Please welcome Deanna Raybourn to Running with Quills!
Please welcome Deanna Raybourn to Running with Quills! I'm off hiking, kayaking and pub-hopping in Ireland ahead of THE WHISPER hitting stores in late June. Of course, I have books with me. Tucked into my suitcase are Deanna's SILENT IN THE SANCTUARY and SILENT ON THE MOOR. I'd heard so much great "buzz" about Deanna and had SILENT IN THE GRAVE on my ever-expanding TBR pile. I finally came up for air and dove in and...wow! I love this series! It's clever, witty, rich in detail and totally engrossing. I'm looking forward to more of Julia Grey and anything else Deanna decides to write.
Welcome, Deanna, and thanks!
Bad Boys: How Bad is Too Bad?
Thanks so much for the lovely invitation to post on Running with Quills! When I was pondering today’s post, it occurred to me that this was the perfect forum for a question I’ve been noodling over: when it comes to bad boy heroes, how bad is too bad?
Most of us are smitten with heroes who are-- as Lady Caroline Lamb once famously said of Lord Byron--“mad, bad, and dangerous to know,” but is there a point at which the bad becomes unbearable? Judging from some of our favorite heroes, you wouldn’t think so. Brontë men in particular have a nasty streak we manage to overlook. Heathcliff, for all his delicious moodiness, descends to real cruelty when he hangs his wife’s dog on their wedding day. And the broodingly attractive Rochester is hardly better when he locks his insane wife in the attic and happily contemplates bigamy with the loyal Jane Eyre. Yet these two heroes are the first ones we seem to conjure when we’re looking for an example of the tall, dark, and handsome hero with a bit of an edge.
Even amongst the tidy pages of Jane Austen, most of us would rather be scorned by a masterful Darcy than have to converse with the kindly Edmund Bertram. (Who among us wouldn’t swoon to overhear Darcy say that we have a pair of fine eyes?)
Not surprisingly, the trend for bad boys didn’t stop with the turn of the twentieth century. I don’t know a woman alive who wouldn’t have preferred Rhett Butler, the brutal war profiteer, to the overly-refined Ashley Wilkes. Even Max de Winter’s confession that he killed the title heroine of Rebecca doesn’t seem to dissuade his nameless second wife—if anything it makes her keener! And the pages of Gothic and historical romances abound with dangerous men doing unspeakable things. Piracy, blackmail, extortion, violence, bigamy, the occasional murder—we excuse them all, so long as the hero is compelling enough. Even the whisper of a lovechild gotten on his half-sister was not enough to discourage women from flinging themselves at Lord Byron. (He was a historical figure, but I include him here because he has been the subject of so many Romantic fantasies, the list would be incomplete without him.)
My own series hero, Victorian private inquiry agent Nicholas Brisbane, has engaged in several nefarious activities, a few of which I’ve detailed in the books. He’s an accomplished liar, a crack lock picker, a bare-knuckled boxer, and a duelist of some repute. I suspect a spot of extortion in the right circumstances wouldn’t bother him in the least, and he’s no stranger to using violence to further his aims. None of these qualities has given his aristocratic partner, Lady Julia Grey, pause for thought. In fact, it suddenly occurs to me that her own behavior has gotten decidedly worse since she has taken up with Brisbane! So, if illicit love affairs and dark deeds are not enough to put us—or the heroines!--off of bad boys, I wonder just how far a bad boy could go before we turn away?