Scarred and Sexy – the Beast in His Lair, by Annie West

by Annie West, author of Undone by His Touch (Harlequin Presents Extra, June 2012)

I love a romance hero who’s a challenge.

Where’s the fun in reading a book where boy meets girl, boy and girl fall for each other and walk off into the sunset hand in hand? I want a few difficulties along the way. I want to feel they’ve really worked to deserve their happy ever after. Maybe I just enjoy being mean to my characters (what romance writer doesn’t?).

For me a story is so much for fascinating when the hero represents Trouble for the heroine with a capital T. Maybe that’s why strong-willed alpha heroes who think they know how to tackle the world appeal to me more than a mild, understanding, walkover boy next door. And what could be more troublesome than a wounded beast in his lair?

I didn’t realise till I was well into writing Undone By His Touch, that I was writing Beauty and the Beast. Chloe is a no-nonsense woman who’s had her share of heartache and has learned to defend herself, or so she believes, against the pain that love that can bring. Until she meets Declan and against the odds, he sneaks past every one of her defences.

Declan is a man used to taking charge and leaving his mark on the world. He’s active – a rock climber, daredevil and athlete, as well as a man with a multi-billion dollar business to run. All that changes in the blink of an eye when a rock climb takes his brother’s life and leaves Declan scarred and blinded. Worse, he’s left racked by guilt over the fact he couldn’t prevent his brother’s death. Living as a recluse, Declan runs his business empire from in his mountain home and spurns sympathy from those around him. He’s driven by the need to find the woman he believes ultimately responsible for his brother’s death, and by his own remorse.

Which begs the question – what will he do when he discovers the woman he’s let into his life, and his heart, is the woman he holds responsible for all that’s gone wrong in his world? You can be sure that the beast in Declan’s nature gets full rein, at least for a while. But Chloe is no shrinking violet and refuses to let him walk all over her.

I loved writing this book. It’s set in the gorgeous Blue Mountains, west of Sydney – a World Heritage Area I love to visit. I’ve included here a photo that will give you a feel for the sort of rugged, beautiful country where Declan risked his life to try saving his brother. When the action moved to cosmopolitan Sydney, I had a marvellous excuse to do some site research there too.

But most of all I loved the sizzling intensity of this book confronting a wounded hero in his refuge and making him face all the things he’d rather avoid.

How about you? Do you like ‘beast’ heroes – emotionally or physically scared and ready

to spurn the world? Do you have a favourite?


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Comments ( 19 )
  1. Erin O'Riordan
    June 6, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Oh, I do love a scarred hero, physically or emotionally. My favorite is Z from J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

  2. Rachael Thomas
    June 6, 2012 at 11:36 am

    Scarred heroes – yes, I love them. I loved this book too, especially the moment Declan and Chloe first meet!

  3. Annie West
    June 6, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    Hi Erin. I keep hearing about the Black Dagger Brotherhood series in glowing terms. I’ll have to add it to my list. Thanks for sharing. I love discovering new reads by recommendation.

  4. Annie West
    June 6, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Rachael, how terrific that you loved Declan and Chloe’s story. That’s music to my ears. I’m smiling, remembering that first scene between the pair of them. Writing Declan was a real treat for me – he was so prickly yet appealed so much. I definitely enjoy a hero who’s a challenge, I’ve decided.

  5. Anna Campbell
    June 6, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Beast heroes? Nah, can’t stand them! They should all be put in a leaky boat and set sail upon the Southern Ocean…

    OK, OK, I’m lying. I LOVE Beast heroes. And I think Declan is such a great one. I love that he’s genuinely beastly (with good reason) when we first meet him and the way he gradually lowers his barriers to Chloe. And then of course, he thinks he’s been betrayed. Oh, man, the high stakes emotions there. Love it! Congratulations on your latest release, Annie. I’m very much looking forward to hosting you on the Romance Bandits tomorrow!

  6. Annie West
    June 6, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    Hi Anna, I’m grinning here at the image of a leaky boat filled with sexy, grumpy, wounded heroes. Now, if it ran aground on an idyllic tropical island filled with fascinating potential heroines, that could be interesting indeed!

