Dani Collins on Bad Boys, Good Girls and "Proof of Their Sin" + Giveaway

by Dani Collins, author of Proof of Their Sin (Harlequin Presents, July 2013)

For every Bad Boy hero there seems to be a Good Girl heroine, doesn’t there?

I love that dynamic and it was my initial draw to Paolo and Lauren. The first time they meet, he’s waiting in a bar for his best friend, a fellow adrenaline junkie. In walks Lauren, dragged there by her sophisticated cousin.

Lauren is underage, a virgin, and raised by a repressed mother in the Canadian prairies. Do you get any more innocent than that? At the time, she had recently moved in with her ailing grandmother near Montreal.  She’s overwhelmed by her first visit to New York City and has no idea how to handle a sexy Italian who buys her a drink.

Here’s where the dynamic started to shift on me and I was thrilled because if there’s anything more delicious than a Bad Boy, it’s a Bad Boy struggling to be good. Paolo has a wild streak, but he keeps his promises. He’s engaged. He can’t hit on Lauren. He watches her fall for his friend, the military flyboy who seems to Lauren like a ‘safe’ choice.

Shortly after that first meet, Paolo’s impulsive life choices catch up to him. He picks up the pieces and molds himself into the staid head of his family’s international bank. There’s no longer room for scandal in his life.

Is there room for Lauren?

She chose to care for her grandmother, but it forced her to put off becoming independent and living her own life. She married to make her mother happy and it made her miserable. Then, when her husband’s death might have set her free, she accidentally had a teensy bit of unprotected sex with his best friend.

What I love about Lauren is her determination to find happiness this time. Her pregnancy is a gift, she knows she’ll have to settle down and put her baby’s needs first very soon, but she has this window of opportunity to discover herself and intends to embrace it. She’s not a Bad Girl, but she refuses to continue as a mousey little Good Girl failing to stand up for herself.

This is highly inconvenient for the man who really can’t afford for the world to know he backslid into his old to-hell-with-the-consequences nature for an all-nighter with the one woman he never should have touched.

Here’s a snippet of the new Lauren and Paolo dynamic:

 “Be a good girl and go back to Quebec,” he cajoled, adding a smile of condescension for good measure.

 Her nostrils flared as she drew in a breath like a cloud gathering volume.  Her fists closed into angry knots of white against her bare, upper chest as she kept her dress pinned to her front. 

 “Don’t you dare,” she said from between clenched teeth, “tell me to rattle around that empty mansion again.  That’s all I’ve done for months and I’m sick of it!” 

 Her quiet ferocity should have warned him off, but it stoked his inward excitement, priming him for a badly needed contest of wills. 

 “I’ll do what I please,” he stated with quiet brutality. 

 “So will I!  Ryan was supposed to send for me after Mamie died and instead—”  She stopped herself.  Her gaze averted as her face crumpled into anguished struggle to overcome unvoiced, but very intense pain.

 Ryan had disappeared. 

 Paolo’s desire to punish her evaporated in a wrench of grief and self-disgust.  Her pain hurt him.  If she broke down, he didn’t know what he’d do.  He couldn’t hold her, couldn’t touch her.  He knew that way led to madness.

 “Lauren,” was all he could say.  He leaned forward, unable to help that her name came out like an entreaty.  Don’t fall apart.  Don’t make me bed you again.

 She took his murmur of her name as an attempt to persuade.

 “No,” she refused truculently.  “I won’t do it, Paolo.  I spent all those years with Mamie because I wanted to and I don’t feel like I gave up my youth the way everyone said I would, but I do recognize that I have only this tiny window between now and when the baby will tie me down.  This is my time and I’m taking it.  Don’t try to stop me by having me questioned at the airport.  You won’t like what I tell them.”

Women tend to be moms and caregivers and often struggle to put our needs ahead of anyone else’s. Do you find yourself last on your own list? Have you ever wanted something enough to put yourself first?

