Having Fun With Wounded Heroes by Annie West
It doesn’t sound right, does it? In fact it sounds downright mean to suggest you’d enjoy someone else’s pain. But that’s what romance writers (and, I’d propose romance readers), enjoy.
OK, I’m not actually saying that we get a kick out of someone else’s pain. But, when a hero is tortured by their past, it makes him ripe for the plucking by some enterprising romance author.
A wounded hero is so interesting – all those hidden layers to discover. Their behaviour is affected by what’s gone before, often in an attempt to protect themselves or someone they care for from further hurt. Or perhaps it’s colored their assessment of others, making them ready to jump to conclusions about people’s motives and methods.
I’ve written wounded heroes before. The man who’d lost his family as a child in traumatic circumstances, driven to regain the trappings of his family’s past wealth and possessions and home, in lieu of having a family himself. The hero who’s lost his memory of the woman he loved. The one who’s determined to wreak vengeance on the person who destroyed his mother. The man who’ll do anything to save his child rather than watch her suffer. I’m sure if you think through the Presents titles you’ve read you’ll find plenty of men with pasts – pasts that have made them suffer and change.
Recently I had the absolute pleasure of discovering another wounded hero. I was lucky enough to be asked to write the final book in the Dark Hearted Desert Men series to follow books by Carol Marinelli, Jennie Lucas and Trish Morey.
Tahir, from my July Presents ‘Scandal: His Majesty’s Love-Child’ isn’t driven by vengeance or the need to build a world to replace the one he’s lost. He’s is the consummate loner. He’s made and lost and made again several fortunes. He has wealth, power, prestige, women who vie for his attention, a jet setting life of business, extreme sports and high stakes gambling. Yet it all means nothing to him. He’s discovered that despite his ‘success’ in the material world, he cares for none of it. If you want to find out what he’s like then visit my website http://www.annie-west.com and you’ll find an excerpt on the book page.
Oh, what a joy he was to write! Though he had it all, Tahir instantly grabbed my sympathy. Beneath the uber sophisticated gloss was a man suffering from his past. Yet a man who didn’t take out his dissatisfaction on others. He was still, at core, a decent man, though he’d be the last person to think so. Even when he believes his actions are tainted by selfish need, he behaves with honor. And I loved him for that! As Tahir became alive on the page the more I wanted him to find the happiness he’d been cheated of. I couldn’t wait for him to discover the one woman who could redeem him and help him lay the ghosts of his past.
Fortunately for him, he finds that woman even in the most unlikely of places. Stranded in the desert after a chopper smash, he’s saved by a woman who doesn’t fit his glamorous world. Yet Annalisa brings out feelings he’d thought long buried. She makes him long for what he’s denied himself – love. Even when he returns to the ‘real’ world – to life in a palace, he discovers Annalisa has changed his life, as he’s changed hers.
I love romantic heroes of all sorts, especially if they’re one of the strong alpha heroes we find in Presents. But there’s something about a wounded hero that really grabs me. Maybe it’s my nurturing instinct, wanting to protect him from past and present hurts, even though he’s the epitome of the strong, capable man we all admire. Or my delight in cheering someone who’s survived bad experiences and yet keeps going, refusing to be bowed. Maybe too there’s something about having a soft spot for a bad boy, and wanting to be the one who helps him change his ways.
What about you? Do you enjoy stories about wounded heroes? Do you triumph when they overcome the odds and find happiness? Do you have any stand out favourites?