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Guest blogger: Annie West

29 May 2011

An honourable hero … or not?

I have a thing for honourable heroes. Ask anyone who’s read my books. My men have an inner core of decency that appeals to me (and fortunately, a lot of readers). Let’s face it—a complete rotter would be a pretty poor bet in the romance stakes and unless there was some germ of good character buried deep inside, I’d be seriously wondering if his redemption at the end of the book was real.

On the other hand, a bad boy—a ruthless one who’ll go beyond the pale to get what he wants—is intriguing. And wounded heroes—I love them. All that angst deeply hidden (or at the surface). All that emotional turmoil. Yes, please!

Can you tell I like to have my cake and eat it too? I like a man I can trust is the sort of guy who’ll treat my heroine right in the long term but at the same time I don’t want some wimpish do-gooder who is a model of virtue from the start. Call me shallow but I want depth and drama, a bit of a hard edge and to worry about just how far that man will go to get what he wants.

What do you call that? Building emotional tension? Adding depth? Or maybe it’s just plain masochism. Writing those sort of heroes isn’t easy. Oh, it seems so to start with, when the great idea strikes. But it’s like walking a tight-rope, trying to keep the balance.

Take my new book Prince of Scandal—to begin with I had two ideas that hooked me and convinced me to write. One: a prince dogged all his adult life by scandal and still living his life in light of that (did I say I like a man with an interesting past?). He’s emotionally wounded but buries those wounds deep. Two: a scene where hero and heroine meet—she’s in old work clothes, covered head to foot in mud after one of her dairy herd needs rescuing from a flooded creek and he’s in hand-made Italian tailoring, looking rather like Clive Owen in Armani. Sigh. And the reason he’s helicoptered in to her farm? To tell her she’s long-lost royalty, and, by the way, that he wants to marry her.

Well, not wants to marry her, but needs

Can you see why I wanted to write Luisa and Raul’s story?

As an independent Aussie woman, if a gorgeous stranger burst into your world saying you could have wealth, prestige and a life of royal protocol, if only you’d marry him, would you do it? I know in our dreams we’d love to say yes—it’s the ultimate fairytale. But that means leaving your home, your family and friends, even your country. It means tying yourself to a man you don’t know and living by his rules. It means accepting a life without love that’s hemmed in on all sides by custom and protocol, watched by the world’s media. It means struggling to look and act like a princess when you don’t even wear a dress or know how to waltz. It means letting someone else dictate your life.

OK, some of us might be tempted anyway by the royal jewels and the idea of never needing to do housework again … But Luisa isn’t. She says no. That’s when Raul is forced to take action to ‘persuade’ her to go along with his scheme (everything he has and is depends on that). This is where the tension comes in between decent hero and ruthless, selfish hero. Can he charm her into agreeing? If only it was that simple. So if charm won’t work, what could he do to get her to agree? And if he burns his bridges in forcing her to do something she doesn’t want, how will he ever redeem himself when he realises he wants her for herself?

If you’re interested in finding out, Prince of Scandal (Mills and Boon Sexy) is on sale in Australia and New Zealand from this weekend. If you’re curious there’s an excerpt on my website at http://www.annie-west.com/ (where there’s also a contest to win a copy of the book).

So, do you like dark and dangerous heroes? Do you prefer to read about reliable, decent men who do the right thing? Do you have a favourite hero you’d like to tell us about? I love hearing about great heroes as friend’s recommendations have led me to so many new authors and stories.

I’ll provide a free book (your choice of one of my books not in current or planned release) to one person who leaves a comment.

Happy reading!
Annie

The giveaway competition is now closed. The winner was Sheila.

34 Comments
  1. aimskye permalink
    8 August 2011 1:15 pm

    Great blog Annie!

    Aimee
    (nonmoty)

  2. 31 May 2011 1:18 pm

    Hi Gillian,

    I don’t blame you at all for being faithful to Rafiq. He’s a special man. ‘The Sheikh’s Ransomed Bride’ was my very first sheikh story and it was a real experience delving into the romantic fantasy. I finished writing a sheikh story earlier this year (Girl in the Bedouin Tent) and the hero in that is a blend of dark past and honour. Poor guy – it’s a difficult balancing act for him.

    Healing heroines seem to be a must for dark heroes, I do agree.

    Hope you like Raul and Luisa’s story. Who knows, Raul may even give Rafiq a run for his money in your feelings!

  3. 31 May 2011 1:14 pm

    Hi Nas,

    That opening was fun, wasn’t it? I was snickering even as I was enjoying the tension building. Poor Luisa – she was in such a difficult position, don’t you think. I suppose she has that in common with a lot of heroines – starting the book facing insurmountable odds. That always makes me want them to come out on top.

