Oct 10 2013 2:00pm

A Man with a Plan: The Romance Novel Villain

Heart of Obsidian by Nalini SinghSome of the best villains in literature are men with a grand plan, whether it is revenge or world domination. These men have set their goal, usually from a young age, and have spent their lives setting their plans into motion and creating their own rules for achieving that objective.

In the following paranormal series, our villains have also set themselves above those villains who would destroy the innocent just for pleasure. These are villains who will cross into the dark grey shadows but never go so far that we can’t secretly root for them. And once we know their ultimate goals, we can’t help but love them, evil deeds and all.

This year Nalini Singh gave us Heart of Obsidian, finally revealing the name of The Ghost. The Ghost has been working behind the scenes pulling the strings and attempting to take over the psy-net. Kaleb Krychek knew at a young age that he needed reach the level of the psy-counsel and he had set his goal towards becoming a member, going so far as disposing of opponents whenever necessary. He has been building his power both politically and psychokinetically since his teens. Everything Kaleb has done to gain his power, we find out, has been done so he can locate the one person who means something to him.

Even when young, Kaleb was a very powerful telekinetic evoking fear and jealousy from other children as well as adults. The only person who had ever befriended him and treated him with kindness was Sahara Kyriakus. Sahara’s affection was the only thing keeping Counselor Santano Enrique from succeeding in molding young Kaleb into a serial killer like himself, so Enrique made Sahara disappear. Since then, Kaleb's only goal has been to find her. All his power and his connections are used to locate where Sahara hidden.

Although Kaleb had the power to destroy the Changelings who were growing more powerful and were becoming a threat to the Psy’s powers, killing them would bring nothing to achieving his goal; instead, he worked with them and used their strengths to help him keep Sahara safe. Once we learned that Kaleb’s ultimate grasp for power was all to save the woman he loved, we could support the HEA of a man who is powerful enough to destroy the world.

Lothaire by Kresley ColeLast year, Kresley Cole finally allowed us to know the End Game the powerful vampire, Lothaire, known throughout the Lore as The Enemy of Old. Through the centuries, Lothaire has working behind his allies’ backs to assist the other Loreans to defeat their enemies, to escape capture, or rescue mates. All he had requested in return for his help was a favor to be named later. Lothaire’s ledger of favors is legendary, but no one knew why he has been collecting these favors from some of the most powerful Loreans.

In his self-titled story, Lothaire, we finally find out that Lothaire’s End Game began as a child when he was not able to protect his mother from an angry mob after the two of them were exiled from her family’s secret kingdom in the mist. Lothaire's revenge includes taking back his family’s kingdom, taking over the throne of the Vampire Horde, and find his Bride and make her his Queen, and every favor collected over the centuries will be used to achieve his goal to seek revenge for his mother. Although Lothaire is powerful enough to simply destroy his enemies outright, he has his own set of rules and unless an enemy gets in the way of his End Game, it is more to his benefit to collect a favor from them then to destroy a powerful enemy. Even though we know that deep down Lothaire is not a vampire to be trusted, we can still enjoy his HEA.

Phantom Shadows by Dianne DuvallAlthough those super-villains enjoyed a Happily Ever After, they never really became good guys. They remain a dangerous enemy to our protagonists. Yet Sebastien Newbombe stands alone in this list of villains as the only one who has joined forces with those he tried for the last few centuries to destroy. In Dianne Duvall’s Immortal Guardian series, Bastien has spent the last 200 years trying to exact revenge on the Guardians. They killed his sister and turned him and his brother-in-law into vampires.

Bastien was a master statistician who succeeded in taming the half-mad vampires into his own army, getting them to work together in groups to attack the Guardians. Bastien tried to control the vampires and keep them from killing innocents for their blood by providing them with names of pedophiles and murders, using them to rid the world of human filth while attempting to locate Roland Warbrook, the Guardian responsible for taking his family from him. Even when Bastien kidnapped Roland’s love, Sarah, to use as bait for his trap, he tried to keep her from being harmed. It was only Roland he wanted dead. Bastien finally learns that his life had been a lie, that the man responsible for his turning and his sister’s death was his own brother-in-law and that Bastien was in fact a Guardian himself, not a vampire. He now works with the Guardians to save the world from the vampires killing innocents, but he also works with his new wife, Dr. Melanie Lipton, to find a cure for the virus that is causing the increasing madness in the vampires.

All villains are not created equal. There are those that are evil simply for evil’s sake and there are those who can mete out their master plan while still following a moral code, even if it is their own code. It is those villains that we secretly enjoy reading and can cheer for them when they reach their own HEA.


Lucy Dosch writes book reviews for her blog Her e-reader has turned her love of reading into an obsession. When she is not reading, she likes to spend time with her husband and two daughters.

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Lege Artis
1. LegeArtis
Great post, Lucy! Love me some villain.
I think it's interesting that all books that feauture ambiguous characters are usually loved by fans. I guess it's because their stories are built slowly, with enough breadcrumbs to show us their good side in mist of their less-moral acts; like it's hinted that they are actually hero-material even if it's not that obvious. Speaking from my experience, I always hope these characters are actually good, so when I get confirmation of that fact in their books, I feel satisfied.
Other great examples are Barrons from Fever series and Rhevenge from BDB.
You just convinced me to finally try Dianne Duvall...
2. Scarlettleigh
I can understand the fascination with villians, especially when they do have scruples and there is no deny that characters' mistakes make them more human and realistic. Still the hero who does the right thing, when it would be easier to compromise holds my admiration. It is like comparing Colin Powell's childhood to Jay Z's and looking at the choices they made.
3. Dianne Duvall
Thanks for including Bastien, Lucy! I've had such fun guiding him from being a villain hated by all Immortal Guardians to being a good guy who . . . well . . . isn't exactly the most popular immortal due to his past. LOL. But at least he's found his place their ranks with Melanie's help. :-)
4. VegasChic
LOVE Diane Duvall's books. So glad to finally see them get the recognition they deserve. I am always waiting for the next installment of the books. Please write faster! :)
5. Loraine Branan
Who doesn't love a good villian once in a while? I like books that have a clear good and bad, but lately more into para romance that isn't exactly good and bad, but deeper. I just read Dark Canvas by Jody Summers, It's about a painter who uses peoples ashes in their portraits and she begins to have visions of them...was awesome. I could read more like that!
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