I have a signed copy of Proof Of Their Sin for one lucky commenter.

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Comments ( 19 )
  1. Rebe
    June 19, 2013 at 8:59 am

    I think a lot of women struggle with putting themselves first, especially if they have children. I decided a few years ago that I was going to get in shape, but you really do have to be a bit “selfish” to do that because it takes time. Of course, taking care of yourself isn’t really being selfish, but it’s hard to see it that way sometimes!

  2. Laney4
    June 19, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    I wanted to continue playing competitive badminton after my children were born – and I did. Now, almost 28 years later, both my kids (and my husband on occasion) play badminton too. They grew up with it being a big part of my/our lives (as my husband drove them to watch me play in out-of-town tournaments often), and my daughter and I now are ladies’ doubles partners, both locally and in tournaments (and have won club championships together for several years now).

  3. bn100
    June 19, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    No, not really

  4. Melanie J
    June 19, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    I was in a past relationship where I was last at everthing. In my own life, I don’t put myself last at all. But, I also do not have any children except for a dog so I think I am entitled for that. For my family: They all have good jobs so it’s not necessary.

    Your book sounds fantastic. can’t wait to read it.

  5. Dani Collins
    June 19, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    Hi Rebe and Laney,

    Rebe, I totally agree that you have to be a little selfish when it comes to your own health because you’re no good to anyone if you let yourself get run down or unhealthy.

    Laney, good for you for setting such a great example and getting a doubles partner out of it long term 🙂

  6. Dani Collins
    June 19, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    Hi bn & Melanie,

    bn, I’m glad you put yourself on *my* list (of comments.) Hopefully you’ll get a book out of it 😉

    Melanie, you’re a braver woman than I, having a dog. I know what a priority they can become with daily walks and such. But it sounds like you have good balance in your life.

    Thanks for commenting, everyone. I’ll give it until Friday the 21st so a few more people can check in before I draw for the book.


  7. Cindy in Ontario
    June 19, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    When I had my first and only child she became my top prioity and it has stayed like that for six years. Lately I have been telling myself it is time to get out and do things for me like I did before she was born. I find it hard to do that because I know I will feel guilty but in the end we all will be happier I hope.

  8. Dani Collins
    June 19, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    Hi Cindy in Ontario (I’m waving madly from BC)

    Oh, the guilt! We get such an injection of it the minute that baby becomes ours. Obviously everyone’s situation is different and children’s needs must be met, but I would never have written any books without being able to carve some time away from the kids.

    The flip side of guilt can be resentment, so if it works to steal a bit of time–maybe when she’s at school?–I say Go For It 🙂

    What are you thinking of doing with that time? Things like yoga classes and scrapbooking to maintain friendships… these are all good things that need nurturing as much as a child does, imo.

  9. Mary Preston
    June 20, 2013 at 3:28 am

    As a Mother you do tend to put others ahead of yourself. Fairly recently I did a business course. The world did not implode. They managed – just.

  10. Lynda
    June 20, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    When the kids were little it was all about them. Now that my youngest is nearly out of the house, it’s a standing joke in the house about my *me* time. The whole family dynamics have changed. Hubby does all of the cooking, daughter can take care of herself, and if I don’t do any housework that night, I don’t care one bit.

    Hopefully nothing will change to turn me into a full time caretaker again. With children it’s a joy (usually!)and I wouldn’t change my priorities from them. But I can’t imagine taking care of an adult family member full time. That would be hard.

  11. Dani Collins
    June 20, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    Hi Mary, Hi Lynda,

    Mary, you are so right! The world does not implode, lol. And I think both you and Lynda have it right in giving the rest of the family a little nudge toward greater responsibility. One day they will have to be self-reliant so a little practice at that is good for everyone.

    I must make the disclaimer that my daughter is about to graduate high school and my son is fifteen. We are well past the truly dependant stage and it’s more about trying to keep tabs, so it’s easy for me to talk about cutting the cord. I’m fully aware how hard it is when the kids are smaller or your family situation just demands a lot.

