Anyone who has read more than one of my books will immediately know I adore a tortured hero. Not only do I love to write about them, I love to read about them, too. Emotional, physical, mental. The more tortured, the better. Of course, the whole point of a tortured hero is to have him be saved by the heroine, who somehow heals him enough to know a happily ever after is possible. For some reason, I never liked torturing my heroines. Guess I figure we get tortured enough in real life.
I cut my teeth on romances in the glory days of the historical romance industry—the 1980s and 1990s. One of my all-time favorite books with the ultimate tortured hero was written by the great Laura Kinsale—Flowers from the Storm. In this book, Christian Langland has been chained and locked away by those who believe him to be mad. Maddy, our heroine, saves the day—and his tortured soul (of course, Ms. Kinsale is rather even-handed about torturing both hero and heroine in this great book).
Recently, I began cataloging my books and, of course, I recognized a familiar theme that didn’t stun me in the least. Nearly all of my heroes are tortured in some way. No happy-go-lucky men for me, apparently. Even my beta heroes have plenty of well-earned angst.
Here’s a fun list of how I’ve tortured my men over the years...
Gifts from the Sea
Whaling captain Jared is guilt-ridden by the death of his wife and child at sea. He blames himself for their deaths.
Marcus is humiliated and hides away after his wife dies—in the bed of another man.
How to Please a Lady
Charlie has loved Rose forever. But she’s a lady and he was once her stable boy. Nothing is more painful than unrequited love, and Charlie has it bad.
When a Duke Says I Do
One of my favorite tortured heroes was Alex, who suffers from debilitating social anxiety, causing him to have selective mutism, making people think he is simple-minded.
I made Randall marry a woman who had absolutely no interest in marrying him.
A Christmas Waltz
Boone (one of my favorites) was another poor sap in the throes of unrequited love with a heroine who was completely oblivious.
The Bad Luck Bride
Henderson was a bastard (by birth, not temperament) who had no business mooning after the granddaughter of a duchess, but I let him anyway. Bwahahaha.
Diamond in the Rough
Yes, Nathaniel was an earl, but he was dismally poor. I let him fall in love with a woman he knew he was doomed to hurt. I can be mean like that.
The Reluctant Duchess
Finally, there’s poor Oliver, who believes whole-heartedly that he is monstrous and that no one could ever love him. Of course, he’s wrong.
I had fun looking back and feel a little guilty about all that torturing I did to perfectly fine men who turned out to be absolutely wonderful heroes.