to Hero: Kleypas, KCole, Singh, and More!

Devil in Winter by Lisa KleypasConverting a villain to a hero, can it really be done? My knee jerk answer is 'heck, no!' Why would we want to love the bad guy when there are so many good guys out there? Would you ever trust them to not turn back to the bad side? But on further consideration, what makes a better hero than a reformed, or semi-reformed, man? What could be a greater love story than to be the one woman who inspired epic love in a villain? Let’s talk about some of the best villains turned hero:

Sebastian St. Vincent, Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas

Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent, was introduced in It Happened One Autumn, where he proceeded to kidnap his best friend’s fiancée. It was a measure of desperation, but nothing more than what everyone expected from the reprobate. He really needed a bride and would go to any lengths to acquire one.

“Because I’m Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent. I can’t be celibate. Everyone knows that.”

When we next see him in Devil in Winter, Evie has agreed to marry him. Evie takes the rake and slowly, gently turns him into a new man. He becomes such a memorable hero that he is often listed by readers as one of Lisa Kleypas’s favorite heroes.

Murmuring her name, he brought her hand to his face and nuzzled ardently into her palm, his lips brushing the warm circlet of her gold wedding band. “My love is upon you,” he whispered... and she knew then that she had won.

Lothaire by Kresley ColeLothaire, Lothaire by Kresley Cole

Lothaire has his story in book 12 of the Immortals After Dark series and for 12 books, we knew him as The Enemy of Old. He will do anything to find his Bride and unite the Horde. But when he finally does find his Bride he can’t possibly believe she is a mere human, it has to be the evil deity inhabiting her body.

“Imagine my abject disappointment in you, female. Lothaire the Enemy of Old—the most feared vampire alive, the son of one king and grandson of another—paired with a mortal? Much less a mortal of no distinction. I’m given to understand that your people are worse than peasants.”

Ms. Cole pulls no punches with Lothaire. He is brutal, cold, and imposes his will on Ellie. He even puts her in prison for five years as a means to control her. But he has finally met his match and when he falls, he falls hard.

“When she absently worried her bottom lip with one of her adorable little fangs, he sighed.

The Enemy of Old fucking sighed.

Dear gods, it’d finally happened to him.


Then his own fangs sharpened. I will kill anyone who tries to take this feeling away from me.”

Heart of Obsidian by Nalini SinghKaleb Krycheck, Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh

Kaleb Krycheck is a man with immeasurable power. He was the protégé of Santano Enrique, a man we know as a brutal serial killer. He rose to the council ranks with much blood on his hands and he is feared and respected by some of the most powerful Psy there are. He is Psy. He has no feelings, he knows no empathy and he has no loyalty. Except for one woman. She is the one person who has the power to keep him from destroying the race.

“Tell me you aren’t evil.” Please.

Kaleb’s thumbs moved against her temples. “I’m sorry.”

Shaking her head in a mute refusal to accept what he was trying to tell her, she lifted trembling fingers to his jaw. “What have you done?”

“Too much that can never be undone.”

The wonderful thing about Kaleb is though while we watch him struggle with emotion in no way does he all of the sudden become a good man. But he is a man worthy of being called a hero. Ms. Singh writes him so perfectly that somehow we are able to look past what he has done and only focus on the man he will be for his mate.

It was the greatest of ironies that the only person who had ever held him as if he mattered was the one person who did not need to hold him at all. If Sahara called, he would come.


Anne Stuart is also excellent at turning the villain into the hero. Her Ice series is full of anti-heroes who are one step away from being the villain. Each one of her heroes is a man of questionable morals and a loyalty only to completing the mission.

Do you know of some other villains that have become heroes?

Jen loves a broody, alpha book boyfriend and the St. Louis Cardinals, not necessarily in that order. You can find her at Fiction Vixen and @FVJen_Cardsgirl

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
1. Helgagrace
I'm partial to Patricia Veryan's August Falcon (not so much a villain as an ass) and, in particular, Roland Otton. Roland spends the first five books of The Golden Chronicles ruthlessly pursuing Jacobite treasure for his own ends, but ends up a hero in The Dedicated Villain.
Jennifer Proffitt
2. JenniferProffitt
I love Lothaire with a firey burning passion. He had such a great--and yet subtle--transformation in his own books. I love the Villain to Hero in general I suppose since all three of the books mentioned are my favorites. The Devil in Winter is one of my favorite Kleypas books and in my Top 20.
3. Bells boo
I don't know if you would call him a villain but the first person to come to mind was Zsadist from the BDB. I really think that what he went through he was teetering on the brink of being a villain. You could totally understand why and I loved him anyway!! I do love Lothaire and agree he met his match in Elizabeth!
4. wsl0612
While I enjoy many of these books I do get tired of Anne Stuart's penchant for turning villian to hero, it seems as if she can never let any character remain truly villainous.
5. Lynnd
Richard Dalrymple from Courtney Milan's Unveiled was slowly rehabilitated over the course of the series and I keep hoping that we will get his full story someday.
6. Travelover
Roarke from the In Death series by J. D. Robb. He started out as a petty thief, worked his way up to grand theft and then shrewd businessman who was weaning himself off the remnants of anything illegal when he met Detective Eve Dallas. He realized he couldn't win her heart unless he divested himself completely from those activities.
Carmen Pinzon
7. bungluna
The Rake by Mary Jo Putney features Reggie as a hero and his slow rise from alcoholism. He was a villain in aprevious book that I don't even remember; I just remember him and his story.
8. trayletha
Victor "Drake" Drakovich from Lisa Marie Rice's Dangerous Passion. The most powerful and feared weapons dealer in the world, and he changed his whole life to protect and keep his heroine.
9. Julie Brook
Loretta Chase is the queen of the villain turned hero (in my mind, at least). Esmond is the villain in Lion's Daughter, and then an absolutely swoon-worthy hero in Captives of the Night.
In a pair of her somewhat older titles, Basil is the villain in Isabella, and then redeems himself as the hero in The English Witch.
It helps that Chase is probably my favorite Regency writer of all time....
10. M poli
The original and the best Monsignor the duc of Avon from These old Shades by Georgette Heyer . Despite the fact he's done everything and everyone still thinks he's a bad in except his Leon/Leonie. He gets away with murder and doesnt give a damn what anyone except her thinks about him. He even forces his enemy to suicide but you still are rooting for him. Fab book great characters and terrific fun
11. E L Montgomery
J.R. Ward's next BDB book features a villain turned hero - Xcor has been the villain since Lover Unleashed, but he's the hero in next year's book, according to what she said at her book signing for The Beast. ^_^
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