  12. CrystalGB
    June 21, 2013 at 9:48 am

    I tend to be a giver so I often put myself last. Occasionally, I will treat myself to a girls day out with my girl pals.

  13. Kai W.
    June 23, 2013 at 10:23 am

    I happened to be the oldest of my siblings. I have sacrifice everything to take care of my siblings because in my culture, I’m responsible for them. There was a health scare that made me realized I need to put myself first instead being last. My siblings are now seeing me as being selfish but I really need to have a life other than living their lives.

  14. Kim
    June 23, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    I tend to put others before myself, but I don’t feel as if I deprived myself of anything.

  15. Muna
    June 23, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    Ha! I think I’m pretty selfish actually, but while reading through this post the first person who came to mind is my Mom. She’s ridiculously selfless, and sometimes I catch myself looking for the halo and wings. 😉

    However, I do let my fear of rejection and embarrassment often get in the way. Too long my motto has been “if you don’t get something right the first time, don’t ever try again.” It’s awful, really, because I never give myself the chance to learn (and possibly shine).

    The most recent example of this is my Biology class. I went back to get a credit in Bio, and I’ve been struggling through it. Instead of running away–I desperately want the credit to actually go to UBC’s Midwifery Program–I talked to my teacher and we worked out an extension.

    So, I guess I’ve been standing up for myself by taking little steps to crush the fear.

    P.S. Yay for Canada btw. I don’t think there are a lot of heroines (or heroes) from Canada in the Presents line. Represent!

  16. Roxanne
    June 24, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Not a mother myself, but between full-time work, trying very hard to get back into school (I have to start all over, starting with obtaining a GED, long story), caring for my family (husband and cats), I literally have no “me” time. I miss my friends back home and I’m dying to visit a museum. So, yeah, I’d love to visit a museum, purely because I need a break from my stressful life.

  17. Dani Collins
    June 24, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    Hi Everyone,

    I took a quick break over the weekend with family in town for my daughter’s high school graduation–not quite ‘me’ time, but loads of fun.

    Crystal, girl’s days are absolutely necessary in my opinion. Preferably involving retail therapy 😉

    Kai, it sounds like your siblings are adults? I’m sorry they’re trying to make you feel guilty, but it sounds like you’re making a healthy choice for both you and them.

    Kim, I think that as long as you don’t feel taken advantage of or resentful, then you’re making choices that work for you.

    Muna, What a wonderful goal! And something like earning your midwifery credit is like writing a book. It’s a long-term undertaking and if you look at all the steps and stumbles, it’s very easy to get discouraged, but if you focus on what you have to do now, to reach the next step (or chapter), you’re always making progress and eventually you arrive (breathless and fatigued, but triumphant)! 🙂 Good luck–and yes, I shall endeavour to keep us capturing those alphas!

    Roxanne, can you at least foresee a light at the end of the tunnel? One of my coping strategies with my busy life is to give myself Friday Night. It’s only a couple of hours and it doesn’t start until the dishes are cleaned up from supper, but it usually involves a glass of wine and a movie. If I check in with FB or Twitter, it’s purely for fun. I let myself goof off, but still wind up going to bed early and starting in on the writing first thing Saturday morning. Would you be able to block of 2-3 hours like that? Even once very two weeks? We all need to guard against burn out.

  18. Dani Collins
    June 24, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    Congratulations bn100!

    You won the giveaway copy of Proof Of Their Sin. Can you please contact me at dani@danicollins.com and I’ll make arrangements to get it to you?

    Thanks everyone for commenting. This was great fun and I hope you all get a little alone time with an awesome Presents hero very soon 🙂

  19. Proof Of Their Sin Giveaway Winners - Dani Collins
    June 25, 2013 at 12:26 am

    […] Nora won the copy at RomanceJunkies and a reader going by the handle of bn100 won the copy from iHeartPresents. […]