Romance author Kristen Ashley shares why we love bad boys in this exclusive Kindle post.
Ah, the bad boy. How I so love them!
I will never in my life forget reading the scene in my most favorite romance novelist, Judith McNaught’s Almost Heaven, when our young heroine Elizabeth is standing behind the dark, forbidding Ian Thornton. An Ian Thornton, who, if memory serves, is chomping on a cheroot and playing a game of chance.
I knew she should walk away. I knew her life was going to change and it would not all be good.
But I’m so glad she did not.
Not to mention the dastardly Royce Westmoreland of McNaught’s Kingdom of Dreams who finds himself in the possession of the kidnapped, and virginal, Jennifer Merrick. He then proceeds to deflower her and goes on to decide he’s going to take her as his mistress.
Now, I’m no expert in medieval times, but I’m thinking Royce’s decision was pretty frowned upon in those days. Heck, in these days, deflowering your kidnap victim is not the done thing, starting with kidnapping her! But he made that decision, God love him, and God love him because, in the delightful fantasy of a romance novel, the mayhem that ensued was utterly delicious.
We readers just know our girls should have nothing to do with these men, but boy how we relish watching them fall in love.
The question I’ve been asked is: why?
My answer is, when a bad boy seems all bad, the velvet hit we take when he does something sweet cannot be missed. And when he goes all out for the love of his woman, the payoff is so beautiful you’ll want to savor it again and again.
And this is because when a man like that falls, he falls hard. There is just something remarkable about taking that journey with a hero and heroine, watching a strong, authoritarian, possibly unlikeable hero fall in love to the point where nothing—not one thing on this earth—is more important than the woman he loves.
Case in point, if you can read Kingdom of Dreams and especially the part where Royce is in the games “battling” against Jenny’s family and not, at the very least, have your throat clogged with emotion, I don’t know what to say. In all the romance novels I’ve read (and there are a fair few, read: possibly thousands), the climax to a story has never been so exquisitely, excruciatingly beautiful to read as that.
Thinking this, it would not take a psychologist intimately examining my psyche to explain why many (though not all) of my heroes are bad boys. Men you would probably meet in real life and think, at first, they’re good-looking. However the minute they open their mouths, you’re looking for the door (and possibly running to it).
To tell the truth, a lot of what Tack did and said in the beginning of that book even freaked me out! I was typing and thinking, “Oh no he did not!” There was even a part I worried would make readers hate him that I thought I should change (their conversation in Tyra’s office early in the book, to be precise). Indeed, I fretted about it for ages.
In the end, he wouldn’t let me (Tack’s like that), so I didn’t.
And I’m glad I didn’t. Because when we got his sweet, when he shared the secrets that tormented his soul, when he went all out for the woman he loved, when he fell and fell hard,the payoff (in my opinion) was beautiful.
Even now, some time after I wrote this book, I’ll think of the end of Motorcycle Man, what Tack went through (not to mention what Tyra went through), and I’ll get choked up.
That’s why I read romance novels and that’s why I like my bad boys. Because they make me dream. Because they make me feel. But mostly because, in the real world, happily ever afters are hard won. So in our fantasy worlds, we want some of the same. We want to watch our characters work for it. We want to watch them earn it. We want to know they deserve it.
And we want to feel it in our throat when they get it.
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