  4. Gillian Wheatley permalink
    31 May 2011 6:43 am

    Dear Annie, you know that I love your books and my favourite is still ‘The Sheikh’s Ransomed Bride’. Rafiq is a wonderful hero with just the right amount of danger about him. I love a dark, dangerous hero, preferably one with a tortured past – just love a heroine who can heal and teach her man to love.

  5. 30 May 2011 5:30 pm

    Hi Annie,

    I loved Prince of Scandal. The first meeting between Raul and mud-splattered Luisa was hilarious!

    All the best!

  6. 30 May 2011 4:35 pm

    Hi Debra,
    I’m glad you think so – about Raul meeting his match. He sure gets more than he bargained for. Another vote for dark and dangerous? Sounds good to me!

  7. Debra McDonald permalink
    30 May 2011 11:41 am

    Dark and dangerous is the best!!! I can’t wait to read this book.Raul maybe a bad boy but he has met his match!!!

  8. 30 May 2011 10:33 am

    Hi Barbara – thank you so much for your kind feedback.

    I like reading about Aussie heroes or heroines too. In Luisa’s case her rural Aussie upbringing was entirely different to that of a European aristocrat. That was fun to work with.

    Right now I’m focusing on a brand new wounded hero and he’s an Aussie.

  9. 30 May 2011 10:31 am

    Ah, Margaret, you’re a woman after my own heart. Dark, dangerous, sexy heroes can be such fun. The journey for them from the beginning of the story to the end can be so rivetting. I hope you enjoy the book when you get it.

  10. 30 May 2011 10:29 am

    Anna, the fact that you enjoyed writing ‘Midnight’s Wild Passion’ shows in the story – believe me!

  11. Barbara permalink
    29 May 2011 11:15 pm

    Hi Annie

    Love your books and looking forward to reading this one….. love ones with an aussie hero or heroine

    Barbara

  12. 29 May 2011 10:50 pm

    Hi Annie,

    I just adore the dark and dangerous Sexy heroes and you write them so well.

    And in just a few days the Prince of Scandal will be in the shops down here and I can’t wait to read Raul and Luisa’s story!!

    Cheers,
    Margaret

  13. 29 May 2011 9:22 pm

    Hi Helen,

    I’m not surprised you enjoyed Anna’s ‘Midnight’s Wild Passion’. It’s one of my faves of hers. The interaction between Antonia and Nicholas is terrific, especially the way they see so much about each other that society doesn’t and that they have exchanges in public that are meaningful only to each other while society is looking on. A great read. She does a dark hero marvellously.

    I hope you enjoy Raul and Luisa’s story too. I’m happy to think a copy has gone to such a good home.

    • 30 May 2011 5:21 am

      Hey, Annie, I’m feeling da lurve! THANK YOU!!! As you know, I really enjoyed writing MIDNIGHT’S WILD PASSION!

  14. 29 May 2011 9:19 pm

    Hi Helene,

    Yes, he’s putty in her hands, but he usually doesn’t like the feeling – not at first. I love watching them squirm while they try to avoid the truth about their feelings. Gee, I really do sound mean, don’t I? But like you, I admire that decent core within the hero so much. I noticed that about your hero in your latest book. He was decent and trying to do the right thing throughout, even though he didn’t always get it right. So appealing!

  15. 29 May 2011 9:16 pm

    Hi Vanessa,

    How terrific that you’ve got a soft spot for my heroes. That makes two of us. I wonder if that’s part of the writing process – falling for your hero?

    Ah, I know what you mean about the Die Hard character (minus the gun) – John McLean, wasn’t it? I suppose it’s about pushing your hero to the limit and finding out what he’s made of aka torturing your characters! The things we writers do…

  16. 29 May 2011 9:13 pm

    Heatkon, I’m so happy you enjoyed the story! Thanks too for letting me know you saw it on sale today. I haven’t been out to catch sight of a copy yet. Nice to know it’s out there.

  17. helensibbritt permalink
    29 May 2011 8:32 pm

    Annie

    I so love your heros they are to die for I picked Prince of Scandal up at my local Big W store on Saturday and can’t wait to dive into it.
    I have just finished reading Anna Campbell’s Midnight’s Wild Passion and at the moment Nicholas is my favourite hero. I have read so many fantastic books and have so many favourite heros but they do change a bit.
    Congrats on the release
    Have Fun
    Helen

  18. 29 May 2011 8:12 pm

    Oh yes, Annie, give me dark and dangerous!! And Kandy’s right – it is the inner core of decency that makes them irresistible. What’s not to love about an Alpha lad who realises he’s putty in his woman’s hands!! 😀

  19. 29 May 2011 7:41 pm

    Hi, Annie! I *love* the premise for Prince of Scandal. I adore all your heroes but Raul just may be the most intriguing of all!

