By Zoë Archer
Good girls love bad boys. We’re drawn to men who don’t follow the rules—or even break those rules. We’re fascinated by how little they care what others think of them. They do what they want, when they want, and to hell with anyone who doesn’t like it. And we love the idea that somehow, beneath all that unruly behavior, there’s a good man, one who not only possesses honor, but the ability and need to be loved. We want to tame the bad boy…but not too much! After all, what’s the fun in having a bad boy if he’s lost all his badness?
But how bad is too bad? When does that bad boy become irredeemable? Is it possible to write romance novels where the heroes were also the villains?
When I starting writing the HELLRAISERS series, I asked myself that very question. How far could I push the boundaries with my five wealthy, privileged rakes? I wondered, throughout the series, if the Hellraisers could be both the heroes of their stories, and also the antagonists. And could the heroines (and the readers) love them?
In their pursuit of pleasure, the Hellraisers inadvertently free the Devil from his prison. They’re rewarded for their service by receiving supernatural gifts, one per Hellraiser, that speaks to their hearts’ darkest desires. Whit, the hero of DEVIL’S KISS, is addicted to gambling, so he’s given the power to control probability and the odds. Leo, the hero of DEMON’S BRIDE, is a self-made man who’s created a huge fortune through investments in trade, and so his power is the ability to see the future.
Bram, the hero of SINNER’S HEART, is the darkest and most tormented of the Hellraisers. He’s a veteran of the war with the French and their Native allies in the Americas. Bram returned to England with terrible physical and emotional scars, and, as a Hellraiser, he loses himself in sensual pleasure to forget the horrors of war. Mr. Holiday, as the Devil likes to call himself, gives Bram the supernatural ability to convince anyone to do anything—though Bram can only use the power once per person.
I won’t sugarcoat it: through most of the Hellraisers series, and into his own book, Bram isn’t a good person. He’s ruthless when it comes to securing his pleasure, and many of his actions are problematic. But Bram’s the key player when it comes to the war against the Devil. Without Bram on the side of good, the world could literally go to hell.
That’s where Valeria Livia Corva comes in. During her lifetime, Livia wasn’t a particularly good person, either. Yes, I do mean “during her lifetime,” because (not a spoiler) Livia’s a ghost. She was the Roman priestess who originally summoned the Dark One over a thousand years ago, but learned too late the disastrous repercussions of her actions. So she had to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to put the Dark One into a supernatural prison. Now that the Hellraisers have freed him once more, Livia must work to prevent the Devil from creating hell on earth. She has some allies in a few of the other Hellraisers, but it’s Bram who’s essential to win the fight.
Trouble is, a man as fallen as Bram isn’t much interested in saving the world. It’s fortunate that, while Livia may be a ghost, she’s not without power, and she’s got a will as strong as Bram’s. So, can one formerly evil woman convince this incorrigible sinner to take up his sword to battle the Devil? Can this very, very bad boy be redeemed?
(You may have noticed all the pictures of Richard Armitage in this blog post. Not only is he the model for Bram, I thought everyone might enjoy just looking at pictures of him. You’re welcome. *wink*)
So, my question to you is this: is there such a thing as a hero being too bad? What could make him beyond redemption? And what is it that you love most about bad boys? Leave a comment, and you could win a copy of SINNER’S HEART (US and Canada only).
The Hellraisers, Book 3
Demons Of The Past
Abraham Stirling, Lord Rothwell, was a fighter once, a soldier in the Colonies. But Bram returned to London with more nightmares than tales of glory. Now he drowns his senses in the arms of countless women, while his friends, the Hellraisers, ensure he needn't sin alone.
Until, that is, the Devil himself grants them each a wish, undoing their camaraderie as they explore their wicked powers. Bram finds himself magically bound to Valeria Livia Corva, the sensuous priestess who raised the Devil the first time--and died to send the demon back.
She may be a ghost, but Livia is no angel. The raw passion she witnesses in Bram's memories isn't much different from her behavior when she had a body to enjoy. But it doesn't make it any easier to convince Bram to become a warrior again, lest all London burn. And the fierce desires reawakening within her might just start the blaze. . .
Zoë Archer is an award-winning romance author who thinks there's nothing sexier than a man in tall boots and a waistcoat. As a child, she never dreamed about being the rescued princess, but wanted to kick butt right beside the hero. She now applies her master's degrees in Literature and Fiction to creating butt-kicking heroines and heroes in tall boots. She is the author of the acclaimed BLADES OF THE ROSE series and the paranormal historical romance series, THE HELLRAISERS. She and her husband, fellow romance author Nico Rosso, created the steampunk world of THE ETHER CHRONICLES together. Her new gritty Victorian romance series, NEMESIS, UNLIMITED, launches this year. Zoë and Nico live in Los Angeles.