Apr 2 2014 8:30am

Imprisoned by Love: Convict Heroes in Romance Novels

Hard Time by Cara McKennaIn a romance, can love exist without trust? What happens when your hero is an ex-convict? Several novels introduce heroes who has spent time in prison. Their crimes range from theft to murder, some have done their time and paid for their crimes and some have been falsely imprisoned for crimes they never committed. Regardless of guilt or innocence, we would like to believe that their time spent inside has reformed the criminal and has made him a better man. Yet, when something as fragile as our heart is concerned, can we ever truly trust in them?

The upcoming novel by Cara McKenna, Hard Time, introduces us to Eric Collier. Eric has been serving time for beating a man with a tire iron. After five years behind bars, he has given up his desire for many things of the outside world which are missing from his life, including women. That is, until the new librarian walks in, and for the first time since they locked him up, he wants to be good enough for a woman like Annie. Their correspondence brings desire back into both their lives, but can they have a future after Eric is paroled? Wicked fantasies with a prisoner are safe, but letting a violent criminal into your bed might be too much. While Eric has matured from the foolish boy that was first imprisoned, he still believes that what he did was just. Can Annie begin a life with a man who might be sent back to prison if his need to protect once again leads to violence?

Serious Play by Bonnie Dee and Summer DevonLuke Bailey is the convict hero of Serious Play by Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon. Luke’s poor childhood leads him through a series of bad decisions and finally lands him in jail for robbery. Luke has paid his time for his crime, but still has many insecurities, exacerbated by being judged as an ex-con. His parole officer sets him up with a job with his friend Mary Scott who owns a neighborhood bar. Mary knows all about being judged by others. Her well-off family doesn’t think much of her decision to run a bar, even an up and coming neighborhood bar. Her lawyer father particularly looks down on her life choices, especially when Luke and Mary act on their mutual attraction and begin dating. Owning a bar is bad enough, but dating a criminal is unacceptable. When things start to disappear around the bar, her family and friends and quick to point out to Mary that she is way too trusting of the ex-convict in her life. Luke just wants to start his life anew, but can an ex-con ever gain the trust of those around him?

Dee Adams slams us up Against the Wall with her ex-convict hero, Tanner Bryant. Tanner was set up and sent to prison by his best friend’s father to spare his own son. Tanner wants nothing more than to share the last seven years of pain with the man who took away his future. Tanner can’t imagine why Juneau’s assistant, Jess St. John, would step in front of her hated boss and take a bullet meant for him, but Jess needs $8 million to save her kidnapped family and the only one she knows with that type of money is her bastard boss. This ex-convict becomes the unlikely hero when he kidnaps the injured Jess to protect her. As love blossoms on the run, can Jess convince Tanner to set aside his dreams of revenge to save the lives of her family?

Fever by Joan SwanTeague Creek is a fireman who has been falsely imprisoned for murder. In Joan Swan’s novel, Fever, Teague was asking too many questions about the strange explosion at the government warehouse where he and several firefighters were hurt. Certain people made sure that Teague disappeared in a way that would stop anyone from believing his claims since who would believe crazy accusations of a convicted murderer? A daring prison escape is the only way Teague will be able to get out to prove his innocence, except he took the wrong woman hostage. Except Teague comes to realize that Alyssa is the only one he cares about convincing of his innocence.

Can a man with a shady past ever be trusted completely? Guilty or innocent, can these convicts get a second chance to be a hero and turn their lives around for the women they love? Who are your favorite convict heroes?


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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Jennifer Proffitt
1. JenniferProffitt
I cannot say how much I love Eric Collier in Hard Time. I LOVE that book. Each of Cara McKenna's books always ends up in my Top 10, soon it's just going to be her and Kresley Cole duking it out for the top spot! Loved it!
Nicole Luiken
2. Nicole Luiken
AFTERSHOCK and BADLANDS by Jill Sorenson!
3. Kareni
Nicole, I also thought of Jill Sorenson's books which I enjoyed very much. Then there's Pamela Clare's Unlawful Contact. And let's not forget Jean Valjean from Les Miserables (though he doesn't have a romantic love interest).
Megan Frampton
4. MFrampton
Oh, I have one of those Sorenson books! Turns out--and I had no idea--I love convict heroes. I loved Eric Collier in Hard Time as well, and I am really intrigued by the idea of a man whose future hangs in such a precarious position. It makes the stakes super-high (and now thinking about buying the rest of the books mentioned in the post).
Nicole Luiken
5. SoCalGal5
I loved Jill Sorenson's Aftershock and Badlands. Great reads!

Another great convict hero book is One Summer by Karen Robards. Johnny is such a great character.
6. ChelseaMueller
I'm just sitting over here being super jealous that y'all have already read Hard Time. I have it pre-ordered. It will be mine!
Nicole Luiken
7. pamelia
One of my favorite ever books is "Lady Luck" by Kristen Ashley and it starts with the hero Ty just getting out of jail.
I must read "Hard Time". --- if it's half as good as McKenna's "After Hours" I'll be thrilled!
9. Kareni
There's also the hero in Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer. It's an old favorite
Michelle Guthrie
10. Michelle99
I loved Jackson Rule by Dinah McCall (Sharon Sala). And Morning Glory. And One Summer. Apparently I love convict heroes, too!
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