    I like decent, law-abiding heroes in general but when they are forced to do whatever it takes to protect their heroines, even if it makes them visit their dark sides, that increases my admiration for them. Kind of like Bruce Willis’s Die Hard character, but without the gun-toting 🙂

  20. heatkon permalink
    29 May 2011 6:24 pm

    I loved this story (and I saw it on the shelves today when I was out)

  21. 29 May 2011 5:22 pm

    Hi Sheila, I love your description of the marshmallow filled dirty, nasty bad boys. It had me laughing out loud and nodding my head. I do so agree.

  22. 29 May 2011 5:21 pm

    Hi Kandy, I think you hit the nail on the head with the word ‘cherish’. That’s what I want my hero to do – cherish his heroine. That’s so appealing in a man. As for being bored – no way. I do like the idea of a bit of pizzaz in their ongoing relationship. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  23. 29 May 2011 5:20 pm

    Sharon, I love your thinking – a woman who wears gumboots can deal with anything. You could just be right! In this case you are right. Luisa has a difficult road to follow but she’s more than up to it. Yay for capable women.

    Hope you enjoy the book when you get it. By the way, I’ve started your ‘Man Behind the Badge’ and loving it.

  24. Sheila Mulholland permalink
    29 May 2011 4:56 pm

    Hi Annie,

    I like the dirty nasty bad boys who are really marshmallows inside once they find ‘their woman’. Looking forward to your book.

    Sheila

  25. 29 May 2011 4:25 pm

    Hi Annie, I think you get your heroes just right: bad boy, emotionally wounded, arrogant–all that appealing Alpha male stuff–but I think you are right, it is the “inner core of decency” that makes them truly heroic.
    After all the excitement of the chase, your reader knows that your hero will cherish his heroine for the rest of their lives together–and she won’t be bored either!
    I’m so looking forward to reading PRINCE OF SCANDAL–I’ll look out for it this week!

  26. 29 May 2011 4:13 pm

    Annie,

    I love your dark, dangerous heroes and, in that excerpt on your website, Raul is sexy and ruthless. I felt Luisa’s desperation! But I know she’ll be more than a match for him – she wears gumboots! A real down-to-earth heroine for your high-flying sophisticated Raul!

    I’m so excited that Prince of Scandal is available this week! It’s on my shopping list!
    🙂
    Sharon

  27. 29 May 2011 1:21 pm

    Hi Michelle,

    I like your attitude! Why limit yourself to one sort of hero when you can spread the fun between several sorts?

    Hey, I’m glad you enjoyed that opening scene between Luisa and Raul. It was enormous fun to write. I was just itching to get into it!

    As for the single minded hero realising life isn’t all black and white – that’s rather like Raul in this story.

  28. 29 May 2011 1:18 pm

    Hi Henza,

    How terrific to hear that you love my books. You’ve put a smile on my face. I’m not always up to date with the latest books either. Sometimes I find myself reading a new release, only to find I’ve had it on my tbr pile for almost a year!

  29. 29 May 2011 1:08 pm

    Annie, I adored Prince of Scandal and I LOVED that opening scene with Luisa covered in mud and Raul the epitome of all that is suave and sophisticated — so much fun! I love a single-minded hero who will do pretty much anything to achieve his goal… only to discover along the way that maybe it’s not worth as much as he thought if he has to hurt the heroine to achieve it. That’s enough to make any girl swoon.

    Oh, and I love bad boys too. And boys next door. I don’t think any girl should limit herself to just one hero. 🙂

  30. 29 May 2011 12:31 pm

    Hi Anne?
    I love your books. I don’t get the latest novels as fast as I’d like to but it doesn’t matter If I get to read your stories anytime.
    X

  31. 29 May 2011 11:51 am

    Oh, Anna, I’d just swallowed some hot coffee when I read that you like boy next door heroes. Almost choked! I challenge you to try writing one. Maybe in a short story? He could be something gentle – maybe a lute player…

    Thanks for the lovely feedback on ‘Prince of Scandal’. I’m basking in the glow of your comments. I agree – lucky Luisa. Not that I’m biased, mind you.

    I love that emerging true hero theme in so many romances I read. Seeing that internal fight go on and watching the gradual change is such fun. I’m glad it worked in this case.

  32. 29 May 2011 10:51 am

    Annie, firstly, can I tell you how much I ADORED Prince of Scandal? Raul is seriously yummy and it might take him a while to get there but Lucky Luisa when he does. Well, I don’t mean THERE (snicker). He works out that bit pretty smoothly. It’s the emerging as the true hero bit that takes him a while – and I loved watching him struggle with his newborn and very unwelcome love. Sigh! Gorgeous stuff.

    Hmm, I like boy next door heroes. I always write them.

    Yeah, right. Dark and dangerous does it for me! 😉

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