    So glad you enjoyed Declan. I agree with you about that sense of betrayal cutting him so deep that the emotional stakes escalate. It’s one thing not to trust, but to trust despite your wariness, and then feel betrayed – no wonder he’s difficult. And of course Chloe reaches a point where she won’t put up with any more. I enjoyed writing that.

    Looking forward to seeing you again tomorrow too.

  7. Fiona Marsden
    June 6, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    I love love love scarred heroes. I will always choose a scarred hero over a pretty boy any day. ONe of my favourite heroes in vintage books lost an arm. Love blind heroes. Gosh I’m wanting to go rummage now. Declan is gorgeous of course.

  8. annie West
    June 7, 2012 at 12:54 am

    Fiona, I wonder what it is about the scarred hero that’s so appealing. Maybe the idea that they’ve really lived and experienced the world? Perhaps it brings out our nurturing instincts. I suppose too I like the idea of a man who’s proven himself through tough times. They make such strong characters.

    Glad you think Declan is gorgeous! Enjoy your rummaging.

  9. michelle douglas
    June 7, 2012 at 3:00 am

    Ooh, Annie, Undone By His Touch sounds like my kind of story. I can’t wait to crack open page 1 and dive into it. I love a scarred wounded beast of a hero. When he finds his happy ever after it always feels that much more satisfying, don’t you think. 🙂

  10. Abby Green
    June 7, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Annie, I LOVED this book. Declan was such a great scarred hero and the bit where he realizes who Chloe is…….nerve tingling! You really tore at the heart strings with those two but it was so worth it in the end.
    x Abby

  11. Sharon Kendrick
    June 7, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Yes, I love a beast – and the more scarred the better.
    Plus, Declan is one of my favourite names….

  12. Annie West
    June 7, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    Michelle, I hope you have a ball with the book when you dive in. Yes, I couldn’t agree more. I think a beast of a hero has so far to travel to get to his happy ending, and so much change is required, that by the end of it I feel he’s deserved happiness.

  13. Annie West
    June 7, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Abby, I’m wondering if you have any notion how I’m smiling after reading your post. ‘nerve-tingling’! I’m thrilled it had that effect on you. Thank you. It was an incredibly intense story to write so it’s fantastic to hear it had that effect on you as you read too.

  14. Annie West
    June 7, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Sharon, now I suspected you loved a beast hero!
    Isn’t Declan a terrific name? It’s one of my favourite names too. I wondered when I used it whether Abby might pipe up and tell me about some terrible guy called Declan that she’d known but fortunately not.

  15. Melanie Milburne
    June 7, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    Hi Annie,
    Yes a love a beast! I read the excerpt and was hooked. Beautiful writing.

  16. annie West
    June 7, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Hi Melanie,
    It sounds like there are a few of us about who love an alpha beast. Just as well!
    Hey, I’m so chuffed that you enjoyed the excerpt. Thanks for letting me know.

  17. Kate Walker
    June 8, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Annie – I love scarred /beast type heroes – the ones who think they have put up a shield that is impenetrable – until the heroine manages to break through it. But I also love your typo – Do you like ‘beast’ heroes – emotionally or physically scared and ready to spurn the world?

    Emotionally or physically *scared* – that’s the reality, but they’re just not prepared to admit it!

    ‘Undone’ has just reached the top of my TBR pile so I’m looking forward to enjoying reading it this weekend – it will make up for the cold wet weather and take me away from all the rain! I already tasted the first 2 chapters and can’t wait to read the rest.

  18. annie West
    June 8, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Kate, trust you to pick that up! I think that’s one of the things about writing a beast in his lair. He’s scarred but the reason he’s a recluse, even though he refuses to admit it is that he’s scared too. And there’s nothing like an alpha male, scared by what he’s feeling, to make things interesting!

    I hope you have some lovely weather this weekend and get to read Declan and Chloe’s book.

  19. Tovide ibukun
    June 14, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Hey am ibukun 4rm Nigeria..i lov d novel`beast’ a gud story Annie west i cn wait 2rid rest